Party Like It’s 1773: A Report from a Tax Day Tea Party

Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics — By on April 15, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Tax Day Tea Party

It’s not clear how many attended the hundreds of “Tax Day Tea Party” events held throughout the nation today. The estimates are pouring in, but we’ll never really know for sure how many showed up to protest. That’s the nature of a real grassroots movement, especially on the Right.
We do know, however, that thousands of those who did attend these events did so because they are fed up with… well, with a lot of things. It seems to me that the Tea Party movement isn’t as unified as it might appear – at least, the rally I attended wasn’t.
I spent the afternoon at one of the Orange County, CA rallies – in downtown Santa Ana. There I saw people protest such varied things as their tax rates, the supposed cover-up of President Obama’s Birth Certificate, Prop 1A, the recent DHS Report on “right wing extremist activity”, government “pork” spending (there were pig balloons everywhere!), and the recent California tax hikes. There were also some calling for the recall of CA Assemblyman Anthony Adams and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are a few shots of the crowd:


Tax Day Tea Party

Tax Day Tea Party
The Costumes were fun. It was like being at a Republican Renaissance Faire…

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…COMPLETE WITH STILTS!

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Coincidence that the DHS report referenced in this sign came out immediately before the Tea Parties? Maybe.

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There were lots of homemade signs. Almost none of them matched any others. All were in English, wish seemed very strange to me. I don’t know the demographic numbers for North Orange County, but this was undoubtedly the largest group of English-speaking Caucasians I’ve seen in this part of the O.C. This seems bad.

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It was rumored that ACORN activists might pay us a visit, but I didn’t see any; in fact, I didn’t notice any anti-tea party protestors at all. (But who knows – it was crowded.)

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As far as I know money isn’t actually printed on paper, but nice sentiment nonetheless.

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I noticed a lot of Ron Paul stuff scattered throughout the crowd.

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A number of people attached tea bags to their clothing. It occurs to me that it’s a good thing we didn’t get a nice warm rain.

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Tax Day Tea Party

The event’s youngest speaker was 10 year-old Hayden who said, “Mr. President, please don’t mess with my future. Thank you.”

Tax Day Tea Party
This girl has discovered the lucrative possibilities of the coming “new economy.”

Tax Day Tea Party

There were a lot of officers on horseback, ready with riot gear in case the group got too rowdy. They looked bored. I don’t think they had much to do. I don’t feel sorry for them, though, as I noticed that a number of young activist ladies developed a sudden interest in all things equine this afternoon…

Tax Day Tea Party
Andrew Breitbart gave the last big speech of the afternoon.
The perceived success of this event could potentially affect the outcome of the next elections – if today’s events went well, the Tea Party movement could generate an awful lot of energy in the grassroots. If it dies out quickly, though, as movements of this sort so often do, then Conservative activists will know they have a lot more work to do. As Hugh Hewitt said on his blog,

The real tests will be in New Jersey and Virginia where November races for governor could be impacted by the infusion of a large number of committed activists.

The Tea Party rallies could be politically significant as early as this year, AND in 2010.
It’ll be interesting to see where this movement ends up. It’s easy to get fired up about something big and exciting in the beginning, but harder to maintain your energy when the work gets hard and dull. Aftertheteaparty.com looks promising for now – we’ll see what happens. Probably there will be a lot of medium-sized splinter groups rather than a massive, well-organized activism machine. And that’s ok- the groups that can’t or won’t work together can improve each other through competition. ‘


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  • linds

    Rachel, please. The folks involved may not have known it, but this isn’t a grassroots movement. It was a well-documented staged series of events by various PACs and lobby groups.
    Kinda like ACORN, in contradiction to the sign depicted in this article. :)

  • Nate

    Whatever makes you feel better, linds. Hundreds of thousands of people showing up to protest, most of whom have never been to a protest in their life. The protests were organized locally. What exactly IS a grassroots movement then? And thanks for providing all of that evidence to back up your claim.
    I suppose it was kinda like ACORN, except minus the intimidation tactics & voter fraud & professional protesters that are perpetually outraged.

