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John Stossel
John Stossel
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More Government


I expect that by the time you read this, President Obama will have been re-elected. Get ready for four more years of Big Bloated Government.

Hurricane Sandy didn't help.

The New York Times declared "a big storm requires big government," and my liberal neighbors agreed.

My science-challenged mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said the storm makes it imperative that America do something about climate change. He said this even though hurricanes have not increased and little evidence exists that man has much effect on climate. With Obama's re-election, we now will spend billions more on "green" strategies. But the Earth won't notice.

Other politicians say Sandy proves we need a powerful federal emergency management agency. So I invited the man who should be president, Rep. Ron Paul, to come on my show to give a sensible perspective.

Paul said, "We handled floods and disasters for 204 years before we had FEMA, and states and volunteers and local communities did quite well."

Paul's congressional district is on the Gulf Coast, so he knows what he's talking about.

"What we should have is real insurance," he said.

Real insurance means private companies make bets about floods with their own money. But America has little of that.

I know this first-hand. I built a beach house because government encouraged me to take the risk. Private insurance companies wouldn't insure most of us who built on the edges of oceans, and those that did charged high prices. "Too high," said Congress, "so government must insure everyone!" They said they'd price it so taxpayers wouldn't lose — but as usual, they were wrong. Even before Sandy, federal flood insurance was $18 billion in the red.

And worse, cheap insurance encouraged more people to build on the beach. This is an absurd subsidy that should immediately be abolished.

But I fear I won't have much success convincing people. In "No, They Can't: Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed" (, I explain how instinct leads us to assume that experts in Washington have the best tools to manage big risks. Most Americans believe that. Even Fox News anchors told me that "flood insurance is a role for the federal government!"

Viewers were angrier.

One civil comment: "Libertarian is good on paper, but not in real life. Why would the Govt. turns its back when its people suffer?"

Because government causes suffering.

As Paul put it, "Rich people get insurance subsidized by poor people, build on beaches. ... Their houses get washed away, and poor people pay to rebuild. ... It's a reason we're totally bankrupt."

Yes, it is. My house eventually washed away, and you paid. That's wrong.

Federal emergency management fails, too. After Hurricane Hugo, Sen. Ernest Hollins called FEMA "bureaucratic jackasses that should just get the hell out of the way."

So politicians promised they'd improve FEMA. But three years later, after Hurricane Andrew, Sen. Barbara Mikulski said, "Government's response to Andrew was seen by many hurricane victims as a disaster itself."

Again, the bureaucrats said they'd fix it. Then came Katrina. Almost 2,000 people died.

FEMA even got in the way of rescue efforts. Wal-Mart offered flood victims three trailer trucks filled with water. FEMA turned them away. It prevented the Coast Guard from delivering fuel. It shipped 91,000 tons of ice for Louisiana hurricane victims to Maine and Arizona.

FEMA got better reviews this month, but the jury is still out. Let's see what reporters reveal in the coming weeks. Even brilliant government bureaucracies become incompetent over time, because everyone must follow the mind-numbing rules.

Economist Steven Horwitz researched prior disasters and says, "Firms like Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Marriott and McDonald's were major forces for good in getting resources to people in very desperate times, (but) FEMA was an absolute disaster. FEMA did not get into New Orleans in some cases for a week or 10 days."

No one says Wal-Mart should replace local police and firefighters. But local assistance is better. And each Wal-Mart store manager knows his neighborhood's needs. "FEMA is situated in Washington," said Horwitz. "It does not understand as well the needs of local communities."

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




7 Comments | Post Comment
Mr. Stossel, why don't you just consider supporting your president and the voters and be a patriot? I didn't like voting for him, but he was far better than the suicidal choice of Romney.

