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Ben Carson the Welfare and Warfare Statist

It happens every four years. Candidates for president issue books to sucker people to vote for them using the written word just like they sucker people every day to vote for them using the spoken word.

One of the latest “presidential” books is by retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. The book, A More Perfect Union, is his second salvo, since he authored with the same publisher last year One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future.

I was going to review the book but decided against it after (1) seeing that it is yet another book by a conservative about the Constitution that he claims to revere but doesn’t follow, and (2) hearing Dr. Carson’s recent interview with Kai Ryssdal on “Marketplace.”

Regarding conservatives not following the Constitution they profess to revere and follow, I have written about this so many times that I will just refer the reader to two of my most recent articles on the subject (here and here) and mention here only one issue: the drug war. If a “Constitutional conservative” is not in favor of ending the federal government’s war on drugs and repealing all federal drug laws, he is an enemy of the Constitution since that document nowhere gives the federal government the authority to have anything to do with the manufacture, sale, regulation, or use of any drug. Carson is an enemy of the Constitution no matter what he says about it in his book.

Regarding Carson’s interview with Ryssdal, it is clear that he is in favor of two things: making the welfare state more efficient and increasing the warfare state.

In his interview, Carson was given ample opportunity to name one thing that he would cut from the federal budget. Instead of naming just one thing, he droned on and on about making the federal leviathan more efficient:

  • There’s an enormous amount of inefficiency and overlap to be gotten rid of.
  • The American people deserve to have an efficient government.
  • I don’t think anybody objects to paying taxes, if they thought that it was being used efficiently.

When asked about cutting government services and entitlements to balance the budget, Carson said we should “refuse to extend the budget by one penny for three to four years.” He talked about allowing the government to shrink by attrition: “Don’t replace the people who are retiring, thousands of them each year.” Carson wants every department or sub-department head to be told that they need “a 3 to 4 percent reduction.”

These three brief exchanges between Ryssdal and Carson are priceless:

Ryssdal: With respect, sir, you didn’t answer the question. What are you not gonna do? It’s easy to say trim fat, it’s easy to say 3 to 4 percent reduction, but rejecting the premise of the question isn’t answering the question.

Carson: What I’m not gonna continue to do is supply money for everything. If you have to cut your budget by 3 to 4 percent, that automatically answers your question.

Ryssdal: Yes. You keep saying we’re doing things in the government we don’t need to do, but when I ask you what you’re gonna stop doing, you don’t tell me.

Carson: Because you don’t understand the concept of what I’m talking about. The concept of across the board cutting of fat, because there’s so much of it in so many different departments.

Ryssdal: So will we stop health services for the poor? Will we stop supplementing nutrition programs? Will we stop corporate tax breaks? Will we stop the offshoring of corporate profits? Those kinds of things. What are we gonna stop?

Carson: See that’s what certain people always say. They come out and they pick things, and they say, particularly they try to pick things that, you know, might upset people. You remember a couple of years ago? “Well if we can shut down White House tours, and we can close the national parks, and we can do this.” You know, whatever you can do to get people’s emotions stirred up. And what I’m talking about is across-the-board everything. You cannot convince me that there isn’t any department that is completely 100 percent efficient and you can’t find fat.

Ryssdal bent over backwards trying to get Carson to name just one thing in the government he would cut. Carson didn’t even have enough sense to say something simple and non-threatening like abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, privatize AMTRAK, defund Planned Parenthood, repeal Obamacare, and don’t reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

What else are we to conclude about Carson but that he has no problem with WIC, food stamps, housing subsidies, TANF, farm subsidies, SCHIP, home heating assistance, federal grant programs, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, federal job training programs, and the National School Lunch Program, SSI, and Head Start as long as they are run efficiently? What else are we to conclude about Carson but that he is a welfare statist?

But in addition to being a welfare statist, Carson is also a warfare statist.

When asked by Ryssdal what his government would look like were he to be elected president, Carson let us know what a militarist and interventionist he is:

Also, recognizing that if we get defense wrong, nothing else matters, because we live in a hostile world. So you’re going to see our military capabilities improve quite substantially. You’re going to see us really taking care of our veterans rather than just talking about it. Recognizing that we have a 14 percent decrease in people applying for our volunteer military. That’s going to hurt us badly in the long run.

You’re going to see us beef up our cyber capabilities substantially, you’re going to see us respond to people who attack us in a way that they will never forget.

You’re going to see much more proactive stance towards someone like Putin, you know, we’re going to be much more active throughout the whole Baltic basin area, Eastern Europe, we’re going to reestablish missile defense program, we’re going to have more than one or two armored brigades in that area. We’re gonna stand up to him, every place in the Middle East, we’re not gonna back down.

We’re going to be taking a whole geopolitical strategy that is proactive, and not reactive.

Gee, I wonder why the world is so hostile? Could U.S. bombs, bullets, maiming, killing, invasions, occupations, drone strikes, and incessant meddling have anything to do with it? Although Carson wants every part of the federal budget trimmed by 3 to 4 percent, this obviously doesn’t include the military budget, not if “you’re going to see our military capabilities improve quite substantially.” The foreign policy of a President Carson would be even more reckless, belligerent, and meddling than it is now. He apparently not only wants to have another Cold War with Russia, but a hot one as well.

It doesn’t matter what good things Ben Carson says in his speeches or writes in his book about his faith, his family, taxes, the Constitution, Obamacare, President Obama, the economy, the debt ceiling, or the budget—he is a welfare/warfare statist just like your typical Republican constitutional conservative.

This post originally appeared on LewRockwell.com.

LCI posts articles representing a broad range of views from authors who identify as both Christian and libertarian. Of course, not everyone will agree with every article, and not every article represents an official position from LCI. Please direct any inquiries regarding the specifics of the article to the author. 

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