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    in other words, you can still buy them..., 2009-02-12 14:32:03 | Main | off the pan and into the ether..., 2009-02-17 10:24:14

    off the pan and into the ether:

    J.K. Galbraith and Murray Rothbard on Hoover's economic interventions during the crash of 1929 (chapter seven of "The Great Crash" and eight of "America's Great Depression", respectively) are so alike that I'm concerned Rothbard might have been cribbing the substantive portion of his analysis of Hoover's presidency from Galbraith, if only because when I read Rothbard my (shoddier) thoughts were so much along the lines of Galbraith's, here:

    Mr. Hoover also called a series of meetings on the stae of the economy. THe leading industrialists, the leading railway executives, the heads of the large utilities, the heads of the important construction companies, the union leaders, and the heads of the farm organizations metin turn with the President during the latter part of November. The procedure in the case of each of the meetings was the same. There was a solmn session with the President, those attending had their picture taken with the President, and there was a press interview at which the conferees gave the press their opinion on [the economy].

    ....

    He was also conducting on the oldest, most important -- and, unhappily, one the least understood -- rites in American life. This is the rite of the meeting which is called not to do business but to do no business.

    .....

    The no-business meeting was an almost perfect instrument in which President Hoover found himself in the autumn of 1929. The modest tax cut apart, the President was clearly averse to any large-scale government action to counter the developing depression. Nor was it very certain, at the time, what could be done. Yet by 1929 popular faith in laissez faire had been greatly weakened. No responsible political leader could safely proclaim a policy of keeping hands off. The no-business meetings at the White House were a practical expression of laissez faire. No positive action resulted. At the same time they gave a sense of truly impressive action. The conventions governing the no-business session insured that there would be no embarrassment arising from the absence of business. Those who attended accepted as a measure of the importance of the meetings the importance of the people attending. The newspapers also cooperated in emphasizing the important of the sessions. Had they done otherwise they would, of course, have undermined the value of the sessions as news.

    In recent times the no-business meeting at the White House -- attended by governors, industrialists, representatives of business, labor, and agriculture - has become an established institution of government. Some device for simulating action, when action is impossible, is indispensable in a sound and functioning democracy. Mr. Hoover in 1929 was a pioneer in this field of public administration.

    As the depression deepened, it was said that Mr. Hoover's meetings had been a failure. This, obviously, reflects a very narrow view.

    And here's Rothbard:

    Hoover acted quickly and decisively. His most important act was to call a series of White House conferences with the leading financiers and industrialists of the country [...a long but by no means exhaustive list of the things said, and who said them...]


:: posted by buermann @ 2009-02-17 10:23:33 CST | link





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