Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Economics of Ben Carson

By Robert Wenzel

Ben Carson was in San Francisco yesterday. He was in town for an interview at the Commonwealth Club and later spoke separately to reporters.

The Commonwealth Club had to move the event to the Mark Hopkins Hotel and a a much larger room than they originally planned because of the large number that wanted to attend. The crowd delivered a loud round of applause as Carson entered the room. He was interviewed by Dan Ashley of San Francisco's ABC 7.

A full media contingent was on hand.

Carson seemed comfortable in the interview format (He will do well on sit down talk shows) and told anecdote after anecdote, in a style close to Bill Cosby before his fall.

He seemed to grasp that a lot of the debt the US has built up is only becasue of  dollar strength. He pointed out that, with the dollar being the world's global reserve currency, this borrowing was much easier to pull off, But he warned that the global dollar reserve status will not last.

He referenced the Lord and the Bible frequently. He said he was only running because he told the Lord that he would not run unless the Lord sent followers and that the followers have come. The Lord "keeps opening the doors," he said.

He rattled off numbers: 3 million Facebook followers and 400,000 individual donors. He said he would not be bought off by large donors, though he said he was talking to "some big money people." But added, he would only accept their money "on his terms."

When a question came up about taxes, he said he liked how the Bible called for a 10% tithe on all earnings. He said he wanted to end all tax breaks and go to a tithe like flat tax. But, he seemed to also one up the Bible by saying that the flat tax would "in the beginning" have to be closer to 15% rather than 10%.

He then went on to state that he was a proponent of government created health savings accounts. I don't think he realized this was a tax break.

With regard to the minimum wage, he said he would fix it "once and for all" by calling a national conference on the topic and set different minimum wages for different states, depending  on the cost of living in each state. This shows typical cluelessness about minimum wages. I'm not sure who his economic adviser is, there seems to be some indication it is GMU guy, but the briefings apparently  haven't yet reached the topic of minimum wages.

He mimicked Donald Trump on China and said that the Chinese shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of the US. Which means, like Trump, he doesn't understand free trade or comparative advantage. I guess the GMU guy hasn't gotten to that lesson either.

On immigration, he wasn't all bad. His plan was close to my Welfare Wall proposal,

He said current illegals in the country should be given "guest worker passes." But he said the "spigot must be turned off" when it comes to government aid to illegals, so that aid does not provide incentive for them to come over the border. "That will stop them," he said.

A number of times he mentioned that government regulations hinder business and he seemed as though he truly understood this. He name dropped that he had been on both the board of directors of Kellogg and Costco.

He said the fundamental problem with Obamacare is government involvement. Thus, again, he did not make the connection that his healthcare savings account plan is also government involvement.

He also got pretty touchy during the press conference when someone asked him about his mother getting government aid while he was growing up.

I don't consider any of the current GOP or Democratic candidates sound on economics, But on a scale of bad to worse. I give Carson a grade of Bad. He is far, far from a free market guy. but there are worse.

For my take on his horrific foreign policy views, see here.

 Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics

Also see: Ben Carson, Taxes and the Devil Quoting Scripture


  1. "He referenced the Lord and the bible frequently. He said he was only running because he told the Lord that he would not run unless the Lord sent followers and that the followers have come. The Lord "keeps opening the doors," he said."

    So this guy effectively thinks that the creator of the universe (assuming it exists) wants him to run for President and supports his effort to do so. He's delusional. Why don't we call these people out on their delusions? If you think that some god or gods support you in a run for political office, you're delusional and you need to be called out on it.

    1. This sounds as if you don't believe in God which is irrelevant to the discussion. He could be believe he's Zeus messenger, or he's just better educated then all the plebs, or that his IQ which is probably better than yours is right enough that he should take on leadership.

      Regardless of his reason for running for office the question is are his policies worth while?

      Unfortunately he shows his lack of understanding in regards to the Bible in that the tithe is not a mandate. It is voluntary. I would be all for a voluntary tax or "tithe". Just because he uses religions words doesn't mean they are used truthfully he is simply trying to appeal to the religious base of the Republican party.

  2. funny how that tax rate is always that little bit higher even than the Lord suggested.

    1. Lol! Mr. Carson wants to show God what a generous and pious man he is with other peoples money.