The Instigator
jat93
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Losing
5 Points

Herbert Hoover, Forgotten Progressive: the 31st President Was a Big Govt. Market Interventionist

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
jat93
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/31/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,338 times Debate No: 18127
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

jat93

Pro

Without a doubt one of the most severe, most widespread, and most persistent myths of all American history is that Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st President of the United States of America who served from 1929-1933, sent America into the tragic, drawn out economic downturn now known as the Great Depression by reducing government intervention in the economy, adhering to laissez-faire capitalism, and shrinking the size of government in general... Or, as Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer sums up, just sitting back and "doing nothing." [1] Senator Schumer reiterates the common and terribly ironic view that Hoover's lack of government action turned what would have been only a recession into the Great Depression.

The exact opposite is true: Hoover's policies did anything but lack in government action (and furthermore, it was Warren G. Harding's "doing nothing" that stopped the recession of 1920 - just 9 years before Hoover took office - from turning into a Great Depression). The greatest irony of all is that Hoover has forever been portrayed by supporters of his successor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as a laissez-faire, "do nothing" President, when in reality the Roosevelt administration based much of the New Deal upon policies that Hoover had already envisioned and enacted. In effect, it can be said that FDR's famous New Deal was created by Hoover; Hoover set the stage for FDR's big government policies and unprecedented amount of market intervention (though he did think his successor took it a bit too far).

The awful lie of Herbert Hoover's adherence to small government, laissez-faire capitalism is so widespread that it's nearly accepted as common knowledge and goes entirely uncontested in most interviews, politicial speeches, and worse, almost all school history textbooks. In recent months, there's been a great deal of critique of the ongoing pressure from the GOP to reduce federal spending and cut the size of government, and with that critique, the inevitable comparison of fiscally conservative Republicans to the 31st President of America.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff asserts that a lawmaker who believes that slashing spending is a proper response to a weak economy, "is embracing the approach that Herbert Hoover discredited 80 years ago." He also states that if Congress went through with a government shutdown, current speaker of the House John Boehner should be referred to as "Herbert Hoover" Boehner. [2] His colleague, Princeton University professor and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, declared "the obsession with spending cuts" to be "Herbert Hoover economics ." [3] Just this month on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, Vermont politician Peter Welch compared current House Republicans' focus on lowering taxes and cutting spending to, yes, you guessed it, Herbert Hoover. On the August 2nd airing of the show, Welch said "well, basically what we saw today was the ideology of the Tea Party prevailing, very simple, lower taxes for everybody, particularly the so-called job creators, lower spending, and that will build a stronger economy. I mean, that`s a Herbert Hoover philosophy and didn`t work so well last it was tried." [4]

Soon after I watched that interview, I was compelled to open my copy of Kaplan's A.P. U.S. History review book for 2011 (written by Krista Dornbush, a high school A.P. History teacher in California) I had bought last year to study for College Board's exam, to see what it had to say about Herbert Hoover. What I found wasn't remotely surprising, but it was more than remotely ignorant, and quite irritating to me personally since I had used it to study for the exam. Here's what Ms. Dornbush had to say about him:

"Hoover continually refused to provide any kind of government assistance to those who were being crushed under the weight of the economic crisis... His staunch conservatism stood in the way of his becoming a hero. If he had bent, he might have been able to help stop the deepest years of the Great Depression."

And that deserves nothing but a flatout laugh-out-freaking-loud. Herbert Hoover, refusing to provide government assistance? And more laughable still: Herbert Hoover, a staunch conservative? Far more accurate would be: Herbert Hoover, big government champion, market interventionist, and forgotten Progressive.

In this debate, I, Pro, must prove that the common myth of Herbert Hoover promoting small government, laissez-faire capitalism is false. I must prove that he was actually a proponent of big government market intervention.

