Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Detroit, Michigan
Thank you. We have limited time. Thank you. Thank you so much for that warm welcome. This is my wonderful wife Candy, who is also a Detroiter. [applause]
Even though we are both from Detroit, we had to go to New Haven to meet each other. Candy has been by my side for 40 years. [laughter] [applause] And is my best friend — we do everything together. She even learned how to play pool because she knew I was a good pool player. [laughter] And she actually wins sometime, but most of the times I beat her. I should be careful because there are some media in here and their headline will be that Carson admits he beats his wife. [laughter]
If you guys would not mind sitting down, so that i can introduce our son — my oldest son, Murray and his wife Larone are right here. Stand up, please. [applause] Murray is an engineer and Larone is an analyst for a polling company. My middle son BJ and his wife Merlen is right here. [applause] BJ is an entrepreneur and Merlin owns a company that does placements and they do a lot of things, they own a lot of stuff. Very cool. And then, my youngest son, Royce, is right here. His wife is at home with the baby. [applause] Royce is a CPA and they all three got married in 2011. [laughter] [applause]
Now, I have introduced my family. You say, who are you? I'll tell you. I am Ben Carson and I am a candidate for President of the United States. [cheers and applause]
Thank you. Thank you. America remains a place of dreams. And a lot of people are down on our nation. They want to point out all of the bad things that have happened here. But, have you ever noticed that there's a lot of people trying to get in here and not a lot of people trying to escape? [laughter] You know, it says something, and it was a place of dreams for my mother. My mother came from a very large rural family in Tennessee, and was shuffled from home to home. She always had a desire for education. But, she was never able to get beyond the third grade. And she married at age 13 with the hope of escaping a desperate situation. She and my father moved here to Detroit. And, he worked in a factory.
In fact, I remember one Christmas being right here in this auditorium, sitting right over there. For GM employees, they had a Christmas program for the kids.
Some years later, my mother discovered that he was a bigamist and had another family. And of course, that occasioned the divorce. And you know, she only had a third grade education, and consequently, we were thrown into a situation of dire poverty. And she still maintained that dream of education, but now, it was for us, moreso than for herself.
We moved in with her older sister and brother-in-law in Boston. Typical tenement, large, multifamily dwelling. Boarded up windows and doors. Sirens, gangs, murders. Both of our older cousins, who we adored, were killed. I remember when our favorite drug dealer was killed. [laughter] Bennie Boston Morris—he drove a blue Cadillac. They used to bring us candy, so we likes to see the drug dealers. The rats and the roaches. You know, in the more upscale area, they call them water bugs, but we knew what they were. [laughter]
But my mother was out working extraordinarily hard. Two, sometimes three, jobs at a time as a domestic. Trying to stay off of welfare. And the reason for that which she noticed that most of the people she saw go on welfare never came off of it. And she didn't want to be dependent. She wanted us also to be independent. She said she would work long and as hard as necessary, leaving at 5:00 in the morning and getting back after midnight, day after day after day, doing what other people did not want to do, to try to maintain her independence. She was very thrifty. I mean, she would drive a car until it would not make a sound. [laughter] And then she would go and collect all of our dimes and nickels and quarters and buy a new car. They would say, how does that woman afford a new car? But, she knew how to manage money. And I am fond of saying, if my mother was Secretary of the Treasury, we would not be in a deficit situation. [laughter] [applause]
And you know, there are many people who are critical of me because they say Carson wants to get rid of all the safety nets and welfare programs, even though he must've benefited from them. This is a blatant lie. I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people. [cheers and applause] And we are not doing people a favor when we pat them on the head and say there there, you poor little thing, we are going to take care of all you needs, you don't have to worry about anything.
You know who else says stuff like that? Socialists. And their programs always end up looking the same. They want to take care of people from cradle to grave, but they want to be involved in every aspect of their lives, and they want most of their earnings. But they say it will be a utopia and nobody will have to worry. The problem is that all of those societies end up looking the same. With a small group of elites at the top controlling everything, a rapidly diminishing middle class, and a vastly expanded dependent class. That was not the intention for this country.
