In case you missed it, world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson presented the keynote address at the 61st Annual National Prayer Breakfast.
With President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other national leaders in attendance, Dr. Carson spoke plainly about the great challenges facing America today: “moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility.”
This speech was the buzz all weekend long among political circles, for not only was it a refreshing breath of logic and common sense in its simplest form, but it was also a sobering lecture and critique of the Obama administration’s reckless and misguided policies – making it probably the longest 27 minutes Obama has ever had to sit through as president.
Bulls eye on every point. The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial begging Carson to run for president.
Carson's personal story alone is remarkable. He was born and raised in a single parent home. His mother was one of 24 children, and she married at 13. Despite only having a third grade education and being illiterate, his mother stressed the importance of education and reading to Carson and his brother.
“Never made excuses, and she never accepted an excuse from us,” said Carson. “And if we ever came up with an excuse, she always said do you have a brain? And if the answer was, ‘yes,’ then she said then you could have thought your way out of it … It was the most important thing she did for my brother and myself. Because if you don’t accept excuse, pretty soon people stop giving them, and they start looking for solutions. And that is a critical issue when it comes to success.”
Then when Carson stopped making excuses for himself and started hitting the books, “After awhile, I actually began to enjoy reading those books. I read about people of great accomplishment,” he describes. “As I read those stories, I began to see a connecting thread: The person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you. You make decisions, and you decide how much energy you put behind those decisions. At that point I didn’t hate poverty anymore, because I knew it was only temporary: I could change that.”
Taking responsibility for your life instead of playing the victim card … what a novel approach. Why do I get the feeling he votes Republican?
He doesn’t care whether or not he’s politically correct either. “PC is dangerous,” Carson said. “In this country, one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression. (Political correctness) puts a muzzle on people. We have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.”
As someone who knows his history, Carson sees too many dangerous similarities between the United States today and ancient Rome at the height of its power.
“I think particularly about ancient Rome. Very powerful. Nobody could even challenge them militarily, but what happened to them? They destroyed themselves from within. Moral decay, fiscal irresponsibility. They destroyed themselves. If you don’t think that can happen to America, you get out your books and you start reading.
“Our deficit is a big problem. Think about it. Our national debt – $16.5 trillion – you think that’s not a lot of money? I’ll tell you what, count one number per second … You know how long it would take you to count to 16 trillion? 507,000 years – more than a half a million years to get there. We have to deal with this.”
He then goes on to highlight three critical problems that need to be solved if America is to avoid the fate of Ancient Rome or even contemporary Europe: taxes, health care and education.
“What about our taxation system? It’s so complex there is no one who can possibly comply with every jot and tittle of our tax system. What we need to do is come up with something that is simple,” Carson stated. “You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10, you put in $1 – of course, you gotta get rid of the loopholes, but now some people say, ‘That’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made $10.’ Where does it say you have to hurt the guy? He’s just put in a billion in the pot! We don’t need to hurt him.
“It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here, building our infrastructure and creating jobs – and we’re smart enough to figure out how to do that.”
Carson also takes a free market approach to solving our health care issues instead of the big government, bureaucratic control measures implemented by Obamacare.
“Here’s my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed — pretax — from the time you’re born ‘til the time you die,” Carson explained. “If you die, you can pass it on to your family members, and there’s nobody talking about death panels. We can make contributions for people who are indigent. Instead of sending all this money to some bureaucracy, let’s put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they’re going to learn how to be responsible.”
Finally, he also highlights the critical importance of education – not only in lifting oneself from poverty but also as a necessary component in understanding and participating in the American system of government.
“The founders said our system of government was designed for a well-informed and educated populace. And when they become less informed and less educated, they become vulnerable. That is why education is so vitally important.
“My wife and I started the Carson Scholars Fund 16 years ago after we heard about an international survey looking at the ability of eight graders in 22 countries to solve math and science problems, and we came out No. 21 out of 22. We only barely beat out Number 22.
“We went to these schools and we’d see all these trophies: State Basketball, State Wrestling. The quarterback was the big man on campus. What about the intellectual superstar? What did they get? A National Honor Society pin? A pat on the head, there, there little nerd? Nobody cared about them. And is it any wonder that sometimes the smart kids try to hide? They don’t want anybody to know they are smart. This is not helping us or our nation, so we started giving out scholarships from all backgrounds for superior academic performance and demonstration of humanitarian qualities. Unless you cared about other people, it didn’t matter how smart you were. We’ve got plenty of people like that. We don’t need smart people who don’t care about other people.”
Fiscal responsibility, a fair tax system, free market health care, focusing on education and accepting solutions instead of excuses. It’s these principles that will drive us to become a better nation. Not social justice, focusing on victimization or redistribution of wealth.