Cast your vote next time around and support whoever you want, but Obama will be your president and if you care about your country, you will support him and give constructive criticism. If you don't, your are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Tue Nov 6, 2012 7:51 PM
Re: Masako.... It would have been cool if the republicans had put forward a candidate anyone in their right mind could have voted for... The people need some trust between them and their leaders and when people take an oath of office, the people need to know that honor has some positive meaning to the one so sworn... The rich and the religious are all riding their privilages into power year after year; and they are bedmates... When the religious think that bearing false witness in no crime in the prosecution of sin, they have clearly missed the point... Their object is to win, to succeed and to rule by any means... Their master rejected rule completely... Yet; Jesus never gave up on the moral argument... He never gave up on trying to put reality in perspective... He never gave up appealing to the better qualities and reason that make up the minds of free people...
Those religious who vote for any dog put in front of them in preference to a better man simply because the better man represents human freedom, decency, and morality are not Christians, or free people... They are slaves, but not slaves of Christ...
We are all inclined to fiction in the writing of our biographies... To try to be a political chameleon, and match any audience and background shade for shade should be political suicide in the information age... And it would have been without Catholic and Fundamentalist support -which is mindless...
Mr. Romoney's religion never entered the race as Mr. Obama's race did... Now it is time to ask: Are all Mormons liars??? Are their words good for nothing... Will they tell any believable lie and unbelievable lie in the service of their secular goals... Who are these people to produce such a dishonorable example of humanity, and worse what sort of people would expect a majority of citizens here to be so dull as to vote for him??? Liars vote for liars because they cannot bear the truth...
Look at all the shifting millions on the edge of poverty and hopelessness...Does anyone believe they are some foundation for a greater future in America??? We know the republicans have something to vote for because they will vote for human minus signs to preserve it...What we need is everyone in America with something to vote for and defend... We must seize the day when the opportunity to own America once again comes our way, and then when we once more own this land we will have the opportunity to save the world from every manor of tyranny...
We will never get there following the failures of morality put up by the republicans... What is the point of trying to scare the whole world as the republicans would have us do when we can only fight ourselves??? Let us find some point of agreement and build some understanding and unity out of it...We are divided and conquered... We can never expect those parties who have profitted from our division to find our unity for us... It is our task and we should be about it...

Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Nov 7, 2012 4:50 AM
Aynn Rand wrote the play and now we are in it. Israel now must stand alone. Our dollars will continue it's precipitous slide. My wife is in a fight for her professional and economic future; seeking tenure in a small college where tenure review is not a celebration of a foregone conclusion but an inquisition perpetrated by despotic progressives who are frightened of honorable, capable colleagues. I have been helping her craft her arguing documents . . . but no matter how compelling, it now doesn't matter much. Even if she does get tenure, her already cash-strapped school is now likely to close in a few years.
I am anguished by the ideas and beliefs of many of my friends and neighbors who see O as the bright shining star on the horizon . . . a star that heralds a new dawn. I see the lights of an oncoming train. But I guess the new dawn is unlikely to be an atomic fireball on the horizon . . . O has already made a non-aggression pact with Russia and is selling our economy to China. I think that while fireballs on the horizon are less likely, it's now all but certain that there will be no dawn . . . new or otherwise.
I'm still trying to figure out how to explain all this to my grandchildren.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Bob Nuckolls
Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:20 AM
Sir;... You are correct, that the earth won't notice... Do you think it matters that in trying to correct a problem in the making since the industrial revolution began, that we may not see results in our life times, and yet there is an earth shaking change in a humanity willing to make things better compared with humanity contented to see thing get worse in fatality...
I complement your skillful balance of fatality with futility on the scale of human values... The more we accept fate the more we see ourselves in our futility, our powerlessness against kismet...We will do nothing because we can do nothing and we can do nothing because we will do nothing... Instead of Work makes Free over the gates of the death camp they should have written of fate and futility...
I tell you this because you will make nothing of it: It is easier to change the climate of the whole world than to change human behavior... You are betting on a winner... Nothing will get done, and nothing will change because the impossibility of people changing their economy short of changing their government keeps both economy and government in power...
Fate and her fairies are always at work, pointing out particular and individual gain before the common and human good... I get your point... So long as we have the guns and the nukes we can have any green place on the earth we desire... Why do we need to worry about the climate??? Let those outlanders pushed to the margins of their existence worry about it, and what will all their worry do for them if they are governed by fate while government stands by helpless except to hold them helpless...
I cannot love you folks...You are so anti natural as to be unnatural...
You do not understand the injury we do to nature because it is natural for you to seek wealth... You are governed by your nature to deny nature... If I can but offer the obvious, then: The injury you and the class you represent do to nature is suffered not only by animal life, but by humanity, and behind all your deliberate ignorance is inconsideration for all those you think you can live as well without...
We can live without all of you as well...
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:22 AM
Sir;... I can tell from your picture that you have the jaw bone of an ass... Try to prove that it is not stuck but good in your frontal lobes...
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:25 AM
Re: Masako What solution? Exactly how do you see the next few years play out? It is blatantly obvious that the present administration has no appreciation for the value added work product of the world's capable people. Now with the least capable in the courts and congress, and a majority of the citizenry depending on his largess with other people's money. He has the political winds at his back. O promised us higher energy costs, bureaucratic death panels, and is actively engaged in turning our dollars into toilet paper. Exactly how do you see these policies being any sort of solution?
Comment: #6
Posted by: Bob Nuckolls
Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:26 AM
I listened to that Stossel interview with Dr. Paul and he was absolutly brilliant. There is no problem you can throw and Dr. Paul that he cannot provide a free market, liberty minded solution to. He can name times where government has done more harm that good for days. If the republicans would have nominated him I would bet anyone any sum of money that barry boy would not have been re-elected. And the debates would have included topics like drug war, drones, NDAA, and net neutrality.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Nov 9, 2012 9:34 AM
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