This country was envisioned by individuals who wanted everything to be surrounding the people. Of, for, and by the people. Not, of, for, and by the government. And, the government was to respond to the will of the people, not the people to the will of the government. And we've allowed the whole thing to be turned upside-down.
And I am not an antigovernment person by any stretch of the imagination. I think the government, as described in our Constitution, is wonderful. But, now, we've gone far beyond what our Constitution describes and we've begun to allow it to expand based on what the political class wants, because they like to increase their power and dominion over the people. And I think it is time for the people to rise up and take the government back. [applause]
Now, the political class won't like me saying stuff like that. [laughter] I'll tell you a secret. The political class comes from both parties and it comes from all over the place. [applause] And, it includes, unfortunately, even the media now.
You know, the media— the press—is the only business in America that is protected by our Constitution. You have to ask yourself a question. Why were they the only ones protected? It was because our founders envisioned a press that was on the side of the people, not a press that was on the side of the Democrats or the Republicans or the Federalists or the Antifederalists. [applause]
And this is a direct appeal to media. You guys have an almost sacred position in a true democracy. Please don't abuse it. [applause]
Now, my mother's dream was for us to move back to Detroit and we were eventually able to do that, but I was a terrible student. And, my brother was a terrible student. And she didn't know what to do. So she prayed. She asked God for wisdom. You know what? You don't have to have a PhD to talk to God. You just have to have faith. And God gave her the wisdom, at least in her opinion. My brother and I didn't think it was that wise. [laughter] turning off the TV and making us read books and submit to her written book reports which she couldn't read. But, you know, it didn't matter because, you know, it worked! That was the key.
And I started reading those books which I really didn't want to. I started reading about people of accomplishment. I began to recognize that the person who has to do the most with what happens in your life is you. It is not somebody else. And, you do not have to be dependent on the good graces of somebody else. You can do it on your own if you have a normal brain and you are willing to work and you are willing to have that can-do attitude.
You gotta remember, it was the can-do attitude that allowed this nation to rise so quickly. Because we had people who didn't stop when there was an obstacle. That's how those early settlers were able to move from one seat to the other seat across a rugged and hostile terrain. They knew how to do things. And there were many communities that were separated from other communities by hundreds of miles, but they thrived. Why did they thrive? Because people were willing to work together, to work with each other. If a farmer got injured, everybody else harvested his crops. If somebody got killed, everybody else pitched in to take care of their families.
That's who we are. We, Americans, we take care of each other. That is why we are called the United States of America. What we have done is we have allowed the purveyors of division to become rampant in our society and to create friction and fear in our society. People are afraid to stand up for what they believe in because they do not want to be called a name. They don't want an IRS audit. They don't want their jobs messed with or their families messed with.
But isn't it time for us to think about the people who came before us? And what they were willing to do? So that we could be free. Nathan Hale, a teenage rebel, caught by the British, ready to be executed — he said my only regret is that I have but one life to give my country.
You know, a couple of nights ago, I was in mobile, Alabama. And, there were several World War II veterans there in uniform. I took pictures with all of them. And they were thanking me for being courageous enough to do what I am doing now. But I said, no, it's you who we must thank. [applause] We think about all of those brave men and women who sacrificed life and limb over the years so that we could be free. And we dare not soil their efforts by being timid now and not standing up for what we believe. Have to recognize that there, one of the rules in Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is that you make the majority believe that what they believe is no longer relevant and no intelligent person thinks that way and the way you believe is the only way intelligent people believe. And that way they will keep silent.
Because, I will tell you something. They don't care if you don't believe what they believe, as long as you keep your mouth shut. That is what we have to start doing. We have to start opening our mouths for the values and principles of America. [applause]
I have got to tell you something. I'm not politically correct. [cheers and applause] I am probably never going to be politically correct because I am not a politician. I don't want to be a politician because. . . [applause] politicians do what is politically expedient and I wanna do what is right. [laughter] [applause] We have to think about that once again in our country.
You know, this past couple of weeks, there has been a great deal of turmoil in Baltimore, where I spent 36 years of my life. And we see the turmoil in our cities all over our nation. We need to start thinking about how do we get to the bottom of this issue?
