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I am mainly trying to remember the name that was given to the jobs that he created that were rendered 'worthless', and paid a very low wage. Such examples were scaring away pigeons and selling apples. This was all to make the unemployment figures look better, and to give people purpose.

However, what other strategies did he create to soften the blow of the Great Depression?

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Were you thinking of "make-work" (as in "make-work job")? The Online Etymology Dictionary puts its first use (as an adjective) in 1913 and cites "make work" as a verbal phrase to an 1883 article in The Radical Review. –  Eugene Seidel Aug 18 '13 at 20:02
If you are only looking for a word, perhaps this post should be migrated to english.stackexchange.com. If you are actually looking for the history, please clarify your question. –  Pieter Geerkens Aug 19 '13 at 0:29

2 Answers 2

This article seems to be an unbiased analysis of Herbert Hoover's reaction to the Crash of 1929. It paints him as a relative activist economically, by the standards of the day, but both over-hyped during the election of 1928 and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the collapse that was occurring.

It is worth remembering that he began construction of the eponymous Hoover Dam (approved by Coolidge in December 1928) as one attempt to ease the unemployment of the Depression.

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There were in fact many such projects, Hoover Dam just became the biggest and more iconic (the rest were bridges, highways, canals, irrigation projects, etc. etc., not really worthy tourist attractions). Overall, inefficient use of manpower resources to artificially reduce the number of unemployed by having them on paper employed at just about the same rate as their unemployment checks. Bookkeeping exercise to look good more than anything. –  jwenting Aug 19 '13 at 5:26
@jwenting Were there unemployment checks at all back then? –  Felix Goldberg Aug 19 '13 at 8:57
@FelixGoldberg: My recollection is that those came in under FDR. Haven't checked yet to be sure. Hoover believed passionately in the private sectors ability to provide "charity". –  Pieter Geerkens Aug 19 '13 at 10:39
Yes, the thing is that if there was no thing as unemployment checks, than Hoover's projects, even if not very successful, were not just bookkeeping exercises, as @jwenting has posited. –  Felix Goldberg Aug 19 '13 at 13:26

Boondoggle, the term in which I was looking for, came to me today when the economist Max Keiser used it on the political panel show 'Have I got News for You'. He used it in reference to the planned HS2 (high speed rail) linking London with Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

On further research I found that the word was first used in 1935 in a New York Times report on the New Deal after it had come to light that $3 million dollars had been spent on recreational activities for the unemployed. Its definition is "a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy motivations".

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