Con must prove that the more commonly held view of Hoover is true: that he essentially sat back and didn't do much in the way of government action in the economy as a way of dealing with the downward economic spiral. Essentially Con must prove the sources which I brought in (Schumer, Kristoff, Krugman, Welch, Dornbush) in order to illustrate the nature of the popular Hoover myth to be correct.

I will present my main argument in the second round and I request that my opponent do the same. The first round is for acceptance and introductions only. There are a total of four rounds. As should be clear by now, this will not be a debate based on semantics. I thank my opponent and look forward to a fun and engaging debate.

[1] http://www.msnbc.msn.com... - (Schumer's comments on Hoover begin at around 4:50; note how the Republican senator doesn't argue with him on the subject)
[2] http://www.nytimes.com...
[3] http://www.nytimes.com...
[4] http://www6.lexisnexis.com...
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank my opponent for starting and clarifying this debate. As per his comments (#4 in comment section), he said, "I will not argue that he was an all out Keynesian. I will argue that he had many Keynesian policies and that he saw big government intervention - the antithesis of laissez-faire and "doing nothing" - as a way of dealing with the economic crisis…In many aspects Hoover was a supporter of Keynesian big government (though Keynes isn't necessarily relevant to the resolution). By big government market interventionist I don't mean someone who intervenes just once, I mean someone who opposes the natural economic cycle, thinks government intervention is a good way of dealing with economic problems, and pushes for it."

Likewise, my burden will be, not to show that he was an absolute Laissez-Faire supporter, but that he took very little action and did not engage in much "big government" policy as a solution to the economic crisis. While not truly limited to just the crisis (I imagine that both of us will reference policies he stated prior to the crisis), I believe we can both agree that the crisis is the main focus of this debate, and how he handled it.

While in the comments, Big Government and Small Government are loosely defined, as they are vague terms to begin with, I believe that it should be up to the voters to decide who captures the essence of them with their arguments. I would also like to quickly define some terms.

Keynesian Economic – "Keynesian economics argues that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes and, therefore, advocates active policy responses by the public sector, including monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government to stabilize output over the business cycle." [1]
This is characterized by deficit spending in tough times, and government savings in good times (since the policies are only designed around tough times).

Laissez-Faire economics – "laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies." [2]
This is characterized by reducing government action and maintaining balanced budgets on what the government does do.

Since no arguing will be done this round, I will pass to my opponent.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
jat93

Pro

- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover's Democratic opponent in the 1932 election, focused much of his campaign on blasting Hoover for the unprecedented amount of government intervention that Hoover and his administration had enacted. He blasted Hoover for "reckless and extravagant" government spending, excessive taxing, driving up the national debt, stifling free trade, and for "presiding over "the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history. [1] John Nance Garner, Roosevelt's running mate, charged that Hoover was "leading the country down the path of socialism." [2] It turns out that though Roosevelt would later champion the policies he so fervently critiqued in 1932, both he and Garner were completely right: Herbert Hoover had proven himself to be a big government market interventionist, and thus an enemy of laissez-faire.

- In June 1930, President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff into law. It was the most protectionist legislation in American history, and as a result the average tariff rate soared to 59.1 percent. [3] As Professor Barry Poulson describes:

"The act raised the rates on the entire range of dutiable commodities; for example, the average rate increased from 20 percent to 34 percent on agricultural products; from 36 percent to 47 percent on wines, spirits, and beverages; from 50 to 60 percent on wool and woolen manufactures. In all, 887 tariffs were sharply increased and the act broadened the list of dutiable commodities to 3,218 items." [4] Hoover signed it into law despite the protest of over 1000 economists, [3] and even with international trade in collapse, he defended the protectionist legislation against Roosevelt's critiques, saying in 1932 that Roosevelt would have Americans compete with "peasant and sweated labor abroad." [5]

