Herbert Hoover wrote The Challenge to Liberty in 1934, in response to much of the regimentation of the New Deal. As background, Hoover thought the Great Depression to be the result of a global disorder leftover from the expenses and debt of WW I. FDR thought the causes more domestic, and acted accordingly. Hoover feared these changes of the FDR administration went far beyond solving current problems and redefined the relation of our government to the American people, with perilous consequences. As serious as the Depression was he thought FDR was applying a bad long term solution to a shorter term problem. Liberty was too important to experiment with.
We tend to dismiss Hoover’s opinions because of his association with the Great Depression, but this would be short sighted. Hoover was certainly no laissez faire capitalist and had no ideology against government involvement in proper regulation. His writings clarified his opinion of the proper role of government, and warned of its excesses.
From Challenge to Liberty:
In the pressure of the times many people analyze our difficulties of today as if they were due to inherent and incurable defects in the economic system of Liberty. They greatly confuse as apparent defects the weaknesses of individuals which will appear in any system, or the many transitory inheritances of wars and its emotional aftershocks. Our people demand violent action in the cure of economic wounds when in fact their cure should be like those of bodily wounds. They must often be cured by building up the cells of the economic body under careful nursing and antiseptics, rather than by surgery and patent medicines. In Liberty alone do the economic cells have the motivation and stimulation to action; repression kills them. And we should distinguish between economic wounds and economic disease. And above all we must beware of economic hypochondriacs.