Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson touted his biography and called for a more self-sufficient, less dependent America, which he said is an “exceptional country” that, 200 years after its founding, put men on the moon.
“There’s a whole lot of people trying to get in here, and nobody trying to escape,” he said in a speech on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol on Thursday.
Carson told the story of how his mother, herself one of 24 children, raised Carson and his brother in poverty alone after she learned her husband was a bigamist. With occasional exceptions, she refused government assistance, preferring instead to work long hours. She made Carson and his brother stay inside, read two books a week and write reports, which she couldn’t read but would mark with ink as if she could. Carson said it was frustrating at first to be stuck inside instead of playing, but he developed a love of learning and his grades improved. That led to a revolution in his thinking.
The United States also needs a revolution in its thinking, he said. He said that in 30 states, people can collect more in government benefits than they can make from minimum wage. That leads to people choosing not to work and therefore missing out on the opportunities to advance that work provides.
Carson said that many people in America are struggling because of those trying to create a “utopian society where nobody has to worry about anything from cradle to grave. You just turn everything over to the government.”
Those societies “all end up looking exactly the same with a small group of elites at the top who control everything, a rapidly vanishing middle class and a vastly expanded dependent class. That’s exactly the direction that we are moving in. That is not who America is,” he said.
This was the second visit by a Republican presidential candidate in recent weeks. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz spoke outside Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters Aug. 12. Carson’s speech on the Capitol steps drew a significantly larger crowd.
Following gospel singers who entertained the crowd before his speech and a prayer, he said America should not turn its back on its Judeo-Christian heritage or its religious freedom. “If we lose that, and if we continue to throw away the values and principles that made us great for the sake of political correctness, we will go down just as quickly as we rose to the pinnacle, and it’s going to be up to us to stop that from happening,” he said.
Talking to reporters afterwards, he said he agreed with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
“I think he’s a smart man,” he said. “Very smart man. There’s no reason that we should be using taxpayer money to kill babies.”
He warned that the nation’s $18 trillion national debt will grow to $200 trillion because of the fiscal gap – the amount of money that the government has promised for future commitments but doesn’t have the money to pay for. “Politicians will not speak of the fiscal gap because they want to get re-elected, but I’m not a politician, so I will talk about it,” he said. “The American people have a right to know what we are facing, and we cannot do that when people are hiding the information from you.”
Carson said the country did have the ability to fix the problem. He said the United States “is blessed with the most powerful economic engine that the world has ever known. But it cannot function when you wrap it with multitudes of regulations.”
He said the country should reform its tax structure but should not raise taxes on the rich. He referenced the biblical pattern of tithing, where every American would pay 10% in taxes no matter how rich or poor.
He said the United States needed to strengthen its military and exhibit world leadership. “In 2003, Saddam Hussein was not an existential threat to this country,” he said.” The radical jihadists are an existential threat. They are going to grow until someone stops them.”
He told reporters that tougher gun control laws are not needed, and that instead the country should pay more attention to the mentally ill.