Thursday, December 26, 2013

Duck Dynasty vs. Corporate America

If you’re a marketing major at any university in America you need to be watching very closely the goings-on in the Duck Dynasty saga.  Unless you’ve been in a cave the last couple of weeks you know by now that Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson voiced his religious objections to homosexuality to GQ magazine.  ‘Dynasty’s’ network, A&E, didn’t wait for
ratings or sponsor response.  They caved immediately to the radical Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).  This is the same group that scared comedian Bob Newhart away from a conference for Catholic business leaders a couple of weeks ago.

GLAAD is famous for bullying any company or any organization they deem tolerant of anyone with views contradictory to their own.  Make no mistake about it.  This Duck Dynasty business is not about homosexuality.  It’s about freedom.

Let me be clear.  Phil Robertson has every right to voice his opinion on any subject under the sun.  A&E has every right to fire him for any reason.  Fans of the show have every right to be furious and never watch the network again.  This is capitalism at work.

We broke the story on our radio show that Cracker Barrel restaurants had pulled all merchandise with Phil Robertson’s image on it from their shelves, leaving the rest of the Duck Dynasty merchandise, as if no one would notice.  One of our listeners noticed and alerted us.  We alerted the country.  The outcry was swift and severe.  

Not all Cracker Barrel patrons watch Duck Dynasty but it’s a good bet that most Duck Dynasty viewers eat at Cracker Barrel.  Or, at least, they did.  Cracker Barrel withered under the two-day onslaught and, on the third day, relented.  They, in essence, admitted they’d made a bonehead mistake.  The question is, is it too late to recover?

The lesson is to know your customers.  Sure, A&E may have started off catering to the wine and cheese crowd with shows like America’s Castles but take a gander at the programming line-up these days.  Storage Wars, Shipping Wars, Rodeo Girls, Duck Dynasty and, coming this January, Crazy Hearts: Nashville.  This ain’t exactly high-brow television.  Nor is it likely programming aimed at a gay audience.

A&E knew exactly what it was getting with the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty.  In fact, Phil Robertson has a book out and, I’m told, lays out his beliefs in his book basically just like he laid them out to GQ.  Didn’t the folks at A&E read it?  Or, were they too busy counting their money.  Then the first time some radical, fringe group says ‘boo!’ they fold like a card table.

If this were a star from Downton Abbey, maybe.  A star from Glee?  Absolutely.  But this is Duck Dynasty, for crying out loud.  There probably aren’t two people in the entire audience who disagree with what Phil Robertson said.

We still have freedom of religion in this country and most mainstream religions consider homosexuality a sin.  Why are all these liberal elitists acting so surprised?  They’re not, really.  They’re just trying to destroy anyone who disagrees with them.  What has Uncle Phil told you for years?  The left is all about diversity except when it comes to diversity of thought.  One biblical reference to homosexuality and the mainstream media come unglued.  Meanwhile, Phil Robertson, at the epicenter of the firestorm, remains cool as a cucumber.

Pay attention, you marketing majors.  A 67-year-old duck-huntin’ good ole boy from Vivian, Louisiana has just made two multi-million-dollar corporations look like idiots.

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

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Republican House blows it yet again

The recent caving by Republicans in the House and Senate was breathtaking.  The much-ballyhooed budget from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democrat Sen. Patty Murray will erase much of the hard-fought sequester cuts.  It also cuts military pensions.  Oh, it also raises the airport tax on your plane ticket that ostensibly goes for the TSA only this extra money is going to cover some of the sequester cuts.  That, my friends, is a tax increase, something Boehner and the boys in the House said they would never do.

The sequester cuts, although not ideal, were the first real cuts in federal spending since just after the Korean War.  Even Newt and the Republican Revolution of 1994 couldn’t get real
cuts and had to settle for slowing growth.  It was that slowing of the growth in spending that gave us several years of surpluses.  

This new budget does absolutely nothing to balance the budget.  Republicans who voted for it will tell you that it reduces the deficit but it doesn’t reduce it nearly as much as the sequester cuts and it doesn’t balance the budget.  

I’ve come to the conclusion that not enough people in Congress care about the deficits and the debt.  They say they do but they don’t.  They also say they want to kill Obamacare but each chance they have to do it they blow it.  The only way we were going to kill Obamacare was to defund it.  The House budget fully funded Obamacare.  Not one dime was stripped from it, despite the cacophony of protests from the millions who have had their policies cancelled.  

The Republicans who caved pointed to polling that showed the American people blamed them for the government shutdown.  The American people don’t even remember the government shutdown and if you’re not willing to go to the mat for something you believe in what good are you?  I’m sick of politicians who vote based on polls that say they’ll be wrongly blamed for something.  At some point you have to have the guts to stand up for what’s right.

Killing Obamacare is what’s right.  In fact, I believe those same polls would have shown support for anyone who tried to rid the country of this horrible law.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know.  But that’s really beside the point.  The point is we now have far too many in Congress who cherish their jobs.  We need folks up there who don’t care if they get re-elected.  We need statesmen instead of politicians.  We need reliable representation.  The mark of a true statesman is someone you know before they vote how they’re going to vote.  It’s someone who doesn’t pander to the people in order to stay in power.  It’s someone who is quite comfortable losing that power.

How many folks in Washington does that apply to these days?  Certainly not enough.

