Fox host: FEMA is unnecessary because Walmart will ‘spontaneously’ save us all in a disaster

Fox Business host John Stossel (screen grab)

When I think about how John Stossel was NYC’s go to guy for consumer advocacy in the 80’s.  I can’t believe how far he has sunk into the Fox News “rabbit hole”.

The Raw Story

Fox Business host John Stossel on Sunday asserted that most government was unnecessary because companies like Walmart would spontaneously provide assistance to disaster victims “in many more ways” than the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could.

“Ever feel like government makes too many plans that come to naught?” Fox News host Tucker Carlson told Stossel during a segment on Fox & Friends. “It’s kind of a bold idea. You’re saying that not every human activity needs to be planned from above. Some things spontaneously work themselves out pretty well.”

According to Stossel, Americans would be better off with less government and more “spontaneous order,” a term coined by economist Friedrich Hayek which states that order will naturally emerge from chaos.

“If you hadn’t seen a skating rink, you would say, ‘No, you need skating police, people go in this direction,’” Stossel observed. “Think of how much of life is spontaneous… Jazz, there’s no direction. So much of life is spontaneous, but our instinct is to say, ‘Government, give us a plan.’”

The Fox Business host said that one example of government over-planning was natural disasters.

“After Katrina, Walmart and private charities helped people in many more ways than FEMA did,” Stossel opined. “Because FEMA is incompetent because government tends to be. But also Walmart everyday needs to know what people need, and they were ready. They had more weather forecasters than some of the local governments do.”

“You’re challenging the very idea of Washington, D.C.,” Carlson pointed out. “Good for you.”

“Well, we need some government,” Stossel admitted. “But not much.”

The Week’s Damon Linker argued last year that “spontaneous order” was the “silliest and most harmful of all” libertarian ideas.

Linker said that the United States had conducted two experiments in “spontaneous order” in recent years by overthrowing governments in Iraq and Libya.

“In both cases, spontaneity brought the opposite of order. It produced anarchy and civil war, mass death and human suffering,” he wrote. “Order doesn’t just happen, and it isn’t the product of individual freedom.”

“The libertarian prophets of ‘spontaneous order’ get things exactly backward, sometimes with catastrophic real-world consequences. Which is why it’s a particularly bad idea,” Linker concluded.

As for Walmart, the company was praised for its response to Hurricane Katrina, but experts pointed out that FEMA had many more responsibilities.

“FEMA has to prioritize search and rescue, and moving equipment, moving people, moving medical supplies,” ABC News homeland security expert observed in 2005. “Wal-Mart just has to deliver supplies.”

Watch the video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast Feb. 8, 2015.

Irony Alert! Fox News’ Stossel Says “Dumb People” Shouldn’t Vote

john stossel?
Image by Mr. Wright via Flickr

Pot, meet kettle…


On [Thursday’s] (1/12/12) Your World, Fox Business Channel’s John Stossel added another bogus argument to the Republican War on Voting when he told host Neil Cavuto that “we shouldn’t have these get-out-the-vote campaigns” because “our intuition sets us astray in a modern economy” and “dumb” or uninformed people shouldn’t vote.  That’s pretty funny coming from the channel whose viewers have been shown to be less informed about major news stories than the average American.

“The people who participate [in voting] oughtta be the ones who pay attention” Stossel declared, ignoring that, according to a 2011Farleigh Dickenson University poll,  people who “pay attention” to Fox News proved to be less well informed than those who get their news elsewhere; in fact, according to an analyst for the polling group, “it can be argued that the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.” This comes on the heels of a 2010 study by the University of Marylanddemonstrating that Fox News viewers, regardless of political information, were “significantly more likely” to believe false information about American politics.

Stossel has been banging the “stupid people shouldn’t vote” drum for years, as  this 2008 video  illustrates. Here he cites the book  The Myth of the Rational Voter by Brian Caplan, which suggests that “democracies do less and let markets take up the slack” (yeah, we see where that has gotten us!) because voters are guided more by “popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases” than by facts. Wait a minute, don’t those comprise the very foundation on which Republican campaigning is based? Newt Gingrich certainly thought so when he authored a series of propaganda guides including Language: A Key Method of Control for the GOPAC in the early 1990’s.

There is no doubt that huge swathes of the American pubic are “low information voters”, but what Stossel and Caplan are advocating is nothing less than government by an elite, selected by equally elite voters who would probably need a degree in economics to come up to scratch (hence Stossel’s seemingly odd remark about voters astray in a modern economy). And of course, the “right” economics would be libertarian free-market economics – the very economics promoted by the Roger Ailes Fear Factory which – well, whadddaya know! – promotes popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases in the service of the Republican party!

“If you’re not paying attention it’s your patriotic duty not to vote” says Stossel. If Stossel wants to do something truly patriotic about “dumb” voters perhaps he should start with the propaganda “news” organization he works for.