- Smoot-Hawley by itself should lay to rest the myth that Hoover was a champion of free market economics, but it doesn't even come close to capturing the extent of Hoover's interventionist policies. Within a month of the 1929 stock market crash, Hoover refused to accept the natural economic cycle in which a market crash is followed by cuts in business investment, production and wages. He convened multiple conferences of the nation's business leaders in order to urge them to keep wages artificially high, even though profits and prices were both falling. [6] Leaders of industry and finance were corralled into private White House conferences in which Hoover told them they had to act "voluntarily" to keep up wage rates even if profits should collapse, warning that if they failed to obey he would get Congress to force compliance. Referring to counteracting the natural business cycle and propping up wages - some of the characteristics that would become forever associated with the Roosevelt administration - Hoover said "No president before has ever believed that there was a government responsibility in such cases... We had to pioneer a new field." [7] Indeed, though he didn't coin the phrase, Hoover championed many of the basic ideas that came to form the New Deal.

- Following the crash, the Hoover administration went into spending overdrive. Federal expenditures climbed by 4.7 percent between 1928 and 1929, and over the next three years they rose 8 percent, 17.2 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. Excluding military expenditures, spending under Hoover exploded by an enormous 259 percent. [8] By the end of his term, federal expenditures had climbed more than 50 percent in dollar terms - the biggest increase in federal spending ever recorded during peacetime. In percentage terms, federal expenditures grew more during Hoover's one term than they did during the first seven years of FDR's presidency. [9]

- Public works projects undertaken by Hoover include the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and Hoover Dam. In late 1929, Hoover ordered federal departments to speed up construction projects. He contacted all forty-eight state governors to make a similar appeal for expanded public works. He went to Congress with a $160 million tax cut, but it was coupled with a doubling of resources for public buildings and dams, highways, and harbors. [10] Even after this massive, unprecedented increase in public works, Hoover proposed in 1932 to set up a Public Works Administration to coordinate and expand even more Federal public works. [11]

As libertarian economist Murray Rothbard says of Hoover's economic policies,

"Led by President Hoover, the government embarked on what Anderson has accurately called the "Hoover New Deal." For if we define "New Deal" as an antidepression program marked by extensive governmental economic planning and intervention-including bolstering of wage rates and prices, expansion of credit, propping up of weak firms, and increased government spending (e.g., subsidies to unemployment and public works)- Herbert Clark Hoover must be considered the founder of the New Deal in America."

And though the true nature of Hoover's attitude toward big government market intervention has become shrouded in myth and mystery in the decades since his Presidency, it was quite clear at the time that Hoover was no friend of the "natural business cycle" and that he did everything he could to expand the size of the federal government - and its role in the economy, in just about every single way he could. As the New York Times concluded in the spring of 1930, "no one in his place could have done more." Indeed, no one could have, and Hoover proudly touted this fact during his campaign for re-election and throughout the rest of his life. During his Presidential campaign in the fall of 1932, Hoover summed up his interventionist efforts to cure the depression:

"We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic. We put it into action…. No government in Washington has hitherto considered that it held so broad a responsibility for leadership in such times…. For the first time in the history of depression, dividends, profits, and the cost of living, have been reduced before wages have suffered…. They were maintained until the cost of living had decreased and the profits had practically vanished. They are now the highest real wages in the world." [13]

And as if he could not denounce the largely hands-off, laissez-faire economic policies of most of his predecessors enough, he specifically calls out the economists who advised him to take a laissez-faire course, saying "Some of the reactionary economists urged that we should allow the liquidation to take its course until we had found bottom…. We determined that we would not follow the advice of the bitter-end liquidationists and see the whole body of debtors of the United States brought to bankruptcy and the savings of our people brought to destruction."

Hoover was a champion of big government, anti-laissez faire market intervention.

