Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Band Singer Demonstrates Ignorance About SeaWorld, Fans Go Wild!<p> Is there no end to the absurdity of Hollywood?</p> <p> In the last few months, I&rsquo;ve written opinion pieces focusing on the missteps (and outright deception) of certain Hollywood stars. I&rsquo;m not an entertainment writer. Yet, here I am, writing about Hollywood figures that fashion themselves as policy experts.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s too bad. Because while they might mean well, these (usually poorly educated) entertainers often give credibility to myths, conspiracy theories, or outright lies. And they&rsquo;re frequently used as pawns by activists&mdash;be it race, environmental, animal, and even food, to push an agenda even they might not support if they had the full details or really understood the issue more fully.</p> <p> Take Harry Styles&rsquo; (or any over 30 readers out there, he&rsquo;s a singer in boy-band One Direction) recent comments on the SeaWorld. During a recent concert in San Diego, Styles asked the crowd, &quot;does anybody like dolphins?&quot; adding, &ldquo;don&#39;t go to SeaWorld.&quot;</p> <p> Naturally, Styles didn&rsquo;t offer any reason for saying this nor did he offer up any facts.</p> <p> I have three young kids (who mercifully haven&rsquo;t yet discovered mediocre boy band or girl band music) and we&rsquo;re considering our first family trip to Orlando this fall. Of course, SeaWorld is on the list of things to do, along with a trip to Disney (our first as a family), Universal Studios and possibly NASA.</p> <p> So, in preparing for our trip, I visited the SeaWorld looking for information on when and where the exhibits where held. What was truly surprising was at all the information on what the company does to help marine animals. I know a lot of people will say &ldquo;but&hellip;.but&hellip;.<em>Blackfish</em>!&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> Sure, I&rsquo;ve seen the movie <em>Blackfish</em> and there&rsquo;s no doubt it was a disturbing documentary. But I also know that, similar to many other activist-driven (and financed) films (see Josh Fox&rsquo;s <em>Gasland</em> as a good example), it&rsquo;s filled with distortions provided by disgruntled former employees. It&rsquo;s too bad there hasn&rsquo;t been more (or really any) coverage of how those who actually appeared in the film <a href="">declared they felt deceived</a> by the filmmakers.</p> <p> But Harry Styles got what he wanted. He screeched about animal rights at a concert, which made his teenage fans swoon and he got the attention of PETA&mdash;the human-hating organization that has turned advocating for the humane treatment of animals into a circus sideshow. PETA&rsquo;s recent calls for the death of the dentist that shot Cecil the Lion reveals just how frighteningly radical they really are.</p> <p> So, since the media&rsquo;s not covering it, I encourage readers to do their own research into SeaWorld and learn a bit about what they do for the creatures Harry &ldquo;marine biologist wannabe but never will be&rdquo; Styles cares so much about.</p> <p> Here are some helpful links:</p> <p> To read about some of the actual 26,000 animal rescues SeaWorld has done, <a href="">go here</a>.</p> <p> To read about SeaWorld&rsquo;s new Killer Whale program and it&rsquo;s partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, <a href="">go here</a>.</p> <p> To read a more balanced article about the flaws in the documentary<em> Blackfish</em>, <a href="">read this article</a> by Jeff Stier.</p> <p> To read another article about the distortions in <em>Blackfish</em>, <a href="">go here</a>.</p> GunlockMon, 3 Aug 2015 11:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPlanned Parenthood videos & Government priorities under Obama Administration • Bill Cunningham GunlockSun, 2 Aug 2015 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould we allow are kids to incessantly cry in public? • Bill Cunningham GunlockSun, 2 Aug 2015 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan smoking pot make you a better mom? • Bill Meyer Show GunlockFri, 31 Jul 2015 10:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan Smoking Pot Make You a Better Mom?<p> Recently, <em>Cosmopolitan </em>magazine published an article called &ldquo;Marijuana Makes Me a Better Mom.&rdquo; Setting aside the fact that <em>Cosmopolitan</em> seems like the last place on earth one should go for reliable parenting advice (those &ldquo;Cheat on Daddy While Baby Naps&rdquo; type articles just aren&rsquo;t helpful), has <em>Cosmopolitan</em> hit on something more moms should be doing to get through those grueling hours spent with young kids?