  • truthseeker

    I like Krugman’s description of this “grassroots” movement – “astroturf.” These “protesters” didn’t have a clue what they were protesting. They were all over the map. Funny thing, the only “tax” implemented under Obama is the cigarette tax. So if you smoke, you pay more. Big deal. So why were all these people out in the middle of a work day when the rest of the honest people of the world were out making a buck? Do they not have lives? This was a Faux News moment, nothing more.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Is it more intelligent to be perpetually outraged for money or to just be perpetually outraged for free?

  • Dustin Steeve

    Linds,
    I don’t understand your comment. It sounds like you are arguing that this was not a grassroots movement because it was orchestrated by PACS. Then you seem to contradict your point by saying that the people who were at the tea parties had no idea that the movement was orchestrated. So, if the people in attendance had no idea that the movement was “orchestrated” than doesn’t it mean that it wasn’t orchestrated?
    Something that is orchestrated is something that is carefully planned and executed such that a desired outcome is achieved. Think of an orchestra – an ensemble of musicians led by a conductor carefully plan, practice, and execute a series of musical pieces to harmoniously present a concert experience. However, all the comments here suggest that these events were very diverse in causes that were represented, people that attended, and goals that those people hoped to achieve. The one variation of the theme for all the tea parties is a firm belief by the participants that Government spending and intervention into the private sector and the lives of everyday American’s has gotten out of hand. You can hardly call such a gathering an “orchestrated” event.
    Truthseeker,
    Here’s a simple, un-fabricated truth. The “stimulus” package needs to be paid off. In his first 60 days, the President promised to spend more money than his predecessor President Bush spent in the past 8 years. Where does that government spending come from? You and me. We have to pay that money back. There’s only one way that the government collects money from us to pay back its debts: taxes. If you think that President Obama can pay off the incredible sum of money he promised in the stimulus package IN ADDITION to the sum of money he is looking to spend on things like healthcare w/o raising our taxes, you are welcome to believe that. However, Rachel and I live in California. We can no longer afford to be that naively hopeful.
    Boonton,
    It is best not to be perpetually outraged. But if you are angered by injustice, it is best not to let money fuel your anger lest your right sense of injustice become corrupted by ulterior motives.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The “stimulus” package needs to be paid off.
    Every attempt to address a recession with a pro-cyclical fiscal policy (cut spending in recession, increase in booms) has resulted in diaster. Can you supply a single counter-example?
    The stimulus will ultimately have to be paid off. Paying a debt off when you have a high income is a lot easier than paying a debt off when you have a low income. The two are tied together.
    As for spending more money in 60 days than Bush spent in a year, that’s a lie. But I’m not surprised. I knew you guys couldn’t keep up the ‘but we hated Bush too’ line for very long.

  • Dustin Steeve

    Boonton,
    Glad you asked. During his presidency, Herbert Hoover was able to rely primarily on the charity and volunteerism of the American people to care for those without work. He didn’t need to raise taxes and promise grand “stimulus” packages because Americans had their own money to spend. As a result, more Americans kept more of their own money and fewer people were unemployed during his four years in office than were unemployed during Roosevelt’s 3 terms.
    As to your second point, I didn’t say that Obama spent more money than Bush, I said that he has promised to spend more money in 60 days than Bush spent in 8 years. I’m pretty sure the “stimulus package” alone will cost as much as the entire Iraq war to date. I’m not sure where you get the whole “we hate Bush too” stuff from, I’ve never said that.
    The fact of the matter is that the Federal Government thinks it can spend my money better than I can. I don’t believe that to be true for a moment. It’s one thing to pay federal taxes to keep interstates repaired and a military armed, but paying taxes so that Obama can fund “community organizers” and all means of crazy projects (like a high speed railway from LA to Las Vegas), that’s another thing. Community organizing needs to be supported by the community, not some far off, remote, federal government that has absolutely no meaningful contact with my community. Citizens of a town need to vote on and pay for their own local projects. It is bad for us to become dependent on the Federal government to come in and improve our living situation.
    The Boston Tea Party was the way that early patriots demonstrated their animosity toward remote, governing bodies imposing themselves on citizens from afar especially by means of taxation. Today the Federal government imposes itself on my life and the life of each and every citizen in this country. Some gladly surrender their parental, financial, and neighborly responsibilities to the Federal government. But for the rest of us, those of us whose values and hard-work ethic allow us to flourish without the nanny state, we gathered together and held another Tea Party.

