Fox Business correspondent John Stossel engaged in some startling historical revisionism recently when he appeared with
Moe, Larry and Curley Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade on the Fox News morning show.
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“Isn’t that part of what the government does in a lot of people minds?” Fox News host Steve Doocy asked. “They need to help people rather than let people help themselves?”
“And when people are needy you want them [to get] help,” Stossel agreed. “But think about the [Great] Depression. That was before there was any welfare state at all. How many people starved? No one.”
“Right, good point,” Doocy agreed.
Do you ever get the feeling that even at Fox News, people snicker at Doocy and Kilmeade behind their backs?
As I hope I don’t need to tell anyone, the facts about the Great Depression are otherwise.
To save money, families neglected medical and dental care. Many families sought to cope by planting gardens, canning food, buying used bread, and using cardboard and cotton for shoe soles. Despite a steep decline in food prices, many families did without milk or meat. In New York City, milk consumption declined a million gallons a day.
President Herbert Hoover declared, “Nobody is actually starving. The hoboes are better fed than they have ever been.” But in New York City in 1931, there were 20 known cases of starvation; in 1934, there were 110 deaths caused by hunger. There were so many accounts of people starving in New York that the West African nation of Cameroon sent $3.77 in relief.
And New York was probably among the more privileged places in the country when it came to relief. Among people who actually lived through the Depression, I imagine there are a few who wouldn’t mind punching Stossel in the face.
Stossel’s reliably rightwing, if not reliably factual, wisdom is being passed onto thousands of students through something called “Stossel in the Classroom.”
Update: This book, by a former associate producer for Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, looks like it will be entertaining. After reading this excerpt, my opinion of O’Reilly actually went up a bit. At least he has the good sense to hate Limbaugh and Hannity.
Further update: Stossel admits he was wrong. Unfortunately Doocy hasn’t admitted what an idiot he was for agreeing with him.