</p> <p> <em>Cosmo</em> writer Lea Grover&rsquo;s &ldquo;Fast Times&rdquo; logic goes something like this: When I smoke pot, I&rsquo;m like&hellip;so much nicer and I get connected with the child inside me and then, like, I enjoy, you know, doing things that kids like to do, like playing with toys and stuff.</p> <p> Awesome, dude!</p> <p> You know, I get it. I really do. Sometimes I think I&rsquo;d be a much better mom (and much more fun!) if I took a few mood-stabilizing pills chased with a nice, tall glass of straight vodka (the kids will think it&rsquo;s water!). But, then I remember I&rsquo;m a mom and motherhood means more than just being a good playmate for your kids. Well, that and it simply doesn&rsquo;t seem appropriate (at least until the sitter arrives).</p> <p> Yet, Grover definitely taps into something here. Most moms feel guilty about being impatient around the kids, yelling too much, or not being a fun-enough mom who plays instead of just agonizes about the cleanup that will be necessary after play. Moms also constantly doubt themselves and wonder: am I doing enough for my children? Am I reading to them, playing with them, providing enough stimulating activities?</p> <p> These are all normal emotions and questions but moms should also know that kids want more than a playmate in a mom and perhaps more importantly, kids aren&rsquo;t damaged if you fail to maintain a playful and happy attitude. Frankly, my kids rarely see &ldquo;happy mom.&rdquo; More often than not, they see &ldquo;slightly annoyed, often yelling, grumpy, please-leave-me-alone&rdquo; mom. Of course, Grover thinks I&rsquo;m a real drag and suggest she might even be the better mom for smoking pot. She says:</p> <p> With marijuana, I have more patience. I&rsquo;m slower to get angry or frustrated, because I understand their frustrations. I am able to see the world through their eyes, to remember how hard it is to be a preschooler or toddler, how things that seem obvious to me aren&rsquo;t yet known to them. We all have a better day.</p> <p> I say yes to more requests for childhood fun. To baking cookies, craft projects, trips to the park, board games, fashion shows &hellip; any of the things that under normal circumstances make my shoulders tense up as I contemplate inevitable messes and tantrums. When I&rsquo;m a little stoned, there are no fights. My catchphrase goes from, &ldquo;Thirty-second time out for everyone,&rdquo; to, &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s all take a deep breath and count to four.&rdquo;</p> <p> Of course, that all sounds great and I suppose most moms strive for that sort of relationship with their kids. But falling short of this isn&rsquo;t the end of the world. And contrary to what Grover suggests, being an enthusiastic playmate to one&rsquo;s kids doesn&rsquo;t make you a better mom.</p> <p> Understanding my own disinterest in playing with my own kids led me to make other arrangements for my first-born: I decided to have another kid, and then another. I was sick, gained a ton of weight, got blotchy skin, endured months of bed rest, swollen ankles and other unappealing side affects, and then I had a C-section. And then I did it again. Haven&rsquo;t I done enough?</p> <p> According to Grover, I haven&rsquo;t. I now need to be part of the fun. I need to get down on my hands and knees and play a part. And I need to enjoy it! I need to say yes to more things and be calm when they make a mess and be a Zen master when the kids act out or have tantrums. And if I can&rsquo;t do that on my own, I can just buy some weed. What&rsquo;s the harm, right? Sure, it might be a bit on the trashy side to run off to the coat closet to secretly take a few tokes. But is it really doing anyone any harm?</p> <p> Like Grover, we can pretend that pot is a harmless &ldquo;natural&rdquo; drug, but we know that even casual use of marijuana alters the section of the brain that governs emotions and motivations, two areas that seem pretty critical when it comes to parenting.</p> <p> Grover glosses over how this habit will affect her children&rsquo;s perceptions of what&rsquo;s appropriate. In the <em>Cosmopolitan</em> article, Grover claims she never smokes weed in front of her kids. Perhaps Grover&rsquo;s kids think the fact that mommy occasionally smells like a potpourri sachet is normal, but kids aren&rsquo;t dumb. I suspect they know or will soon.</p> <p> We know that parents set standards for their kids and by smoking pot&mdash;even out of eyeshot of the kids&mdash;Grover risks legitimizing the practice, which could lead to their own kids doing drugs at an earlier age. A recent Duke University study found that pot use significantly reduces the I.Q. of users who start early. Changes to the adolescent brain are no laughing matter.