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We must look at the big picture and concentrate our efforts on establishing responsible national fiscal policies, fair taxation, responsible energy and environmental policies, and empowerment through education. Many social issues can be dealt with in time, as can entitlement reform. To worry about these issues before addressing the failing economy is a mistake.

The dismal state of the current economy, as indicated by the falling labor-force participation rate, is quite conducive to the further development of big-government programs. By the same token, the correct policies that will result in an explosion of the economy will make entitlement reform much easier.

If we focus on the big picture, everyone will win.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the forthcoming “One Nation” (Sentinel, May 20).