[1] http://www.fee.org...
[2] http://www.time.com...
[3] http://www.lewrockwell.com...
[4] Barry W. Poulson, Economic History of the United States (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1981), p. 508.
[5] http://www.time.com...
[6] http://www.econlib.org...
[7] http://mises.org...
[8] http://www.cato.org...
[9] http://www.jeffjacoby.com...
[10] http://www.archives.gov...
[11] http://mises.org...
[12] http://mises.org...
[13] http://mises.org...
Ore_Ele

Con

There are several things we, must address in my opponent's arguments, and I will break them down into different sections, Public Projects, Taxes and Tariffs, the government's budget, and comparisons to FDR and the Keynes system.

1)Public Projects.

My opponent lists the Hoover dam, San Francisco bay bridge, and the Los Angeles aqueducts. Looking at the Hoover dam first, this project was set in motion back in 1900, when congress began looking at the area for the purpose of placing a dam. And the Hoover Dam was authorized in 1928 (people should note that Hoover took office in 1929), yet didn't actually start construction until 1931 [1]. But even considering that, one should see that this is a business smart investment. It cost $49 million to build, and has been generating revenue for near 80 years (currently generates about $400 million a year). The bay bridge, likewise, was not approved by congress until 1931, and construction didn't even begin until July 1933 (after Hoover left office) [2]. Regarding the LA aqueducts, I believe my opponent will need to re-look at that, as they were started in 1908, and finished in 1913 [3]. He might be referring to repairs made to the aqueducts after the collapse of the St. Francis dam in 1928, however, government getting involved after a major tragedy (that cost 350+ lives) is hardly "big government."

The level to which these public projects stand on a governmental level is rather insignificant, also when noticing that they began well after the 1929 crash, they can hardly be called "responses" to the crash.

2)Taxes and Tariffs

My opponent likes to point to the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Hoover went into his 1928 election promising greater protection (through tariffs) for American agriculture, however, he also promised lower tariffs for industry [4]. The bill actually started as much of what he wanted, but by the time the senate republicans got through with the bill, tariffs (at request of the industries themselves) were at record levels, and Hoover referred to the increases above what he wanted as "vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious," however he had decided to go with what the republicans in congress wanted [5]. These tariffs were not what Hoover wanted, he was just too spineless to stand against his own party and say no.

Given that unemployment after the crash never went above 10% and even dropped back below 7% before the tariff act, most progressives, democrats, Keynesists, and big governmentalists were against this type of action. I will go over a decent Keynes response in part 4.

3)Federal Budget

This is the part where Hoover utterly fails as a big governmentalist. Hoover was a rock solid balanced budget man. This remained until his last year, 1932, when he changed his ways and attempted to actually do things, by this point it was too late to make a difference before the election. We can see that in 1929 and 1930, he maintained a federal surplus [6], and in 1931, a deficit of only $129 million (would be comparable to a modern deficit of about $110 billion). Between 1929 – 1932, the US federal spending went from $3.809 billion to $4.266 billion, a 12.0% increase over the 4 years. However, defense spending went from $1.372 billion to $1.672 billion, or 21.9% increase. The non-defense spending went from $2.437 billion to $2.594 billion, or 6.4% increase over 4 years [6]. It should also note that in the 1932 budget, there was only $2 million in welfare, a 50% cut from the $4 million in 1929 (in 1933, this was upped to $294 million, and $589 million in 1934). Governmental "other spending" only increased from $872 million to $925 million, or about 6.1% between 1929 and 1931 and to $955 million in 1932.

All of this clearly shows that Hoover made no attempt at growing government and made no real attempt at governmental intervention on any kind of national scale.

4)Compared to FDR and Keynes

Hoover grew the defense spending by 21.9% over his 4 years, FDR cut it by 35.3% in his first 2 years [6]. Hoover grew the non-defense spending by 6.4% over his 4 years, FDR grew the non-defense spending by 87.3% in his first 2 years (from $2.594 billion to $4.895 billion). Hoover cut welfare by 50%, FDR increased it by 29,350% in just 2 years (from $2 million to $589 million). Hoover refused to allow deficit spending until his last year, 3 years after the collapse, FDR embraced it.