</p> <p> If Grover really wanted to help moms, she&rsquo;d work to dismantle the idea that we have to be perfect, present, enthusiastic, playful parents. Tackling that myth seems better than advising parents that getting high is the way to get through the horror of playing with one&rsquo;s kids.</p> GunlockWed, 29 Jul 2015 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWe need more apology parents • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 28 Jul 2015 15:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWe Need More Apology Parents<p> I&rsquo;m an apology parent&mdash;the type that apologizes for nearly everything my child does. I often utter the words, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m so sorry&rdquo; even before my child does anything wrong. I apologize the moment I enter an airplane, in church, in most public settings. In the grocery store, I often lock eyes with people and give them that, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry&rdquo; look and on the playground, I&rsquo;m quick to accept blame on behalf of my kids if there&rsquo;s a commotion involving one of them. My apology is almost always followed by a stern order to whichever kid is standing nearby to &ldquo;Say sorry!&rdquo; before I even know the details.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m not sure it&rsquo;s the best way to parent. I often fear my kids are growing up with some sort of guilt complex or are nurturing a deep seeded hatred of me because I never stick up for them. My apologist attitude also says something about me and my parenting style&mdash;that I&rsquo;m a somewhat nervous mom so preoccupied by the idea that we&rsquo;re all being annoying that I need to constantly seek forgiveness, even in advance of my children&rsquo;s petty crimes.</p> <p> Yet there&rsquo;s also something decent about being an apology parent. To me, it represents a now rare-among-parents recognition that the world is bigger than your child, your family, your personal experience as a parent. Apology parents tend to acknowledge without insult that some people just don&rsquo;t like or appreciate children and don&rsquo;t begrudge those who downright avoid them. Apology parents seem to more easily grasp the fact that the world doesn&rsquo;t have to accommodate their every need or the needs of their children.</p> <p> Perhaps being an apology parent is why I found <a href="">the story</a> about the owner of a Portland, Maine diner&mdash;called Marcy&rsquo;s Diner&mdash;screaming at a whining toddler so fascinating. Of course, online commenters have wrung nearly every possible perspective out of the story. You&rsquo;ve got the &ldquo;how can it be okay to scream at a child&rdquo; angle, the &ldquo;hell right, that kid deserved a dressing down&rdquo; view, the &ldquo;what the hell is wrong with those parents&rdquo; opinion and then there are pieces <a href="">like this</a> that try to see both sides of the story.</p> <p> For me, the now famous Marcy&rsquo;s Diner confrontation throws into sharp relief the differences in parenting styles and exposes a very unique kind of parent&mdash;the unapologetic parent who is defiant about their child&rsquo;s right to annoy the world.</p> <p> Reading about the hubbub at the Marcy&rsquo;s Diner, I sat in utter disbelief&mdash;not at the actual incident, but at the mother&rsquo;s confidence and inability to see how her child might be disturbing fellow patrons. In fact, after leaving Marcy&rsquo;s Diner, mom Tara Carson not only complained about the entire event on the diner&rsquo;s Facebook page, she proceeded to out herself as &ldquo;that mom&rdquo; by publicly defending herself and her child in an <a href="">opinion piece for <em>The Washington Post</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p> Her piece is a roadmap of what not to do with kids in busy restaurants. &nbsp;Carson writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> When we arrived, we were told there would be a 30-minute wait for a table. While not ideal, we knew that on a Saturday morning in a tourist town, there would likely be a wait everywhere.</p> </blockquote> <p> You bet your pancake, that isn&rsquo;t ideal!&nbsp; While there&rsquo;s much disagreement about what went down at Marcy&rsquo;s Diner, there&rsquo;s little debate that making a 21-month old (who was just told she&rsquo;s about to eat pancakes) wait 30-minutes for a table is a stunningly bad decision. Nonetheless, the unapologetic Carsons decided to wait.