  • ex-preacher

    Dustin,
    You are wrong about unemployment under Hoover and FDR. Unemployment skyrocketed under Hoover, going from under 5% in 1929 when he took office to 24.9% as he left office in 1933. Under FDR, it dropped to 14% in 1937. It spiked to 19% in 1938 when FDR decided to try to balance the budget, then dropped dramatically when the US began deficit spending for World War II. By 1941, prior to Pearl Harbor, it was under 10% and by 1943 was under 2%.
    You should ask the people who were alive in 1933 (or read about it) what they thought about Hoover’s reliance on volunteer charity.
    If you truly are against the “Nanny State,” I’d like to see you and your fellow Republicans call for the abolition of Social Security and Medicare.
    The Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation. Barack Obama and Congress were elected in 2008. If you can’t handle that, there’ll be more elections in the future. I’m predicting the Republicans will do as well in 2012 as they did in 1936.

  • linds

    Dustin,
    The people who get whipped up in a frenzy and show up for these things as a result of careful planning on behalf of organizers (who successfully made the events appear to be spontaneous, community-originating gatherings) don’t have to understand the underlying structure. Regardless of who didn’t know what was going on, the GOP political action machine orchestrated it. They were just lucky they didn’t have a complicated piece of music for all the musicians to play. :)
    I’m just saying it’s ridiculous to call this a grassroots movement that will effect significant political change. It was the party out of power taking advantage of the fact that people are angry about the current economic situation – and people always hate tax day.
    It’s like the Iraq war protests. They were orchestrated by PACs like MoveOn, got a bunch of laypeople who hadn’t paid attention to it whipped into a frenzy for a short time (remember the corner by Brea Mall back then?), then fizzled to a few angry hippies because they weren’t genuinely organized from the grassroots up. The tea parties aren’t expressing a new idea from the electorate – they’re just a chance to express long-held frustration at wasteful government spending and the inevitability of taxation.
    It’s fun to talk about them, but if we mistake them for a genuine shift in the will of the people, we will be quite disappointed. And look a little foolish. :)