If there you know only one thing about Keynes and Big Government (though I encourage everyone to learn more than one thing) it is that it supports deficit spending in bad time, through tax cuts and government stimulus spending. Hoover did the exact opposite. He did not increase government by any meaningful amount (only 6.4% over 4 years), he cut welfare, and he raised tariffs. All the exact opposite of what should have been done by basic big government principles.

Hoover did change his tune a bit as the election began to come along, however, as with every politician in election cycle, that was nothing more than political posturing. What he said on the campaign trail, is more what he needed to say to try to get re-elected, rather than an accurate representation of what truly happened. The Crash happened in 1929, but no real change in spending occurred until 1932. That is why Hoover has the "do nothing" label, because he did nothing for years. Pulling all the stuff he did at the end of his term, as if he actually supported that from the beginning is false. He wasn't big government at the time of the crisis, he wasn't big government in the years following the crisis, he was only big government in his last year, and probably only because he knew that being fiscally conservative was not going to win him re-election.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://future.state.gov...
[5] Robert Sobel, The Age of Giant Corporations: A microeconomic History of American Business pp. 87 – 88
[6] http://www.usgovernmentspending.com...
Debate Round No. 2
jat93

Pro

jat93 forfeited this round.
Ore_Ele

Con

My opponent forfieted his last round. Shortly before, my opponent sent me a PM asking if it was okay to post his argument in the comments section. I let him know that would be great, however, no arguments have been posted. There is only an hour left for this round, so even if an argument appears, I will not have time to respond. So all I can do now is simply extend my arguments to the final round.
Debate Round No. 3
jat93

Pro

I apologize for the unintended forfeit. At first I was going to post my round in the comment section, but since my opponent apparently doesn't go on debate.org on weekends, it would have left him with barely any time to respond. In order to avoid potential unnecessary complications I decided to just continue in the last round and treat this like a 3 round debate. Again I apologize to my opponent for any inconveniences.

Now, to rebut my opponent's arguments. First and foremost: public works projects.
While I concede the specific public works projects and Hoover's involvement in them, Hoover certainly supported massive government spending on public works throughout his entire political career, and especially his presidency.

Just to reiterate something I said before, after the Stock Market crash, Hoover ordered federal departments to speed up construction projects. He contacted all forty-eight state governors to make a similar appeal for expanded public works. He went to Congress with a $160 million tax cut, coupled with a doubling of resources for public buildings and dams, highways and harbors. [1] Even beforehand in late 1928, after he was elected president, Hoover presented a public works scheme, the "Hoover Plan" for "permanent prosperity," for a pact to "outlaw depression," to the Conference of Governors. Hoover had adopted the scheme of the well-known inflationists Foster and Catchings, for a mammoth $3 billion public-works plan to "stabilize" business cycles. In early 1931 Hoover signed the Wagner-Graham Stabilization Act, which set up the Federal Stabilization Board to initiate public works such as dams and highways. [2] In 1932 he created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to help save the banking and railroad systems. Loans offered under the program funded public works projects and the first federally-supported housing projects. Originally intended to combat the Depression, the RFC lasted 21 years and was authorized to finance public works projects, provide loans to farmers and victims of natural disasters, and assist school districts. [3] As Hoover recalls about his transformation of the Department of Commerce into what he deemed "the economic interpreter to the American people (and they badly need one)",

"We developed cooperation between the federal, state, and municipal governments to increase public works. We persuaded employers to "divide" time among their employees so that as many as possible would have some incomes. We organized the industries to undertake renovation, repair, and, where possible, expand construction." [4]

Public-works spending increased over 50% under Hoover, and the money went to building bridges, roads, etc. [5]

