Dr. Ben Carson, a rising star in conservative circles, told a crowd gathered in North Carolina’s capital city Thursday that government in the United States is too big and bloated to continue functioning effectively.
“The bigger the government gets, the fewer rights the people have. It consumes all the resources of people. That was never the intention in this country,” Carson said.
The speech, delivered at the Raleigh Convention Center, was the headline event for Upper Room Christian Academy’s scholarship fundraiser. URCA is a private school in southeast Raleigh. The fundraiser generated $250,000 that will be directed to low-income students hoping to attend the school.
The director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, Carson leapt to conservative rock-star status in February 2013 at the National Prayer Breakfast. He advocated conservative policies and Christian values with President Obama sitting a few feet away.
Many have floated Carson’s name as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He plans to retire from Johns Hopkins this summer and has hinted at a future political career.
During his speech, Carson made several public policy prescriptions. He suggested abolishing the IRS — a proposal that drew strong applause from the audience — and converting to a flat 10-percent tax, based off the Old Testament system of tithing.
“Who is more fair than God? It’s about proportionality,” Carson said. “If you make $10 billion, you put in $1 billion. If you make $10, you put in $1. Why is that complex?”
On health care, Carson backed health savings accounts that require individuals to save a portion of their paycheck for their own medical expenses. That would create more personal responsibility, he said.
“Eighty percent of encounters with a medical professional can easily be handled through the health savings account with no need to involve a third party,” Carson said. “That brings the whole medical system into the free-market economy. When you begin to compete, you see prices level out and become to be reasonable.”
Carson also criticized class warfare and big government, and encouraged individual generosity in creating a free and vibrant society.
“Class warfare is the last thing that should be going on in America,” he said.
America was unique in the 18th and 19th centuries, Carson said, because it didn’t follow the pattern of Europe, where wealthy land barons hoarded wealth and passed it down from generation to generation. Instead, the wealthy in the United States created infrastructure, businesses, and jobs.
“That led to the most vibrant middle class the world had ever seen that propelled us to the pinnacle of the world,” Carson said.
A big part of that has been individual generosity. “Our founders understood that giving was the responsibility of the people, not the responsibility of government,” he said.
He was blunt about censoring political speech to be popular. “I’m not politically correct,” he said to raucous applause from the crowd.
“The goal of [community organizer and political theorist] Saul Alinsky was to make the majority’s opinion think that their opinion is in the minority, and if you can co-opt the media, you’ll be far ahead,” he added. “Basically, that’s the ideal: a vocal minority, which has the media in their back pocket, will tell everybody that this is the way normal people think. Everybody else wants to keep quiet, then.”
Carson was born in Detroit and raised by a single mother. Despite struggling to rear her two boys in a crime- and poverty-ridden area, Carson’s mother never became bitter.
“She never became a victim. She never felt sorry for herself,” Carson said. “What a difference it makes when you have a mind-set of solving problems rather than blaming other people.”
David N. Bass is a contributor to Carolina Journal.