This morning, on Fox and Friends, I said "no one" starved during the Depression. I was almost certainly wrong.
During the Depression, the governor of Pennsylvania wrote, "we know that starvation is widespread, but no one has enumerated the starving." However, all other governors who wrote to Congress, 43 of them, sent letters saying that they knew of no starvation in their states. Historians Steven Mintz and Sara McNeil wrote that there were hundreds of deaths in NYC alone.
However, hunger was rare enough that health in America generally improved during the Depression, according to a National Academy of Sciences study:
"Population health did not decline and indeed generally improved during the 4 years of the Great Depression, 1930-1933, with mortality decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by several years..."
How was this possible without Big Government welfare programs? 30 percent of American men belonged to mutual aid societies, groups of people with similar backgrounds who banded together to help members in trouble. They paid for doctors, built orphanages, cooked for the poor. Neighbors knew best what neighbors needed. They helped the helpless, but taught self-sufficiency to others.
Mutual aid didn't solve every problem, so government stepped in. But government doesn't solve every problem either. Instead, it caused more problems by driving private charity out.
There's no doubt that there was privation of all sorts in the 30's - when America was much poorer. But today's reduction in malnutrition is almost entirely a result of greater prosperity, thanks to our relatively free market.
Our unsustainable welfare state causes poverty (by rewarding dependency) as often as it relieves it. Stopping government handouts to people like ME won't lead to starvation.
This Week's Show -- July 10, 2014
CENSORSHIP AT CBS: Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has a similar story. She explains why she left CBS after it became "harder and harder to get stories on television" that criticized this government and "any powers that be."
IS STOSSEL BIASED?: Years ago, journalist Howard Kurtz criticized me for not being objective. I said it's impossible for any journalist to be completely objective. Now that Howard Kurtz is on Fox, we debate again.
THE OBJECTIVITY MYTH: Andrew Kirell of Mediaite.com says, "every journalist has a point of view and they don't just magically check it the minute they walk in the newsroom door."
NEW MEDIA: Reason TV's Remy Munasifi uses music videos and parodies to complain about things like politicians' spending. One of his latest parodies highlights the scandal surrounding the VA hospitals. Munasifi discusses his videos, which have gone viral on YouTube.
RETRO REPORT: It's great there's a new media organization called Retro Report, which reveals media hype of the past ("crack babies," America's landfill "crisis," the "superpredator," etc.) and corrects stories everyone in the media got wrong. I discuss the new show with its executive producer, Kyra Darnton.
REAL OR FAKE?: Sometimes people in the media say things that are so bizarre, you'd think they were made up. Kennedy of The Independents quizzes FoxBusiness.com's Kate Rogers, Fox Business host Charles Payne and me to see if any of us can tell which quotes are real, and which were made up by my staff.
MY TAKE: I used to report on lots of scares. CBS even ran an ad for me where someone called me a "guardian angel."
That's bunk. The only guardian angel is a free and open society. That's what allows innovation, gives people longer lives, and lifts billions out of poverty. But these gradual improvements aren't newsworthy. Scares and disaster make the news.
News is broken not just because we're biased but because most good and important news happens slowly.
9PM ET on Fox Business Network