For Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, poverty is simply an issue of mind over matter.
“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind,” Carson said during a SiriusXM radio interview with conservative political pundit Armstrong Williams Wednesday, May 24. “You take somebody who has the right mindset … you can take everything from them and put them on the street and I guarantee you in a little while they will be right back up there. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, [and] they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.”
The retired neurosurgeon went on to contend that a “defeatist attitude” is what keeps people down and prevents them from escaping poverty.
“You know, that’s real poverty,” he said. “If you don’t have that defeatist attitude, there’s hope for you.”I think the majority of people don’t have that defeatist attitude … but they sometimes just don’t see the way and that’s where government can come in and be very helpful.”
Carson’s questionable remarks came in response to a question about what could be done to reduce the number of Americans living in poverty, after which he implied that such financial hardships stem from a “victim” mindset. He also added that parenting plays a critical role in keeping people out of poverty.
“Parenting is a very difficult job,” Carson said. “You have to instill into that child the mindset of a winner, if they are likely to become a winner. If you’re always telling them they are no good, they’re rotten, they hear that constantly … then it should not surprise anybody that that’s where the vast majority of them are going to go [into poverty].”
The HUD secretary’s comments caused quite the uproar, as critics took to social media to blast Carson for his tone-deaf comments.
Ben Carson said poverty is a state of mind.
Next month, I'm going to tell my landlord that I paid my rent with positive thinking!
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) May 24, 2017
"I think being body-slammed by a congressional candidate to a large extent is also a state of mind"
– Ben Carson
— B Willy (@chanchissimo) May 25, 2017
Ben Carson would've escaped north then circled back to lecture on behalf of the plantation.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) May 24, 2017
@SecretaryCarson You got out of poverty when there were many social programs to help you out. Yesterday's statements: out of touch & cruel.
— Heidi F (@Hsquared71F) May 25, 2017
@SecretaryCarson I'm excited to see you give up everything and prove to America 'poverty is a mindset' by climbing back up to where you are.
— courtney testa (@cunt_ney) May 25, 2017
Carson’s off-putting remarks come just months after he sparked backlash for comparing enslaved Blacks to immigrants who traveled to America on their own accord.
“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships,” he said. “They, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
The ex-presidential candidate later apologized for his comments.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would slash more than $6 billion from HUD’s reserves.