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Would Ben Carson approve cutting research at Hopkins to balance the federal budget?

Having watched Dr. Ben Carson's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on YouTube, I can accept his foray into politics because he has worked with people of all religions, and his scholarship fund has supported talented students regardless of race or religion ("Remarks vault Carson into the political arena," Feb. 18).

Dr. Carson is a good man. Yet I am flummoxed by his railings against political correctness. Now that he is retiring, he is free to sound off, but I am sure that at Hopkins he practiced political correctness as assiduously as anyone, else he could not have survived there. Hopkins has an international clientele, and because of that it must promote cultural sensitivity, which is just another name for political correctness so far as how people from different backgrounds ought to be treated.

But Dr. Carson went further in touching on the nation's financial state and health care system. He bemoaned the deficit and preached fiscal discipline to the feds, admonishing them for not balancing the budget and spending within their means.

Of course conservatives took him to their bosom, because he wants the nation to avoid deficit spending. But without deficit spending we are not going to have growth in this country and the end result will be even more massive layoffs and stagflation.

It is perverse to compare a nation as large and diverse as America to a family and impose on it the same fiscal principles a family needs to stay in the black. Yes, we should cut government bureaucracies and we should address the problems of waste and fraud. But to make deficit reduction a sole obsession, as many Republicans would, is bound to hurt the nation at a time when government spending is needed to bolster our infrastructure and research and development programs.

Dr. Carson works in a marvelous research institution. Would he be happy if the government took back the millions it has given Hopkins for basic science and clinical research in order to reduce the national debt and balance the budget?

Recently I read an alarming e-mail from the chancellor of a premier hospital system in this country to its employees, asking them to gird themselves for massive cuts, to the tune of $30 million, to cope with cuts in federal aid to hospitals. The letter advised that employees would have to do more for less, yet the hospital still expected the quality of care would not suffer.

Would Dr. Carson be happy if the national debt was reduced on the backs of the infirm and at the expense of health-care workers who are already stretched thin?

Dr. Carson wants to solve our health care woes with Health Savings Accounts. He thinks universal health care will be possible with such accounts, and that sounds great on paper. But we have a system whereby the healthy participate and help defray the costs for those who are ill. With Health Savings Accounts we can't have that. It will be everyone for himself, with no one to defray the costs of caring for the most severely ill or disabled patients unless the government stepped in to play the rescuer.

I don't think Dr. Carson has thought through such issues carefully enough. That said, all his comments about how we should value education and pay homage to our scholars are right on. His work funding the Carson Scholars is admirable. Perhaps Dr. Carson should stay out of politics and soar above the fray, like the bald eagle he so admired at the end of his speech.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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