- - Sunday, February 24, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION

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; people called them political, or partisan. What is wrong with a physician sharing his perspective on health-care 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 afterward, as interest grew in Dr. Carson’s ideas, 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. That’s all they can do. They can’t beat him in the arena of ideas and superior intellect.”

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, the system gets taken over by ideology, which 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 1 percent pays 37 percent of the income taxes and the top 5 percent pay 59 percent (despite the top 5 percent not making 59 percent of the income) they are being overtaxed. Simplification is the only true and fair solution.

Unlike our tax code, tithing is simple and fair, requiring 10 percent of one’s “increase.” A proportional tax system does not have to be 10 percent — it can be higher or lower depending on the needs of the government. But if the same tax were applied to the entire population, tax increases would affect everyone, not just a small group of voters and the government would be unlikely to raise taxes to a very high level.

This is a clear advantage of a flat tax rate — everyone participates. A country where half the population pays no income taxes, but are allowed to vote to make others pay more taxes, makes absolutely no sense. When everybody has skin in the game, everyone will be responsible: imagine if when you ate ice cream, somebody else got fat! That’s how our tax-and-spend government works: 51 percent of the people vote for spending paid for by the other 49 percent.

Dr. Carson says that he has not ruled out a run for office if “the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made” him do it. 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.

I am proud to call Dr. Carson my friend, and, like just about everyone else, I hope to hear more such speeches from him in the future. I also strongly encourage you to read more about him, especially his latest best-selling book “America the Beautiful,” which he wrote with his wife, Candy, and which details the scholarship program that they have been running for 15 years.

I’m hoping that we’ll get a sequel soon.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 128, 6 to 7 p.m. and 4 to 5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him at www.twitter.com/arightside.