</p> <p> Carson then explains her shock that a small diner can&rsquo;t crank out orders at the rapid fire pace of the very un-hipster fast food restaurant located down the street:</p> <blockquote> <p> We finally got a table and ordered food. I ordered pancakes for my daughter, which took about 40 minutes to arrive. At this point, my 21-month-old was getting antsy, as I imagine most would when they have to sit in one place and wait for a long time.</p> </blockquote> <p> Carson goes on to claim no one &ldquo;seemed&rdquo; bothered and so she to let her daughter cry it out at the table. Most parents wonder: did she pack any snacks&ndash;A few crackers, a squeezable applesauce, a banana? Maybe Carson could have ordered chocolate milk to tide her daughter over? Did she have distractions? A coloring book or a storybook or a smart phone in a pinch?</p> <p> Carson doesn&rsquo;t mention any snacks or attempts to distract her daughter in her confession for <em>The Washington Post</em>. We can only surmise that Carson and her husband simply let their daughter wail for 40 minutes while they waited for the pancake to arrive and then feigned outrage when someone told them to take a hike.</p> <p> What drives this sort of narcissism? Is it simply an inability to see how a child&rsquo;s behavior was affecting others? Is it just exhaustion&mdash;just being too damned tired to care (this happens from time to time with even the best of parents)? Perhaps it&rsquo;s a type of parent amnesia&mdash;forgetting what it was like before kids? I suspect practicing basic manners is another casualty of this phenomenon.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m fairly certain I apologize too much and I need to work on that&mdash;for my kids&rsquo; sake. But if caring for the feelings of others and recognizing that kids can be annoying and need to be corrected is a parenting failure, I guess I&rsquo;m guilty.</p> <p> Sorry about that.</p> GunlockTue, 28 Jul 2015 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTwo Burritos for Breakfast<p> On my way into work, I usually hit the McDonald&#39;s drive-through for breakfast. My typical order: two sausage burritos and a large Diet Coke (no ice). The menu board informs me that each burrito contains 300 calories. That&#39;s 50 more than an egg white sandwich but 300 fewer than a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel.</p> <p> McDonald&#39;s started posting calorie counts on all its menus in September 2012. The move was partially a response to a proposed 2011 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule affecting chain restaurants and large vending machine operators. Under the rule, calories must be displayed on all menus and menu boards, while other nutritional information&mdash;including calories from fat, cholesterol, sugars, and protein&mdash;must be made available in writing upon request.</p> <p> The regulation, finalized in 2014, was smuggled in with the 2010 Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. In a paternalistic effort to fight obesity by making people more aware of the fat and sugar content of the food they consume, that law called for a national standard to pre-empt the patchwork of state laws already on the books.</p> <p> It should go without saying that the proper role of government does not include telling people what to eat. But even if the government did have a right to interfere in people&#39;s nutritional choices, it wouldn&#39;t be necessary. When Obamacare passed, there was <em>already</em> a perceptible and growing demand from consumers themselves for more nutritional information and healthier food options.</p> <p> In 2010, <em>Self</em> magazine launched, which analyzes food labels and estimates calories in specific food from its very large database and recipes. Within a year it was recording more than 1 million unique visitors per month, according to the magazine&#39;s digital director, Kristen Dollard. But the site&#39;s data weren&#39;t entirely novel. At least 14 large restaurant chains, including Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, and McDonald&#39;s, were already providing nutritional calculators on their websites.</p> <p> In fact, McDonald&#39;s began offering nutritional information more than three years before the FDA rule was finalized, when it recognized that &quot;customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order.