LOS ANGELES — Many people ask, where is Ben Carson? He was born in 1951, so he’s no spring chicken. He’s a trained neurosurgeon. As we like to say in the business, “It isn’t brain surgery,” which means you have to be smart to be a brain surgeon.
Dr. Carson, who is HUD (Housing and Urban Development) secretary, went to Yale and then the University of Michigan Medical School. He is known for his surgical separation of conjoined twins joined at the head. He ran for president (yes, in the primaries against Donald Trump in 2016) and lost, but was appointed to a cabinet post. He did, however, endorse Candidate Trump after he dropped out of the race on Super Tuesday, and later joined President Trump before he was sworn in as the vice president of the transition team. He is the only African-American member of President Trump’s cabinet.
Secretary Dr. Carson has been very quiet recently. In fact, other than the story of him ordering a table for his office that cost $31,000 (which he attributes to his wife’s ordering) we have heard nothing. Regarding the table, Dr. Carson said he had no awareness of the price and canceled it as soon as he heard the cost. However, CBS News reported that “Internal Department of Housing and Urban Development emails obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight reveal pressure within the agency to spend beyond the $5,000 statutory limit on HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s office furnishings. There was persistent pressure from within the agency to find a workaround to spend more than the $5,000 limit under the law, despite repeated emphasis from some inside the agency that the $5,000 limit is set in stone. Under federal law, Congress must be notified of any executive office renovation exceeding $5,000, and that notification must also go through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The order was canceled.”
Other than the office furniture scandal, we have not heard a peep from Secretary Carson. As someone in our office put it, “Where’s Waldo?” Where was he when President Trump made his controversial comments about white nationalists? Why has he not spoken out?
As a senior citizen, I know how important it is to still feel relevant and have something to contribute. Before he became HUD secretary, Dr. Carson gave up the operating room and decided to stop being a brain surgeon. So, maybe he is keeping a low profile to keep his job.
Maybe he knows you don’t ruffle the feathers of the president. The way to keep your paycheck and your status is to make sure you don’t criticize or make waves.
The group Affordable Housing said there have been huge cuts to the HUD budget both last year and this: “The Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Summary and it’s proposing to cut HUD’s budget by $8.7 billion, $2.0 billion more than the drastic cuts proposed in 2018’s devastating Trump housing budget. In addition to last year’s elimination of CDBG and HOME, the FY 20 budget proposes the elimination of the Public Housing Capital Fund used to repair public housing units.”
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal” and “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. … In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” He also said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
One could argue Secretary Carson has betrayed the American public by remaining silent when we need his voice to speak the truth. It’s hard for me to imagine he will just sit and be quiet for a job. He can go back to being a doctor, even if he does not perform surgery. So again, why has he been quiet?
It is time for a big cabinet secretary like Dr. Carson to speak out for the people. He is there to protect people and not the president (who does not need his protection). The “have nots” are being hurt by the budget – and where is Secretary Carson’s voice? We all need him to speak up and out.