Next, about Smoot Hawley. My opponent minimizes Hoover's involvement in the interventionist, protectionist Smoot Hawley Tariff, saying that "he was just too spineless to stand against his own party and say no." First of all, even if this was totally true, it wouldn't change the fact that he signed the bill into law. His spinelessness doesn't change the fact that he played a role in massive market intervention. But furthermore, as I said previously, Hoover was urged not to sign the bill by over 1000 prominent economists. Additionally, automobile executiv Henry Ford spent an entire evening at the White House trying to convince Hoover to veto he bill, calling it an "economic stupidity." And J.P. Morgan's chief executive Thomas W. Lamont said he "almost went down on my knees to beg Herbert Hoover to veto the asinine Hawley-Smoot Tariff." And as I said before, Hoover actually defended the interventionist policies against Roosevelt's critiques, in turn criticizing Roosevelt for wanting Americans to "compete with "peasant and sweated labor abroad."

On the subject of federal budgets, surpluses, and deficits: My opponent claims Hoover was a "rock solid balanced budget man." But this is far from the truth. Hoover actually ran up massive deficits, as the federal Office of Management and Budget notes. And he inherited a huge budget surplus, which he soon turned into a deficit. By the end of his first term, the deficit had reached $2.7 billion - the third-largest budget deficit America had ever experienced. Hoover increased government spending from $3.1 billion to $4.7 billion in a failed effort to stimulate the economy. And he increased marginal tax rates to 63 percent. [6] Between Hoover's budget for the fiscal year 1930, and fiscal year 1933, the budget balance went from a surplus of 0.8% of GDP to a deficit of 4.5%. While this reflected in part a drop in revenues from 4.2% of GDP in 1930 to 3.5% in FY 1933, it mainly reflected an increase in spending from 3.4% in fiscal year 1930 to 8.0% in fiscal year 1933 - an unprecedented amount of increase at the time. [7]

Herbert Hoover increased the deficit more than any other President in peace time. [7]

As Murray Rothbard says,

"If we define "New Deal" as an antidepression program marked by extensive governmental economic planning and intervention-including bolstering of wage rates and prices, expansion of credit, propping up of weak firms, and increased government spending (e.g., subsidies to unemployment and public works)-Herbert Clark Hoover must be considered the founder of the New Deal in America. Hoover, from the very start of the depression, set his course unerringly toward the violation of all the laissez-faire canons. As a consequence, he left office with the economy at the depths of an unprecedented depression, with no recovery in sight after three and a half years, and with unemployment at the terrible and unprecedented rate of 25 percent of the labor force." [from source 4].

For a decade, Herbert Hoover had urged that the United States break its age-old policy of not intervening in cyclical recessions. During the postwar 1920–1921 recession, Hoover, as secretary of commerce, had unsuccessfully urged President Harding to intervene massively in the recession, to "do something" to cure the depression, in particular to expand credit and to engage in a massive public-works program. Although the United States got out of the recession on its own, without massive intervention, Hoover vowed that next time it would be different. And it was, when he had a bigger role in it. Hoover continually championed market intervention, big government, anti-laissez faire policies. And as a result, he left the country in the worst economic crisis it has ever faced to this very day.

Was Hoover a total proponent of Keynesian policies? No, and I didn't claim he was, and Keynes is more or less irrelevant to this debate. However, Hoover advocated credit expansion and public works programs to ameliorate recessions, just like Keynes. And this can hardly be called laissez-faire.

Certainly, it cannot be said that the traditional approach toward understanding Hoover is true: that he did nothing as his country spiraled downward into economic peril. Indeed, it is clear that Hoover did everything he could on behalf of himself and the Federal Government to intervene and save the country from the Depression. In the process, however, he ended up causing it.

I'll conclude with a quote from Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of the architects of Franklin Roosevelt's policies in the 1930s: "We didn't admit it at the time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started."

[1] http://www.hoover.archives.gov...
[2] http://www.presidentprofiles.com...
[3] http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu...
[4] http://mises.org...
[5] http://radocracy.com...
[6] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[7] http://www.csmonitor.com...
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank my opponent for this final round, and I will address all points before closing with a summary.

