Friday, February 28, 2014

Michelle, stay out of our school lunchrooms

Michelle and Barack Obama have issued an edict to public schools to ban ads for junk food and soft drinks in schools. Now, I think it’s probably a bad idea to be pushing junk food in schools but this is not the Obamas’ call. In fact, it’s not the call of anybody in the federal government.

Schools are run by the states and the counties or cities. They have school boards that are elected and accountable to the people. If anyone is going to ban ads of any kind in schools
it’ll be them. But the Obamas think it’s their place to do this. I’m waiting for a governor somewhere to stand up and put these federal officials in their place. So far, I haven’t seen one.

But this didn’t start with the Obamas. I’m not sure where it started. George W. Bush had his No Child Left Behind program that dictate standards to school. Like the Obama initiative, it was well-meaning but it was wrong. The federal government has no business getting involved.

The reason they do is because of money. They give money to the states, or more accurately, they give the money back to the states, and there are strings attached. States need to learn this lesson and starting weening themselves from the federal government. The federal government, however, has made it too tempting.

So, there’s only one solution to this. We need to dissolve the Department of Education. I can hear a collective gasp from many of you reading this. Just so you’ll know, the Department of Education has only been around since 1979. Yeah, I was able to make it all the way through school without one.

It started out innocent enough. It was supposed to be a clearinghouse for great ideas. In other words, they were supposed to monitor what was working in one state and share it with the others. Eventually, though, it did what any government agency does. It took on a life of its own. Now it is a huge behemoth that grows each day in its audacity. To put it another way, and a way Michelle Obama might understand, it’s a bully. The Department of Education is bullying states and local districts. It’s telling them too often what to teach and it’s telling them what to feed their kids.

Pretty soon candy sales for the school band will be outlawed. The local ice cream store won’t be allowed to by an ad in the school yearbook. Then the school newspaper won’t be allowed to publish pictures of kids at a fast food restaurant. Where will it end?

The short answer is it won’t. Not as long as nobody is willing to stand up to these bullies. And what’s this obsession with our health and our weight anyway? I mean, did anybody on the right tell Michelle not to get her hair cut like Moe Howard? (Boy, I’m glad she dropped that hairstyle) No! It’s her hair. Why do they care if people are fat or not exercising or eating donuts or drinking too much or smoking too much?

Why? Because they’re liberals and that’s what liberals do. It’s not about live and let live. It’s about live and tell everyone else how to live. Think about it. Whether it’s the environment or gays or anything else they feel compelled to tell you how to live your life.

It’s time states start pushing back. The reason the federal government has gotten away with this intrusion for so long is because the states have allowed them to. That has to stop. 

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Climate censors: Not up for debate

The danger of media bias is not in what they tell you. It’s in what they don’t tell you. Those on the left preciously guard their positions by desperately trying to keep the truth at bay.

That was never more clearly demonstrated than during my recent trip to Charlottesville for a screening of our documentary, An Inconsistent Truth, at the University of Virginia. What I told the students there is the same thing I tell students at any university stop we make. Challenge everything. I told them that there are people who will go to any lengths to keep them in the dark on the issue of global warming with ad hominem attacks on people like me or anyone who dares challenge their worldview that humans are destroying the planet.

Right on cue came Thomas Forman II the Monday morning after my weekend visit. Mr. Forman scolded the UVA College Republicans for even inviting me, as if I had soiled the
hallowed grounds with my presence. He then proceeded to call me and anyone who dares disagree with the propaganda that he and others have been spewing “scientifically illiterate.”

Forman didn’t even have the decency to attend the screening, which is typical of people on his side of the issue, especially in academia. I suspect Mr. Forman knows the truth. How could he not? None of what Al Gore predicted in his movie has come true. The earth’s temperatures are not rising. The polar bears are not dying off. Sea levels are not rising. Hurricanes are not getting more vicious and more frequent. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

Most important in this discussion, there most certainly is not a consensus on the issue of global warming or climate change or whatever these hysterics are calling it on any given day.

Unlike Gore’s movie, which is all about Gore, our movie features scientists who study the climate on a daily basis. One of the scientists we interviewed is Dr. Fred Singer. Dr. Singer is not only one of the foremost experts on the issue of climate change, he is an emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, the very university where Mr. Forman works. Surely he knows this. Surely he doesn’t believe that he is more qualified in this field than the man who was a pioneer in weather satellites and a former deputy assistant administrator of policy at the EPA.

Mr. Forman’s display of arrogance is breathtaking. His description of anyone who disagrees with him on climate change as being scientifically illiterate is the kind of scorched-earth policy the proponents of manmade global warming employ when they sense the truth is knocking down their door.

Commentator George Will summed it up best. He said when anyone claims the debate is over you can count on two things. First, the debate is still raging and, second, they are losing.

Mr. Forman and his fellow travelers are most assuredly losing the debate. Carbon dioxide levels have increased substantially over the past 15 years but global temperatures have remained steady. In short, there is no correlation between the two.

The recent snow storms that have pounded much of the country only serve to drive that point home. I’m certainly well aware that weather is not climate. I’m also aware that theory is not science. The scientific method demands proof. The global warming alarmists have no proof so they fall back to climate models. There are 72 major climate models that have been predicting temperature since 1979. All of the climate models - like Mr. Forman - have been dead wrong.

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

The entitlement mentality at AOL

Nothing much surprises me these days but I must say I was taken aback at the response to comments recently made by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Taken aback is, perhaps, too mild. I was actually infuriated. Tim Armstrong was conducting a town hall meeting with employees and tried to explain why they were restructuring their 401(k) contributions. Instead of the company contributing each paycheck, they were going to make a lump-sum contribution at the end of the year.

He didn’t elaborate but I assume it was an effort to hold on to the cash throughout the year and monetize it before giving it to the employees. He explained that measures needed to be
taken because their healthcare costs had taken a big hit. He noted an additional $7.1 million per year because of Obamacare and added that the company paid out $1 million each to two AOL families for “distressed babies” during childbirth.

Oh, my Lord, the press went nuts over the “distressed babies” comment. Forget that that’s exactly what doctors call it: fetal distress.

Not only did the press go nuts but one of the mothers, who would’ve otherwise remained anonymous, wrote a piece for raking Mr. Armstrong over the coals. The backlash over the 401(k) deal sent AOL into damage control and they backed off their plan. Then Armstrong apologized for the “distressed babies” comment. People screamed that he’d somehow violated HIPAA rules for disclosing that a couple of employees had experienced difficult pregnancies. With 5,600 employees it’s doubtful anyone would have any idea who those people were had it not been for one of the mothers lashing out on

But all that is really secondary to the real problem. The thing that’s so amazing is the sense of entitlement. Had my company just spent $1 million saving my child I would’ve already been to the CEO’s office thanking him profusely for helping us out in a time of need. It’s bad enough to go through a difficult delivery but can you imagine being saddled with over a million dollars in medical bills? Where’s the gratitude?

There was none. It was merely an expectation that such gargantuan bills be paid by someone else. That “someone else” is the company by way of higher insurance costs. All Armstrong was trying to do was find a way to make up the difference as painless as possible. Ironically, all the folks at AOL who were so outraged by his mentioning the “distressed babies” were not even willing to be inconvenienced by having their 401(k) match deferred until the end of the year. They’re ALL ingrates. 

We had an employer match when I first started with my current company. When the Great Recession hit they made the decision to suspend the match until the company was back on more solid ground. People raised holy you-know-what over it. Me? I was grateful there had been a match in the first place. I didn’t look at it as a right. I saw it for what it was; a benefit. Eventually they resumed the match and I was delighted when they did but I never expected it nor demanded it.

I guess it’s just human nature. You start getting something for free and you come to rely on it. That’s true whether it’s the government or your employer. All I expect in return for my work is the salary that was agreed upon when I took the job. Everything else, in my mind is gravy.

Apparently, gravy is now considered a God-given right.

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Is it too late to stop Obamacare?

The Congressional Budget Office continues to revise its numbers on the effects of job loss and hour reduction as a result of Obamacare. “The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024,” the report states.

That means a historically high number of people will either be laid off or see their hours reduced. Another unintended consequence of incessant government meddling.

The Congressional Budget Ofiice also says deficits will start to grow after 2015 because of
an economy that continues to limp along and a stubbornly high unemployment rate, that they project will not fall below 6 percent until at least the latter part of 2016.

To understand this is to understand basic economics. Heretofore, companies offered a variety of healthcare plans to both full-time and part-time employees. Now that every policy must be “Obamacare compliant” it’s no surprise that many part-timers are losing their healthcare coverage and many full-timers are seeing their hours cut below 30 hours per week to avoid the tremendous added expense of the mandated insurance policies.

Not only will lower-end employees not get health insurance, they’ll have less money to buy it on their own because their hours have been cut. But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As I’ve been predicting since they were debating Obamacare in Congress, you’re going to see a flood of companies opt to pay the $2,000 fine and put their employees on Obamacare. They’ll even throw in a raise, which will pacify the employee who might otherwise protest the move.

Again, it’s basic economics. If you’re an employer and you’re paying 15-grand for a health insurance policy and you can pay $2,000 per year and not have to fool with it, why wouldn’t you? On top of that, think of the expense of HR hours and resources devoted to administering the policies, answering myriad questions about them and keeping up with the mountains of paperwork associated with them. All of that will be gone.

Just imagine your boss coming to you and saying, “Look, we simply can’t afford the new insurance policy required by Obamacare but I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a $5,000 raise. You’re going to be able to go to the Obamacare exchange and choose either a gold, silver or bronze policy. Chances are you’ll get a subsidy to help pay for most of the policy. You’re going to have much better insurance and you get a raise to boot.”

What’s not to love, right? Of course, we’ve learned that any expense over $40,000 falls not on the insurance company but on the federal government. A little deal between Obama and the insurance companies to get them on board. In short order the whole thing will be bankrupt and then the rationing begins.

It’s surreal that we’re even at this place. This is something the left could only dream about just a few, short years ago. Now it’s a reality and, barring some lawsuit hitting pay dirt, we’re stuck with it, thanks to an inept opposition party in Congress.

At this point, it appears it’s every man for himself, as the old saying goes. It’s a scene right out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The moochers and looters set their sites on the producers. The producers assumed they could never breach the wall. Now the moochers and looters are inside. And they’re having their way with us all.

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