Friday’s a May day

| May 1, 2009
Mayday! Mayday!

Mayday! Mayday!

ADMIN: Yeah, I know today’s post title doesn’t rhyme with the others — but here’s a quick test of your own nit-pickiness: did the difference between Monday’s title and the rest of the week bother you?

MORNING LINKS (and these are likely the only link you’ll get today).

LINK: Speaking of workers, I’m going to be tied up all day today. So for this glorious morning, let us remember, courtesy of Amity Shlaes, the true efforts and consequnces of the New Deal:

As for President Hoover, his tenure was marked not by laissez faire or respect for private property–indeed, Hoover had labeled property a “fetish” before he became president. The Great Engineer was in fact the Great Intervener, meddling in multiple areas, raising taxes and backing tariffs, to the economy’s detriment. Mistrusting the stock market as unreal, Hoover berated short-sellers and exhorted businesses to keep wages high when they could ill afford it.

International, monetary and banking factors all played a role in creating the Depression, but the counterproductive Hoover mattered as well. As economist George Selgin has noted, the most absurd of the Hoover increases was a 2% levy on checks, which caused people to further drain money out of their bank accounts so they could pay their bills, untaxed.

Roosevelt, for his part was indeed courageous, and his call to action did inspire. FDR’s free-trade moves and some of his regulatory moves–the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal deposit insurance–helped to stabilize the economy. But the argument that FDR saved the U.S. from fascism is an exaggeration. And, like Hoover and his interventionists, FDR and his New Dealers did much to hurt the economy.

Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration, created in 1933, pulled wages up when perishing companies could not afford it; come 1935, the Wagner Act gave unions more bargaining power, forcing further wage increases on companies. Roosevelt’s multiple tax increases caused businesses to postpone investment. Especially counterproductive was FDR’s “undistributed profits tax,” which punished firms for being cautious and forced them to disgorge cash at the worst possible moment.

Read the whole thing, as they say. Then go out and by Shlaes’ book, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. It’s now in paperback, and we have massive deficits as far as the eye can see, so it really behooves you (so to speak) to do so.

ITEM: Speaking of inappropriate steps, can you imagine the reaction if back during the 2000 recession, Laura Bush made a public appearance in a $540 pair of sneakers? I’ll be it would have appeared in far more places than the New York Daily News. (Hat tip to the Drudge Report.)

Some links sometime on the weekend, I think.  ..bruce w..

P.S. Behooves — Hoover — get it?

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Category: Admin, History, Journalism, Links roundup, Media, Obama Administration, Sea of deficits

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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