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?

  • 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. Aug 18, 2013 at 20:02
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    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. Aug 19, 2013 at 0:29
  • @Will Perry, The New Deal was instated under FDR, who was elected as president in 1932. He was well known for spending a ton of the government's money, trying to help the nation recover from the Depression. Hoover thought that the nation could, and would recover on it's own, and only realized that it wasn't recovering towards the end of his presidency.
    – user11624
    Mar 7, 2015 at 23:06
  • @Bill do you have the slightest support for that claim? Hoover instituted a wide range of polices and massive intervention, roughly doubling federal spending in real terms, instituted protective tariffs, wage support, and largely prohibited immigration. Hoover created massive public works projects, a multitude of programs to bail out banks and provide home loans, give direct payments to farmers, and was very aggressive in his interventions. The New Deal was largely just an expansion of existing Hoover policies. This question is easily answered by just reading Hoover's Wikipedia entry. Mar 11, 2015 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


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, 2013 at 5:26
  • @jwenting Were there unemployment checks at all back then? Aug 19, 2013 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". Aug 19, 2013 at 10:39
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    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. Aug 19, 2013 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".


President Hoover created the President's Organization on Unemployment Relief (POUR) in 1931 to generate private contributions to aid the unemployed, but by mid-1932 it closed from a lack of funds. He endorsed a few public works programs like the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington to employ laborers. The Hawley-Smoot Tariff also raised import duties on foreign goods to new heights in hopes of encouraging domestic manufacturing and agriculture. In reality, this just hampered international trade as other nations created their own protective tariffs.

It's important to note that Hoover believed in a very limited government, and even these few actions stretched his ideology greatly.

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