So, where do we go from here?  I think it is imperative that we get more involved in the process.  It’s very easy at a time like this to turn it all off, to take a vacation from the madness and the frustration.  That’s exactly what they’re hoping you’ll do.  When good people no longer pay attention then bad people prevail.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

The politics of AIDS

Fighting over which disease gets what kind of funding may seem unbecoming but in the stark world of politics it’s an unpleasant necessity.  President Obama just recently diverted 100 million more dollars to AIDS research vowing to find a cure.  That means other disease research will have to suffer as a consequence.

Understand this: AIDS is the most preventable disease ever known to man.  We know
exactly how it’s contracted and we know exactly how to stop it.  Spending billions of dollars on a cure is a colossal waste of time and money.  AIDS in the United States is almost entirely transmitted by two groups of people: homosexuals or bisexuals and intravenous drug users.  Stop the behavior and you stop the disease.

When I bring this topic up on the air invariably I get angry e-mails telling me I don’t care about little kids with AIDS.  Of course, I do, but the number of children contracting AIDS these days is fewer than 200 per year.  Conversely, the number of children with cancer each year tops 13,000.  I certainly care about kids with AIDS but the reason they got the disease in the first place is because their mothers were engaging in risky behavior.  I guess these people e-mailing me care nothing about kids with cancer.  

By the way, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related deaths for children.  It looks like if we really cared we’d be spending most of our time and resources where there’s the largest need.

That’s the problem with disease research.  It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the funding.  AIDS funding almost equals cancer funding in this country yet cancer kills 37 times the number of people who die from AIDS.  In fact, almost as many people die from cancer in one year than have died of AIDS in the United States since we first discovered the disease.

Common sense would tell you that we should be spending money on these diseases in proportion to their devastation.  Let me illustrate it this way.  We spend about $9,800 on research per cancer death in the United States.  We spend almost $198,000 per AIDS death.  In other words, cancer kills 37 times more people yet AIDS gets 20 times the research dollars per death.  And Obama is diverting even more money to AIDS research.  It’s not only wrong it’s downright sinful.

I was at a party recently.  Three of my friends at this party were battling cancer.  We all know people fighting this horrible disease.  Aside from maybe lung cancer, we have few clues as to why people get it.  One of my friends always ate right and exercised but still came down with some rare form of bone cancer.  It’s bound to make these people furious to know that just because certain people protest and stomp their feet the loudest that they get the lion’s share of the funding.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States but there’s so much we know about how to prevent it.  Poor diet, little or no exercise, and obesity are leading causes.  Maybe that’s why we spend less than half on research as compared to cancer.  We know many of the causes.  With cancer it’s a totally different story.  We have no idea what causes most cancers and we need the bulk of our funding going to finding a cure.  Had Obama stated that as his goal he may have garnered some respect.  Instead, he continues to play politics with our research money while hundreds of thousands of people needlessly die.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Common sense inequality

The unions are at it again.  They’ve expanded the fast food strike from 20 restaurants in New York City to 200 nationwide.  Their complaint?  The same old tired refrain of a living wage.  They want $15 per hour.  The minimum wage is $7.25.

The truth is only a small percentage of restaurant workers make minimum wage.  Those are entry-level positions.  In fact, the restaurant industry is one of the easiest industries in which
to advance.  One has to be willing to work hard, work smart and take on more responsibility.  That’s the problem with liberalism.  It’s never the liberal’s fault.  It’s always someone else’s fault. 

Let me tell you something.  If you’re 50 and you’re making minimum wage at a fast food restaurant it’s your fault.  Barring some mental or physical handicap, if you’re trying to make a living off minimum wage you’ve made some bad decisions.

That’s the conversation few in this country want to have.  What is the root cause of poverty?  It’s impossible to say with certainty what the percentage is but it’s safe to say that most people are poor because of bad choices.

You may gasp at that notion but it’s true.  Let’s put it another way.  How do people get to be rich?  Trust-fund babies aside, people who become rich do so based on the choices they make.  Some may call it luck but Bill Cosby was once asked if he felt like he’d been lucky.  He said it’s funny but the harder he works the luckier he gets.

Fortunes aren’t made by happenstance.  They’re built.  That’s why it irks me when people talk about an unequal distribution of wealth.  Wealth is not distributed.  It’s earned.  If these folks striking at these restaurants really want to better themselves they need to get back inside the store and start making it happen.  Make yourself a valuable employee.  I’m not promising you’ll never get fired but I can assure you you’ll go a lot further in life than you will standing out in front of some restaurant holding a sign complaining that you’re not making enough money.

Were I the owner of a restaurant and my employees were striking in front of my store I’d fire the lot of them.  There are plenty of folks looking for a job and, moreover, looking for an opportunity.  That’s what these striking employees can’t see.  They can’t see the opportunity.  

The average salary for a McDonald’s store manager is $42,000 per year.  Too many people turn up their noses at $42,000 a year.  When I first started out in radio I made $6,000 a year.  Six grand!  That’s the equivalent to $17,000 a year today.  Did I think I was underpaid?  I never really thought about it.  I was there for the opportunity.  I was there to learn, to grow, to advance.

These folks standing outside of Taco Bell and McDonald’s have absolutely no ambition.  And they’re being brainwashed by union thugs who’ve convinced them they deserve a “living wage.”  They deserve to be fired!

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