Dr. Ben Carson
Iowa Freedom Summit
Hoyt-Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa
January 24, 2015

Thank you so much.  Well, Candy and I are absolutely delighted to be here -- Candy's out there somewhere.

You know I always feel so welcome when I come to Iowa, 'cause there are so many people here who actually have common sense, and that is not something that is ubiquitous throughout our land.

But you know there's a lot of things that I could talk about in my 20 minutes.  Obviously I'm not going to cover all of them, and somebody's gonna say but you didn't cover--  Look 20 minutes is a finite period time, but I do want to talk about education, because education is so incredibly important, and it made the difference in my life.

It is the great divide in our country.  Anybody who gets a good education can write their own ticket.  It doesn't matter what their ethnicity is or what their background is and we have to start emphasizing that concept again, that can-do attitude that really helped America to propel itself to the pinnacle so fast.

You know I was a terrible student.  I was one of those people known as the safety net.  No one ever had to worry about getting the lowest mark on a test as long as I was there, you know.  I took care of that, you know, and I tried to act like it didn't bother me when they all laughed and called me dummy, but it did.  Not enough to make study, but it did bother me.  I was still into going home and playing basketball, baseball, football, anything.

But you know my mother, who is really the hero in my life, she was one of two dozen children, got married at age 13, and she and my father moved from rural Tennessee to Detroit.  He was a factory worker.  Some years later she discovered he was a bigamist.  She only had third-grade education herself.  The responsibility of trying to raise two young sons by themselves.

But I'll tell you, interesting thing about my mother.  She never became a victim; she never felt sorry for herself, and that's a good thing.

The problem is she never felt sorry for us either, so--.  There was never any excuse that we could give it was good enough.  She would always say, do you have a brain?  And if the answer is yes then you could have thought your way out of it.  And you know what, I ask that same question of us today in America.  Do we have a brain?  Do we have the ability to think logically to solve the multiple problems that we have?

You know my mother prayed and asked God to give her wisdom.  What could she do?  And you know that's the wonderful thing about God; you don't have to have a Ph.D. to talk to him; you just have to have faith.  And you know what?  He gave it to her.  He gave here the wisdom, at least in her opinion; my brother and I didn't think it was wise at all, turning off the TV and making us read books.  I mean what kind of wisdom is that.  As far as we were concerned it was child abuse, but--

And then we have to submit to her written book reports, two apiece each week, which she could read but we didn't know that.  She'd put little check marks, highlights, underlines, and I was not a happy camper, I've got to tell you.  But you know you had to do it; back in those days had to do what your parents told you.  There was no social psychologist saying let the kid express themselves, you know, and--

I mean don't you find it interesting today how government tries to insert itself into everything

They want to tell you how to take care of your children, what you should feed them, how you should discipline them; everything about them.  You know what?  I would be happy to accept the advice of the government if they were doing everything perfectly, but it seems they can't even run their own house.  How are they going run your house?  You know, this is the problem.

Well at any rate there I was reading those books, but interestingly as I started reading about people of great accomplishment I began to notice something they all seem to have in common, that vision, and that willingness to work hard.  And I began to understand that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you.  It's not somebody else.  It's not the environment.

And at that point, at that point I stopped listening to the naysayers and people who were saying the system is stacked against you, and these people are against you. I didn't have time for them.  I was going use that time instead to look at all the incredible opportunities that existed for a young man in inner-city Detroit.  And there were a lot of things, but you had to go out and do them; they didn't just fall into your lap. 

And it made a big difference, and I started reading and within the space of a year and a half, I want from the bottom of the class to the top of the class much to the consternation of all those people who used to laugh and call me dummy.  Who were now coming to me and saying Benny, Benny, Benny, how do you work this problem?  And I would say, sit at my feet youngster while I instruct you.  I was perhaps a little obnoxious, but it sure felt good to say that to those turkeys. 

But you know you think about human brain and what it is capable of, and we need to start putting more emphasis on that once again.  We need to be looking at ways that we educate our populace.  We look at all the failed schools in some of our inner-cities, and yet in the same inner-cities you see private schools and charter schools and home schools where people are doing great and high graduation rates and college matriculation rates.