  • OneCaliforniaDad

    The tea party was a means for many Americans to express their opposition to what they perceive to be excessive and unwise spending by our govt leaders today.
    Boonton correctly acknowledges in his argument that higher taxes will be the natural result of the spending taking place today. Unlike Boonton, I prefer to keep my income and have the ability to invest and or spend it as I choose.
    Ex preacher contends that medicare and social security are two examples of a nanny state. That may be true for Ex preacher. As for me, I have for many years paid many of my earnings, from hours of hard work, into these systems. Any payout I may receive in the future, I will have earned and worked for.
    As for their abolition, some project their fiscal demise may occur as the natural result of the irresponsible fiscal policies of many administrations, including the current one. Although I do hold out hope that the Boonton’s will be donating more of their income to cover the costs of my social security and medicare benefits.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Boonton correctly acknowledges in his argument that higher taxes will be the natural result of the spending taking place today. Unlike Boonton, I prefer to keep my income and have the ability to invest and or spend it as I choose.
    Actually I didn’t say that. I acknowledged that the stimulus will eventually have to be paid off. Increased income automatically generates additional tax revenue even if rates stay the same. The question is how much do we loose with the stimulus package versus without it? Since the multiplier is probably greater than 1 at this point we are better off with the stimulus package than without it.
    Dustin
    Glad you asked. During his presidency, Herbert Hoover was able to rely primarily on the charity and volunteerism of the American people to care for those without work
    I see you have done nothing to learn anything about Herbert Hoover or the Great Depression. (Amazingly you haven’t even learned the latest right wing talking points which assert that Hoover had basically the same policies of FDR hence that’s why the GD was so bad…see The Forgotten Man….you’ve turned ignorance into high art, you’re even ignorant of your own side’s ignorance!) This in itself isn’t a big deal but it’s odd that your complete lack of knowledge somehow makes you feel like the sensible thing to do is shoot your mouth off and make a fool of yourself.
    Again and again I notice that many people on the right cultivate this amazing ability to devote themselves to causes and issues while at the same time making it a point of knowing nothing about them. Hence we get people who say taxes are their big concern yet show they don’t even know what tax rates are, were and what changes have and haven’t been made to them. Is this the Sarah Palin style of conservatism?
    linds
    It’s like the Iraq war protests. They were orchestrated by PACs like MoveOn, got a bunch of laypeople who hadn’t paid attention to it whipped into a frenzy for a short time (remember the corner by Brea Mall back then?), then fizzled to a few angry hippies because they weren’t genuinely organized from the grassroots up. The tea parties aren’t expressing a new idea from the electorate – they’re just a chance to express long-held frustration at wasteful government spending and the inevitability of taxation
    The Tea Parties were maybe 20% grass roots Ron Paul types (types disparaged and cast off of the Republican Party….treated as crazies, radicals or even terrorist sympathizers), 40% Fox News & the usual talk radio crew and 40% GOP publicity stunt. Look all protests have a mix of organization and spontaneousness about them. I don’t begrudge you the opportunity to play counter-culture for a while. It can be quite fun, the left spent nearly 20 years doing it. You’re off to a great start. Let me know if you guys start forming hippie style free-love communes.
    But more down to earth, what exactly is the difference between your tea parties and a protest ‘orchestrated’ by MoveOn.org? Who is Moveon.org? A private group that does grassroots organizing.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    CA Dad
    Ex preacher contends that medicare and social security are two examples of a nanny state. That may be true for Ex preacher. As for me, I have for many years paid many of my earnings, from hours of hard work, into these systems. Any payout I may receive in the future, I will have earned and worked for.
    Social Security, Medicare, Defense, Interest on the Debt. That is 80% of the Fed. Budget. 80% Now if you and people like you have paid for this with your earnings why is there a deficit. Don’t say pork, don’t say stimulus, don’t say ACORN. If you paid for it there should be no deficit. If how come you guys could come up with signs that compard Obama to Hitler but couldn’t come up with one that said “Raise my mom’s Medicare co-pay”?
    Unlike Boonton, I prefer to keep my income and have the ability to invest and or spend it as I choose.
    Interestingly, you have more income to spend or invest because of such programs. You’re not shelling out $1000 for anemia shots for your mom because medicare is covering most of it. You’re not being told by your bank that your savings has disappeared and its gone forever because the bank’s insolvent. You’re sources of income are probably more secure because of the stimulus counteracting the panic. Now I’m not saying that gov’t is creating your income rather than your own work, I am saying the two are in a symbiotic relationship and a balance needs to be struck that’s sensible.
    To date your side has done its best to deny reality. Dustin above is a nice example of this. The poor man has gotten so comfortable rewriting history (well making it up, to rewrite it you have to actually know it to begin with) that he is perfectly fit to be a citizen of George Orwell’s 1984. The Tea Parties, while fun and colorful and having some good messages, represent no essential change from anything you guys did during the last 8 years when you were squandering trillions.
    BTW, could you guys make up your minds? Hate Bush or don’t hate Bush. The Tea Partiers were calling him a socialist so they could accomodate the uncomfortable fact that almost all the bailout money was spent under Bush and not Obama. Now you guys love him again. Try to stick to a single message people, you’re just looking stupid(ier).

