Person vs. Persona and the Media Mask

The below post was written by Srinivas Rao, the author, surfer, and entrepreneur  Glenn had on the program yesterday. The post was written for Rao's audience, but Glenn thought it gave a real behind-the-scenes look at a surprising guest who found that he had more in common with Glenn than he would have expected.

I got to the airport in Dallas yesterday afternoon. My friend Marcus called me after we had exchanged a few text messages and asked, "So are you a Republican now?" He's also the guy who was in the Tijuana high speed car chase with me. Considering the only thing I really know about politics is who our current president is, I found it amusing that he asked me about political preferences… (but we'll get back to that)

If you haven't kept up with what I affectionately will refer to as the "Glenn Beck Saga", let me recap:

Glenn stumbled upon my latest book on Amazon. He read it and raved it about on the air. The sales went through the roof in a day. I only knew this because somebody on Twitter mentioned it. My response initially was, "Oh, he's kind of big right?" When I saw how much the sales of my book had gone up, I decided to email Glenn directly. That led to an unlikely media appearance in a place I never thought I'd find myself: Across the desk from Glenn talking about The Art of Being Unmistakable.

In a few days all my world's collided: 7 years in Texas, John North High School, Berkeley, the jobs I got fired from, Pepperdine, surfing, and the blogosphere. I guess you could say I have a few different circles, and I'm what Malcolm Gladwell might call a connector.

On Friday, I got an invitation from Glenn's producer to be on the show, and late that afternoon I got an email from Glenn that would stun most of you. (I'll ask Glenn if I can share it with you).

He said that him touting my book was a double edged sword. I didn't even realize that until I saw the response from some of you who I'm friends with on Facebook. After all, I have the pop culture taste of a teenage girl. Most of my television choices consist of what's on the CWTV.

After a few Google searches fn "Glenn Beck", I made a deliberate choice not to read anything. I didn't want what other people had said to make me walk into this experience with a preconceived perception of him. I wanted to see him as a person, not a persona. My friend Aaron Curtis said, "You have more in common than you think with this guy."

Some people say things that piss us off. But Glenn has a bigger microphone than you or I so it echoes. The media creates a mask and the echo changes. People hear what they want to hear. They confuse a person with persona. The echo of a larger microphone amplifies this. It's like a game of telephone where the original words keep changing through filters, opinions, and articles until you've got groups of people who absolutely despise you.

I'm sure Glenn has said plenty of controversial things. Whether we agree or not is kind of irrelevant to this situation. One of the first Wikipedia entries I read kind of horrified me. And that was the end of my research.

I'm sure I've said something that pissed off a listener of my show, but the echo doesn't have a multiplier of 30 million people. If it did, I'm sure I'd have my critics, haters, and more. The book already got a 1-star review and a 2-star review. I've already been written off with phrases like "any hippie surfer could have done this."

James Altucher said, "Who cares about the politics? Your book just became a best-seller. Remember that these are people who are just doing their jobs." I just got a big break after 5 years, and I have nothing but gratitude for that.

I want to tell you about my day with Glenn Beck the person, not the persona

I first met his staff to talk about the book , my work, and the future I see coming. And this odd pairing resulted in a common ideal.

In a moment like that you think: The world must be ending. I'm in the office of a guy who has strange historical memorabilia hanging on the walls and likes to hunt. If it were my office, it would be pictures of Laird Hamilton surfing 70-foot waves and other crazy surf-related stuff. This is bizarre. I guess we both love carrot cake.

But what we shared is an ideal that transcends politics or religion. My friend Justine Musk said, " Yeah, you're both mavericks."

And it is the idea of the maverick, the misfit, the instigator that put me in front of the camera with an unlikely man who just handed me a defining moment in my career. And what will stun you is that maybe you have more in common with him than you realize. Maybe we all do. It's your inner misfit but some of us have just unleashed it.

As David Risley pointed out, Glenn is a content marketer, and a pretty damn good one. Another friend said, "Srini, you've wanted to build a media empire, here's an opportunity to learn from a guy who has done it."

We're not that different.

We have a message.

We want to share it.

But the people we want to reach might be different.

What I see is a guy who is as flawed, human, and vulnerable as most of us. I point blank asked him, "Where does this reputation you have come from?"

He answered honestly.

He admitted faults in things he has said.

The mask started to fade.

And after all the lights faded, cameras were gone, and the show was over, I found myself sitting in Glenn's office where the mask completely disappeared. This was my favorite part of the day because now I got to see the person, not the persona.

I learned about his early career and his success at a young age: Magazine covers, lots of money, and the path to stardom. He told me that I'm on the verge of something really big, but also gave me a warning that there will be plenty of dark alleys that it could take me down. He told me about his spectacular downfalls and how ego got in the way.

Then he told me a story that really made me laugh. He and Michael Buble are friends. When they became friends, Michael was about as well known as I am. And apparently Michael got punched in the face because he mentioned that Glenn was a friend. Glenn's list of friends might surprise you too. Some of them are your heroes, role models, and people you look up to.

I sat and listened. I asked him the question I ask at the end of every BlogcastFM interview: What separates the people who get to where you are from the ones who don't? Risk and hard work. As I said last week, nothing of great significance is achieved by playing it safe.

My choices have come with plenty of stigma, doubt, disbelief and that's going to be amplified. Our critics can either become our identity, or we can silence them with our actions, our commitment, and our grit. My friend Jaclyn Muellen said it takes a high level of self awareness to handle things when you have a microphone as loud as Glenn's.

I asked him how to avoid destroying your success and letting your ego come back into it.

He talked about religion.

I talked about surfing.

In business school I made a terrible decision that cemented my reputation for the entirety of my time at Pepperdine. I cut people out of a project because I was selfish, and I paid the price for it. I had few friends left by graduation. It's taken 5 years, but I see the error in judgement. I don't ever expect these people to trust me. You know who you are. That was my ego. It wasn't me.

Then I told Glenn, "You know, the only reason I did any of this was because I wanted nothing more than to surf everyday. I knew nothing would make me happier than to have a great family, surf everyday, and do work I enjoyed. If I lived comfortably and had all that, it would be enough."

And he said, "The minute that stops being true is when you should quit and walk away."

And one final thought. I was asked once if I've ever had an "I've made it moment." To that my answer is still no. The minute "you've made it", you're hosed. Carolyn Messere, the editor who deserves more credit than you can possibly imagine, told me, "Don't ever forget that guy who was celebrating 360 copies sold."

The reward that comes from this is I get to do what I've always wanted to: Create things with my own two hands, things that maybe you're changed by, touched by, and moved by. Today we're off to see a venue for the Instigator Experience. Fortunately, I won't have to persuade any brides to change their wedding date because the one we're looking at is available.

So no, I'm not a Republican. What I see is a guy who made deliberate choices to build something. He's an entrepreneur, a misfit, a maverick, and I got to see under the mask that you do. You might be surprised by what you see.

Cheers,

Srinivas

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?