Hoover not laissez-faire, redux

I feel icky because I sense I’ve wondered into some age-worn ideological battle… but if you need more evidence Hoover was an interventionist, Prof. Caplan has it.

To be fair, and balanced, I should mention the obvious. Pointing out intervention in the economy sometimes leads in disaster isn’t to say all interventionist policies are bad. The calm, reasoned thing to do — something, perhaps, normal people would do — would be to pick a normative framework (e.g. efficiency) or two (e.g. economic depravity) and evaluate individual policies for their “goodness” along those dimensions. Did a given depression-era policy increase the number of unemployed? Did it encourage growth? How many people did it save from starving to death? Did it increase wages at the bottom of the distribution? What was the average “wage” for the working poor and the unemployed before and after the policy? From a macro perspective, were prices/wages more or less sticky during the 30’s? Does the relative success of money policy in other countries co-occur with more price-adjustment friendly policy (e.g. union busting)? Did redistributionist fiscal policy have the effect of neutralizing the distributional effects of monetary policy? What’s the implied weight depression-era policy makers had on policy meant to help alleviate economic depravity relative to efficiency improving policy? Maybe all that Woodford crap giving policy makers objective functions will actually have some use…