  • Dustin Steeve

    Talking-Points Boonton,
    I find it amusing that you mock me for not being aware of the latest Republican talking points and use that claim to accuse me of being ignorant about Herbert Hoover. I now see what you count as “knowledge.” For the record, I am aware of what most Republicans say about Hoover and they are simply wrong. Hoover’s policies relied heavily on real, grass-roots community volunteerism whereas FDR attempted a top-down approach to creating jobs and supporting the jobless. Hoover and Roosevelt had precisely the opposite approach to solving the Depression. Since you smartly didn’t contest them, I will let the unemployment numbers speak for themselves.
    Joan Hoff-Wilson called Hoover’s principles of thriftiness, personal responsibility, and care for one’s local community “progressive individualism.” We need more of that in this country. We need the spenders to tighten their belts, pay their bills, and help their neighbors. We don’t need people subscribing to the Obama brand and waiting for the gravy train to arrive.
    As to your whole slobbery mess of a remark above, I think you need to be a little less simple in your thinking. As it turns out, I can like the work of the Tea Parties w/o agreeing w/ everything that everyone at the Tea Parties said. I don’t hate Bush, have never hated Bush, and don’t see any good reason why I ought to contort my view about Bush in order to make a remark about taxes.
    Regarding your question, “Now if you and people like you have paid for this with your earnings why is there a deficit.” The answer is simple, the government has promised those things to more people than people like California Dad. The Federal government hasn’t figured out a way to make those things profitable, and therefore those programs are not sustainable w/o increasing the tax burden. That’s what happens when you promise to spend more money than you have available.

  • Dustin Steeve

    Linds,
    Thanks, that helps me better understand what you were saying.
    I have to admit, I don’t watch television news. So the only programming information I have about Fox comes from articles in the paper or online. According to the articles I read, Fox dedicated a great deal of programming hours to the Tea Parties the day they happened, but did they also do wall-to-wall coverage of the movement leading up to the actual parties?
    The reason I feel comfortable calling it a grass-roots movement is because of the people to whom the movement has spread. My impression is that most of these people are not a part of any PAC. For example, I found out about the Tea Parties through sources like Twitter and blogs, in other words, I found out about them through my friends. Most of my friends are not political junkies, most do not participate in political rallies or anything of that sort. When I heard people interviewed on news radio, it seemed that those who were attending the tea parties were regular folk like my friends. So if regular folk, who have paid their taxes for years and never bothered to hold a tea party, are taking time off work, bringing their kids down, and engaging publicly in a political demonstration, I think that is significant.
    I look at it this way, if the next Republican candidate mobilizes this same group of people to go out, hold rallies for him or her and knock on doors, then the next election would see a greater turnout for Republicans than we’ve seen in years.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Dustin
    Since you smartly didn’t contest them, I will let the unemployment numbers speak for themselves.
    Yes Ex did a nice job of posting the unemployment numbers. They are saying, “Shut up Dustin, you’re an idiot”. I will yield to their judgement on the matter.
    According to the articles I read, Fox dedicated a great deal of programming hours to the Tea Parties the day they happened, but did they also do wall-to-wall coverage of the movement leading up to the actual parties?
    Yes
    Regarding your question, “Now if you and people like you have paid for this with your earnings why is there a deficit.” The answer is simple, the government has promised those things to more people than people like California Dad.
    Well slight problem here, we aren’t talking about future promises but current spending. What exactly has Ca Dad paid for? Look, this is no secret. Republicans have spent the last twenty nine years running on the idea that $1.20 in gov’t should be paid with $0.80 in taxes. It was Cheney himself who said ‘deficits don’t matter’. So no you guys don’t get to play Concord Coalition anymore than Paris Hilton gets to be elected President of the Chastity Coalition.
    Joan Hoff-Wilson called Hoover’s principles of thriftiness, personal responsibility, and care for one’s local community “progressive individualism.” We need more of that in this country. We need the spenders to tighten their belts, pay their bills, and help their neighbors. We don’t need people subscribing to the Obama brand and waiting for the gravy train to arrive.
    So let’s get the history book according to you straight:
    1. Stock Market crash, people get unemployed.
    2. Hoover says cut spending, neighbors should help each other. Problem solved.
    3. People elect FDR in a super landslide. Republicans discredited for over 20 years….it takes nearly two to three generations before Hoover is no longer much of an embarassment to the GOP. Why? Because no one noticed unemployment fell under Hoover and only got bad under FDR?
    Leaving aside actually spending effort to look up actual numbers or fact…does it strike you as odd that you assert individualism is the solution yet your theory of history requires the majority of individuals acting not only like idiots but insane ones at that?
    This is the point where a person who actually wanted to be partially connected to reality would say “wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense…there must be something wrong with this theory”

  • ex-preacher

    Dustin,
    You write (to Boonton?): “Since you smartly didn’t contest them, I will let the unemployment numbers speak for themselves.”
    Are you under the impression that those numbers are favorable for Hoover?
    Let me go over this again. The numbers show that unemployment skyrockted under Hoover from under 5% to almost 25%. Under FDR, they dropped pretty consistently. The Depression was finally ended with massive government deficit spending for the war. Most economists and historians believe that FDR could have ended the Depression sooner with even greater deficit spending.
    What is truly frightening is to imagine how much worse the Depression might have been if Hoover had remained in office.

