Dr. Ben Carson, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and legendary neurosurgeon, is now in the spotlight for his keynote address to the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 7. It’s not brain surgery to figure out why.
Most notable was his criticism of Obamacare, one of the worst federal laws in decades, and one which, before its complete implementation, is already destroying our economy on a massive scale. Dr. Carson, relying on decades of medical experience, proposed health savings accounts for every American, which would fix two enormous problems in our system today: (1) regressive intergenerational transfers of wealth, and (2) half of our country not having a skin in the game, not having invested in their own futures. HSAs would incentivize efficiency, which is completely lacking in today’s broken health care system. Our country is being bankrupted by the health care industry and Dr. Carson has a solution that needs to be taken seriously.
Dr. Carson came under fire for these remarks. What is wrong with a physician sharing his perspective on health policy? Is it partisan just because this is President Obama we’re dealing with, whom the media has seemingly vowed to protect at any cost? Dr. Carson’s wisdom should be heeded by policymakers in Washington on both sides of the aisle.
Rush Limbaugh, in his typically bombastic style, warned that, “The Obama campaign team is gonna get into gear if this guy keeps talking, and they're gonna try to find ways to smear him and ruin his life and do to him what they did to Romney.”
It is a shame that Dr. Carson’s speech was considered only for its public policy content. The speech is full of wisdom on other topics, such as education, speech codes and the importance of tithing.
I was intrigued by his discussion of tithing and its relation to our 70,000-page tax code. Tithing is such a fair way to tax people because it's proportional. As soon as you move away from proportional taxing, ideology takes over. Ideology is, quite frankly, arbitrary and depends upon the latest trendy or fashionable prejudices. A growing number of people seriously think that the rich should pay more, while some feel they should pay less. One could legitimately make the argument that if the top one percent pay 37% of the income taxes and the top five percent pay 59%, this clearly demonstrates their tax base should be lower. The top five percent don't make 59% of the income and yet they pay 59% of the taxes. Therefore it is simple and fair to make the argument that they are being over taxed.
If you pay God ten percent of your wealth, why should you pay the government more than that? Unlike our tax code, tithing is simple. And it is fair. Tithing represents ten percent of one's income. A proportional tax system does not have to reside at ten percent. It can be higher or lower depending on the needs of the government. Because it would be applied proportionally to the entire population, the government would be unlikely to raise taxes to a very high level, for it would affect everyone and not just a small group of voters. This is a clear advantage of a proportional tax rate, that everyone participates. A country where half of the population pay no income taxes, but are allowed to vote to make the other people pay more taxes, makes absolutely no sense.
Dr. Carson says that he has not ruled out a run for office. Whether or not he does, I think that our leaders in Washington need to listen to this man and at least take a half hour to listen to his prayer breakfast speech. It is a large dose of common sense, something that has been lacking in Washington for many years.
Armstrong Williams is a columnist and radio talk show host.