February 17, 2013

George F. Will’s paean to President Calvin Coolidge [“Commander in brief,” op-ed, Feb. 14] was a bit over the top. The taciturn Coolidge was a social Darwinist who believed wholeheartedly in capitalism and that business titans should have free rein in conducting their enterprises with little or no government regulation.

“Civilization and profits go hand in hand,” said Coolidge. He slashed taxes twice during his administration, cutting taxes in half for the most wealthy. Many took their savings in taxes and invested in the rapidly rising stock market. This extreme laissez faire approach to government — lax regulation, reduction in taxes and the coddling of special interests — produced a phony prosperity that led to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Depression, which lasted for more than a decade.

Coolidge’s recent biographer, Amity Shlaes, may claim that he “made a virtue of inaction.” It was more of a travesty.

Arthur Laupus, Elkridge