tv After Words CSPAN August 23, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
>> up next on book tv after words with guest host chart todd of nbc news. this week dr. ben carson and his latest book the prominent former neurosurgeon and presidential critic proposes a road out of what he calls u.s. decline. he contends that his solutions appeal to every american is decency and common sense. this program is about an hour. ..
ing and she had the responsibility t that point with only a third grade education of trying to raise us on her own. >> host: how many of you were there? >> guest: myself and my brother. and we weren't particularly good students. and that's putting it mildly. i was the dummy, that's what everybody -- >> host: neurosurgeon thousand, and you were the dummy. [laughter] how you got from the dummy to neurosurgeon, but -- >> guest: everybody used to tease me and call me names, but, you know, my mother, and i think any success i have to contribute to god and my mother. she's always seeking wisdom and came up with the idea of opening your eyes and looking around you, and she noticed that the homes that she cleaned people didn't watch a lot of tv -- no offense -- [laughter] and they read a lot of books. >> host: yeah. >> guest: and, you know, she looked at where we lived, she looked at where they lived, and
somehow it clicked in her mind if i can get my boys to stop just looking at the all day long -- at tv all day long and start reading, and she imposed that on us. >> host: did you have a favorite tv show? >> guest: i loved everything. you didn't need a tv guide, i could tell you what was on every station. >> host: wow. >> guest: but, you know, she basically restricted us to two or three tv programs per week. >> host: wow. >> guest: and said we had to read two books apiece and and submit to her written book reports. >> host: no kidding. >> guest: but she couldn't read, but we didn't know she -- >> host: when did you find out your mom couldn't read? >> guest: later on in high school. >> host: that's interesting. >> guest: in fact, she got her ged the same year i graduated high school. >> host: no kidding? >> guest: yeah. but be anyway, by making us read -- which i hated -- something happened. i used to admire the smart kids in the class. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: i was always saying how come they know all the answers?
they're is the same age as i am. as i started reading, the teacher would ask me a question, and all of a sudden i knew the answer. if i had five minutes, i was reading a book. i went from being the dummy to the top of the class in a year and a half. >> host: give me the first book that you read. >> guest: chip the dam builder. >> host: my dad made me read profiles in courage in the sixth grade. >> guest: chip the dam builder. it was about a beaver. but he was a cool beaver, identify -- i've got to tell you. [laughter] i went on from there and realize every animal book in the library, and then i started reading about plants and about rocks because we lived near the railroad tracks, and there were all these rocks. i could get boxes of rocks, and pretty soon i could identify -- >> host: suddenly, you were a scientist, and you didn't realize it. >> guest: i didn't realize it. >> host: now i'm starting to make the connection here. that maybe sparked your interest
in science. >> guest: one day the science teacher held up a black, shiny rock and said does anybody know what this is? nobody raised their hand, so i raised my hand. everybody turned around, they couldn't believe. they said, oh, this is going to be hilarious. >> host: were you known as a jokester? >> guest: no, they knew i couldn't possibly know the answer, so it was going to be something really done. and i said, it's on sid january. and everybody was -- they didn't know whether they should be laughing or impressed. and then i explained how it was formed, and they were just shocked, but i was more shocked than anybody because it dawned on me at that moment that i wasn't stupid. >> host: what grade is this, by the way? >> guest: fifth grade. >> host: okay. >> guest: teacher invited me to come the lab, got me involved in taking care of the little animals. i started looking through the microscope discovering the whole world of protozoa. >> host: do you remember this teacher's name?
>> guest: mr. jake. >> host: you never forget, do you? one or two teachers that took that little extra interest. >> guest: no question about it. >> host: how long ago was this now? >> guest: well, that was more than 50 years ago. >> host: and you still remember. >> guest: the interesting thing is i went back to that school, and this was several years ago with "good morning america," and they wanted to sort of trace my roots. mr. jake was still there. >> host: is that right? >> guest: balding and pot belly -- [laughter] >> host: aren't we all at some point. >> guest: and i wanted him to show them the animals because he had a red squirrel, tarantula, jack dempsey fish, a clay fish, all these things. and he said, oh, we had to get rid of those things. >> host: did you have a relationship with your father? >> guest: not a strong relationship. we would see him periodically. the last time i saw him was the day i got married 39 years ago. >> host: he came? >> guest: yes. >> host: did this second family that he had, do you have a relationship with those half-brothers, half-sisters?
>> guest: no. >> host: not at all? did you ever forgive him? >> guest: oh, absolutely. i kind of look at the big picture. you know, my mother tried to make up for all that. and my father, you know, he was involved with drugs, alcohol, women. nothing wrong with women, but you can't have more than one, okay? that's a problem. [laughter] and that probably would not have been the best influence for me. >> host: right. >> guest: so in retrospect even though i was devastated as a kid, as i was praying let him come back, now i realize perhaps that would not have been the right thing for me. >> host: detroit today, what would you be doing? >> guest: well, first of all, the same thing i would be doing almost any place, bring back some fiscal sensibility, fiscal common sense. you, a lot of -- now, a lot of people blame the unions for what happened to detroit, but i actually don't blame the unions. unions do what unions do.
