Facts and Myths

If we are to avoid the mistakes of the past, it is important to have an accurate assessment of what those past mistakes were.

via What caused the recession of 1937-38? A new lesson for today’s policymakers | vox – Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists.

This would seem obvious, but it’s really subtle: how do you identify a mistake? Obviously, you need to look at the facts, but which facts are relevant? Even worse, which facts are facts at all and which are popular myths?

In recent days, I’ve read several references to the lessons learned from what Hoover did at the beginning of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the lesson learners had a complete misunderstanding of what Hoover did and didn’t do. The historical record is clear, but the myth was more attractive.

To make matters worse, both of our political parties have their own cherished myths which apparently trump facts.

The country is in a mess and won’t get better until we learn to confront facts and abandon myths. Don’t expect much improvement any time soon!

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