The first thing I'd like to address is, "Hoover ordered federal departments to speed up construction projects. He contacted all forty-eight state governors to make a similar appeal for expanded public works."

This does not make someone a big government type, contacting people and asking them to work faster on projects that are already approved and funded isn't evidence for anything. My opponent then goes on to talk about the tax cuts that Hoover supported (not exactly big government) and the doubling of resources for public works. However, what my opponent leaves out, is that Hoover, for all but his final year, adamantly maintained a balanced budget, and so cut other things to keep it balanced. And we can see in the historical records of government spending [1], that the budget stayed balanced.

My opponent then goes on to say that Public-works spending increased over 50% under Hoover, however he links to a website about the 2009 stimulus costing more than the Iraqi war, and this number is not located anywhere in this source. However, as already pointed out, Hoover would cut spending from other government sources to balance this out. Between 1929 and 1932 the total non-military government spending only increased 6.4%, with a 50% CUT to welfare.

One of my opponent's claims that absolutely must be addressed is his claim that Hoover had a $3 billion public-works plan. This is unsourced, and when searching for it, I cannot find any objective source for it. Every source is either the Rothbard book, or a Mises blog repeating the book, but nothing close to objective or unbiased. But we can see that it is not even close to accurate. The entire government's revenue was only around $4 billion dollar, so any $3 billion spending spree would be easily visible in the numbers. Now, maybe they were talking about $3 billion over 10 years. However, that would still mean $300 million a year, which we would also see in the budget, and it would be suggesting that Rothbard and my opponent were manipulating data to make it appear different than it is.

Moving on to my opponent's claims on the budget and spending. My opponent is cherry picking data, namely years that will appear to prove his case. And example is the deficit he lists is $2.7 billion at the end of Hoover's term. And talks about the increase in government spending, but he only lists selected years. This gives a false impression. Now, I also gave only selective years, but that was because the growth was average over those years. And now I have the space to look at each year. So let's look at Total spending, Total non-military spending, Total deficit for each year of Hoover's presidency, including the year before and after.

Year____ Total Spending___ Total non-military___ Total deficit
1928____ $3.668 billion____ $2.380 billion_______ $661 million surplus
1929____ $3.809 billion____ $2.437 billion_______ $478 million surplus
1930____ $3.956 billion____ $2.493 billion_______ $874 million surplus
1931____ $4.108 billion____ $2.545 billion_______ $129 million deficit
1932____ $4.266 billion____ $2.594 billion_______ $1,632 million deficit
1933____ $5.103 billion____ $3.727 billion_______ $1,843 million deficit

As everyone can see, no heavy government increases in spending or size took place until the 1933 year [1]. We can even go to one of my opponent's sources that he linked that says, "Hoover promised in February 1931 that if hunger and suffering could not otherwise be prevented, "I will ask the aid of every resource of the Federal government."… acting out of his Quaker faith and upbringing, he had looked to voluntary, rational acts of compassion and social reformation on the part of the spiritually enlightened. Hoover, it seems, believed that in times of crisis, citizens would take this kind of initiative." [2] Note, that Hoover made that comment 1 � years after the collapse, not right after.

Now in summary, I'd like to say that my opponent, over the course of this debate focused almost entirely on 1932 and 1933, and a bit on 1931. Over the entire debate, he only pointed to one thing in 1930, and it was something that Hoover had promised back before the collapse and something that he did not support.

Why do I make this point? As I said from the beginning, Hoover responded to the economic crisis with very little action, it wasn't until he saw that doing little to nothing was not working that he embraced Keynes philosophy. If we go to the comment section, where my opponent and I talked about our BOPs, my opponent said, "Con must prove that he was a proponent of those things and that that's how he tried to deal with the Depression."

I have shown that Hoover first attempted to deal with the depression by doing as little as possible, and only after that did not work, did he try a different approach. The numbers of government spending prove this and the fact that my opponent has focused on things done several years after the depression, rather than actions done right after it only adds to that proof.

