John Stossel: Tonight, we explode a few myths about elections and natural disasters. Here’s the first: I’m told that Hurricane Sandy is proof that we need a powerful federal government, namely FEMA, which provides emergency management. This just makes sense to people: we have a big disaster across state lines, who but the feds can help. Just like New York Times declared, week, “A big storm requires big government”. Very few politicians are skeptical about that, so it’s a relief to turn to former presidential candidate, Ron Paul. Dr. Paul, you say it’s a myth that we need FEMA?
Ron Paul: I certainly think so, because it causes more harm than good. We’ve handled floods and disasters for 204 years before we had FEMA, and the states and the volunteers and the local communities did quite well. I’ve taken this position for a long time, it’s not just recently. I’ve taken it since I was first in office, and I kept getting re-elected, because people in my district got tired of FEMA. All they had was headaches, they got locked into their insurance and it’s a bureaucracy and I’ve tried to help them get through the bureaucracy. But they just come in and take over.
John Stossel: But it’s a big problem, it crosses state lines, the Feds have to have some role?
Ron Paul: No, they don’t have to. What we should have is a real insurance. The problem is, the insurance program causes many of the problems, because they say, “Well, you have to have insurance”. The market won’t sell insurance to you, and that’s telling you that it’s too dangerous. So rich people get insurance subsidized by poor people, and they go and build on beaches and they have a good time and their houses get washed away and the poor people pay to rebuild their houses.
John Stossel: It was interesting that this week, before the storm hit, the President held a press conference, not at FEMA’s offices, but at the Red Cross. Here’s a clip:
Barack Obama: The reason we’re here is because the Red Cross knows what it’s doing when it comes to emergency responses.
John Stossel: So what’s he saying there, the Red Cross, not FEMA, knows what it’s doing, and FEMA doesn’t? Sounds like he’s admitting it.
Ron Paul: Yea, that was good politics, but, unfortunately, from my experience here in my district, the Red Cross and others were inhabited by FEMA. They would come in and stop it. Think of the difference between how evacuation occurred in New York after 9/11, all the volunteers shipped boats and things, thousands of people there were evacuated. And the opposite happened in Katrina, because FEMA got in and had control. But this giving up on individuals helping neighbors and local government doing things is a serious problem and it’s one of the reasons why we’re totally bankrupt. Because all this money that’s going to go out here in the next few months because of this storm … there is no money in the bank and there’s really no money in FEMA, the insurance is broke. So they’re going to just borrow it and print it and make our problems worse. They’ll take and centralize the power, the power will be in Washington DC, and it’s bureaucratic and it’s very inefficient.
John Stossel: Well, thank you, Dr. Paul, and thank you for all you’ve done to wake people up.
Ron Paul: Thank you, John.