This article originally appeared on Time.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson called poverty a “state of mind” that children learn from their parents at a young age during a recent interview.
“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there,” Carson said during an interview on SiriusXM Radio that will air Wednesday night, according to the Washington Post.
“And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom,” Carson added.
The Housing Secretary’s remarks were made during a town hall that was recorded Tuesday, in which he was interviewed by his friend and fellow conservative, Armstrong Williams.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who ran for president during the 2016 Republican primary, has spoken in the past about his personal experience living in poverty throughout his childhood in Baltimore. But the Housing Secretary is not an advocate for government assistance, criticizing programs that are “sustaining [people] in a position of poverty.”
However, there are some exceptions, according to Carson.
“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,” he said in the interview. “It can provide the ladder of opportunity, it can provide the mechanism that will demonstrate to them what can be done.”