In 1931, Edward Angly, a journalist who was no radical(not even so much of a liberal) published a book that became a bestseller. The book was titled "Oh Yeah." It really wasn't so much of a book but a compilation of all of the statements from the end of the 1920s to 1931 by President Hoover, members of his cabinet, business leaders, explaining that the depression wasn't so bad, was over, and that pretty much nothing could be done about it.
These comments were accompanied by drawings of a stock market going down and down and unemployment going up and up. I thought of that old book today (I mention it in my class when I teach about the Great Depression, which I hope I will not have to call Great Depression I) and came across a few quotes from it from Herbert Hoover. Actually, although what he was saying had no relationship to reality, it was, compared to Bush, McCain and Palin, not that bad, which may tell us something about where those in power today are.
First a news report from October 1930: "President Hoover has designated Robert R. Lamont, Secretary of Commerce, as chairman of the President's special committee on unemployment. Then another report for October 1930: "President Hoover has summoned Colonel Arthur Woods to help place 2,500,000 men back to work this Winter." Woods was a former police commissioner of New York City, a popular writer on fighting crime, a
military man, the sort of man who could handle anything. Of course unemployment escalated massively(the worst had not yet come when this was written) and Colonel Arthur Woods had nothing except nostrums and gestures to deal with something he understood as well as Sarah Palin understands the Torah, the Gospels, the Koran, or the writings of Confucius.
Back to Hoover though and now things get good. In December, 1930, said in a message to Congress that "economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement."
But then, in June 1931, he told spoke to a group of Indiana Republican editors in a different tone: "I am able to propose an American plan to you...we shall by scientific research and invention, lift the standard of living and security of diffusion of wealth, a decrease in poverty and a great reduction in crime, And this Plan will be carried out if we just keep on giving the American people a chance."
Hoover and diffusion of wealth, decrease in poverty. Was Herbert advocating socialism? McCain might think so, but he was simply BS ing for his fellow Republicans, offering them rhetoric totally disconnected from reality.
Then as the collapse deepened, Hoover Oct. 1931 announced a policy that on a small scale something that sounds eerily familiar: "I requested the governors of the federal reserve banks to secure the cooperation of the bankers in their territory to make some advances on the security of the assets of the closed banks or take over some of their assets...such a measure will contribute to free many business activities and to relieve many families from the hardship over the forthcoming Winter and in a measure reverse the process of deflation involved in the tying up of deposits."
Of course the "closed banks had collapsed, their was no FDIC, and more importantly, no social security, unemployment insurance, real trade union rights. Hoover had no desire to deal with the peoples depression but he was turning to policies that, although they were on a very small scale, weren't too different than our capitalists today.
Finally, as things really intensified, Hoover noted "the depression has been deepened by events from abroad that are beyond the control of our citizens or government."
-It is certainly time to say "Oh Yeah" to Bush and McCain, with complete contempt, before we will confront, what Herbert Hoover, more successful in business, more intelligent, and, more of a "compassionate conservative" than either Bush or McCain, faced in 1932.