&quot; The chain also trained some 750,000 of its employees in matters of nutrition and details of the company&#39;s menu so they would be able to answer questions from customers, and it created an app allowing customers to access nutritional information wherever they might go. At the same time, McDonald&#39;s unveiled several healthier menu items, including a grilled chicken option for the Happy Meal, an egg white McMuffin, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> The fast food giant&#39;s sudden commitment to nutritional transparency likely had something to do with the rise of a number of competitor chains that were pitching themselves to the health-conscious crowd. Panera Bread, which fancies itself a healthy alternative to fast food, started posting calorie counts on its menus way back in 2008 and completed the process nationwide before the ACA ever became law.</p> <p> It&#39;s true that Panera&#39;s interest in disclosure intensified when New York City began to consider enacting menu-labeling requirements. But that wasn&#39;t the only factor driving the company&#39;s decision. As Panera&#39;s chief concept and innovation officer, Scott G. Davis, explained during a National Restaurant News Show in 2011, consumers will find a way to get nutritional information whether a restaurant makes it openly available or not. He noted that Chipotle consumers had independently created an online calorie calculator for all of the chain&#39;s menu items. So you might as well get out in front of the demand.</p> <p> But it turns out that in the fight against obesity, labeling menus hasn&#39;t delivered on its promise. Despite the clamor for more information, Panera quickly discovered that its disclosure efforts were failing to change customers&#39; dietary choices.</p> <p> This is consistent with the findings of numerous peer-reviewed studies. In the February 2011 <em>American Journal for Preventive Medicine</em>, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School researchers Eric A. Finkelstein, Kiersten L. Strombotne, Nadine L. Chan, and James Krieger wrote that a mandatory menu-labeling regulation imposed on Washington state&#39;s King County restaurants did not affect consumers&#39; calorie consumption at all. The authors &quot;were surprised that we could not detect even the slightest hint of changes in purchasing behavior as a result of the legislation,&quot; they wrote. And their study is not alone.</p> <p> Such findings are at odds with a report by the White House Task Force on Obesity, which claimed that &quot;when presented with calorie information (how many calories are contained in each menu item) and a calorie recommendation (how many calories men and women of varying activity levels should consume), people on average order meals with significantly fewer calories.&quot; First lady and benevolent food tyrant Michelle Obama likes to cite that data point when pressing for greater restaurant regulation.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">But as Julie Gunlock explained at </span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">National Review Online</span></em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> in 2011, that claim doesn&#39;t stand up to scrutiny. &quot;This study was conducted in one Subway sandwich shop on only 292 participants, the vast majority of whom were adult white males, 25 percent of whom admitted they were currently dieting,&quot; she wrote. &quot;This isn&#39;t exactly research upon which major policy decisions should be based.&quot; And yet, in this administration, it was.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> There are many other arguments against food-labeling regulations of the sort the FDA is now imposing on businesses around the country. For one, the science behind what causes obesity is far from settled. All this focus on calorie counts, for instance, may be misguided, since recent food science suggests that all calories are not created equal. Yet that doesn&#39;t stop bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from patronizing Americans with dietary guidelines that may or may not turn out to be correct. Unfortunately, when a piece of government guidance is proven wrong&mdash;as has happened with decades of exaggerated cautions against sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol&mdash;it can take years to reverse the position (40 years in the case of cholesterol) and correct mistakes.</p> <p> A March 2012 paper by the economists Sherzod Abdukadirov of the Mercatus Center and Michael L. Marlow of California Polytechnic State University looked at anti-obesity efforts in the United States in the 20th century. The authors found that government policies have been ineffective mostly because they are designed to remedy a market failure, while in reality, obesity is a problem that many people, not least the obese themselves, have a strong incentive to address even in the absence of official intervention.