This week on Recode Media with Peter Kafka, conservative radio host Glenn Beck joined Peter onstage at South by Southwest for some straight talk about Beck’s audience (he’s an anti-Trump conservative), Beck’s concern for refugees (he has raised and distributed millions of dollars) and Beck’s outlook on the future (the robots are coming and we’d better get ready).
You can read some of the highlights from the interview at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Hey guys, this is normally the part of the interview where I tell you who I’m talking to. In this case, we’re doing something slightly different. This is a live interview I recorded last week at South by Southwest with Glenn Beck. It’s pretty great. Take a listen.
Peter Kafka: Thank you for joining me.
Glenn Beck: Thank you.
You were broadcasting live from Austin this morning. I tuned in.
You were defending Samantha Bee.
I think a lot of people — if they’d asked you, if they’d thought about this a couple of years ago — would be surprised to hear you defending Samantha Bee.
Only because they believe the headlines and didn’t know me. And after 9/11 I defended Bill Maher on his comments. Which was very unpopular on talk radio, but what part of “politically incorrect” didn’t they understand?
But Samantha Bee used to work at “The Daily Show,” and “The Daily Show” used to spend a lot of time really laying into you, I think justifiably.
But let’s first of all just talk about what you were saying about Samantha Bee and then we can work backwards from there today. So you were defending her. Why?
So Samantha Bee ... If you don’t know what Samantha Bee did, she sent a correspondent out to CPAC and they put a packaged bit together where they showed these guys in what they said were Nazi haircuts. So they showed three people, one of them happened to be somebody who was going through cancer treatment and had shaved their head. And the sister of that person wrote in and said, you know, “How dare they make fun of my brother. He’s got cancer.” Everybody became outraged. She apologized, there’s no way she knew. You know she didn’t select somebody out, like “Who’s got cancer?” Right? I know her, and I don’t believe she would have done that to her worst enemy.
So let’s pull back a little bit. Again, a few years ago, the idea of you defending Samantha Bee would have been a crazy idea. Recently, you’ve been on Samantha Bee’s show, you’ve appeared in the New Yorker, you’ve appeared in the New York Times, you did a piece in the Atlantic, you’re here at South by Southwest.
What changed for you? This is called a softball question.
It’s a misunderstood answer, or question. I haven’t changed anything except my tone, and I have changed the, I don’t know how to say this. I don’t believe anything that I was trying to do was working for anything other than making money, and that wasn’t my main intent.
Wait, let’s unpack that.
So, maybe I can, I think everyone gets the context here. But for years, you used to rail about Barack Obama. You called him, among other things, a racist. You compared him to Nazis. And then at some point ...
No. Did not compare him to Nazis.
You compared the government and what he was doing and his health care plan ...
Yes, as I did under George W. Bush and I do under Donald Trump.
But it’s, so you did two things. You said, one, “I’m not supporting Donald Trump,” you were active and loud about that. And you have also said, “I was wrong about Barack Obama. I said things that were wrong, I think he was a good man. He helped me.” I’m paraphrasing your words.
Yeah. Here’s what I said. That Barack Obama, and I think this is really important — without sharing, I had a personal conversation with Sam Bee today, I said this experience is going to make you a better person. Because this experience is going to shove you up against the wall and you’re going to have to look at yourself and say, “Man, am I that kind of person? Am I? What the Right is saying about me, am I that person?” And you will decide either yes or no, and that self reflection will either make you a better person, or a harder-hearted person.
And for me, being pushed up against the wall for expressing really many of the same sentiments that I said about George W. Bush without being pushed up against the wall, made me self-examine, and made me say, “Okay, so what is it I really believe in?"
So explain the chronology. Did you say, “I’m breaking with Donald Trump, I’m not supporting Donald Trump,” then you were attacked by the Right, then you sort of went on ... I’m going to call this your apology tour, or something else happened?
No, I left Fox, and in the first year that I left Fox I was talking to Megan Kelly and others, it just didn’t make the news. And I was saying at that point, you know, “I will take my part of the responsibility for the divide in the country. Will you take your part?” Because we all were involved in it, in some level or another, some bigger, some smaller. But we all were involved in the atmosphere that we now have. So I’ll take my part and I’ll say, “I don’t want to do any of that any more. I just want to listen, I want to learn, and I want to find people who want this madness to stop.”
