Three Things You Need to Know - December 6, 2017

Recognizing Jerusalem

When is your capital, not really your capital?

If you’re the nation of Israel this isn’t a ridiculous question.

Even though their capital is Jerusalem, most of the world just acts like it’s not. Why? Well, we wouldn’t want to make terrorists angry, would we?

Today President Trump is expected to announce his decision about whether or not to keep the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Trump’s intention is to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the embassy there.

Logistically, it’s a move that makes sense. It's also conveniently the truth. Now, symbolically, it’s going to piss off a bunch of terrorists who hate the Jews. But, guess what? We don’t base our policy on the wishes of terrorists that hate Jews. Or at least, we don’t anymore.

I’m glad Trump is finally standing up to the decades of bullying.

By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States is sending a clear message that threats of violence by the Palestinians and others in this area will no longer be tolerated.

It’s also sending the message that official US policy should not be ignored.

Let’s go back to a time when Bill Clinton was in office for a second.

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act that required the American embassy to relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Let me say that again * REQUIRED * the embassy to relocate to Jerusalem. In that act, it states that Jerusalem should be undivided and recognized as the capital of Israel.

Oh, and just a side note, that act passed 93-5 in the Senate and 374-37 in the House. The move can only be canceled if we overtly stop it every 6 months. And we’ve done just that, every 6 months, for 22 years.

It’s a law that is 22 years late in being enacted. It’s embarrassing that it has taken this long and it's a slap in the face to our trusted ally.

It needed to be implemented then, and should certainly be implemented now.

If Trump actually follows through on this, it’s a brave move that he deserves a lot of credit for.

And if he does, Israel will finally be able to let everyone know that their capital is really their capital.

Russia Banned From the Olympics

Each night during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Dr. R waited for delivery of the list. The list contained names of Russian athletes so elite and on top of their sport, that they had to cheat by taking steroids.

Just after midnight, a secret signal told Dr. R it was time to go to Room 124, the secret room built by the Russians attached to Room 125 – the gold room. Not where the Olympic gold medals were stored. This room held liquid gold. This was the Olympics’ urine sample lab.

Once Dr. R was in place, another Russian official in the gold room passed urine samples through a secret hole in the wall. He had to have good aim, but once he calibrated, a steady stream of urine – samples mind you – flowed through the hole in the wall to Dr. R. Then, because these were special, Swiss-engineered urine sample bottles, Dr. R passed them to a Russian F.S.B. agent who wizzed – I mean, whisked them to a secret building nearby where the tamper-proof bottle caps were completely tampered with.

A few hours later, the bottles were returned to Dr. R, with the caps magically loosened. Now Dr. R got to work, emptying the bottles, cleaning them, and replacing them with non-steroid urine. Then the bottles were slipped back through the hole in the wall to Room 125, and voila, Vladimir Putin got to have his cake and eat it too – hosting the Olympics and winning 33 medals – a third of which were won by Russian athletes who were part of the government’s elaborate doping program.

It was all fun and games, until two whistle-blowers – one of whom was Dr. R – blew the tamper-proof lid off Russia’s doping scheme. Yesterday, for the first time in its history, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Vladimir Putin says this is just a U.S. conspiracy in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in our presidential election last year. Yeah, I don’t think America cares that much about the Winter Olympics, but nice thought.

If I were the International Olympic Committee members, I’d look into joining the witness protection program, like Dr. R already has. He is currently living in an undisclosed location in the U.S.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Russia can. But you can’t.

Time Person of the Year

Time just announced their Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers.

It sounds like a band name for a boy band, but I digress.

The Silence Breakers are the men and women who have finally come forward to talk about the sexual misconduct or assault they experienced at the hands of powerful people.

By speaking up about their assaults at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and others like him, Time claims that these victims have humbled and humanized Hollywood. They write, “Movie stars are supposedly nothing like you and me. They're svelte, glamorous, self-­possessed. They wear dresses we can't afford and live in houses we can only dream of. Yet it turns out that—in the most painful and personal ways—movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew.”

It's a fitting homage by Time given the past three months of nonstop allegations. But I have one problem with it.

Juanita Broderick and Paula Jones are never mentioned by name in Time’s article.

Does that mean you’re only a silence breaker only if you claimed sexual assault in the past three months?

Woman have been speaking out for years against the powerful people who have abused them. It’s only now that we’re actually believing them.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Silence Breakers.

You are not alone. Even movie stars experience the ugly parts of life. Don’t be afraid to speak out.

If you experience assault of any kind, there is no shame in going to the Police immediately. It’s the most powerful thing you can do.

And as we’ve seen recently, the court of public opinion is a very dangerous place. An allegation doesn’t immediately make you guilty. Let’s continue to hold up due process and ensure justice prevails for everyone.

MORE 3 THINGS

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?