</p> <p> That doesn&#39;t stop the FDA from drafting rules that completely ignore the costs that will be borne by affected businesses and their customers, all without bothering to independently verify that their preferred &quot;solutions&quot; will really work. A document submitted by Panera General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer Scott Blair during the comment period for the FDA&#39;s proposed food-labeling rules explained that the company&#39;s ability to figure out how to provide usable information to its customers requires flexibility and time. Unfortunately, the agency does not seem to have taken those comments to heart. The final rule demands compliance on an unjustifiably short timeline and offers zero room for experimentation and improvement on official guidelines. This impedes companies that genuinely desire to help their customers make smarter decisions.</p> <p> The bureaucrats at the FDA have never faced the need to swiftly adjust to changes in consumer demand, or adapt to developments in human understanding about what&#39;s healthy. Nor have they figured out how best to act on the information they learn. The same federal government that is virtually immune to the consequences of being wrong will continue to make sure that, hell or high water, you will know how much saturated fat is in that delicious, crispy KFC chicken breast.</p> GunlockTue, 28 Jul 2015 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGMO alarmism & uproar in diner over screaming kid • Garrison GunlockThu, 23 Jul 2015 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSoda in Daycare Facilities<p> <a href="">Healthier Colorado</a>--an anti-obesity organization in Colorado--is publicizing the results of a <a href="">new poll the organization commissioned</a>. In particular, the group is touting the results of one of the polling question:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> 83% of CO voters with kids think daycare centers should not serve sugary drinks to kids <a href=""></a> <a href="">#cohealth</a> <a href="">#copolitics</a></p> &mdash; Healthier Colorado (@HealthierColo) <a href="">July 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, this reaction from Laura Carno on Twitter makes an important point:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> Then those 83% should not send their children to daycare centers that serve sugary drinks. <a href="">#freemarket</a> <a href="">#copolitics</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Laura Carno (@lauracarno) <a href="">July 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Carno&rsquo;s exactly right. Why is it the government&rsquo;s job to tell daycare companies how to operate? Does Healthier Colorado think parents are incapable of telling their daycare provider, &ldquo;hey, please don&rsquo;t let my kid drink soda, okay?&rdquo;</p> <p> How hard is that?</p> <p> People who drop their kids off at daycare often have a list of requirements for their kid: he or she likes these snacks, he needs this medicine, she has to have sun block on before she goes outside...</p> <p> Clearly, instructions not to allow certain beverages can be added to the list. &nbsp;Yet, Healthier Colorado thinks parents need help&mdash;in the form of government interaction.</p> <p> Yet, Coloradans should know that government action is catchy. Regulators like to start with obvious outrages: &ldquo;What? Soda in day care facilities! Something must be done!&rdquo; Sure, that sounds like a good idea but regulators rarely stop there. After pushing around daycare owners, they&rsquo;ll move on to the soda sold in grocery and convenience stores (&ldquo;soda should be taxed!) and sodas sold in vending machines in schools (&ldquo;Get rid of them, replace it with water and juice&rdquo;&mdash;juice that happens to have more sugar than soda), and in restaurants (&ldquo;let&rsquo;s limit the size cup a soda can come in!&rdquo;). Pretty soon, it becomes too pricy to buy a bottle of soda. See how that works?</p> <p> Healthier Colorado&rsquo;s website has a blog where it posts a variety of articles on children&rsquo;s health. Interestingly, the blog features an <a href="">article from the Colorado Springs Gazette</a> titled &ldquo;Access to information helps parents make the best decisions for children.&rdquo; I&rsquo;m glad Healthier Colorado support giving parents information. That&rsquo;s really all they should support.</p> <p> Healthier Colorado means well and they clearly care about kids&rsquo; health (I was glad to see they support vaccinations), but telling daycare facilities to behave in a certain way is a step too far. Let these businesses run the way the owner deems fit and encourage parents to know what their kids are being fed at these facilities. We know that <a href="">parental involvement is key to keeping kids health</a>y. Encouraging parents to stay involved&mdash;even when they drop the kid off at daycare&mdash;seems a far better route to healthy kids than advocating limits on consumer choice, levying taxes on an already overtaxed consumer, and demanding certain actions from private businesses.