Three Things You Need to Know - September 12, 2017

There Is Nothing Permanent Except Change

Change is a force that can’t be stopped.

Status quo people, status quo businesses will get left in the dust.

Some businesses realize this and are getting creative. Next month, the department store Nordstrom is opening a new store called "Nordstrom Local." It’s an experiment, kind of a hybrid between online retail and the traditional department store. Nordstrom Local will be much smaller, with personal style consultants, a meeting area with full beverage service, areas to try on merchandise and curbside pickup for online purchases.

Nordstrom realizes malls are dying and people like to shop online, but that shopping in-person isn’t totally dead. Nordstrom is trying to give people what they want --- personal service, speed and convenience. It may not work. It’s a total gamble. But they know they have to try something because the department store status quo isn’t working. Ask Sears or JC Penney.

And it's not just stored. The status quo isn’t working for TV networks or the movie business. Old models are being turned upside down.

It’s not working for political parties either. The D.C. swamp that President Trump wanted to drain is more of a tar pit, with Republicans and Democrats content right where they are. You know you have a status quo problem when Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham are your party’s flag-bearers.

Status quo thinking is catching up with Republicans and Democrats. That’s part of the reason Donald Trump became President. But soon, a political version of Nordstrom Local will appear. It will be shiny and innovative and a lot of people will like it. Let’s just hope and pray that it is also anchored in America’s founding principles.

You Are the Answer

The power to change America’s course still resides with you.

It’s what the 9/12 project was all about --- your ability to effect change with principles over politics.

It’s the opposite of what we saw this weekend from Steve Bannon.

60 Minutes sat down with Trump’s former chief strategist who said this:

STEVE BANNON: I'm going to be his wingman outside for the entire time, to protect---

CHARLIE ROSE: You will not be attacking Donald Trump?

STEVE BANNON: No, our purpose is to support Donald Trump. By the way---

CHARLIE ROSE: And destroy his enemies?

STEVE BANNON: To make sure his enemies know that there's no free shot on goal.

I remember the days when we called out those who put blind faith in Obama.

Personality over principles.

Tell me what’s changed --- how is Bannon any different?

Charisma over core values will always fall short.

I still believe one voice can change a community. And one community can change a state. And one state can change a nation. And one nation can change the world.

It starts at home. It starts with you. You are the answer.

And together, grounded in our shared principles, we can create durable and lasting change.

Our "Sputnik Moment"

Exactly 55 years ago today (what is it with this day 9/12?), Kennedy gave his famous “we choose to go to the moon” speech. In a span of just 12 years after Sputnik, we went from getting laughed at by the Soviets to landing on the moon.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik into orbit. The Soviets were kicking our butts. Two months later, we tried to keep pace by launching Vanguard TV3, but it exploded on the launch pad.

The “Sputnik moment” had occurred. We realized that we had to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

The modern day Space Race between nations is already afoot, but space is no longer the objective. It’s Artificial Intelligence. The “Sputnik Moment” has already occurred, and the race is on to be the first to birth intelligent machines.

The nation that develops AI “will be the ruler of the world.” That’s what Vladimir Putin said to a group of students last week in Russia. Was this Putin’s version of Kennedy’s “we choose to go to the moon” speech?

The styles are obviously a bit different. Whereas Kennedy was at his inspirational best, Putin was simply classic Putin: “when one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”

The race is on.

But what are we creating?

Last year, microchip maker Nvidia began testing their version of self-driving cars. But this car was different than others being tested by Google, Apple and Tesla. This car wasn’t programmed by a human, it programmed itself. It learned to drive by watching a human drive and then wrote its own program.

It’s the latest development in AI that has supporters excited and naysayers scared. It’s called “deep learning.” The problem is that some of these systems are becoming so complex, their human creators don’t even understand them anymore.

Machines are writing their own code and learning how to make decisions without being prompted to do it. Their style of reason and thought is completely alien to researchers trying to figure it out.

That’s what the world is racing to create. Super intelligence, that learns on its own, thinks in a completely alien way, and has no human morality.

Will history remember us as winners or losers of the AI race?

MORE 3 THINGS

An immaculate Nazi doctor hovers over newborn. He probes and sneers at it. "Take it away," he says. This is the very real process that Nazi doctors undertook during the era of Nazi Germany: Nazi eugenics, the studious, sterile search to find children who would define a pure breed for the German lineage. The Übermensch.

RELATED: Glenn responds to advocates of aborting Down syndrome babies: 'No better than Nazi Germans'

During a speech to a delegation of Italy's Family Association in Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis referred to this cruel Nazi practice, which he used as a comparison to the increasingly popular process throughout Europe of "ending" birth defects, by offering abortions to women who have babies with chromosomal defects.

Here are two passages from the Pope's remarks:

I have heard that it's fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let's send it away.

And:

I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.

When CNN got the quote, and it shocked them so much that they had to verify the quote with the Vatican—in other words, it didn't fit the usual narrative.

It didn't fit the usual narrative.

The Pope also addressed claims that he has dedicated himself to LGBTQ causes:

Today, it is hard to say this, we speak of "diversified" families: different types of families. It is true that the word "family" is an analogical word, because we speak of the "family" of stars, family" of trees, "family" of animals ... it is an analogical word. But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one. A man and woman can be non-believers: but if they love each other and unite in marriage, they are in the image of God even if they don't believe.

The media have largely seen Pope Francis as the cool Pope, as the Obama of Catholicism. It'll be interesting to see how abruptly and severely that perspective changes.

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.

RELATED: MEDIA BIGOTRY: The New Yorker hates on Chick-fil-A over 'pervasive Christian traditionalism'

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.

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

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.