give me the egg, that's all they want. >> host: they're representing their members, and their members want a better deal. >> guest: but, you know, the executives in the big three auto companies, now, they have a one-year, five-year, ten-year, fifteen-year plan, they understand all this. and they knew if they kept conceding to the union, that eventually there would be a problem. but they kept doing it because they knew they would have their golden parachute and be long gone -- >> host: it'd be somebody else's problem. so you blame the executives as much as -- >> guest: it's the same thing i see around the country. we keep -- let it be somebody else's problem. >> host: right. you know, when you, you have gotten this spark of enthusiasm among conservatives recently. have you been surprised that it's come from conservatives? have you been -- did you assume you were a conservative when you did this? because i get the impression you weren't always a conservative. >> guest: no. >> host: in your mind. >> guest: well, obviously, like most young people, you know,
growing up in a place like detroit, you know, when i went off to college, i was radical. >> host: yeah? where'd you go to school? >> guest: i went to yale. >> host: what is a radical at yale? [laughter] there is degrees, you know? if you told me radical at berkeley -- [laughter] yale? you know. >> guest: there are radicals. >> host: i understand. >> guest: there was a black panther rally, you know? brewster was evil and all this kind of stuff. but it was, it's just the way it was at that time during our history. and radicalism was very much accepted among young people at that point. but, you know, i consider myself really more of a logical person than i am a conservative or a liberal or anything. i'm not all that fond be of labels. -- fond of labels. but i say most of our problems are easily solvable if we could just throw away the labels. i indicated in the book i would love a situation where party
designation was not on the ballot. >> host: yeah. >> guest: you had to actually know who that person was. >> host: in a lot of cities for mayors' races that's the case. that is the case, and it's not surprising to me guess who's getting stuff done these days? mayors. >> guest: yeah. >> host: you know, they don't have the baggage that comes with a political party in some of these cities, so it's interesting. >> guest: yeah, absolutely. >> host: so you go to yale, and when did you decide i'm going to be a doctor? >> guest: i had actually decided that when i was 8 years old. >> host: is that right? >> guest: i used to love mission stories in church. they seemed like the most noble people on the face of the earth. great personal sacrifice, bringing mental, physical and spiritual healing to people. and i said, that's what i'm going to do. but when i turned 13 having grown up in dire poverty, i decided i'd rather be rich. so at that point i wanted to be a psychiatrist. >> host: you decided a psychiatrist was a better way to -- >> guest: they drove jaguars and
lived in big, fancy mansions -- >> host: who were the psychiatrists that you're referring to? [laughter] >> guest: most of the tv programs where you would see a psychiatrist. >> host: well, they're doing it. they're living large. >> guest: i started reading "psychology today." everybody would bring me their problems, i'd sit down and -- [laughter] >> host: give me a nickel, five cents. >> guest: exactly. and i majored in psychology in college. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: i had luminary professors like anna freud, and it was really pretty exciting. but when i got to medical school, i said, you know, everybody has special gifts and talents and what are yours? i started thinking about my life, and i realized i had a tremendous amount of eye-hand coordination. >> host: i was going to say, a surgeon -- >> guest: that's key. >> host: it is. >> guest: and the ability to think in three dimensions which is essential because you're dealing with a nebulous mass. and you have to be able to keep in mind where all the tracts are even though you can't see them.
if you don't have good three-dimensional skills -- >> host: how'd you know how had that skill? >> guest: some of the jobs that i had done and really performed at extremely well like, you know, working in a steel factory. >> host: what'd you do in the steel factory? >> guest: crane operator. >> host: when was this? >> guest: right after i finished college. >> host: interesting. >> guest: and, you know, you're driving these enormous beams of steel through narrow areas and dropping them in the bed of a truck, and that they would let me do that after one day of practice -- [laughter] >> host: be a little scary. >> guest: i said, these guys see something in me that they don't -- >> host: either they saw something, or they were like, well, he's the next guy up. >> guest: no, no. it was a summer job, and a lot of the guys that worked there permanently didn't even get to do that. >> host: wow. >> guest: but, you know, as i thought about it, i said you'd be a tremendous neurosurgeon. and a lot of people thought that was strange because at that time
there had been eight black neurosurgeons in the history of the world. >> host: oh, jeez. >> guest: but, to me, i didn't even think about that. i said this is where my talents are. >> host: you know, i hear in surgery that, basically, in some ways the rotations, the one rotation where people can identify the best -- are sometimes the plastic surgeon rotation in some ways because it's such a -- you've got to know that they're precise and artistic at the same time. >> guest: yeah. >> host: is there -- it's more of, you know, now we lampoon it in some ways. [laughter] but is there some truth to that? >> guest: i think there probably is. you know, a lot of my career was developed around cranial-facial surgery with the plastic surgeons which is why i have an inspect plastic surgery. >> host: you're not practicing right now. do you miss it? >> guest: i miss the way it used to be. >> host: what does that mean? >> guest: there were a lot of things this the -- there are a lot of things in the process of changing. and, you know, most people when they chose medicine, they chose
it because you had a great deal of autonomy, you could sort of figure out, wow, i'm going to solve this problem. and, you know, in the days, in the early days there would be like a kid from bolivia or some place that had this incredible problem, and, you know, didn't have resources. and i'd just say, just override it. >> host: you figure it out because you wanted to solve the problem. >> guest: and nobody said boo because the hospitals had a big enough war chest that it was okay. once the insurance companies got to the point where they could dictate how much they were going to pay and hospitals no longer had a margin and then you want to do what? for free? are you kidding me? [laughter] and, you know, it just is changing so much and so much bureaucracy and stuff. so one of my goals in life is to try to make medicine fun again. i want doctors to get up in the morning and be excited about going to work. >> host: should doctors be
getting rich? >> guest: i think doctors should be well compensated. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: rich is a very different thing. you know, i know a lot of rich people, doctors that are rich. >> host: who should be be paid more in our society, teachers or doctors? what do you say to something like that? >> guest: i would say it's aer relevant question. [laughter] >> host: okay. [laughter] >> guest: i think, you know, people should be paid for what they do. recognize that doctors spent a very long time training to be doctors. >> host: right. >> guest: they go to college, they go to medical school for four years, internship, residency. >> host: right. so we're talking -- you arguably say it's 12 years of simply postgraduate work -- >> guest: right. >> host: -- to be a practicing neurosurgeon. >> guest: it takes a long time. and there's a lot of sacrifice involved. and even once you do start
working, you're working extraordinary hours, and you've got the tort issue. with neurosurgeons it's particularly bad because everybody thinks everything's supposed to be perfect, and they're dealing with very high-risk real estate. and, you know, that was one of the reasons that i had a real problem with so-called health reform that doesn't include tort reform. that can't even be serious. >> host: rhetorically, the president would talk about it, but when push came to shove there -- >> guest: right. >> host: let me is ask you, you, your christianity is throughout the book. >> guest: yeah. >> host: science and faith sometimes collide. how does it -- you have this highly scientific mind, and you're a very deeply religious person. and some people would say, hey, that doesn't compute. that doesn't always compute. how does it compute with you? >> guest: first of all, i would say i'm not deeply religious, but i have a very strong relationship with god. there is a difference.
