How close are we to losing the American Dream?

On Wednesday's Glenn Beck Program, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love filled in for Glenn and spoke about her family's experience with the American Dream and whether or not it continues to exist.

Read a full transcript of her monologue below:

Hello, America, and welcome to The Glenn Beck Program and TheBlaze. My name is Mia Love, and I’m filling in today for Glenn. Tonight, my guests and I are going to discuss the American Dream, where is it? Does it still exist? Are the events that are taking place in our country right now promoting the American Dream.

I know a little bit about this. I was born to Haitian immigrants who came to this country in the early 1970s. My parents arrived. They had no earthly possessions, no home, no car, nothing aside from the clothes on their backs and $10 in their pockets, but they did have one thing that money can’t buy that America offers in abundance, real hope for a better tomorrow. They had hope that their family could find peace here in America that didn’t exist in Haiti. They had hope that through hard work and diligence, their children and grandchildren would enjoy prosperity that this nation offers.

My parents believed in the American Dream, and they set out to reach it. Before becoming citizens, they learned to speak the English language. They educated themselves on American history and the Constitution, and when they pledged their allegiance to the American flag, they understood what they were saying, and they meant every word of it.  But the dream didn’t stop there. My parents expected their three children to become productive, contributing members of society.

On the first day of college, my father came with me to orientation. I still remember how he looked. He looked at me very seriously and said, "Mia, your mother and I have done everything we could to get you here. We have worked hard for every penny. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back." Through my parents’ example, I learned the value of hard work, education, personal responsibility. My husband and I have tried our very best to instill those same values in our children.

For the past 10 years, I have served as city council member then mayor of my city in Saratoga Springs, Utah, where I have worked hard to cut wasteful spending, balance budgets, promote economic development by reducing red tape, and creating a fiscally responsible, financially stable and sustainable city. Last year, I had the honor of receiving the Republican nomination for Utah’s fourth congressional district where we came within 768 votes of defeating a six-term incumbent Democrat.

I plan to seek the Republican nomination for my district again. Why? Because of all the lessons my parents taught me, none of them were about giving up on this country. I owe it to my children and to your children to give them a chance at their American Dream. Many in America today are concerned and rightfully so about the direction of this country, but I want you to know, and I want to encourage you, please do not give up hope. Our best days lie ahead of us.

I compare the times that we’re in today with the hardship that America has faced in its history. In the 1980s, back then times were tough like they are today. We suffered from four years of disastrous policies imposed by the Carter Administration. I think of a story of a ship, the USS Midway. The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier of its class. While it was patrolling the South China Seas, the crew of the Midway observed a small leaky boat crammed full of refugees from Indochina.

Hoping to reach America, the refugees had set sail on a dangerous voyage across the Pacific in the hopes that they could get to the United States. The ship launched a small rescue to bring the refugees back onto the carrier to safety. As the refugees got closer to the Midway, one of the refugees stood up, focused his attention on young American sailor, and called out to him, saying “Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man.”

Although the light in our country has dimmed a little at certain times throughout American history, the United States has always remained that shining city on a hill, a nation conceived in liberty, that people all around the world would sacrifice anything and everything to come to. This is still true today. Through the Civil War, we’ve cured ourselves of slavery. We did so in the War of 1812. When faced with the threat of Nazi-ism, the world looked to America, and we led the charge in defeating it.

We also turned back the tides and defeated communism by winning the Cold War. But America isn’t a great nation just because of its military might. It’s a great nation because of its American might and the values that it was founded on – fiscal discipline, limited government, personal responsibility. This is the time-tested formula that will put America back on the path to prosperity.I’m here to tell you that the American Dream is not dead. The American Dream lives on.  You can achieve it by starting with $10 in your pocket, no one else to do it for you. History has taught us that government is not your salvation. Government is not your road to prosperity. Hard work, education, and thrift will take you far beyond what any government program can ever promise.

Look at my parents or the refugees on that small leaky boat who gave up everything to come here and know that the American dream lives. Look at me and know that that can include you. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the policies in Washington that threaten that very American dream. Nearly $17 trillion of debt, a government takeover of health care and education, regulation and taxation, how far away are we from losing the Dream?

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?