The Great Depression

The Great Depression was not caused by laissez faire but by the actions of well-intended politicians and bureaucrats. The Federal Reserve System, after all, was not created in response to the Great Depression, but in 1913. Soon thereafter it began experimenting with its awesome powers, expanding the money supply during the roaring ’20s, propping up the pound sterling in London, extending credit so Europeans could buy American agricultural products. All the while, Congress was becoming more and more protectionist. When the Fed reversed policies in 1929 and actually shrunk the money supply by a third over the next three years and Congress culminated its protectionist tendencies with the Smoot-Hawley tariff, the collapse was underway. The fact that Hoover then raised taxes and Roosevelt kept wages artificially high guaranteed the massive unemployment that marked the 1930s. Government caused and exacerbated the Great Depression.

Coercion vs. voluntarism

[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state — what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations — what we can call civil society … In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does … Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force.

Enumerated powers

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, of course, lays out the delegated, enumerated, and therefore limited powers of Congress. Only through a deliberate misreading of the general welfare and commerce clauses of the Constitution has the federal government been allowed to overreach its authority and extend its tendrils into every corner of civil society.