Thank you

[1] http://www.usgovernmentspending.com...
[2] http://www.presidentprofiles.com...-
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
A fine debate, full of facts. When a opponent forfeits, it's fair to use the response space to pile on arguments. Con chose not to, so the debate remained balanced.

This debate speaks to the current concern with the value of government intervention. There is a long delay in public works projects just to do the engineering, prepare specs, collect bids, and award contracts. Obama's Stimulus ended up with about 6% in infrastructure, and much of that s still not spent. If the EPA existed in 1930, the Hoover Dam would still not be under way.

Government policies prolonged the Depression through WWII. The War was not a boom time. The Depression ended when the government laid off 10 million temporary workers (soldiers) and cut the budget by 60%. Other examples of spending cuts rescuing an economy are Canada post-1995 and Puerto Rico post-2000.
Posted by innomen 2 years ago
innomen
Great debate on both sides, and i can see the amount of work that went into the arguments were pretty exhaustive.
applaud Jat for bucking up against revisionist history, I didn't understand the forfeit, if it was done out of courtesy or not, so conduct will remain a tie. "Given that unemployment after the crash never went above 10%", that's just not true, nor was that assertion sourced. The Hoover Dam example, which was symbolic of the public works projects may not have been completed, or even the bulk of the work funded by the Hoover administration, was initiated by Hoover, and it is in the intent of Hoover that the argument wins. I have to restrain myself from my own personal knowledge of the president, and what he did (for good or ill). I also don't think putting the argument in the form of a comparison to FDR is a good idea for either side, because it can create tangents from the resolution, and makes an insinuation that if he isn't at FDR levels of big gov't, then he wasn't a big gov't guy.

It is an interesting debate, and I'm surprised more people aren't commenting on it. This seems like something that Roy would like.
Posted by jat93 2 years ago
jat93
I will not argue that he was an all out Keynesian. I will argue that he had many Keynesian policies and that he saw big government intervention - the antithesis of laissez-faire and "doing nothing" - as a way of dealing with the economic crisis. As a result, he helped found the New Deal in virtually all its aspects; much of Roosevelt's plan was just Hoover's on steroids. In many aspects Hoover was a supporter of Keynesian big government (though Keynes isn't necessarily relevant to the resolution).By big government market interventionist I don't mean someone who intervenes just once, I mean someone who opposes the natural economic cycle, thinks government intervention is a good way of dealing with economic problems, and pushes for it.
I have to prove that Hoover was anything but a proponent of small government and laissez-faire capitalism, as every school textbook and most people will tell you he was. Con must prove that he was a proponent of those things and that that's how he tried to deal with the Depression.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
If you want to try to argue that he was a supporter of the Keynesian big government, I'll take it then in a heart beat.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
Also define "market interventionist" If you're refering to anyone that intervenes just once, then no point in debating.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
define "big government" and "small government"
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by imabench 2 years ago
imabench
jat93Ore_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: con had excellent arguments that convinced me such as the true origin of many public works projects under hoovers administration along with the years at the end showing that Hoover didnt really start spending a lot until well after the Depression hit. As for the forfeited round I let that go
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
jat93Ore_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The evidence is on Pro's side and was not overcome. Con argues that using the "bully pulpit" to promote big spending does not count; it obviously does. The tariffs were devastating, and no free market type would tolerate them. Pro loses conduct for the forfeit, but Con didn't use the opportunity to add arguments, so it didn't affect the debate outcome.
Vote Placed by innomen 2 years ago
innomen
jat93Ore_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments. Conduct vote is up for grabs if i understand why there was a forfeit better.
Vote Placed by curious18 2 years ago
curious18
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Reasons for voting decision: It was hard to see who had the better arguments, because jat93 showed that Hoover took big government actions, but Ore totally showed that he started without doing big government and only resorted to it at the end. I gave conduct to Ore because of the forfeit. I'll probably try to come back to this one.