Friday, July 26, 2013

Can Detroit be saved?

You wanna hear something hysterical?  Ed Schultz and the rest of the talking heads over at BSNBC are blaming Republicans for the bankruptcy of Detroit.  Here’s their rationale.  Republicans out-sourced jobs, cut public services and attacked the unions.  Actually, Ed, it was the unions that caused the out-sourcing with their unreasonable demands which led to Detroit’s population dropping in half since 1950 which led to fewer taxpayers thus less government services.

The problems plaguing Detroit are obvious.  They killed the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg.  Let’s face it.  Detroit automakers made some stupid mistakes over the years.  They scoffed at the Japanese and European imports in the ‘70s thinking they were invincible.  Bad design coupled with horribly-built cars led to a steep decline in American-made automobiles.  The unions convinced their membership that the car companies existed to provide them a job.  In fact, they came to believe that it was their job, not the company’s.

In the meantime, the Democrat machine took over Detroit politics.  The last Republican mayor was in the late ‘50s.  Since 1970 there’s been just one Republican on the city council.  For the last 50 years Detroit has been a one-party town.  Guess what?  The party’s over.

In typical fashion, the liberals who have run Detroit for the last half-century demonized the rich and exploited the poor.  Inflated wages and unreasonable pensions drove industry south or completely out of the country.  The city instituted a wage tax – on top of the state and federal income taxes – in 1962.  Detroit also tacks on an extra corporate tax.  You couldn’t ask for a less hospitable place for business.  Couple the high taxes with artificially-inflated union wages and it’s a wonder Detroit lasted this long without going broke.

I was reading a newspaper report that said nearly $6 billion of Detroit’s $20 billion debt is due to health insurance obligations to retired city employees.  The article lamented that Detroit may push those people off on the Obamacare exchanges.  Now, understand that these ex-employees are eligible for Medicare at age 65.  That means that $6 billion is for people who are retired but not yet at retirement age.  Here’s a thought.  Go back to work!

That’s symptomatic of the problem.  Too many sweetheart union deals were negotiated.  The companies that made that mistake either closed down or moved but the city was stuck.  At this point all bets should be off.  I hate it for those folks who thought they could retire at 45 and live off the taxpayers but the bulk of the taxpayers are gone.

Which leads to the next point.  It never occurred to these liberals when they were waging class warfare that once they ran the rich people off there would be no money left to pay for city services.  They may still have 700,000 residents but those who stayed behind are disproportionately poor and disproportionately unemployed.  If Detroit is ever going to come back they’re going to have to eliminate the city wage and corporate taxes.  They’re going to have to welcome rich folks back with open arms instead of demonizing them.

Now that Michigan is a right-to-work state there’s hope.  The unions that ran industry away in the first place need to be dissolved and good, old-fashioned capitalism needs to be reintroduced to Detroit.  The moochers and looters have run the city into the ground.  The producers are what built it and they can rebuild it but in order for that to happen those running the city have to stop listening to the likes of Ed Schultz.  Or all hope is lost.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blaming everyone but themselves

I have long preached about the virtues of personal responsibility.  Far too many people expect someone else – oftentimes the government – to assume responsibility for their actions.  I had a caller to my show several years ago who was a second-grade teacher.  A little girl in her class didn’t know her colors and the teacher was concerned the child might have a learning disability. She scheduled a parent/teacher conference with the child’s mother and asked her if she had ever taught the child her colors.  The mother responded, “That’s what Head Start is for.”

Because the government has swooped in and taken responsibility for so many things too many people have shirked personal responsibility assuming if they fail it’s someone else’s fault.  Take the case of a 36-year-old Tennessee man who’s suing Apple Computers.  Why?  Because he says he’s addicted to pornography which led to his wife leaving him and taking his child.  He’s suing Apple because he said his MacBook wasn’t equipped with a filter that kept him from viewing pornography.  “The Plaintiff became depressed and despondent, unable to work as a result of observing porn on his MacBook,” the complaint reads.

Let me just say right up front that I believe claims of sex addiction are bogus.  Some psychiatrists claim that sex addicts suffer from neurochemical changes similar to adrenaline rushes which cause the addiction.  I suspect similar neurochemical changes can be observed in people who ride roller coasters but they haven’t come out with a roller coaster addiction.  At least, not yet.  I can’t wait for the first meeting of Roller Coasters Anonymous.

I was in Vegas recently.  A guys trip.  We took in a show, relaxed and did a bit of gambling.  I always take a set amount of cash in my pocket for gambling.  Inevitably, I always lose it but I build it into the cost of the trip.  My goal is to make the money last the whole weekend so I can enjoy the challenge of the game and camaraderie with friends.  There are ATMs all over the casinos.  I don’t use them.  Not that I haven’t been tempted to but I have something that’s called “self-restraint.”

Same thing with my computer.  I can access the very same porn sites as the guy who’s suing Apple.  I just choose not to.  We live in an instant gratification society.  With that comes certain responsibilities.  You have to know when to say no or, at least, no more.  The guy suing Apple is looking for someone to blame.  He wants to shift the responsibility for losing his family onto someone else when he is solely to blame.

Here’s the funny part.  The dude claims he accidentally accessed pornography when he mistyped Facebook.  Instead of typing the a-c-e he says he typed u-c-k.  Sure you did, pal.  He also claimed he had never seen pornography before.  He’s 36!  He says once he did, he preferred the women he saw on the screen to his own wife.  Sounds like he had a real solid marriage.

His wife better be darn glad she got away from this idiot.  The sad thing is he’s not alone.  Millions of people are blaming someone else right now for the situations they’re in.  Life hasn’t always gone my way but I’m man enough to admit when it’s my fault.  Sitting around and looking at dirty pictures all day is no one’s fault but his.  If he’s that weak-minded did it ever occur to him to just get rid of the laptop? 

Moral of the story?  Sometimes an Apple a day keeps the wife away.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My e-mail to Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder is asking for tips to go after George Zimmerman on Civil Rights charges.  I felt compelled to send my own tip to Mr. Holder.  Below is my e-mail to Eric Holder.

Subject: Zimmerman Tip


For the love of God, man, this case is closed.  The FBI has determined there was no racial motivation.  The only racist involved was Trayvon Martin who referred to Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker."  Why don't you concentrate on something useful like addressing black-on-black crime.  Over 90 percent of black victims were killed by other black folks.  It might have something to do with nearly 75 percent of black babies born today being born out of wedlock.

You keep looking for a white person to blame.  Look in the mirror.  You and Obama continue the denial in this country.  Racism is not the problem with Black America today.  These are self-inflicted wounds and you do nothing to heal them by diverting attention away from them.


Phil Valentine
Host, The Phil Valentine Show

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stop encouraging laziness

A story came across the news wire and my senior research analyst brought it to me in the studio while I was on the air.  It was an AP story out of Atwood, Mich. about how farmers were complaining they wouldn’t be able to bring in the cherry and apple crops without illegal aliens.  American workers, they claimed, were either not available or not willing to work.

George W. Bush was fond of saying that illegals are doing the jobs Americans just won’t do.  The truth is illegals are simply doing some of the jobs Americans won’t do for the money.  Americans won’t live 15 to a room just so they can find employment.  There’s not a job in America that Americans didn’t used to do before the illegal aliens came in, undercut them and stole their jobs.

That’s not to say that the American worker is blameless.  Atwood, Mich. is about four-and-a-half hours from Detroit where the unemployment rate is 16 percent, more than double the national rate.  One would think that Detroit and Atwood might be a great match.  Farmers are looking for workers and Detroiters are looking for work.  So why are farmers in Atwood still resorting to hiring illegal aliens?

Part of the problem is some of the farmers are lying.  The unemployment rate in Michigan is 8.4 percent.  Detroit may be driving that number higher than it would normally be but there’s no doubt that workers are available for the farmers of Atwood.  Some farmers would rather deal with illegals because they can pay them low wages or even lower wages if they pay cash under the table.  But part of the blame should be placed on the shoulders of the workers themselves, or, should I say, the government that encourages them not to work.

Before the sequester, unemployment benefits had been extended so that many unemployed workers could draw unemployment benefits for 99 weeks.  That’s nearly two years!  As a result of the sequester the number of weeks was cut back.  Total benefits vary by state but in Michigan you can still conceivably stay on unemployment for 67 weeks.  That’s almost 16 months!  Granted, unemployment benefits are substantially less than what one was making while employed but you’re also not working.  There’s something to be said about doing nothing and getting paid.

I’ve never drawn unemployment.  I don’t begrudge anyone who has.  I’ve just chosen not to do it and I’ve been unemployed a number of times.  This is radio, after all.  The worst time came when I was program director of a station and got washed out in a format change.  I was let go with no severance pay.  I worked on straight commission for an ad agency and made a whopping $100 in three months.  It never even occurred to me to file for unemployment.

In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t.  It was my lack of success in sales that prompted me to pack up everything I owned and move to Nashville without a job.  Within two days I had a fulltime job selling memberships at a health club and a part-time gig at a radio station.  Within three months I was back in radio full time.

The point is, poverty is a great motivator.  As long as we’re paying people not to work, they won’t.  Time was when Americans would do what needed to be done to put bread on the table.  Nobody’s going to drive four-and-a-half hours if they’re getting paid to sit at home but they’ll drive a lot further than that if it’s the only way they eat.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Greedy public employees are bleeding us dry

In San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers went on strike after negotiations between the unions and state mediators broke down.  Commuters were left scrambling for alternative modes of transportation but the unions didn’t care.  Was the dispute over pay?  Not really.  BART had offered an average 2 percent wage increase per year for four years.  The fight was over what most union fights have been about the last few years: pensions and health insurance.

The average train operator and station agent make a base salary of $71,000 and average another $11,000 in overtime.  That’s an average of $82,000 per year.  Before the strike BART employees were contributing a measly $92 per month for their health insurance, a ridiculously low amount given the skyrocketing cost of health insurance.  As for their pensions, they were contributing absolutely nothing, not one dime.  The taxpayers were picking up the entire tab for the pension contributions.

These are the types of deals that are bankrupting cities and states and our federal government.  We simply cannot afford to pay for what should be the responsibilities of individual workers.  Whether or not some BART employee retires with a pension should be the responsibility of that particular BART employee.  It’s certainly been my responsibility.  I have a 401(k).  Some years my employer matches part of it some years they don’t.  I certainly don’t expect them to and when they do I appreciate it.

But that’s the problem with a lot of people in this country, isn’t it?  They’ve come to expect someone else to take care of them.  I try to watch my 401(k) like a hawk.  I contribute as much as I possibly can and I plan for the future.  I’m hoping Social Security will supplement my retirement years but I have my doubts.  If it’s even there when I retire Social Security will, in all likelihood, be subjected to means testing.  Even people like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky have supported means testing.

Means testing, simply put, means if I do the right thing and have ample money put away for my retirement I won’t be able to draw Social Security even though the government forced me to contribute to it my whole working life.  They told me it was a forced retirement fund and I would be able to draw from it when I retired.  With means testing only those who don’t prepare for retirement will be able to draw from Social Security.  It will only be for those whose retirement funds fall below a certain level.  It turns the entire program into another welfare entitlement.

So much of what the government is doing is discouraging personal responsibility.  The harder you work and the more you earn the bigger chunk of your paycheck they take.  If you haven’t been responsible and provided health insurance for you and your family then the government will step in and take care of your health insurance.  If you don’t plan for your retirement the government will take away part of the retirement from those of us who have and give it to you.

Why on earth should anyone behave responsibly anymore?

The BART strike has been just another reminder of what happens when government officials volunteer the generosity of the taxpayers.  Those on the receiving end of that generosity spit in the face of their benefactors.  They should’ve fired everyone who went on strike and given those jobs to people who might actually appreciate them.  Unions in the private sector are vanishing quickly.  Public sector unions should do the same, while we still have some money left.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.