</p> GunlockWed, 22 Jul 2015 05:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumClass Warfare in the Toy Aisle<p> Did you know that F.A.O. Schwarz&rsquo;s famous (and recently shuttered) New York City flagship store wasn&rsquo;t just a place to buy a kid a nice toy? Sure, that&rsquo;s what it looked like from the outside and from its <a href="">famous portrayal</a> in the 1988 blockbuster film <em>Big</em>. Now, thanks to some <a href="">hard-hitting investigative journalism</a> by a staff writer at <em>The Atlantic</em>, the store&rsquo;s true identity and mission have been revealed.</p> <p> According to Megan Garber, F.A.O. Schwarz is really an elite, members-only club dedicated to furthering the ideal of capitalistic excess; a club that caters to (gasp!) rich people.</p> <p> It might strike many parents as odd that Garber didn&rsquo;t know F.A.O. Schwarz carried a higher end (and therefore higher priced) catalog of goods. Her column offers a not so shocking list of some of the more expensive and offensive items sold:</p> <blockquote> <p> . . . The toys on offer, particularly in recent years, weren&rsquo;t just &ldquo;pricey,&rdquo; they were downright Trumpian. There was the $15,000 mini-Mercedes, gas-powered, with room for two children in its tiny seating area. There was the $30,000 off-road vehicle, designed, Schwarz said, to give kids &ldquo;their first driving experience.&rdquo; There was the tree house that came complete with its own tree ($12,000; &ldquo;gift wrap,&rdquo; unfortunately, &ldquo;not available&rdquo;). There was the $9,000 &ldquo;rocking zebra.&rdquo; There was the customized playhouse called &ldquo;La Petite Maison,&rdquo; which had a starting price of $30,000, but rose in price according to its size, its architectural details, and the furnishings deemed fit for it by a &ldquo;professional children&rsquo;s interior decorator.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> Yes, yes, yes. We get it. It&rsquo;s grotesque. Who in their right mind would buy such things for their child? But that&rsquo;s not the real point of Garber&rsquo;s piece. Her Occupy Wall Street-style message is that we middle class moms are so much better than those rich people.</p> <p> And sure, that sort of thinking can be attractive particularly if&mdash;like me&mdash;you&rsquo;re putting off getting your hair done because you&rsquo;re broke from paying for the kids&rsquo; summer camps. Budgeting is a drag and it sure feels good to get angry&mdash;you know, not jealous&mdash;toward rich people and their superfluous purchasing habits.</p> <p> But of course, rich people do buy these sorts of things for their children. The real question is: Why does this shock anyone?</p> <p> Scott Fitzgerald certainly wouldn&rsquo;t have been shocked to learn a toy store exists that caters to people with money to burn. Of the very rich, he <a href="">wrote</a>: &ldquo;They are different from you and me.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s true today as well. We members of the middle class might get on our high horse and talk about the dangers of spoiling a child, of the folly of giving them too much (and there is some danger in doing that), but to the very rich, is a $15,000 mini-Mercedes too much? After all, it&rsquo;s just a miniature version of what Daddy drives.</p> <p> My kids seemed thrilled with the $50 Little Tykes Cozy Coupe perhaps because it more closely resembles the beat-up vehicle in which I ferry them around.</p> <p> Being a grownup means more than just acting responsibly. It also means putting away the petty, childish jealousies and make believe grievances Garber fictionalizes in her piece. Grown ups don&rsquo;t complain that these stores exist, stomp their feet, and demand equality in toy purchases. Grownups <em>should</em> have other things to worry about.</p> <p> I&rsquo;d like to think that if I suddenly inherited millions of dollars, I would continue to teach my children thrift and monetary responsibility. I&rsquo;d still yell at them to turn the lights off and close the door on hot days. I&rsquo;d still explain why it&rsquo;s important to save for things we want and to make purchases that fit within their budget.</p> <p> But who knows, maybe I&rsquo;d want to get my kid a matching Mercedes? Thank goodness there&rsquo;s a store for that&mdash;or at least, there used to be.</p> GunlockTue, 21 Jul 2015 15:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum'Is this your arugula in the trash, sir?'