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1. Thanks to Jeremiah for his work on the SSC podcast. Going forward, the podcast will be run by Solenoid Entity.
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And economist Scott Sumner, an expert on the Great Depression, wrote a great post explaining exactly how Hoover was vs. wasn’t to blame.
And a few people linked me to this review by Adam Cadre of a different Hoover biography. It’s generally great, but what really blew me away was this answer to one of the questions I asked on my post – why was Hoover so good at international relief, but so reluctant to relieve his own country?:
Many wondered why Hoover, who had made his name dealing with hunger crises overseas, did so little about the one that unfolded in his own country during his presidency. One columnist growled that “the only mistake [the] starving unemployed of this country have made is that they did not march on Washington and under the windows of Mr. Hoover in the White House display banners reading, ‘We are Belgians!'” A senator expressed disbelief that Hoover would happily feed “hungry Russians, hungry Bolsheviks, hungry men with long whiskers and wild ideas”, but not starving Americans.
But Herbert Hoover believed in American exceptionalism. It made sense to him that people in places like Belgium and Russia might find themselves starving and in desperate need of help, for they did not hold to the tenets of American individualism, and so it was only to be expected that their inferior philosophies would lead them into dire straits. But that couldn’t happen in America. It just couldn’t.
The surest sign that I accomplished what I wanted with the book review was that a few days later, when some people on Twitter were comparing Trump’s coronavirus response to Herbert Hoover, more knowledgeable people pointed out that this was wrong: Hoover is exactly who we would want leading the response right now!