You see, I believe that the real issue here is that people are losing hope, and they don't feel that life is going to be good for them no matter what happens. So, when an opportunity comes to loot, to riot, to "get mine," they take it — not believing that there is a much better way to get the things that they desire.
Now, interestingly enough, many of these people buy hook, line, and sinker, the idea that our economy is getting much better. And that, you know, the unemployment rate is down to 5.5%. You know what? If the unemployment rate was down to 5.5%, our economy would be humming, OK? But obviously it's not. And it's one of the reasons that our Founders said that our freedom and our way of life is dependent upon a well-informed and educated populace. Because what you have to know is that you can make the unemployment rate anything you want it to be, based on what numbers you include and what numbers you exclude. So, you have to look at the labor force participation rate, which is the number of people eligible to work who are actually working. That number has been steadily going down since 2009 and is now at a 37-year low. Unless you understand those kinds of things, it is imminently possible for slick politicians and biased media to convince you that everything is wonderful when your eyes tell you something different.
And I'm saying to people around this nation right now, stop being loyal to a party or to a man and use your brain to think for yourself. [applause] That is really the key to us as a nation becoming successful again. Not in allowing ourselves to be manipulated by people who think that they are the kingmakers. Who think that they are the rulers of thought. They are not the rulers of thought. We, the people are the rulers of thought in this nation. We get to determine what kind of nation we have. Other people cannot dictate that for us. We need never allow anybody to take the right away from us. And, we do that when we submit to silliness.
You know, for instance: the majority of Americans were opposed to the so-called Affordable Care Act. And they just rammed it down our throats and said that this is the way it is going to be. If you don't like it, too bad. That was never supposed to be the way that this country was designed. And, if we accept it, it will continue that way and it will get worse. And we have to get the right people in place.
We need, not only to take the executive branch in 2016, and when I say "we," I'm not talking Republicans — I'm talking about anybody who has common sense. [applause] And, we have to have another "wave election" and bring in people with common sense, who actually love our nation, and are willing to work for our nation and are more concerned about the next generation than the next election. That is what is going to help us. [applause]
We also are going to have to concentrate on fixing the broken economy. 18 plus trillion dollars in national debt. And we have representatives who applaud themselves if the deficit does not go up as much this quarter as it did last quarter. You know, they are completely out to lunch. [laughter] We have got to drive that thing back down. It's crazy!
But it's our responsibility. You need to know who your representatives are. And you need to know how they voted. Not how they said they voted. And if they voted to keep raising that debt ceiling, to keep compromising the future of our children and our grandchildren, you need to throw them out of office. [applause] 18 trillion dollars. Think about what that means. If you tried to pay that back in a rate of 10 million dollars a day, it would take you over 5000 years. And we are putting that on the backs of people coming behind us. This will be the first year that the national debt exceeds the GDP. Economists will tell you that when the debt to GDP ratio reaches 90%, at that point economic slowdown is inevitable.
And you know, we've been doing this for a while now. From 1850 to 2000, our economy grew at a rate of 3.3% at least, even during wars. From 2001 until 2014, it grew at a rate of 1.8%. That seems to be the new norm. You probably saw the headlines recently in the last quarter. It grew at like 0.2%. You know, this is not good. I don't care how anybody tries to spin it. And this is what happens when you have a GDP to debt ratio of 103%, which is what we have now. This is what we have got to fix. We have got to fix that immediately. Because we cannot continue along that pathway. It will have dire consequences in the long run.
And I will be giving an in-depth economic speech in weeks and months to come with a lot of details about things that have to be done. But we need to fix it. We can't just talk about it. And how do we fix it?
Well, recognize that we have the most dynamic economic engine the world has ever known right here in America. And, we need to use it again. We can't work it when we wrap it in chains and fetters of regulations, and new regulations that come out all the time. It doesn't work. It doesn't work when you have high taxation rates—which are absurd. You know we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world. And yet we sit there, or at least some of our officials, and they wonder why people do work overseas. Well, they obviously don't understand business.