  • linds

    Dustin,
    Yes, Fox promoted the snot out of them for several days before the event. They sent their star commentators to broadcast their entire shows live from locations around the country — that takes enough planning to pull off that we can safely assume Fox was instrumental in promoting if not planning those events.
    And you can call grassroots whatever you like, but the correct definition of the word is a movement or policy that genuinely originates from the masses, implying the movement is spontaneous, not organized by existing political power structures (which include PACs or lobby groups… or media). As long as we’re redefining words to suit our purposes, I’d like to propose we abandon a boring word like grassroots. I’m going to call it a pony from now on. :)

  • jd

    Ex-preacher:
    A little correction or addendum to your numbers. On November 1, 1934, unemployment was 23.2 percent, two years after Roosevelt was elected. It finally got down to 13.5 percent in August of 1937 and went back up to 14.6 percent in January of 1940. Not a record to brag about.
    Roosevelt’s policies lengthened the depression. They certainly did not get us out of it. There is some argument as to whether the war actually did pull us out of the depression. The conventional wisdom is that it did. Whatever pulled us out of it, it certainly was not Roosevelt’s “genius.” Though I guess you could argue that the war was a great make-work program–instant lowering of unemployment numbers.
    The fact that you and people like you still believe in Roosevelt’s economic policies is discouraging and dangerous. Our current president seems to believe it.
    As to our current president. He was elected by talking of cutting taxes for 95 percent of the electorate, and fiscal responsibility–not exactly Democrat kind of talk. His current behavior doesn’t match. I’m not really surprised by his spending orgy. Are you?

  • jd

    We all note that Linds has still not provided any documentation to show how all these protests were orchestrated by some guy like George Soros or some group like moveon.org.
    There was actually one in my town and I didn’t even know about it until the day it happened. I’m so happy that it has pissed all you guys off so much. In fact, according to some NBC folks, it had the White House “infuriated.”

