The Right Opinion

More Government

By John Stossel · Nov. 7, 2012

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.”



Gregory in Yakima said:

Republicans and especially Tea Party types deluded themselves. I predicted this for months. Mac said Romney by 7 points. Thanks for making my job so easy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:07 AM

Just Saying in Idaho replied:

Gregory, it seems foolish to me to rejoice at the destruction of liberty. At least make sure you enjoy your victory for as long as you can. Even you will suffer from the loss of liberty in this country, the last best hope on earth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Stephen in NH replied:

I'm not sure he's rejoicing as much as he's stating fact. Those who never believed Romney could win are entitled to their opinion just as much as those who claimed Obama would be defeated.

The real blame lies with the establishment Republican Party. Voters saw little difference between the two candidates and they chose to stay the course.

This election sent a strong message to the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see what they do to change themselves and their message. I for one hope that a third party emerges from this disaster, as we all know what Einstein said about insanity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Just Saying in Idaho replied:

Stephen, if you have read the previous posts from Gregory, you know he is rejoicing. As for facts, the simple fact is that people in this country, for reasons we won't get into here, prefer tyranny to liberty. It's that simple.
As for all those who didn't see the difference between Romney and Obama, well, now you will have plenty of time to feel it.
Unfortunately, so will we.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Just Saying in Idaho replied:

As for insanity, well, if this election doesn't prove that there is plenty of that, I don't know what does. Isn't it the very definition of insanity to elect Obama to continue doing what didn't work for the last 4 years, for more 4 years? Here we are, living proof of what Einstein said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:43 AM

TL in Longview, TX replied:

It may not be a problem with the Republican party as much as it is a problem with society in that politicians of all stripes have themselves created. The people that have something to gain from government are unknowingly willing to give up liberty to receive their short term gain. They will squeal when pulled from the government teat and the longer politicians pander to their ways, the more painful the eventual change will be. We all know that the social/entitlement programs in effect and those due to take effect are not sustainable but what do the boomers have to lose? What do the millennials have to lose? Everything of course but they are too short sighted to know or care. Until politicians are willing to force society to act like responsible adults, we can expect more of the same. And politicians will not do this because they are more worried about keeping in office. I postulate that our representatives in Congress would act differently if term limits were imposed with lobbying removed/restricted to keep elected officials minds on executing their Constitutional duty rather than merely being on the dole themselves and perpetuating their post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Stephen in NH replied:

You won't get any argument form me, other than to say voters seem content sending the same people back to Washington time after time. Good luck getting politicians to vote themselves out of office by imposing term limits.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:18 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri replied:

Stephen, people like Stossell are also partly to blame for the election outcome. He couldn`t help but slander Romney at the last minute by claiming he was no different than Obama. With friends like Stossell, we don`t need no stinking enemies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Orf in Pennsylvania replied:

Gregory is one of the ignorant libtards who do not know the inevitable end of all socialist/communist states. When most people are "handicapped" with a backache, chronic headache, or whatever, and receiving a gummint check, the few people still working and paying taxes to support the drones will not be enough to keep those checks coming in. Guess what happens then? Watch Greece.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

Keep them on the plantation Greg. The person who robs Peter to pay Paul can always rely on Paul's support. So stop those Blacks and Hispanics from moving on up the economic ladder. Destroy the Middle Class. Eventually things will collapse and we'll become Greece.

"You (Conservatives) need enthusiastic Hispanics and African Americans and a thriving middle class."

Gregory in Yakima
Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 7:31 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

You and the useful idiots and traitors have won, and America is now gone. Franklin warned us, "if you can keep it". Jefferson also warned of the despotic branch, which Chairman Obamao will now stack with Constituion hating marxists. We had a good run as a country, but will now decay into another marxist failure. Gloat now while you can sodomite. I am so glad I moved from the city, and can hope to survive the collapse. What I hope for the useful idiots and traitors who voted to destroy America, is that they are the first to die.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Kris in Floria said:

The only ones who have deluded themselves are those who thought giving Obama four more years was a good thing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:51 AM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe, GA said:

The Year of the ACORN.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

An acorn is a nut. ACORN is a bunch of nuts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Richard of CT in Cheshire, CT said:

Well, I truly did not believe my fellow Americans could be this stupid. Four more years of a lame brain, community organizer, bought and paid for by the Chicago Machine, George Soros and the Hollywood 'elite'!!

You get what you deserve.

Thanks for selling our once beautiful Republic to the Communist Chinese and for ending the American Dream. Never again will we ever be held in the high esteem we once were. The whole world is laughing at us, and you probably think it is applause!

For those of you that fought the good fight over these past months and weeks, thanks for trying.
I hope you survive the dark night that is about to envelope us, with a few more super liberal appointments to the SCOTUS, more Executive orders that will strip us of our freedom and liberty, and if you happen to be over 65 you can forget about receiving the kind of healthcare your parents enjoyed.

Oh, and our grandkids will be paying the bill for this until the day they die.
Peasants and serfs is what we will be, on the Obama Plantation.
Hope and Change has morphed into Rope and Chains!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:48 AM

MIResident in Michigan replied:

All I kept thinking about last night as the returns came in was 'Seventh Generation' (yeah, it is also a natural cleaning products company) - a Native American philosophy of always thinking 7 generations out, and doing things today to help them be better off.

We just screwed the next 7 generations.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Bill in Texas replied:

To Richard – I pray things will change for the better.

To Greg – Congrats to you and your victory last night.