So for you your change of heart, your moment of clarity, was when you broke from Fox? Or you broke from Fox and then something else happened?
No. It was at Fox. You can’t ... you know, this is for a longer discussion and I’ve talked about this a million times, so you can go read about it someplace else or go listen some place else.
Or have someone read it out loud to you in the podcast.
But you can’t be thrown up against the wall for doing what you feel is right, and making mistakes along the way, but traveling at about a thousand miles an hour, live, no teleprompter, no script. I’m the first person in cable to do an hour every day, unscripted. You’re going to say crazy-ass things, especially when you’re in performance mode of making a point. You can’t do that, then be pushed up against the wall and not say, “Wait a minute, who am I really? What do I really believe?” If you don’t do that you become like some of our current politicians.
But I have heard you say, “Look, when you talk extemporaneously for an hour or more, or multiple hours when you’re doing radio, you’re going to say things that you wish you took back.” You’re not talking about gaffs though, right? Like, you’re now saying things ...
Some are, some aren’t.
But I think you’ve recently in the last year said, “I think Black Lives Matter is a movement you want to support.”
When we had the shooting in Dallas, my staff was down there to cover it.
Because you’re based in Dallas.
Because I’m based in Dallas. So my staff was down there covering it. And all of a sudden the people who were marching, the people who were protesting, and the people in my group that were covering, all of a sudden became one. There weren’t three groups any more, there was one. And they all cowered and ran and protected each other. And that led to a conversation. And so I brought that group into the studio and we talked and I realized, “Okay, you’re not the Black Lives Matter manifesto. You’re not somebody who’s read the manifesto and says ‘I believe in communism and the destruction of America,’ and all of the crazy things the manifesto says.”
And that’s the problem. We group — and I’m talking about me — but we will group people and not look at their individual points and corners at all. So if you’re in Black Lives Matter, well, you must be for that manifesto. No.
So your argument is, “I haven’t changed, my philosophy is the same. Some of the language I’ve used is different. Some of the tactics I use when I speak is different. But I’m still the same person.”
I’m still the same person and I have the same principles. I don’t have ... I hope I’m a little wiser.
I was talking to someone who used to work for Obama. I said, “I’m interviewing Glenn Beck,” and he made a sort of “ehhhhh" sound and it stuck in my head for a while. So I called him back today to say, “Why did you make that sound?” And he said, “I just feel like Glenn Beck is being let off the hook. That he helped create a division in this country, and is now saying ‘well, we shouldn’t do that,’” but you’re not accepting responsibility. Do you feel like you have work to do to repair that you personally can do?
Have you read any interview that I’ve done in the last year?
Yeah, but I’m asking you the question on live here.
Yes. I mean, asked and answered, every interview for the last three years. So let me answer it one more time for you.
I played a big role, I believe — many people don’t agree with this — but I believe I played a big role. And I am doing all I can to repair any mistake, to apologize for any mistake. We are in deep trouble. So we can either talk, Peter, about the past, or we can start talking to the future.
No, this is what the person I was talking about, was saying. Saying, “I did this thing and it was bad and I apologize,” is good. And then the next question is, what can you do personally to help repair it? That’s the question he’s asking, and I’m asking for him.
If he would like to send an idea, I’m open. Here’s what I am doing.
I’m reaching out to anyone ... Samantha Bee is not liked by the people on my side. At all. And I know how my side will paint her. And, on top of it, I know how she paints the people, quote, “on my side.” Neither of those are fair. So I am trying to reach out and saying, “Can we talk to each other, to humanize each other?” Because what happens is, we stay in our little bubbles, and we don’t see anybody except as a cartoon.
So what you were doing this morning when I listened to you defend Sam Bee, for you that’s an active role, that’s helping to repair things? Speaking honestly about people.
That’s part of it. Also in the last five years, I’ve raised and given away $16 million to free slaves all around the country. Actual slaves, as we’re talking about, you know, black and white differences here, and a slavery that we all say, “Oh, if I was alive today, I’d be better than our founders." There are more slaves alive today than the entire western slave trade combined. Today. There’s more than double the amount of slaves in the world. What are we doing?
Samantha Bee and I connected on this. She said, “I care about the refugees.” I said, “So do I.” So what are we doing about it? We, my audience, raised — and because there was no country willing to do this, we hired our own teams, and we went in, and we vetted 6,000 refugees, and moved them to any country that would take them. Australia, former Yugoslavia, I think some went to England. We took the people who were the most in line for brutalization and death, and got them out while everybody else just played politics. We’re doing all we can to try to actively be involved.
When you tell your audience what you’re doing, that you’re helping refugees, right? Which is a real ... hot-button issue is the wrong word. It’s a real divisive issue in this country. What kind of feedback do you get from your audience when you defend Samantha Bee, what kind of feedback to you get from your audience?
Well, let me tell you on the refugees, it was my audience that paid the $16 million that took care of those refugees. I’m not going to dump them on some country, and have the country have to pay for welfare. It took $20,000 per family. We gave them housing, education, language classes for two years in their host country. That cost us $16 million. It didn’t come from me, it came from the audience. We did it together.
When everybody else was arguing about the border, I am for tight borders. We’re the only country that doesn’t expect something of somebody when you come into the country. However, everybody was arguing about the border while these children were coming in on the death train, and nobody was doing anything about it. We sent $2 million worth in, I think it was 16 semi-tractor trailers over two months to feed and clothe the children. It’s not their fault that we have been saying, “Hey, anybody can come across the border.” Let’s take care of them, treat them like human beings, and then hopefully say to them, “Go home and come back the right way. We want you here. We’re decent human beings.”
That’s good. The question I was trying to get to is when you defend Samantha Bee, when you move away from the rest of the conservative, Republican — well, at least the Trump — audience, and you’re alone among conservative radio commentators in moving against Trump, what is your audience telling you? We were talking backstage. You can’t really track them well, cause you’re just sort of dependent on Arbitron ratings, they’re not great. What’s your sense of who your audience is and whether they’ve stayed or gone?
I say this with all humility, I don’t care. Right is right, wrong is wrong. People don’t listen to me for the direction that everybody else is going. I don’t need them to be. You want to listen to somebody who’s going to reinforce your world view, do that. I’ve only made a promise to my audience right after September 11th, “I’m a dolt, I’m a self-educated guy. I’m figuring this stuff out on my own.” When September 11th happened, that drove me to my knees, saying, “I don’t have a single answer for the country. Who am I to get on national radio and talk to people about it? I haven’t done any homework.” The only promise I made was, “I will do my homework and I will tell you what I believe.”
So you don’t care what has happened to your audience. But who do you think your audience is? Do you think the composition has changed? Do you think you’ve added people who like you because you’re talking against Trump?
I don’t know. This is the first time — I’ve been in radio for forty years this year, this month. And this is the first time in my career, I don’t know who my audience is. I don’t know. I don’t know.
You don’t know because you’re not getting data, or because of what you’re saying you don’t have a sense of who that is?
I’ve always had a sense of the audience. I could always feel ... it’s a weird thing that I don’t know if anybody can relate to. But I’ve always had a sense when I said something or I looked in the camera, I could tell when I was connecting with them. I don’t have that sense right now. I don’t know. I think who my audience is are people that are so sick and tired of politics, and they’re so sick and tired of being told that the sky is green and the grass is black and that’s just the way it is. And they’re told by their political leaders and all of their talk show hosts ... yes, you’ve got to fight those people because they’re saying the sky is green and the grass is black, and then when the tables turn and the other guys are in power, their guys are in power, they’re telling them the sky is green and the grass is black. And, least I hope my audience is a group of people who are like, “I’m not doing that. That’s insane. I’m not going over the cliff with everybody else.”
Let me talk a little bit more about that audience. You pioneered a way of reaching an audience and getting them to pay for access to you. You created ... what was the name of the network? Was it the Glenn Beck Network?
It was GBTV.
GBTV. So you were charging people how much a month to watch you?
You can still become a member at $9.99.
And so can you guys. I think you said at one point you had, what, 300,000 subscribers?
That’s what we started with.
That’s what you started with. And this was several years ago. And a lot of folks ever since have said, “Wow, that’s 300,000 people, $10 a month, you can take someone who’s become famous on television, move them off television, create an entire very lucrative business ...”
Good luck with that.
“... on the internet.” And like you just said, no one has replicated that business.
I mean, it’s almost impossible. I think there was a little bit of magic in that. We were very fortunate. But you have to be a certain kind of personality that your tribe is very loyal and you’re very loyal to them.
So it’s not just enough to be famous. You have to have a real following that engages with you daily?
Yeah. More than fame. There are YouTube stars that can go down the street and nobody really knows who they are. They might be able to do it. But the problem with it is, if your goal is to make money, it’s a great way if you can pull it off. And remember, Oprah lost, what $150 million?
Not of her own money, but yeah.
Yeah, of somebody else’s money. I mean, it’s striking gold, lightning and oil with one ...
Well, Oprah also didn’t want to go on camera. She wanted to create this cable network based around her and didn’t want to go on.
But if we accept that the parameters are someone who’s famous, someone has an audience, someone has a dedicated audience, it’s a small group, but there are some of those people. Howard Stern is someone who seems like he could have done this.
I assume there are other radio people. Why do you think other people either haven’t tried it, or have tried it, a few folks have tried this and have not worked out.
I really think, Peter, that the world unfortunately lives in fear. I think most people are afraid all the way from self-reflection. I remember when I first sobered up, it took me a while before I would really dig deep because, quite honestly, I was afraid there was nothing inside. I thought there was, maybe there’s nothing in here. Maybe I’m not unique in any way at all. And so people have this fear of even self-reflection. But when it comes to taking what you know and taking that first step into the darkness, it’s, I mean, it’s counter-intuitive.
So you’re talking about the entrepreneur, the celebrity not wanting to do this world. And instead collect a paycheck.
There’s something about celebrity that is, I think it is the most corrosive thing, I would not wish celebrity or fame on my worst enemy.
Well, you could stop being a celebrity yourself, right? You could just stop broadcasting.
Right. But I’m saying also on the other hand, there’s a part of it that is if you want to make a difference in the world, you kind of need to have that celebrity. You need to have that draw to you. So it’s this double-edged sword. Most celebrities, I think, are celebrities and they’re not trying to change the world or something. And they just fell into whatever it is and they’re famous for doing it.
And that was you, by the way. That was your career, right?
You were a well-known DJ and you sort of stumbled into being a political person.
Right. Against my will, didn’t want to be. But those people, I’m not sure those people would ever risk losing that notoriety. It’s difficult to walk out, especially like Fox News, to walk out of the most powerful name in news. And that is true. There is nothing like that.
So you think, like you said, it’s lightning and gold in a bottle, and every other metaphor. It’s some combination of needing an audience, having the ability and desire to go out and take the risk that the audience might not show up, might not pay.
Yeah. And not the desire. The balls.
I didn’t want to say balls in front of this polite audience here.
I know. This is a black-tie gathering here, I see.
I didn’t want to freak these people out here in Austin, Texas.
This is the champagne crowd.
I can smell the ...
I look over and you’re actually drinking champagne. My apologies.
How is that subscription business doing? We heard a lot about it years ago, really don’t hear about it much since.
Good. We don’t release any of our numbers but, good.
Has it grown? Has it shrunk?
We’ve had, we’re not where we want to be on any of our numbers. But I think it’s reflective of what all of the media’s going through right now. And we’re in this weird place, everybody is. We’re in this weird place that I don’t know how it ends. I don’t know how it shakes out, you know? I’ve had several conversations with my family, especially when it got really serious about Donald Trump and I knew that eventually the audience is going to say — because loyalty is very important to conservative mindset — and to buck that, especially with Hillary Clinton, who I thought was awful. I knew we were going to get kickback and to sit down with the family and say, “You know, hey, these nice things we have could go away, buckle up.” And we’re still kind of in that mode. And I think everybody in the media should be in that mode.
Do you think you lost subscribers when you moved away from Trump?
I’m sure we lost a little of everything.
Yeah. So the audience did shrink, you think, because of that.
Yeah, I think everything. Whether it grew again, I don’t know. I have Arbitron ratings to show that it’s flat.
Right, that’s radio.
And I think that means it’s ... that’s the only indicator. And I think that’s just swapping some out.
What do you make of the — they’re not new, because they’ve been around for a while, but I’m gonna call them the new crop of conservative commentators. That have ascended, that also seem to very much have Donald Trump’s ear. Or eyes, or brain. Breitbart. But I’m assuming you dealt with Andrew Breitbart when he was alive.
I’m assuming you’ve talked with Steve Bannon. What did you make of Andrew Breitbart?
I thought Andrew Breitbart was a very smart guy, a rebel. We didn’t see eye to eye on a few things. We had a falling out ...
He accused me of, I don’t even know. Stealing something, or something. It was about Shirley Sherrod. I don’t know, it was a billion years ago. And I was talking to a friend of Andrew’s just the other day, and they said, you know, before he died they were talking about me and he was like, “You know what, we just gotta put all that behind us.” I think Andrew and I might be friends today, I don’t know. But I don’t think Andrew would be following Bannon and Breitbart.
No. So what’s the difference between Andrew Breitbart and Steve Bannon?
Steve Bannon created, in his own words, a platform for the alt-right. Now, whether he believes in that alt-right, or he’s just using that, it doesn’t matter. It’s extraordinarily dangerous. And I think Andrew believed in what he believed. I don’t think he was a game-player like that.
So is your issue with the things that Steve Bannon says or promotes, or is it the fact that he’s opened up the site to alt-right folks? Folks is a bad word.
It makes you more despicable if you open your site up and you don’t believe it. I mean, then who are you?
I just think that we’re living in such a dangerous time, and for Steve Bannon in his own words to say, “I am a Leninist.” And when the LA Times asked him, “What do you mean, a Marxist?” And he said, “No, a Leninist. I believe that we have to burn the entire system down. And what Lenin did to chop the heads off the government was good.” Well, I think that’s wildly irresponsible.
Yeah, there’s a debate on whether he said he’s a Leninist. But he says, “I want to deconstruct the administration, I want to get rid of basically most of existing Washington.” He says that on the record at CPAC.
Yeah, he said several times on the record at CPAC that he’s a populist, that he’s a nationalist. Just read history, those never work out well.
So the thing that looks ... many folks have said, and I think they’re right, that you have created a playbook for the Breitbarts, the Bannons, the Alex Joneses of the world, and they’re taking a page from you.
Nine out of 10 times, the reason why the press would report on me and say, “Glenn Beck is calling people Nazis.” You just said it. “I called Barack Obama ...” No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t. I said, “This is the Nazi playbook. This is how these things happen. You take this, this and this. You just pull this out.”
And many times I said, “If it’s not this guy, it could be the next guy. And Left, you better watch out who you’re giving power, and how you’re empowering the office of the presidency, because the pendulum’s going to swing back and that guy will have power. And if it’s not him, Conservatives, you better watch out, because you’re empowering that office even.” And it will swing back. At some point somebody is strong enough and has reason enough to just grab that pendulum and say, “I’m in control now.” That’s why we have to balance power.
But my question was, maybe I didn’t put it as a direct question. Do you think that Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, those folks, are lifting from you and using a playbook that you ...
No more than I influenced you. I’ve been on radio for a long time and I’ve done podcasts for a long time. Did you take it from me?
I’m the new Glenn Beck.
I mean no, you didn’t. Yeah right.
I’m going to get a sweater like that. It’s really nice.
Don’t mess with this sweater.
I’m sure it’s a very nice sweater. So you don’t take responsibility for them? They’re not your fault?
I’m a conservative. And so to me, I’m a constitutional conservative. I will take responsibility for the things that I did. I take responsibility for me. You take responsibility for you.
I’m looking for the people in the media on the right and the left who have the balls, excuse me again to the lady with champagne, to stand up to their own audience and say, “This is what we did wrong. This is what I did wrong. This is what I didn’t get.” Have the courage to stand up in front of your own people and say, “I have to police my own world. I can’t effect ...”
I’m an alcoholic. One of the things alcoholics love to do is worry about everybody else, thinking we can control anybody else’s behavior. I can’t control anybody else’s behavior. I can control mine. And I’ll take responsibility for what I’ve done.
Everybody else, it’s time to grow a set and stand up and take responsibility for your own people and your own world. Thank you, lady in the hat. You should meet the lady with the champagne down here.
We’ve got a big fan club here.
Are you spending time in Silicon Valley? Are you hanging out with tech people, are you trying to ...
Because you want to learn from them or because you want to explain something to them?
A little of both. They have a lot to teach and there’s also a lot that the country needs to understand. We’re arguing about politics right now, while the world is shifting under our feet in such dramatic ways. We’re arguing right now if I would say, “Let’s talk about universal basic income.”
Do you guys know what universal basic income is? They’re nodding their heads.
Universal basic income is everybody gets a basic income. Everybody gets a check from the government. As a conservative, I hate that.
Because you call that welfare, right?
Yes. Okay. However, and I don’t think that’s the answer for what I’m going to explain, but we have to have this discussion. If I have that discussion right now with Republicans and Democrats, it will devolve into, “That’s welfare” and “That’s socialism” and “We’re not socialist.” “We’re capitalist.” “And we’re constitutionalist.” And it goes nowhere. Somebody needs to stop and say, “Everybody shut up for a minute and listen to what is coming.” By 2050 and perhaps sooner than that, there is going to be such disruption because of AI and because of robotics, that there will be 50 percent unemployment. Self-driving trucks — in most states, truck driving is one of the biggest jobs in the state. Self-driving trucks are right around the corner. So what happens to the truck driver who’s 45 and been driving a truck his whole life? What do we do? Cause that job’s not coming back.
What’s happening is, our politicians are saying, “You vote for me and I’m going to bring your job back.” No, they’re not. They can’t.
Because the self-driving truck job didn’t get taken to China, it’s replaced by a robot.
It’s going away. So there will be anger from the center of the country and anybody who is trusting the media, Silicon Valley and the politician. The anger will be, “Wait a minute. You told me you were going to bring those jobs back. You’ve been lying to me. Those jobs aren’t coming back.”
Then the next one is, “Where the hell was the media? You didn’t tell us any of this stuff. You were telling us this guy was better than this guy on bringing jobs back when you knew, because all you had to do was talk to Silicon Valley.” And then in Silicon Valley, you should be a little afraid in Silicon Valley because eventually the politicians will need to make a bogeyman out of somebody. And of course you’re Frankenstein. You’re the ones making the robots.
Yeah, and Steve Bannon started that. He’s saying Facebook bought WhatsApp for $20 billion and there’s 60 people with that company. So that wealth is not distributed. There’s no workers that’s going down to.
This is not conservative. This is not constitutional American thinking. And this is what terrifies me. I expect this from people who understand and think that we should be a Marxist state. But we have now the people who say they want a constitutional capitalist republic now saying things and following leaders like Steve Bannon. And it will only get worse, people will listen to him as the economy, as things begin to shift even more.
But let me be clear. So you’re uncomfortable with universal basic income but you think we might have to have it anyway?
No, I’m thinking that we need to have an actual conversation without political bullcrap in between. Without the labels of Republican and Democrat, because they don’t stand for anything. And sit down and say, “Okay, this is the future that is most likely coming. What do we do?” If it’s not universal basic income, what will it be? And have a real conversation on that instead of fighting over Planned Parenthood.
Here’s the one that I was sitting with my kid on Saturday and discussing. My kid is 13 years old. We got up and we were talking about robotics and everything else and I said, “So, son, let’s play something out. When you go to turn your computer off at some point and it says ‘Please don’t, I’m lonely.’ And you can’t tell the difference between the computer, the AI and a human being, is it life?” And if it’s life, and if that life is being put into robotics, and it’s taking your job, you’re automatically as humans going to say, “They’re taking our jobs, they’re going to rally against us.” There’ll be somebody that will rally against the robots. Do we turn the robots off? Do we have a right? Do we fight against the robots, or do we embrace the future?
Do you see what’s happening while you’re speaking? There’s a robot back there, drawing something.
Yes, I know. They’re going to be a lot different than that. That’s the conversation about life we should be having. Not about Planned Parenthood. We should be saying, “What is life? Defend life.”
You told Sam Bee and many other people that you’re a catastrophist? Did I get the word right?
You predicted that if Donald Trump is elected it would be doom. We’re 50 days into the Trump administration. Are things what you thought they’d be? Are they worse? Are they better?
You know, I think based on my record of the last administration, you probably should skip to the next question. Does my answer really matter?
Nothing’s blown up yet. Do you go, “Phew, we dodged a bullet,” or, “It’s coming.”
I am not concerned ... I am concerned about the things that are ... some of this stuff is out of his control. I believed for a long time that we are headed for financial trouble. Now maybe Silicon Valley and the disruption of Silicon Valley is going to make our debt not matter.
But I think the banking system is a joke. I was disappointed today to see that we’re not going all in on bitcoin. The old system is broken at every point. So those fails are going to happen whoever is president. I’m concerned about how he’s going to react in major catastrophes. I’m concerned about how he’s going to react with our allies. And I’m concerned how the people around him advise him, like Steve Bannon. That hasn’t changed.
And part of your argument has been catastrophist prior to Trump. Like you’ve sold, your sites sell gold partly as a sort of survivalist idea. I was on the site today, you’re selling a survival food pack for 10 bucks. Looks pretty good.
It’s so funny to hear this. Because if you read Business Insider, if you read the Wall Street Journal, you read Forbes, you see all the Hollywood elite getting their storage bunkers, getting their food supply. Getting gold, buying bitcoin.
There was a great New Yorker piece about that I read.
Right? It’s the same thing, just packaged differently.
One of the reasons it’s a story in those places is it’s a new idea. It’s a new idea to have that idea, to express that.
Because here’s why. I think after 9/11 we all realized this thing is really fragile. Now, a few years after 9/11, after we took more and more beatings, we’re like, “Wow, it is incredibly resilient as well.” But society, civilization, you take the civil out of civilization and you got nothing. And we’re draining the civil out of civilization every single day. So that’s getting worse. Our banking, our numbers are getting worse. We knew that after 9/11. Got worse under George W. Bush. Then the Left went to sleep for eight years and said, “Oh well, it’s all going to be fixed because our side’s in control. So it’s all going to be wonderful.” The Right continued to look at those numbers and say, “We’re doubling the debt.” We have more people on welfare than ever before, and look at what’s happening to civil society.
Now, Donald Trump wins, and now the Right is dead asleep, saying, “Oh, my guy’s in so it’s fixed, those numbers don’t mean anything.” And look who comes to life again, it’s Sleeping Beauty waking up on the Left, going, “Oh my gosh, these numbers are insane. This isn’t going to work.” It’s the same thing. We unfortunately are not paying attention to it because we are on team sports. As long as it’s our team at the helm, we’re okay with it.
The articles you were talking about, the one that really stuck with me was the New Yorker one. It really resonated. It showed people who have billions of dollars, Peter Thiel, if you’ve got enough money you buy a patch of land in New Zealand, that’s your get-out plan. Do you have land in New Zealand or some other safe space that you’re going to head to?
No, I’m going to ...
You’re going to bunker? Stay in?
I have land. I think everybody, if you could afford land, even if it’s a little extra land in your own town for a garden. We did victory gardens before. It’s only in this last 100 years that it has been unreasonable, that an economy will take a massive reset. Up until the Depression, up until that healed itself, the world would reset every 10, 15, 20 years maximum. Now we just think that it’s never going to happen.
I had one guy from Wall Street tell me, “Glenn, you know, the Great Depression, that was a once-in-a-lifetime event.” And I said, “I know, and all of those people that lived through it, almost all of them are now dead. This is a new lifetime.” So we can expect a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And so your advice is, get a garden, get some land, you’ve got bodyguards, you carry a gun sometimes, right?
Yeah, so that’s all advice. We’re in Texas.
He’s very subtle at his mocking, isn’t he?
No, I’m not mocking. I want to know if these folks should follow your plan. Maybe that’s a little mocking.
That’s up to them.
Of course it’s up to them. But you’re offering advice.
Right. Kind of like you do.
No, I don’t offer advice.
Do you want to offer any advice before we leave?
Yeah. Here’s my advice: Find, above everything else — land doesn’t matter, gold doesn’t matter, food matters, water matters — but above everything else, find your set of principles. Just stick to eternal principles. Be kind, be good, don’t steal people’s stuff. Try to be a peace maker, not a war maker. Just do principles. And don’t listen to the parties. Stick to the principles. Be that, you know, that picture of that guy who’s in the crowd of all the Nazis and he refused to salute. And the poster says, “Be that guy.” Be that guy. Be that guy who everybody else looks to and mocks. Your children and your grandchildren will be proud of you at the times that come if you stick to eternal principles.
Glenn, thank you for the advice.
Peter, thank you.
Thanks for your time.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.