  • http://www.EvangelicalOutpost.com Dustin Steeve

    Boonton & Ex,
    I missed Ex’s response to the unemployment numbers. Ex, if you could cite where you got those numbers, it would be helpful. Here’s what I know. According to Hoover biographer Eugene Lyons, unemployment during Hoover’s administration (arguably the worst years of the domestic AND global economic Depression), was around 6.2 million. During the first two Roosevelt terms until the war, unemployment stayed at around 9.9 million. According to author John Spargo, “It is a simple fact that on the day Franklin Roosevelt was elected President there were less workers unemployed, less people needing relief, than there have been on any day since then.” In addition to keeping unemployment low, Hoover was able to utilize volunteer help in government relief programs. The effect of this was that overhead for relief work under Hoover was around 3% whereas the overhead for relief work under Roosevelt averaged between 23-25%.
    I am not sure how familiar you both are with Hoover’s life story, but his genius as a social engineer was world renowned. I encourage you to read up on his work in Belgium post WWI, it’s a fascinating story that demonstrates America’s goodwill to the world and the value of hard work, thrift, and charity. Anyhow, the fact of the matter is that Hoover, unlike his popular successor, was reticent to centralize operations in the hands of the federal government and, as a result, was able to do more good more efficiently without making people dependent on government.
    That Republicans disowned Hoover is not surprising. Unfortunately, political parties tend to forget principles when principles jeopardize political gain. Hoover was a principled man who was abandoned by his party because he was made to be a villain and lost the Republicans an important election.
    Hoover’s greatest fault was that he lacked the rhetorical skill and favor of the popular media to explain his principles w/o being ridiculed. Also, on principle, Hoover felt that he needed to use the press to highlight need, not publicize (and seem to take credit for) volunteer success. Therefore, it is no surprise that things under Hoover seemed worse to people; he used the press to publicize need! And he had good reason to publicize need – Hoover believed that publicizing need kept people attuned to the need of their neighbors and the need to give.
    To his credit, Roosevelt was able to speak the comforting words that people wanted to hear. He was able to promise government payouts and publish all the work being done by the WPA. Roosevelt was tremendously popular with the press and was able to create the impression that things were greatly improved; as a result the attitude of the public began to pick up. Keynes believed that the depression was part material, but also part immaterial. I agree with Keynes on that point. Roosevelt’s great achievement was that he lifted the spirits of the American people and eased the immaterial cause of the Depression.
    That was the reality of the situation then. Examine the world today, notice how much of what we hear in press shapes people’s opinions about how things are in the world today, and ask yourself if what I have said seems totally outlandish.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton
  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The unemployed and unemployment rate is a subject of some wonkish dispute since the modern sampling methods weren’t developed until 1940 and there’s an academic dispute over how to count people on work relief programs.
    http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/Timeline.htm
    Has a helpful timeline. Jumping down to 1932 we see farm prices down by 53% (farmers are technically businessmen so they aren’t ‘unemployed’ until their farms get foreclosed on so it’s important to look at prices). Hoover raised the top tax rate from 25% to 63%, GDP has fallen 31% since 1929 and unemployment is estimated at 23.6%.
    FDR is elected in the fall of 1932 but doesn’t take office until 1933, a 3rd bank panic happens in March of 1933 and FDR responded with the ‘Bank Holiday’. GDP fell only 2.1% by the end of 1933 and rose 7.7% in 1934.
    Dustin read a book by what Eugene Lyons who, if you bother to read his biography, was an earlier version of David Horowitz. He was a Stalin supporting communist who felt guilty about his support for the USSR so turned violently to the right in his later years. He had a few things to feel guilty about since he falsely accused an honest reporter covering famine in the Ukraine as a liar and felt the victims of Stalin’s show trials had committed some type of crime (although he thought they were technically not guilty of the crimes they were accused of).
    So like Horowitz you have a man with an agenda, trying to ‘make up’ for his past sins probably by using the tools he learned in the other direction. There’s nothing wrong with him but you should know where he was coming from. Know your authors and use multiple sources Dustin.
    An Amazon reviewer tells us what we probably need to know about this biography:

    I understand that biographers often admire their subjects, but Lyons goes beyond admiration into straight worship. Herbert Hoover, in his biography, is a man without flaws and probably the greatest man who ever lived. This bias is evident on almost every page and makes for bad writing.

    Herbert Hoover may be underrated in history, or have a worse reputation than he deserves, but he is not as great as Lyons portrays him. By deifying Hoover, Lyons actually comes off somewhat like a defense lawyer trying to canonize a client. Throught the book, Lyons distorts the truth and avoids certain facts if they could possibly show Hoover in an unfavorable light.