So why in the world aren't we trying to get everybody involved in the things that work and get rid of the things that don't work?

Because we have special interest groups, and that is the problem, a big problem with our nation today: special interest groups.  And there should only be one special interest group and that is that people in the United States of America, and once we understand that, once we understand that, we can do so much better.

You know it was interesting that when Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to study our nation because Europeans were so fascinated as to why we were doing so well, he had this big two-volume analysis.  At the end he concluded that America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great. 

And he was right on target, because as we begin to throw away all of our values, and all of our principles and we forget who we are, we will go from being great to being nothing, and we have to fight that.

Now, one of the other issues I want to touch on, immigration. 

You know we have laws in place.  Common sense works great.  We already have laws that demonstrate how a person becomes an American citizen.  We don't have to relitigate that.  If we do we relitigate it, it needs to be done by the proper branch of government, which is Congress.  It is not by the president; it is not by the Supreme Court.

Do we have an illegal immigration problem?  Can we fix it?

Of course we can.  First of all, you have to realize that that there wouldn't be people coming here if there wasn't a magnet drawing them in here.  You have to reverse the polarity of the magnet.  You have to get rid of all the things that are drawing them in here. including employment.  If you employ a person who is illegal, instead getting a pass from the government you should get a criminal activity on your record because it's a crime. 

And you have to seal the border.  Do we have the ability to seal a border?  Of course we do; we just don't have will to seal the border. And I think whoever wins in 2016--I'm pretty sure it's going be a Republican--I think they should make it their goal to seal that border within a year [inaud.].

And you know these are common sense kinds of things.  Now where's the compassion you say?  There are millions of people here illegally who have to hide in the shadows.  I don't think they should have to hide in the shadows.  We look to the north of us and we see Canada.  They have a very well formulated guest worker program.  People get registered appropriately, they come, they work, they pay taxes, they go back home.  There's a place nobody has to hide in the shadows.  I think we could do something like that, but it has to have some stipulations.

We shouldn't offer jobs unless Americans won't take them, number one.  And number two, in order to get a guest worker permit you have to apply for it from outside of America.  You can't be here, okay, because you shouldn't get an advantage for breaking the law.  So you leave.  It still allows people to--they can easily go and do that, and they probably have an advantage because they know people who want to employ them--they may have established a good work record--and that person can offer them a job and they can come back in and they can take it and they can pay taxes like everybody else in this country pays taxes.  And until we can learn how to think that way we're not going win this argument, but when we do it by the law we integrate compassion, but we do, we use our common sense, that's what will make America work once again.

Now what about the waste and the fraud.  There's a lot waste and fraud in our country right now.  I'll give you an example.  Medicaid.  We spend 400 billion dollars a year on Medicaid.  About a quarter of Americans benefit from Medicaid.  Now what does that come out--a quarter of a million Americans, about 80 million Americans.  Do the math.  It comes out to about five thousand dollars per Medicaid recipient. 

Now you've heard about concierge practices, the boutique practices for people who are well off.  They average about two to three thousand dollars a year.  That means for the most part we could have boutique practices for these people if we didn't waste so much money.  Think about what I'm talking about here, and that's why I'm talking about a revamping of the system, but it is imperative that the Republicans embrace a simple, effective system that puts people and their health care providers in charge the health care, and that in turn brings the health care system into the free market system--that's what controls price and that's what controls quality.

We do not need the government controlling our health care, and that's why, that's why I have been such a vehement opposer of Obamacare.  Even if it worked I would oppose it.  It doesn't.  But even if it did I would oppose it.  Why would I oppose it?  Because I don't believe in taking the most important thing a person has which is their health, their health care, and putting it in the hands of the government because if they have control of the most important thing you have, it's not long before they have control of your whole life and that fundamentally changes America, and we don't want that.

