18.6.06

GOT YOUR LARD SANDWICH? Don at Cafe Hayek has been reading Robert Higgs's Depression, War, and Cold War, which might be a useful addition to the stack of things to read. The comment section is full of all the canonical arguments about the causes of the Great Depression and the worth of the New Deal.

The U.S. government's responses to the Great Depression are central to understanding much public policy, right up to this day. Farmers abandoning their farms to join the industrial reserve army in the cities? Stabilize farm incomes such that rural living standards bear the same proportion to urban living standards that prevailed in 1920. Independent truckers contracting to haul loads for gas and a bit of eating money? Issue certificates of public convenience and necessity limiting truckers to the commodities and routes they were serving in the early 1930s. Retail grocers and dry goods stores negotiating for lower prices to buy in volume, and cutting prices to attract customers? Make the solicitation of a price cut illegal, and the sale at or near cost illegal. Were these good ideas? Chou En-lai's quip about the French Revolution ("too soon to tell") comes to mind. We're still arguing about many of these things today, only with new actors.

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