  • ex-preacher

    The wikipedia articles referenced by Boonton are generally accurate IMO. Any halfway decent history book will present the same basic information and statistics.
    Regarding Hoover, I have no doubt he was a good and honest man who was doing his best. He did well in feeding Belgium after WWI and in the relief efforts after the flood of 1927. But his policies aimed at ending the Depression were, on the whole, a series of unmitigated disasters. If nothing else, consider that the 1936 election became a referendum on whether the nation wanted to continue with FDR’s New Deal or return to the policies of Hoover. FDR won an even greater landslide in 1936 than he had in 1932. Either the American people were incredibly stupid or FDR’s policies really did work better than Hoover’s.
    There is some debate over how unemployment was measured prior to 1948, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics says this:
    “From an estimated annual rate of 3.3 percent during 1923-29, the unemployment rate rose to a peak of about 25 percent in 1933. The economy reached its trough in 1933; but although unemployment had reached its peak, economic recovery was slow, hesitant, and far from complete. As shown below, the unemployment rate was still nearly 15 percent in 1940.”
    The material below is spliced from articles on the Depression, Hoover and Roosevelt from the Encyclopedia Britannica. I believe it fairly represents the consensus among historians and economists while avoiding polemics of the right and left. The words in brackets are mine.
    “The Great Depression began in the United States as an ordinary recession in the summer of 1929. The downturn became markedly worse, however, in late 1929 and continued until early 1933. Real output and prices fell precipitously. Between the peak and the trough of the downturn, industrial production in the United States declined 47 percent and real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 30 percent.”
    “The U.S. recovery began in the spring of 1933. Output grew rapidly in the mid-1930s: real GDP rose at an average rate of 9 percent per year between 1933 and 1937. Output had fallen so deeply in the early years of the 1930s, however, that it remained substantially below its long-run trend path throughout this period. In 1937–38 the United States suffered another severe downturn, but after mid-1938 the American economy grew even more rapidly than in the mid-1930s. The country’s output finally returned to its long-run trend path in 1942.”
    Among the key factors in the onset of the Depression were the decline in the money supply, the gold standard, a rise in interest rates, the Stock Market Crash, and the Smoot-Hawley tariffs.
    “Indeed, the Revenue Act of 1932 increased American tax rates greatly in an attempt to balance the federal budget, and by doing so it dealt another contractionary blow to the economy by further discouraging spending.”
    “By 1933, one-fifth of the banks in existence at the start of 1930 had failed.”
    “In addition to allowing the panics to reduce the U.S. money supply, the Federal Reserve also deliberately contracted the money supply and raised interest rates in September 1931, when Britain was forced off the gold standard and investors feared that the United States would devalue as well.”
    “President Hoover parted ways with those leaders of the Republican Party—including Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon—who believed there was nothing for the government to do but wait for the next phase of the business cycle. Hoover took prompt action. He called business leaders to the White House to urge them not to lay off workers or cut wages. He urged state and local governments to join private charities in caring for Americans made destitute by the Depression. He asked Congress to appropriate money for public-works projects [most famously, Hoover Dam] to expand government employment . In 1931 he backed creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC, established 1932), a large-scale lending institution intended to help banks and industries and thereby promote a general recovery.”
    “The nation’s economy failed to respond to Hoover’s initiatives. As the Depression worsened, banks and other businesses collapsed and poverty stalked the land, and the American people began to blame Hoover for the calamity.”
    “By the 1932 presidential campaign, Hoover was blaming the Depression on events abroad and predicting that election of his Democratic challenger, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would only intensify the disaster. The electorate obviously thought differently . . .”
    “By inauguration day—March 4, 1933—most banks had shut down, industrial production had fallen to just 56 percent of its 1929 level, at least 13 million wage earners were unemployed, and farmers were in desperate straits.”
    “By the fall of 1934, the measures passed during The Hundred Days had produced a limited degree of recovery; more importantly, they had regenerated hope that the country would surmount the crisis. Although the New Deal had alienated conservatives, including many businessmen, most Americans supported Roosevelt’s programs.”
    “Some New Deal programs [like the NIRA and AAA] may have actually hindered recovery.”
    “By 1937 the economy had recovered substantially, and Roosevelt, seeing an opportunity to return to a balanced budget, drastically curtailed government spending. The result was a sharp recession, during which the economy began plummeting toward 1932 levels. Chastened by the recession, Roosevelt now began to pay more attention to advisers who counseled deficit spending as the best way to counter the depression. Late in 1937 he backed another massive government spending program, and by the middle of 1938 the crisis had passed.”
    “Given the key roles of monetary contraction and the gold standard in causing the Great Depression, it is not surprising that currency devaluations and monetary expansion were the leading sources of recovery throughout the world. There is a notable correlation between the times at which countries abandoned the gold standard (or devalued their currencies substantially) and when they experienced renewed growth in their output.”
    “The government budget deficit grew rapidly in 1941 and 1942 because of the military buildup, and the Federal Reserve responded to the threat and later the reality of war by increasing the money supply greatly over the same period. This expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, together with widespread conscription beginning in 1942, quickly returned the economy to its trend path and reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level. So, while the war was not the main impetus for the recovery in the United States, it played a role in completing the return to full employment.”