Fox Business host John Stossel on Thursday declared that government programs should be cut based on the false assertion that “no one” died of starvation in the Great Depression before the modern “welfare state.”
Stossel told the hosts of Fox & Friends that he had taken his cameras out on the streets of New York and no one he spoke to had any idea about how to fix the nation’s growing national debt.
“You cut whole departments,” the Fox Business host explained. “Why do we have a Commerce Department? Commerce just happens! Agriculture, farmers do that! You don’t need bureaucrats.”
He added that the Department of Education was also unnecessary.
“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.
During the Great Depression in 1933, then-President Herbert Hoover (R) had told reporters that “nobody is actually starving… The hoboes, for example, are better fed than they have ever been. One hobo in New York got ten meals in one day.”
But according to historians Steven Mintz and Sara McNeil, the number of cases of starvation in New York City alone had increased from 20 in 1931 to 110 in 1934.
And malnutrition was a much larger problem. One 1933 study of 514 children in New York found that more than one-third were in “poor” or “very poor” health.
Update: In a tweet on Friday, Fox Business host John Stossel informed Raw Story that he had been wrong with his assertion that “no one” died of starvation during the depression.
“@RawStory You’re right, good catch,” he wrote.
“I made a dumb statement about starvation on Fox & Friends yesterday AM,” he added in another post to Twitter.
“I was almost certainly wrong,” Stossel explained on his blog. “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.”
But at the same time, the Fox Business host also asserted that government welfare programs had “caused more problems by driving private charity out.”
Watch this video Fox News’ Fox & Friends , broadcast May 30, 2013.