>> host: let me pause you there. what would be the difference? >> guest: okay. the difference is that religion tends to be more form, and faith tends to be more substance. and, you know, in the name of religion a lot of really silly stuff has been carried out. >> host: see in the middle east right now. at any point in time. >> guest: exactly. however, people who have a deep relationship with god, i think, have a tendency to do things in a different way. >> host: okay. now go to the science versus -- >> guest: okay. well, i actually believe that science and faith can be really quite compatible. i've had some interesting discussions with nobel laureates who say, you know, how can a perp of your intelligence -- a person of your intelligence believe that, you know, god created heaven, earth and all this stuff. and i say, well, how can a person of your intelligence believe that something came from nothing?
explain to me exactly how that works. well, you know, we don't understand everything. okay, i say, okay, so i'll give you that there's something. okay, just -- there's something. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and now you're going to tell me it explodes, and we have a perfectly organized solar system to the point where we can predict 70 years hence when a comet's coming. the earth row to tating on its axis going around -- i mean, so that just happened, right? and they say, well, you know, if you have enough explosions over a long enough period of time, then eventually one of them will be the perfect explosion, and that's what will happen. and i said, so if i blow a hurricane through a junk yard over billions of years, billions of times, eventually after one of them there'll with a perfectly formed 747 ready to fly, right? well, i say, well, that's what you're saying. and i say you're welcome to that belief. i don't have a problem with that. i'm not going to denigrate you because of that. it's just that requires a lot
more faith than it does for me to believe. >> host: so if somebody asks you are you a creationist, do you believe in evolution, you would answer -- >> guest: i believe that god created heaven and earth. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: i find that much easier to believe. because you have to recognize that you take somebody like charles darwin who, as you probably know, started out in a seminary. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: but, you know, he got to the point where, you know, he goes off to the galapagos islands, he starts seeing stuff. he'd never seen finches with heavy beaks think place else. he -- any place else. he said that's evidence of evolution. well, it depends on how you look at it. now, three years before he came -- which he didn't know -- there had been a severe drought. the only finches who survived were the ones who had beaks heavy lu no extract -- heavy i have enough to extract
nutrition. what i believe is you have creatures that are given the ability to adapt to the environment so they wouldn't have to start over. >> host: it sounds like you believe in natural selection. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: so you believe in some part of darwinism but not the whole thing. >> guest: i may not call it darwinism -- >> host: fair enough. >> guest: -- but i believe in creatures with the ability to adapt to environment. and if i were the creator, i would certainly give my creatures that ability. >> host: and is it 6,000 or billions? >> guest: the earth? >> host: yeah. >> guest: i don't know the answer to that. the bible says in the beginning god created heaven and earth. period. >> host: i've had some people say one day could have been a billion years. >> guest: but we don't know. >> host: and people that have defended creationing saying you're saying 6,000 years, could be -- >> guest: i would just say there's nothing that tells us how old the earth is in the bible. it could be billions of years old, but also i believe that the reason that god is god is
because he can do stuff we can't do. so if he wanted to create something that already had age in it, he could do that. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: absolutely. that's why he would be god. >> host: and so your sign terrific education -- scientific education, you feel like, does not conflict with your, with your faith, your belief? >> guest: i've never had an instance where my belief in god has conflicted my ability to be a good neurosurgeon. >> host: alec baldwin had a character he layed with an absence of malice, and he was a surgeon with a god complex, and that was supposedly a stereotype of surgeons. is that just a unfair hollywood view of most surgeons? >> guest: well, there's no question that there are some surgeons who have fairly large egos. in effect, it's a reflex for --
>> host: you can be confident. [laughter] >> guest: those are not going to become surgeons, okay? it does select for that kind of people. but i know a lot of incredibly nice surgeons, incredibly caring, decent people. >> host: i guess i get why they might have a god complex, because they're the only one that can solve a problem in their heads, right? >> guest: in their heads. >> host: and then that's, that's where this comes from a little bit. >> guest: yeah. and it's unfortunate. >> host: how did you prevent from that? because it's easy. it would be feeding your ego. you were at johns hopkins. you're the elite of the elite. how did you keep your head from getting a god complex? >> guest: because i personally remember, and still remember, where i came from. and i also recognize that a lot of things depend on a lot of other situations. you know, there were a lot of important people involved in virtually everything that i've done. and i make that clear to people.
and i tell the resident cans, i tell -- residents, i tell everybody else, you know, there are always other people involved. my mother, if she hadn't given me, you know, what i needed to -- e probably would have ended up working in a factory or sweeping a floor. not that there's anything wrong with those things, we need those people, but i would not have realized my potential. with some of the very complex operations, you know, you think about the first set of conjoined twins that were joined at the back of the head, you know, that kind of thing had never been done with them surviving before. but i had to consult with a cardio-thoracic surgeon who was extremely good and understood the whole concept of hyperthermic arrest and is work with the plastic surgeons with how are we ever going to get this covered after we get -- you know, a lot of people beside myself involved in those kinds of things. >> host: i want to get to the
heart and deep parts of this book, but one more question on science. where does your scientific background tell you about climate change? >> guest: it tells me that if you look at the earth at any given point in time, temperatures are either going up or they're going down. over a specific period of time. as you may remember, you might be too young, in the '70s one of the -- it was "time" or "newsweek," i don't remember which one had the big glacier on the front, and the new ice age is coming. now it's global warming. you know, it depends on what period you look at. here's what i say about it. whether we're getting colder or whether we're getting warmer, we have a responsibility to take care of our environment. that's the bottom line. we don't have to sit here and argue about whether we're getting hotter or colder. we need to argue about how do we intelligently -- >> host: well, the fact is something's changed. we know that, so you have to prepare for it. >> guest: things are always
changing. >> host: you look at new york city, new jersey, doesn't mean bigger seawalls. you have to make public policy decisions based on what you think is coming. that's the importance of figuring this out, is it not? >> guest: right. but it's also important not to get overly involved in paranoia about it. you know, our epa, as far as i'm concerned, should be working in conjunction with our research facilities and with industry to say how can we best utilize our natural resources and at the same time respect our environment? rather than saying, no, we're not developing this, we're not developing this because, you know -- that's, i don't think that that's a wise united states of our intellect and our resources. >> host: i guess i look at -- remember the great concern about the hole in the to zone layer -- the ozone layer, and there was a lot of focus on what we thought
the problem was. basically, the entire aerosol industry changed, and the hole closed. this is a case where a problem was identified, a solution was identified, industry fought it hard, and lo and behold, industry adapted. >> guest: right. but i'm not saying that we shouldn't do that. >> host: that's what i mean. you do believe we should at least pursue some of these scientific researches. >> guest: oh, absolutely. but i'm saying we need to take a balanced approach. we need to be -- and as you saw from reading the book -- >> host: yeah. >> guest: -- i say that in just about everything. remember when i said at the national prayer breakfast in order for an eagle to fly high and straight, it needs two wings, a left wing and a right wing? >> host: no, and it -- >> guest: and if you do everything in a lopsided way, my way or the highway, you're going to crash. >> host: let me start chapter three, because i think it's interesting. you're this highly intellectual person. you went to the best schools, you've taught at the best schools, and you are concerned
about elitism. explain. >> guest: the reason i'm concerned about elitists is because there are a class of people -- for instance, you see it in a lot of our universities right now -- who believe that they are sort of the beacon of light for everything. and anybody who doesn't agree with them not only do they not want to hear them, they don't want you to want to hear them. they don't want anybody to hear them. if they have a business, they want to shut it down. if they have a reputation, they want to destroy it. where does that come from unless you just believe that you are the cat's meow? >> host: so you feel like academic elitism is sort of among the more -- let me ask you this, when did you first say i'm into politics? i'm following this? when did you sort of make that transition from scientist -- >> guest: yeah. >> host: -- you know, and, you know, highly acclaimed surgeon, johns hopkins, saying, you know what? i want to get into the political fray. what was the trigger?
>> guest: well, i don't know that there was a dramatic moment. if you look back through books that i've written over the last 20-30 years, you will see that i've been talking about these issues for decades. >> host: right. >> guest: if you go back to a book that i wrote in 1999, you'll see a whole health reform program laid out there. so i'm not johnny come lately to these issues, but the thing that really changed me in the perception of people was national prayer breakfast. >> host: right. >> guest: in 2013. because, you know, i just spoke my mind. i spoke about what i really saw as a problem and why i was concerned about it. because i very much love the nation that we live in. and i don't want to to see it fundamentally changed. >> host: you have an interesting challenge this chapter six of your -- in chapter six of your book which you say to somebody which is this sort of a concern that i have in how people consume too much of only one
side. >> guest: right. >> host: you know, they only -- if they're conservative, they follow conservatives on twisht. they only watch one channel here, one channel there. and you say pretend you are a member of a different political party and make a rational defense of one of their issues. >> guest: right. >> host: so i'm going to put you on the spot here. make a rational defense of the president's health care plan. >> guest: okay. that's easy to do. everybody should have health insurance. and we need to find a way to make that possible. and since, you know, we know a lot, we have a lot of really bright people, you know, we can probably figure it out better than the private sector, and we certainly know better than the people themselves, so we're actually very benign and -- >> host: let me stop you there. [laughter] you're saying we know better. but let me push you a little bit more here. what parts of the president's plan do you think were good
parts? is there any part of the president's health care plan you would keep? >> guest: certainly lifetime limits. >> host: uh-huh. you deal with some very expensive surgeries. you sort of understand -- >> guest: absolutely. >> host: a young family having a pediatric neurosurgery for their child, that's a bankruptible deal. >> guest: sure. pre-existing diseases. you know, excluding people on the basis of that. those are horrible things. and, in fact, you know, i talked to a high administration official before the thing was passed. i said there's good stuff in here. i say i agree with it, i think virtually everybody would agree. why not take those things and make them the foundation of health care reform? it'll be a bipartisan effort, and then let's build it together. because health care's something we all need. why can't we work on this together? i said, if you push it through on one party and you have unanimous disagreement, all
you're going to do is create rancor, and you're not going to have cooperation for anything. why would you do that? and he said, you're probably right, but this is washington, and this is politics. well, that's the very problem. >> host: right. >> guest: when we take these important issues and we make them into politics, and we just keep polarizing. >> host: right. >> guest: and a wise man once said a house divided against itself cannot stand. >> host: not just any wise man. [laughter] the wise man of this country. >> guest: so, you know, why do we have to keep doing this? why do i call that book "one nation"? because i think our strength is in our unity. not in our division. we, the american people, are not -- >> host: something you would have done for health insurance reform, you would not have -- you would have made the first goal, because what you're citing that you like are the reforms in the insurance industry. it was the next step of figuring out how to expand and make, at least get universal access is
where, is where the collision happened. >> guest: and we can get universal access because we spend twice as much per capita as the next closest nation. it's not that we have not put adequate resources. so to think we need to be pouring more money into it, that's foolishness. what we really need to be thinking about is how do we design it in a reasonable way. and that's why i've emphasized the health savings accounts, because people -- >> host: you say that a lot. >> guest: they have control of what their going to spend be hair money on. >> host: you, in fact, have an idea, you would say from birth to death you would get a health care savings account. walk me through that. how's it funded? >> guest: through a variety of different ways. people who work, you know, it can be funded through their employers. people who are indigent, the same people we spend for -- >> host: medicaid? that would go -- >> guest: go into this health care savings account. and it doesn't -- you don't lose it if you don't use it, and
there are no limits on it. so you're having a birthday party, you say please contribute to my hma -- and it -- >> host: european countries basically at the beginning of birth they hand you money. some of it's for childcare, some of it's for this. sounds like -- i mean, would you put some government money in this hsa at the beginning? like -- >> guest: people who need government money -- >> host: you'd automatically start out maybe $5,000? >> guest: people who need money put in. >> host: if they need it. >> guest: right. but even if we take all the people who are needy in this country and we put, you know, money into the hsas, we're still going to fall far short of what we're spending now with inefficient programs. so here's the key thing, people begin to be responsible. you need to have something done, you're going to think, let's see, do i want to go here?
remember when the food stamps program first started. a lot of people said you can't do that because people will be irresponsible. there's no way they're going to be able to use those appropriately. they'll go out, and they'll buy porterhouse steak the first five days -- >> host: that's why they had to put limits on it. >> guest: but, no, you didn't have to to put limits on. people learned themselves, i'm going to buy some hamburger and some hamburger helper. they learned to stretch it out and make it work. they would do the same thing if they had control of their health savings account, and that's what would bring the whole medical system into the free market economic forum which would control price and quality. >> host: well, it's funny you said that, sounds like you would make an argument the hospitals are as much of a problem as anybody because a hospital will charge some ridiculous amount. my father died of a very long disease. >> guest: sure. >> host: my mother would go through the bill line by line, and she'd find double things and send it to the insurance company and let them know, but they were charging crazy amounts of
money -- >> guest: you know why they do that, right? >> host: because they know minute's paying for it. >> guest: no. it's because the costs they know of this may be only $2,000. but if they put that cost down, the insurance company will pay them $300. therefore, if we put $20,000 down, then maybe they'll pay us $3,000. i mean, it's all games. >> host: this is a total game. >> guest: it's ridiculous. >> host: how do you bring reform to the hospital? >> guest: this was a case where i think that it sounds -- the administration in the hospitals, that was a tough one to to crack. they ended up working with the insurance companies, not the hospitals. >> guest: yeah, but remember, if you're in charge through your hsa, you're not going to go to the hospitals that does that, right? >> host: right. >> guest: you're going to go to the other ones which is going to make this one start acting like this one. that's the way the free market works, and we've forgotten that. >> host: you think the only way to truly reform the health care system is basically get out of the insurance --
>> guest: well, you can't have these artificial -- >> host: you're advocating for no insurance. no health insurance -- >> guest: no. >> host: a health savings account would replace that? >> guest: no. no. for all of your routine health care, 80% of everything you're going to have to deal with can easily be paid with through hsa. but you've got to remember people do have major and catastrophic issues that come up. that's what your insurance is for. that's what it always -- >> host: so everything should be catastrophic. so, for instance, there were a cancer policy that was big in the '80s and '90s. those don't exist anymore, they don't semithem because -- sell them because they turn out to be money losers. that's why, that's you get it for the big diseases. >> guest: exactly. >> host: and take that other stuff off the insurance -- >> guest: correct. >> host: -- industry completely. >> guest: correct. and remember, you sprain your ankle, you think you need an x-ray? that's coming out of your hsa. physical exam for your next job? hsa.
no hobby lobby, birth control pills. you're not impersonalimpinging n your -- >> host: it should come down. >> guest: it comes down dramatically. >> host: now, let's live in the real world where you have all these people that have gotten rich off -- i mean, health care is among the fastest growing sectors in our economy. it's considered a moneymaker in the semi-private sector, and i say semi because we know without medicare, without some of these things -- so how do you enact your plan in the world we live in? >> guest: keep in mind what i'm talking about insurance, insurance is insurance. it all works basically the same way. so, like, your homeowners insurance. if you have a high deductible, guess what happens to the price of it? it plummets. if you want everything taken care of, guess what happens? same thing. exactly the same. >> host: chapter seven you use the phrase "enslaving our children." it's a chapter on the debt. some of your language that
you've used has certainly -- and you talk about this, the politically correct police, i believe you call them, the pc police a little bit on this. but words do matter, and it did offend folks. so why not curtail some of your language? >> guest: well, what offends people that i've said? >> host: well, i think it depends on their point of view. >> guest: okay. >> host: it may be your political positions. there's all sorts of ways people get offended. >> guest: see, when i talk about political correctness, i'm talking about not being able to express how you actually feel. >> host: so enslaving our children. some african-americans would say, don't -- slavery's, slavery's awful, slavery was this. to compare the national debt to slavery is doing a disservice to slavery. >> guest: and what i would say about that and which i talk about -- >> host: yes, you do. >> guest: it's the whole hypersensitivity thing. you know, a lot of things don't bother people, but then somebody comes -- did you hear what he says? and they fan the flames.
oh, you should be offended. oh, yeah. >> host: it works really well in 140 characters, by the way. >> guest: this is the same stuff that used to go on on the third grade play ground. the guy would say, did you hear what he said about your mama? we don't have to deal with that. we have real, major problems that we have to deal with. the reason i talked about enslaving our young people is because this level of debt, i don't think most people can even comprehend $17.5 trillion going on to 18 trillion. if you tried to pay back $18 trillion at $10 million a day, it would take you 5,000 years. i mean, that is an absurd amount of money. and the only reason we can sustain that is because the u.s. dollar is the reserve currency of the world. what if we were not? and that's a designation that generally goes with the number one economy in the world which we have been since the 1870s. we are going to lose it soon because -- >> host: you believe that?
china's a mess though too. >> guest: they're a mess, but they're growing at 6-7%. >> host: unsustainable though. >> guest: how much are we growing? >> host: right. 2-3. >> guest: they are going to pass us up. however, i don't believe they're going to become the same kind of force. look at their banking system -- there's a lot of problems they're going to face before -- >> guest: right. however, here's the issue. they're already talking about it, russia, some other nations, about creating a basket currency. >> host: sure. >> guest: so instead of the u.s. dollar being the basis, it'll be a hodgepodge of things. what will that do to us? it will rob us or deplete us from the ability to print money. what happens when you can't print money and you have the kind of debt that we have? stop and think about that for a moment. >> host: yeah. let me ask you about race. because you talk about political correctness in here. and i look at the last 30 years, and i think when i grew up, we had more honest discussions in the '70s about race than we do
today. >> guest: sure. >> host: we're actually afraid to have -- we say something happens, somebody attacks the president, and we say, oh, we're going to have a real conversation about race, and we don't, okay? there's some fear there. so let me start first with this, do you think there's some -- do you believe that some people are against the president simply because of the color of his skin? >> guest: well, if you say "some people," i'm sure there are some people who are against -- >> host: but is it a, do you think it's -- >> guest: i don't think it's a large number of people anymore. i do think people are very much influenced by their perceptions. >> host: okay. >> guest: so, for instance, if somebody told you, you know, carson is evil, terrible guy, and he's scheming all the time. and then you met me, you would interpret everything i did he's scheming, and if somebody on the other hand told you he was this really nice guy, he loves everybody, and you say, oh,
okay, i can see that too. so, you know, if somebody's always looking for racism -- >> host: they can find it? >> guest: no matter what you say to them, you know, they're perceiving that -- >> host: have you experienced it? >> guest: i'm sure that there probably has been some somewhere along the line, but it really has not been a big factor for me. you know, my mother told me something very important when i was a youngster. she said if you walk into an auditorium full of racist, bigoted people, she says you don't have a problem, they have a problem. that's the way i've kind of led my life. if somebody has a problem with it, enjoy. i've got more important things to do. >> host: do you think race has benefited you? >> guest: i don't think it's hurt me, i don't think it's benefited me. i think it's a wash. and i think, you know, particularly in the profession
that i've spent my whole life in, as a neurosurgeon. now, i fully recognize early on in my career i'd come into the room and some eyebrows would kind of go up, you know? this black guy is going to operate? oh, wow. >> host: so you did feel a little bit of that. >> guest: i would feel a little bit. but, you know, by the time i got through talking the them, saying here's the problem, here's how we're going the handle it -- >> host: right. >> guest: -- you would see that melt right away. >> host: you entered a field that i would argue, in some ways, it's so result-oriented. you entered a perfect place if you want to -- science and numbers don't lie, okay? that's going to trump everything else. >> guest: oh, without question. and that's the wonderful thing about medicine, you know? there was a procedure that i started advocating which was very, very controversial. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and, you know, people
were complaining, they complained to the president of the hospital, the dean, departmental chairman, the maryland medical association, even went up to the ama. but by that time i was able to reveal the numbers. they demonstrated that not a single person had died, and there was very little in the way of complications. that ended the controversy. that wouldn't work in politics. >> host: yeah. numbers don't -- [laughter] people have their own is set of facts. >> guest: right. >> host: and it really is a set of half-truths on the side, and everybody's grounded just enough to defend their position. you made the case for a flat tax, basically saying everyone's got to contribute something -- >> guest: i didn't say 10%. >> host: 10% was your example. >> guest: right. it needs to be proportional. the reason i used 10% is because it's very easy to do the math. [laughter] >> host: fair enough. >> guest: it needs to be whatever it needs to be to support the government. but it needs to be proportional.
what you have to recognize is by having this very skewed system with all of these deductibles and things, you know, there are a lot of people who make enormous amounts of money who pay very little in taxes. >> host: right. >> guest: 10% would be a lot to them. >> host: for some of them, sure, because there's so many ways for them to hide taxes, the tax code's so come candidated. >> guest: and i think that's craziness, and we don't have to do that. >> host: right. >> guest: and on the other hand, i believe it's insulting for people who make small amounts of money to say, there, there, you poor little thing, you don't have to do anything. i'm going to take care of you. they, i believe, if they really stopped and thought about it would want to be -- each though they wouldn't be -- even though they wouldn't be contributing a lot, they're still carrying their weight. >> host: well, let me propose a counterargument on this group of folk that is don't pay any federal income tax. if they go to a casino, if they buy a lottery ticket -- in some ways all of this gaming we use
preys on the poor. >> guest: it does. >> host: okay? they're spending more money funding our schools, say, where it's detroit -- whether it's detroit that has decided to go casino gambling, they are putting tax dollars into the pocks. they are putting tax money. so there are ways that this group that while they're not writing a check to the federal government, they're contributing arguably more money to -- >> guest: however -- >> host: -- in a gaming situation than the rich. >> guest: however, gaming. because that's what we're doing, is gaming the system with this complex tax system. >> host: right. >> guest: if we have something that's simple and easy to figure out, first of all, we're going to have a predictable amount of money that we're going to bring in. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: we will know what we need in order to run the government. now, the other thing that you might have noticed, i'm not a big proponent of gigantic government. why do i say that? in 2010, you know, we have the
statistics for that, if you took the income of everybody who made $69,000 and above, 5.1 trillion. what was the federal budget? 3.5 trillion. 60% of everything the middle class and above makes. does that make sense? no, of course it doesn't. so, obviously, we need to reduce it. and identify proopposed -- i've proposed a very simple and fair way to reduce it. thousands of government employees retire every year. don't replace them. you can shift people around but don't replace them. you do that for about four years, we're down to a manageable size. and that a doesn't fire -- that doesn't fire anybody, and if people are down to a manageable size, then they can concentrate on what they're supposed to be doing. >> host: and then, as you and i well know, something happens -- >> guest: like what? >> host: say at the veterans affairs, at a v.a. hospital where something's not getting done, and we find out, well,
there just weren't enough people to do this. all of these things in the grand scheme of things make sense, but we know the way government and politics works. how do you prevent the politics of the way this town works which is, oh, my gosh, look at this problem in the federal government. >> guest: sure. >> host: we're going to have to fix it, and everybody, democrat and republican is throw money at it, which they're doing with the v.a. >> guest: sure. but a lot of people don't understand the fundamental problem of the v.a. i've worked in v.a. hospitals. wonderful people; doctors, nurses, therapists. great people. wonderful patients. love 'em to death. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: huge amount of bureaucracy between this group and this group. >> host: right. >> guest: that's the problem. get rid of that stuff. honestly, there are some things that the veterans' hospitals do very well -- >> host: right. >> guest: -- post-traumatic stress disorders -- >> host: and you think they should be specialized. >> guest: but everybody else should be able to to go to other hospitals. >> host: go somewhere else. i want to end a little more
political which is you used a c word that i don't want hear conservatives use very often, and that's the compromise word. conservatives want to use common ground. >> guest: sure. >> host: and there's a difference between compromise, 50% of what you want, say, and common ground which is the tiny 10% that you both agree on, right? what's better in this case? you're, obviously, advocating for compromise. you want some more 50/50 propositions here. >> guest: well, when i'm talking about compromise, i'm talking about compromise in method. not necessarily a compromise in values and principles. >> host: and this is in chapter ten. >> guest: right. so, you know, when i look at democrats, i look at republicans, except for the fringes i think we all pretty much want the same things. and we've allowed ourselves to be revved up into this group of
hyperpartisans which we really shouldn't ask don't have -- shouldn't and don't have to be. >> host: where does it come from? we're more polarized, there's no doubt. more people are identifying as liberals and conservatives, i can show you the numbers. more people have really -- liberals will describe conservatives in awful names now, and conservatives will do the same thing. they think the other side thinks they don't love america. >> guest: yeah. >> host: that's something that's, like, that's where we've taken it too far. >> guest: leadership. it starts with leadership. a leader is somebody who can take a variety of individuals, create a vision and have everybody working together to accomplish that. a bad leader is someone who says to this group, that group is against you. that -- they're the bad ones. we would get everything done if it weren't for them. that's bad leadership.
another aspect is multitasking. during the current administration, we've had the former situation. the previous situation there wasn't enough multitasking. it was focused on war and trying to make sure america didn't get attacked again. but you have to be able to multitask. so we've had a pretty long drought since we've had the kind of leadership that says, america, let's remember who we are. have we made mistakes? of course we have. >> host: give me some examples of some leaders that you think have done it the right way? >> guest: well, john kennedy. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: this was a guy, he came in -- he was 44 years old. look at the stuff that was going on, you know? bay of pigs -- >> host: right. >> guest: you know, the cuban missile crisis, the civil rights movement, the economy was
horrible, unemployment, you know, there was -- and the russians had passed us in the space race. >> host: right. >> guest: what did he do? he used the bully pulpit to say within ten years we're going to put a man on the moon and bring him back, galvanized business, industry, everybody behind a project. they started working together. we were able to accomplish that. he put his brother bobby in charge of the civil rights movement. bobby was very compassionate. the guy had his ear to the ground. he was very smart. he faced town the russians. in the face of world war iii, didn't blink. they did. you know, he defied his own party. they said we need to raise taxes. he said, no, just the opposite, you need to lower taxes. and it had a tremendous ameliorating effect. incredibly brave guy. ronald reagan. look at the kind of leadership he provided which actually
resulted in the dissolution of the soviet union. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and the winning of the cold war without firing a shot. you know, bravery, statesmanship, working across the aisle. he was able to work with the democrats. and kennedy was able to work with republicans. >> host: so do you see any leadership like that right now in either party? >> guest: i think there's potential. and one of the reasons that i tend to keep speaking out is i want people on both sides to understand this. >> host: do you think hillary clinton has potential? >> guest: of course she does. everybody has -- >> host: what did you think of the clinton presidency? bill clinton's? >> guest: i was very pleased with the fact that he was able to work with the republicans to get the budget under control. of course, if you know the whole history of that -- >> host: it takes two to tango. there's an argument to be made
maybe you can't do big budget deals with one party. it may be impossible. >> guest: so that was good. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and, you know, i -- as you've probably noticed, i don't spend a lot of time talking negatively about people. >> host: no, you don't can, no. it seems to be one of your -- >> guest: but what i'd rather do is spend time talking about how do we solve the problems, because we have the capability. we are smart people. we are innovative people. but we have to create the environment that honors hard work and that honors innovation. >> host: you bring up yourself in this book that people after your speech at the national prayer breakfast at the "wall street journal" among others said, what about ben carson for president? so i ask you, why would you consider it? if you did? how seriously are you considering it? >> guest: the reason -- first of all, certainly not my plan for retirement after a very long and arduous career. >> host: right.
