Thomas Sowell

Many of those who have, over the years, praised the fact that this was the first time that the federal government took responsibility for trying to get the country out of a depression do not ask what seems like the logical follow-up question: Did this depression therefore end faster than other depressions where the government stood by and did nothing?

The Great Depression of the 1930s was in fact the longest-lasting of all our depressions.

Government policy in the 1930s was another bipartisan disaster. Despite a myth that Herbert Hoover was a "do nothing" president, he was the first President of the United States to step in to try to put the economy back on track.

With the passing years, it has increasingly been recognized that what FDR did was largely a further extension of what Hoover had done. Where Hoover made things worse, FDR made them much worse.

Herbert Hoover did what Barack Obama is proposing to do. Hoover raised taxes on high-income people and put restrictions on international trade, in order to try to save American jobs. It didn't work then and it is not likely to work now.

Perhaps the most disastrous of all the counterproductive policies of the federal government was the National Industrial Recovery Act under FDR, which set out to do exactly what the politicians today want to do-- micro-manage businesses.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court declared that Act unconstitutional, sparing the country an even bigger disaster.

Today, it is unlikely that the courts will let anything as old-fashioned as the Constitution stand in the way of "change." In short, the economy today has some serious problems but things are not desperate, though they can be made desperate by politicians.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate



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