Monday, November 30, 2015

In Defense of Ben Carson

A cousin of mine recently told me that he “can’t stand Ben Carson” because “as Politifact points out, honesty is a challenge.”

So I hopped onto Politifact’s Ben Carson page, and sure enough, the picture was clear: Ben Carson hardly ever tells the truth. Right at the top of the page is a histogram showing that the vast majority of his statements were found to be False, Mostly False, or Pants on Fire...and not one statement was found to be True!

A quick glance at the site makes it look like Ben Carson has never spoken the truth in his life. The reality is that Politifact’s assessment here is purely a product of which statements were selected for analysis, and more importantly how these statements were evaluated.

So I decided to look into some of the statements that Politifact found to be False, and I gotta say — each of these ratings is very questionable:
  1. “German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930’s,” which allowed the Nazis to “carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.” - Ben Carson [rated False by Politifact]

  2. In their writeup, Politifact acknowledges that the Nazis’ 1938 gun laws specifically prevented Jews from owning guns, ammunition, and “stabbing weapons” — and that even before these laws were put into place, the Nazis had been raiding Jewish homes and seizing weapons.

    So why then does Politifact rate Carson’s statement as False? Because he said that “German citizens” were disarmed, when in reality German citizens as a whole were not disarmed — just the Jews. But Carson didn’t say that all German citizens were disarmed — he said German citizens, which includes Jews.

    Politifact also concludes that it wasn’t the seizing of guns that allowed the Nazis to “carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance”, because many non-Jewish citizens did have guns and could have used them to fight the Nazis if they had wanted to. But the Nazis certainly did encounter relatively little resistance compared to what they would’ve faced had their victims been armed.

    So Carson’s statement here is 100% true, yet Politifact didn’t even call it Half True, or Mostly False — they called it flat-out False.

  3. Ben Carson says he “didn’t have an involvement with” nutritional supplement company Mannatech. [rated false by Politifact]

  4. Politifact rates this statement False because it “suggests he has no ties to Mannatech whatsoever.” They point out that Carson has in fact delivered paid speeches for Mannatech, and has promoted their products on numerous occasions.

    But during the debate when Carson said that he “didn’t have an involvement with” Mannatech, he went on to explain that he did do some paid speeches for them, and he actually endorsed their product right then and there: “Do I take the product? Yes, I think it’s a good product.”

    Politifact says the statement here is false because it suggests there are no ties between Carson and Mannatech, when in fact Carson admitted some of those ties directly after making the statement. It’s unfair for Politifact to narrow in on Carson’s “didn’t have an involvement with Mannatech” comment and judge it as if he hadn’t gone on to clarify what he meant.

  5. Ben Carson says his tax plan wouldn’t leave the federal government with a $1.1 trillion hole. [rated False by Politifact]

  6. By calling this claim false, Politifact is saying that Carson’s tax plan would in fact leave the federal government with a $1.1 trillion deficit.

    Politifact came to this conclusion by applying Carson’s proposed 15% income tax to this year’s expected taxable income, leaving a federal revenue of $2.6 trillion. Then they subtracted this year’s projected federal spending ($3.7 trillion) to arrive at a $1.1 trillion deficit.

    But it’s not a valid analysis to apply future tax rates to the current taxable income in order to predict what federal revenue will be in the future. Lowering the tax rates would give people more of an incentive to work and to create businesses, which could lead to more economic activity and more taxable income. Time and time again, reduced tax rates have led to higher tax revenue for the federal government. So it’s not valid for Politifact to just assume that Carson’s tax plan would mean $600 billion less in revenue.

    In addition, Carson has said that his new income tax rate would be “phased in over time”. The very vagueness of this makes it impossible to say with certainty how tax revenues would be affected.

    Politifact also assumes that Carson’s tax plan would bring in zero dollars in capital gains taxes, excise taxes, and customs duties — even though Carson hasn’t called for an end to any of these taxes. These taxes alone bring in over $150 billion in revenue annually.

    For all of these reasons, it’s a major stretch for Politifact to conclude that Carson’s tax plan would in fact leave the federal government with a $1.1 trillion deficit.

Throw on top of this the recent fraudulent Politico piece on Carson and West Point, and it’s clear to me that there’s a deliberate effort underway to paint Ben Carson as a liar.

The American people will ultimately have to decide whether Dr. Carson is trustworthy enough to win their vote. Yet something’s telling me he has less to worry about in this regard than, say, Hillary Clinton does — a recent survey found the three words most associated with her to be “liar”, “dishonest”, and “untrustworthy”.