>> guest: however, you know, there's so many people every place i go, i mean, it's unbelievable the crowds that show up. i go to a book signing, and people are, like, streaming out the door. there are so many people, they can't even get in. and they're all saying, you've got to do this, you've got to save us. in the beginning i didn't want take it that seriously -- i didn't take it that seriously -- >> host: yeah. >> guest: -- but it just keeps happening. and i have to ask myself, you know, at some point do you have to put aside what you were planning and listen? >> host: you said in many ways you see this a little bit of faith, a little bit of god's plan. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: and do you feel like -- >> guest: i believe america, despite what president obama said, is a judeo-christian nation. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and i believe that because i've done a lot of reading about the founding of this nation. all you have to do is go back and read the letters.
>> host: very religious. >> guest: the people who say our founders were deists, they have no idea what they're talking about. the evidence was quite clear that they had strong faith. so i believe that it was those judeo-christian principles that led us to pinnacle of the world and to a much higher pinnacle than anybody else had ever experienced. >> host: you have a lot of fabulous things to say about the republican party. so i wonder and have been thinking about your potential candidacy, are you -- if you ran, would you be more comfortable running under a party banner? it sounds to me you'd be more comfortable not running under a party -- >> guest: if i ran, i would run as a republican. >> host: okay. bring that up once and for all. >> guest: right. i wouldn't run as an independent, because all that does is splinter votes. >> host: uh-huh. >> guest: and i don't think i would be welcomed in the democrat party, so -- >> host: you would pick one of the two parties. >> guest: yes. >> host: but you see why
there -- i mean, there's a distrust inside both parties right now. >> guest: no question. >> host: and part of it is this populist thing of, you know what? so the right things i'm not getting a fair deal, and it's government's fault, the left thinks i'm not getting a fair deal, wall street's fault. i think you can make an argument they're both right in some way, there is this -- and that's why i wondered if some of this boils over into more of a perot movement and people go outside the party structures. >> guest: and i would, after seeing what happened with perot -- that's what vince convinces you, know, you have to do it inside -- >> guest: right. but, you know, i also would like to see a situation where we de-emphasize party. i just don't think -- i mean, i think it's nice to have -- >> host: that's truly going back to the founders. they didn't want parties. >> guest: right. >> host: well, that was the big argument. >> guest: you know, we're all americans. and i think we ought to be doing changes that work for all of us.
one of the things that offends me to no end is when we take our constitution and we say i'm going to enforce this part but not this part. and this group gets an exemption, but this one doesn't. i can't even tell you how that makes me feel. >> host: let me ask you about the constitution. is it -- are you a strict, it's sort of like -- and, frankly, we just saw various court cases bo go this way, it's the letter of the law, the spiritover the law. -- the spirit of the law. the constitution, is it the letter or the spirit? >> guest: i think it's the letter. >> host: you think it's the letter? >> guest: and i'll tell you why i think that. first of all, it's only 16 and a third pages long. [laughter] it's not 2700 pages. >> host: that's right. it's an easy read. >> guest: it clearly declip yates the responsibilities of the executive, legislative and judicial branch.
all other matters are to be referred to the states. so if you just knew that, it could tell you a great deal about what we should and should not be doing. >> host: quick little lightning round here. gay marriage, you seem to be pro-civil union. at that point what's the difference? >> guest: what i'm pro, and what i define very clearly, any two adults regardless of their sexual orientation should have the right to bind themselves in some type of a legal manner so that they have property rights, visitation rights, whatever. >> host: you realize there's no difference. to many people, that's a distinction without a difference. why not come out for marriage? >> guest: because i think marriage is a sacred institution. >> host: more of a religious -- >> guest: and it's between a man and a woman, and it has been for thousands of years. and my problem is if we start changing it for one group, why, why would you not change it for the next group? and where would you draw the line? would you say we're just going to change it this one time for the gay people, and we're never
going to change it again? >> host: marijuana. >> guest: we have multiple studies that demonstrate that it has a very deleterious effect on a developing brain, and the brain develops right up into the late 20s. therefore, unless you don't believe the medical evidence, why would we even be having the discussion? >> host: but what's worse, alcohol or marijuana? you're a scientist. >> guest: well, certainly, if you use a great deal of alcohol, that can be destructive also. >> host: arguably more harmful. >> guest: huh? >> host: arguably more harmful? >> guest: it could be. it has the potential to be. but i'm not sure any of those things should be supplied to the developing brain. >> host: dr. ben carson, this was -- i enjoyed it. i hope people get an idea of who you are. the book "one nation." you wrote it, and people wondering, candy carson is your wife, so, basically, she's how
you made sure you got the book down. >> guest: who keeps me on the straight and their owe. >> host: -- narrow. >> host: and both book she's edited have been number one. >> guest: she'll remind me of that a lot. [laughter] >> host: dr. ben carson, thank you. >> that was "after words," booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. sylvia jukes morris recounts the life of the late conservative commentator and