For the last 4 years my wife and I have made a flatrate between 45 and 50K per year while watching the cost of living double. Neither of us has been able to find any way to gain a 2nd sustainable job to attempt to deal with the rising cost of living from the last 4 years. With the election returns being what they are, and our current president now also a president elect, I fear that in 4 years I will homeless, jboless, and also divorced since my wife whom I love dearly does not know how to deal with those types of losses. To the last 4 years and what I see for the next 4 years, I am ashamed to call myself a law abiding, hard working, morally bound husband and father in these United States. I know you will suggest getting help from the government Greg, however, I will be jobless and homless before I would be able to receive it. I pray that The Legislative Branch does its duty to protect the people of this country to keep us from failed spending, contributions, and even Obamacare which is killing this country and not even totally enacted yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Bill in Texas replied:

I pray that our Legislative Branch does its duty to we the people of this country to back away from thinking that the few of them them know what is the best for each of us. I pray that the Judicial Branch understands that we are now in a freefall, and they are going to need to take proactive action in reviewing decisions that have been made in the aged and recent past, but also act in and for the moral basis of this nation and not the fringes of its elites. To my daughter who is 6, and would have voted for Obama because of his smile, I do not know what country you will receive when you come of age and we, your mother and I, release you to fly with all adults of this country. For your brother, who will be a year old next month, I worry much worse for him. To those who keep their powder dry, I understand your beliefs and feeling that civil war may be looming greatly before us. The one thing we must consider is what will be left behind after the war. I hate to say this, but the powers at play now may consider the "hunger games" great entertainment...I fear that rising out of the ashes of a war over the war itself. I fear that existance for my children than a civil war in this country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Bill in Texas replied:

Congrats on your win Greg. Enjoy it. With the divisions in this country, the last 4 years, I do not see the next 4 years being very good this country. Much needs to happen so my worst fears are not realized.

You willing to turn the tide Greg? I for one and willing to do whatever can be done to maintain these United States of America, and my basis is very independently middle than either liberal or conservative. Where do you stand? What are you willing to do? Let me know, I am curious.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

This is a sad day for America, The welfare parasites, union thugs, and liberals have sounded the death knell for what was once the greatest nation on earth. We should all be wearing black because that's what most people wear to a funeral. We will continue down the road to Socialism and become another Greece. Who is going to bail us out when we can't pay our debt? The Chinese will be dictating to us because of the massive amount of money we owe them.. John Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for yoiu but what you can do for your country" has been completely turned around. Now it's what can I get from the government for free and not have to work for it. How long can any sociaty last under those circumstances? Good question for the parasites to answer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Robert in NEW Mexico said:

How aboout it John? I'd like to see you do an expose' on what FEMA really does for disaster relief on a day to day basis.

If you do, you'll discover that FEMA mostly delivers pork to cities and counties for routine maintenance. All that is necessary is that a governor declare a disaster, fema shows up, and the small change flows to the applicants.

FEMA knows they are bankrupt, and they know they're just delivering the pork for politicians. When a real disaster arises, they are incompetant to actually implement the "plans' they have.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Kathy in WTexas said:

While FEMA was handing out hot chocolate and do-nuts, other companies and individuals were cooking, delivering real food, blankets, you name it. They went further into the most devastated areas than FEMA and actually helped people. FEMA is a joke, a very bad one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:55 AM

dr.beth in il said:

In celebration of of the Victory, I have decided to apply today for welfare. Truly, if you cannot beat them, join them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:11 AM


AMEN Dr. If I weren't so embarrassed to ask for handouts while I can still work, I too would join the rank and file. I guess some of us still care.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Just Saying in Idaho replied:

Maybe the day will come when we'll have to, even if we are embarassed. Sad sad day, well any funeral is.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM

septuagenarian in Canada said:

Hey everyone...come to Canada! It's the new frontier! When you've decided that you can't bear another day under Obamarule, I'm sure Canada would welcome you with open arms. There's lots of socialism here too, but the US has surpassed Canada in that regard...thanks to Obama. This is a much easier place to set up a business, and at least for now we have a leader who is conservative in both his thinking and actions. He lowers taxes and the government winds up with more revenue. And now that you are going to be stuck with Obamacare, you may as well be under Canada's socialized medicine with its long wait times and rationing of care, because that's what you will have in the US you will be paying huge sums for your insurance there and there are no insurance payments in Canada. I moved to Canada in '78 when Jimmy Carter was busy trying to ruin the US, and I've never looked back or regretted the move. I'm still a US citizen...but right now I'm thinking very seriously about giving up my US citizenship...and that thought absolutely breaks my heart because I have always loved the country of my birth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Grace in San Jose CA replied:

Hi Carol,

This would be my forth move, El Salvador (out because of a war) Venezuela, (out because of a dictator) now US because of another dictator. My son is in shock he told me two things this morning
1) The communists in the US have options everywhere in the world now we free thinkers have no bastion to go to.
2) that his friends in the military are saying there is no more reason to defend the States.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

How do you say Weimar Republic? We did not get a President yesterday, we got a Chancellor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Kevin from Arkansas in USA replied:

A Liberal on another blog I frequent was quoted this morning saying:

"Time to start working on that pesky 22nd Amendment."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:04 PM

KC in Seattle said:

Mr. Stossel, if you ran for office I would support you, but I like you too much to wish that on you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

John Stossel, one question: How do you feel about Gary Johnson now? I assume you voted for him, like the other 1,200,000 Libertarians. All of them subtracting from Romney/Ryan. Good work!

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 1:14 AM

Brian in Newport News said:

Man puts less carbon in the air than do volcanoes. What should we do about them?

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM