Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's time to make your own living wage

A reader responded to my argument against a federal minimum wage hike to $15-per-hour with the predictable class warfare vitriol, only this one was a little different. Most proponents of the minimum wage hike deny that it will put some small businesses out of business. He didn’t. In fact, he welcomed a cleansing of the market of businesses he says have made a living on the backs of the minimum wage workers.

But what about his job? What if his business was one of those wiped out? He said he’d find another job making more money with no trouble. Then why hasn’t he done it? The short answer is he’s not worth more than the minimum wage. He may not even be worth that, but we’ll never know since, by law, his employer can’t pay him less.

That’s not a dig at him. It just happens to be where he is right now. If he could demand more money for his labor he would’ve done it by now. What he needs to do is take a serious look at his situation and ask himself why. Why can’t he earn more?

I have a way of illustrating this that paints an inescapable picture. You have to figuratively imagine how many people are standing in line behind you that can do the job you’re doing. If you can’t see the end of the line you’re not going to be able to demand much of a wage. Don’t blame your employer. It’s on you.

I tell my staff at work and my listeners on the radio and I’ll tell you. Make yourself a valuable employee. I don’t want to hear things like ‘they don’t pay me enough to do that.’ They pay you to do your job. Go above and beyond what’s required of you to do it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said if you’re a street sweeper be the best street sweeper you can be. People are afraid of being chumps. They resent an employer who takes advantage of them. I know from experience that getting in there and doing what needs to be done without grumbling will pay off in spades. In the process you learn how to do things that make you more valuable to the next employer.

If you want to get ahead you’ve got to be willing to take some chances. They don’t always pan out but many do. If that means moving where the work is, you have to move. Too many people expect the perfect job within a few miles’ radius of their home. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. You have to go where the work is.

And it’s not about working hard, although that’s a crucial attribute. It’s about working smart. You can be the best street sweeper that you can be but you’ll never make any money at it, and that’s fine as long as your work is fulfilling and you’re happy.

I suspect the gentleman who wrote to me has a few issues. First and foremost is his attitude. He’s not a happy man. He’s obsessed with people who make more than he does, and not in a good way. He hates them. He’s jealous. That’s a bad start at getting ahead in your job. People can smell an attitude a mile away.

It also says a lot about a person when they’re more obsessed with people who make more money than they do rather than those who make less. I want everyone to be successful. If your only raise is when the government mandates it, you’re not.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Time to reassess how (and who) we tax

Now that tax season is behind us it’s time to reflect on the lunacy and the hypocrisy. First the lunacy. The lunacy is who pays income taxes and who doesn’t. We hear all the time that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 20% of wage-earners are paying 87% of the federal income taxes! The top 1% pay 44% of the income taxes! In fact, the effective tax rate of the one-percenters is around 23%. That’s a higher effective income tax rate than any other group, and about seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50%.

When you hear the rich aren’t paying their fair share that is correct. They’re paying far more than their fair share. Here’s another little factoid. Over 45% of American households pay absolutely no income tax. Around 40% not only pay nothing in taxes, they get money “back” through the Earned Income Tax Credit. I say “back” because it’s a misnomer. They didn’t pay anything in. They got a rebate with no bate!

This is something that absolutely has to end. I can almost understand bringing someone’s tax liability to zero — although I think everybody ought to have to pay something — but it’s unconscionable that people get a refund when they don’t fund.

In short, nearly half of American families are not contributing to the general upkeep of this country. It’s an outrage. Furthermore, the so-called rich are footing the bill for nearly 90 percent of it. And the rich aren’t paying their fair share?

Speaking of rich, it’s time for the hypocrisy. Bernie Sanders made $205,271 in 2014. By most people’s standards that’s rich. Yet he paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent. Why? Because of deductions. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing untoward about deductions. I take every single one I’m allowed. However, when you’re bellyaching that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, like Bernie constantly is, and you’re one of the rich? It’s not only wrong to take deductions, it’s immoral.

Remember, the effective tax rate of the one-percenters is 23%. Bernie not only pays far less in taxes in real dollars, he’s 10 points below their rate.

Any time someone starts into this rigamarole of we should pay more in taxes you need to stop them and ask them one question. Do you deduct? Do I what? Do you deduct? Do you take deductions on your income tax? Well, of course I do. Why? Why? Yes, why? Because I’m allowed to by law. But you just said we should pay more in taxes. Yeah? Then why don’t you? Fill out the EZ form and send in your money to the government.

By that point, the person has either awkwardly changed the subject or stormed off. There is no way to stay and fight. The position is indefensible.

But liberal hypocrisy is all around us. There’s a little rag around my parts called The Contributor newspaper. It’s a vehicle to get around panhandling laws. Now instead of bums with signs we have bums with papers. The newspaper is usually spouting off some Occupy Wall Street issue like a $15 minimum wage. So, I offered an open question on the air to the people who run the paper. Do they pay $15 an hour? How about even the current minimum wage? Do they provide health insurance? A 401(k)? Of course, you know the answer to all these questions. No.

Do as I say, not as I do. That has always been the mantra of the left.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wanted: Climate Deniers

If one is paying attention to the rhetorical winds that are blowing out of the climate change camp it is not hard to predict the impending storm. The narrative has been written and the minions of misinformation are singing from the same sheet of music. Climate deniers must be punished.

Seventeen attorneys general from various U.S. states and territories — 16 Democrats and 1 independent — have begun an Inquisition against climate deniers. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real.” He went on to say that if companies are denying climate change these AGs will “pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Climate alarmist Michael Kraft from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay drew a parallel between climate deniers and the tobacco industry. He notes that some in Congress have asked the Justice Department to pursue prosecution of oil companies under racketeering laws. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said she’s referred the matter to the FBI. Just like the Obama administration has crippled the coal industry, they aim to do the same to the oil industry. The result would be devastating to everyone on the planet.

These climate alarmist vilify anyone even remotely associated with the oil and gas industry as if being a proponent of energy is somehow a sin. They’ve establish dubious links almost to the point that anyone who’s ever filled up their car at an Exxon station is in the back pocket of Big Oil.

Nary a word is ever mentioned about the billions of dollar flowing to and from the green energy sector to scientists and advocates who literally have a vested interest in killing Big Oil and propping up Big Green.

Skeptics like me are not against alternative energy sources. We’re just not willing to ditch the plentiful resources that run our economy based on some fantasy that we’re destroying the planet. We aren’t. So-called fossil fuels are as abundant as they’ve ever been. That’s one of the reasons why gas prices have remained relatively low. To abandon cheap energy for other sources that can’t possibly meet our needs is economic suicide.

I don’t profess to be an expert on climate science. I will say, though, that I have exactly the same number of climate science degrees as Al Gore. What I am is an objective observer of facts. After years of research and an award-winning documentary on the subject, I have not seen any evidence to support the theory that what we’re doing as humans is causing catastrophic global warming. Nor am I buying into the notion that human activity is causing weather disasters like droughts, floods, and hurricanes. In fact, we’re in the longest period without a major hurricane hitting the United States since the Civil War.

None of what the doomsayers are predicting is coming true. Polar bears aren’t dying off. Hurricanes are not more severe nor are they more frequent. In fact, the opposite is true. There aren’t more floods or droughts than usual, and sea levels are not rising as predicted. The truth is the sea levels on the East Coast of the United States have actually fallen over the last six years. The vast majority of small islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are growing, not getting swallowed up by the sea.

It’s as if the climate hysterics can make it so by raising the volume of their voices, despite the fact that the evidence is piling up against them. Their goal is to shut down anyone who disagrees and we cannot let that happen.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The elusive number of 1,237

This thing is getting ready to get ugly. Weeks ago it looked inevitable that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president. Those chances don’t look so sure anymore. Some time back in this space I said the only person who could stop Trump was Trump. It looks like that may have happened.

Of all the things Trump has done it’s a head-scratcher that this one thing might be his undoing. A careless retweet of a meme comparing his wife to an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz. Don’t misunderstand, I thought the meme was in bad taste, but Trump is famous for saying and doing things that rub people the wrong way. It’s a curiosity that this particular stunt bit like it did with women. But it did.

Depending on which poll you look at, the majority of Republican women now have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump. That’s no minor problem. The road to the nomination goes through several more liberal states where Republicans tend to be moderate. The chance that Trump hits the magic number of 1,237 delegates seems to be dwindling.

Now Trump is saying getting to 1,237 is “very unfair.” He cites the number of candidates in the field as one of the reasons it’s unfair. Only he, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich have any delegates to speak of, and it’s just as unfair for any other candidate as it is for him. He’s trying to spin this as particularly unfair to him, which it is not. Granted, having much of the GOP establishment against you is daunting — and I believe unseemly — but having to get to 1,237 is not unfair. It’s called a majority.

Let me put this in terms everyone can understand. Let’s say you’re taking a course at school and 70 is passing. If, at the end of the semester, your average is 69, you fail. You get a 70 and you get a D. You get a 69 and you get an F. There’s nothing unfair about that. You come up short, you come up short.

The reason you have to get 1,237 delegates is because there are 2,472 delegates in total. Half of that number is 1,236. In order to clinch the nomination you must get half plus one. In the case of the nomination, you don’t have to get a 70 to pass, you just have to get a 50. It’s not too much to ask that a party’s nominee be supported by the majority of delegates.

That’s not to say that Trump doesn’t get the nomination on the second vote, but there very well may be a second vote, and if there is, nobody’s stealing the nomination from Trump. But you can’t tell that to Trump and many of his supporters. He’s painting a scenario where anything short of his getting the nomination is a scam. In fact, north of 60 percent of Republicans in a recent poll believe if Trump gets close enough he should get the nomination. Close only works in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Ted Cruz is smart enough to be working a ground game in some states Trump already won. He’s lobbying delegates to vote for him on the second vote and that’s causing consternation and accusations of stealing in the Trump camp. This is how the process works. Trump, of all people, should understand the art of the deal.

We may very well look back at the turning point in this campaign being the petty retweet of a tasteless meme. Trump’s ego, which ignited a phenomenon and movement, may ultimately be his undoing.

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