People don't go into business to support the government. They go into business to make money. So, we have to, obviously. . [applause]. We obviously have to create an environment that is conducive to them making money. And, you know, that means lowering that corporate tax rate, making it competitive. And, if we were really smart, we would do another big stimulus. You are saying, what? What did he just say? Well, remember that big [trillion?] dollar stimulus that we were supposed to have at the beginning of the Obama administration? Whatever happened to that?
But, I know where we could get a really big stimulus. There's 2 trillion dollars of offshore money because they won't bring it back because it will be taxed at 35%. What if we give them a tax holiday and let 'em bring it back, and repatriate that money? Won't cost us a dime. [applause] That's the kind of thing we have to start thinking about.
Think about how . . . you know if you go to a financial advisor and, you know, you're in trouble, they'll tell you there's a few — they'll ask you four questions. What do you own? And what do you owe? Well, we owe a lot. It's not just the 18 trillion it's the 211 trillion unfunded mandates, as well. But, what do we own? We own a lot, also. I mean, just in terms of land and the mineral rights for it, we are probably at least 50 trillion dollars. We own dams. We own levees. We own railroads. The government owns 900,000 buildings—77,000 of which are being not utilized or underutilized. Think about that. At the same time, the government is leasing over 500 million square feet from the private sector, using your taxpayer money.
It is totally horrendous when you look under the hood. You just want to shut it back down. [laughter] I mean, it is that bad.
But I want to tell you what we're going to do, if God ordains that we end up in the White House. I'm gonna tell you what we are going to do. We are going to change the government into something that looks more like a well-run business than a behemoth of inefficiency. [applause] And, when I say we, I'm talking about our team.
When I started this endeavor, I'm familiar with a man who has started over 30 companies, is extraordinarily successful. And, I asked him to put together the rest of the team in order to be able to do this. His name is Terry Giles. Terry, where are you? [applause] Right here [points]. And, now that we are transitioning from, you know, an exploratory committee, I've asked Terry if he would take the lead in helping to select the people who will be able, who've had enormous experience with business and with making things work, so that we can transition our government from this inefficient thing that we have, into something that really works and something that works the way it is supposed to, according to our Constitution.
We also have a great team. We have our — who do we have? [laughter] We have our chairman, which is Barry Bennett, who never wears a tie but you will get used to seeing him, and he does a terrific job. [applause] And, we have our director of communications, Doug Watts, who does wear a tie. [applause] Aand we have our treasurer and finance director, Logan Delaney. [applause] And we have our national spokesperson, Dana Bass. [applause] And we're gonna be doing different things that you have seen before because it is not political, as I've said before.
And there are people who say, you cannot do this area you don't have any experience. Let me tell you something. I don't have a lot of experience busting budgets and doing the kinds of things that have gotten us into all the trouble we are in now. I do have a lot of experience in solving problems. Complex surgical problems that have never been done by anybody before. [applause]
I do have experience [applause]. . . I do have corporate board experience with 18 years with Kellogg's; and 16 years with Costco as well as a biotech company. Candy and I do have experience starting a national nonprofit scholars fund. Nine out of 10 of those fail. Ours is thriving in all 50 states and has launched several national awards. [applause] So, the point being that you can gain experience in other ways. It doesn't have to be just in politics. I can name a lot of people in politics who've been there all their lives and you probably would not want them to polish your shoe.
So, you know, we need to be smart enough to think for ourselves. To listen for ourselves and in terms of a pedigree that we need — and you know something, I have to tell you, everybody has been telling me, are you ready for this. They're going to come after you with everything under the sun. They're going to look through every record you have. They're gonna try to say you are a horrible doctor. You know, everything you can imagine. I know that. That's they way they are. I expect that. It is ok. Don't worry, just listen to what is being said.
I'm not even asking everybody to vote for me. I'm just asking people to listen to what I am saying and listen to what politicians are saying and make an intelligent decision based on your intellect. Because the real pedigree that we need to help to heal this country, to revive this country. Someone who believes in our Constitution and is willing to put it on the top shelf. [applause] Someone who believes in their fellow man and loves this nation and is compassionate. Somebody who believes in what we have learned since we were in kindergarten. That is, that we are one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. [applause]
Ben Carson, Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Detroit, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/310547