And I'm a big believer in waste not, want not.  You know I remember my, my mother, you know she worked two, three jobs at a time, extremely hard, because she didn't want to be on welfare. And she only had a third grade education but she noticed that most people who went on welfare never came off it so she just didn't want to go on it in the first place.  So she struggled; she worked hard.  Occasionally she accepted some assistance, but for the most part was able to stay off of it because she was creative. 

She would go to the Good Will and buy a pair of pants that had a big hole in the knees--and this was back when that wasn't fashionable--and buy a couple of patches and put them on there, and people would be saying where'd you get those jeans?  And you know she would go out, take us to the country on a Sunday, and knock on a farmer's door, can we pick four bushels of your apples, corn, beans, three for you and one for us.  They always like that deal.  She would bring that?it home, can them. 

She really could stretch money--she understood the value of money--and in fact I'm certain that if my mother were the Secretary of the Treasury we would not be in a deficit situation right now.

But a big part of our problem right now is that the government is just too big and they're wasteful, and they don't care what they do with our money.  I remember once I was doing a consulting job for the government some years back and and in terms of my fee they said charge anything you want, anything you want.  Doesn't matter.  I imagine this goes on all the time and it's problematic. 

You know, you can go back to 2010 and you take income and everybody who makes $69,000 and above--the middle class and above, $5.1 trillion.  A lot of money.  The federal budget that year, $3.5 trillion.  Sixty-percent of everything the middle class and above makes just to run the federal government.

Who thinks that's fair?  I don't see a single hand.  That is absolutely absurd.  It means the government is much too big.  There's one well-known politician who said you can't cut one penny or it'll be a disaster.  Anybody know who that was?  Yeah, Nancy Pelosi.  Why I mean.  That's crazy. 

So my suggestion is that we cut down on the size of government by attrition.  You know thousands of government employees retire every year.  Don't replace them.  You do that for about four or five years and all the sudden you've got the government down to a reasonable size and people have real jobs.  They're not stumbling over each other doing the same thing.  Then they don't have time to stick their big noses in everybody's business.  You know. 

And then this this this national debt, $18 trillion and rising, rising at a rate of $500 million a day.  Think about that.  That's ridiculous.  It is compromising the quality of life for everybody who comes after us, and that's what I'm concerned about.

My whole career has been spent trying to preserve life, trying to enhance life of children, and now here I was ready to retire, sit back and relax and enjoy life, and then I look out there and I see this monster called the national debt which is threatening the life and quality of those coming behind us.  That's why I can't sit down and watch that happen, and I hope none of us is able to sit down and watch that happen.

We are going to have to deal with it through economic development.  We grow our way out of it; we'll never cut our way out of it, but that does mean that we need to cut, cut down the size of the government, develop the federal government.  We need to use our natural resources.  God has blessed this country with enormous natural resources.  We're the number one producer of oil now on three-percent of the land.  What would happen if we open up the land?  The federal government has no business owning all this land.  This is crazy, you know. 

And all the natural gas we have, and now we have the ability to liquefy natural gas, which means we can export it.  And we have all these archaic energy exportation rules that date back to the seventies.  We need update those, and we used to use those energy resources not only to enhance our economic position, to pay down our debt, but also to put Putin back in his little box, you know.

But you know what my life has been surrounded, taking care of children and that drives a lot of what I do.  You know no one should ever be surprised to know that I am pro-life because if I spent so many hours trying to figure out how to save people's lives why would I be in favor of people obliterating people's lives?  Why would anybody be in favor of that?

And in closing I have to tell you, we today enjoy our freedom because there were those who preceded us who were brave.  They were not afraid.  We have to have courage once again in this country.  We cannot allow the progressives to shut us up through political correctness and through all the things that they do.  And if they want to act like third-graders and call us names, let them.

But the fact of the matter is we have a job to do and we need to realize that freedom is not free. You have to fight for freedom every single day.  And the next time you sing our National Anthem and you're looking at that flag and you get to the end of that first stanza and it says the land of the free and the home of the brave, please remember that it is impossible to be free if you're not brave.  Thank you and God Bless.


Transcript © 2015 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.