Books That Don’t Need to Exist

by Will on August 20, 2010


Why Coolidge Matters.

Coolidge does matter. He was the president who signed xenophobia into law, with the explicitly racist and Antisemitic immigration quotas of 1924. With regard to public appointees he was, in practice, a supporter of waste, corruption, and abuse. He enforced Prohibition, making crime easy and profitable. His doctrinaire economic policy–except in the realm of foreign trade, where he gave domestic businesses the very high tariffs they wanted–consisted of low marginal taxes on high earners and hostility to unions and regulation. These policies created an environment in which a speculative bubble was likely. Lo and behold, a speculative bubble happened through Coolidge’s last years in office, though its results bedeviled Coolidge’s successors, not him.

He rather reminds me of another, more recent president.

I will concede that Coolidge, along with Harding and Hoover, exercised a wise restraint in foreign affairs. But I doubt that’s why this book says he “matters.”

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