<p> An ordinance in Seattle bans people living in the city from throwing food and compostable items in the trash. Sanitation workers are required to look through garbage and report violators to Seattle Public Utilities.</p> <p> end story teaser story body</p> <p> The <a href="">Pacific Legal Foundation</a> filed a lawsuit (see video below) on behalf of eight residents of Seattle, saying it violates privacy protections.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, senior fellow at the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, agrees it is a violation of privacy.&nbsp;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It might be something viewed as good policy but the government has no business forcing people to do this kind of stuff,&quot; Gunlock tells OneNewsNow.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">There could be educational campaigns, or insist it&#39;s good for the community, she says, &quot;but they should not be forcing people to do this.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> According to, violators are currently issued tags reminding them of the law, tags that an attorney with Pacific Justice Foundation calls &quot;shame tags&quot; meant to publicly embarrass residents.&nbsp;</p> <p> also reports that a small fine will eventually be imposed on residents, while owners of multi-family and commercial properties will be hit with a $50 fine.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Asked about the tags and fines, Gunlock says such tactics &quot;turn people off&quot; to such efforts.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Again, I really hope the lawsuit is successful,&quot; she says.&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> GunlockTue, 21 Jul 2015 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon't Obsess About Buying Organic Food + Diner Owner Yells at Crying Kid • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 21 Jul 2015 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Organic Food Worth It?<p> Some activists are frightening low-income mothers into wasting their money on overpriced organic products. The advice goes as follows:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> ?&nbsp;&nbsp; Buy expensive organic food and refuse more affordable, conventional produce.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> ?&nbsp;&nbsp; Avoid GMOs, which are present in 85 percent of processed food.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> ?&nbsp;&nbsp; Eliminate all chemicals from your home. Shop only at boutique stores that stock expensive food and other products, preferably those helmed by Hollywood actresses.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> ?&nbsp;&nbsp; Never do your own research. Ask an actual scientist or medical professional about the benefits of these expensive lifestyle guidelines.</p> <p> These activists don&rsquo;t deny that following these guidelines is more expensive. They imply that if you truly love your children and the environment, you&rsquo;ll make larger financial sacrifices in order to protect them. To these activists, it doesn&rsquo;t matter if you really can&rsquo;t afford organic products; a kitchen shelf stocked with trendy, organic food is the good mother&rsquo;s trophy wall.</p> <p> But the high priestesses of the organic movement aren&rsquo;t exactly neutral observers in the great debate. Vani Hari, better known as The Food Babe, is certainly profiting from the fear she peddles.</p> <p> In addition to selling certain &ldquo;Food Babe-approved&rdquo; organic products on her website, she is paid to promote them. While telling moms there&rsquo;s no acceptable level of chemicals in food, she manages to miss the fact that everything, including humans, dogs, trees, house plants, flowers, bananas, blueberries, and even (gasp!) quinoa and (double gasp) kale, all contain chemicals.</p> <p> Robyn O&rsquo;Bryan, an anti-GMO activist and mother, has made a successful career of addressing her child&rsquo;s food allergies with controversial theories regarding the agriculture and biotech industries. There are also many mothers who write for the environmental activist website, Mamavation, who warn of the dangers of Goldfish crackers, Girl Scout cookies, and even good old-fashioned fun. These mothers who might benefit from a deep breath, a hot shower, and an extra-large bottle of hair detangler.</p> <p> The anti-GMO hype is catching on. Since 1997, sales of organic food have increased from $3.6 billion to $24.4 billion, and the organic food industry is considered one of the fastest growing sectors in the marketplace. This growth is happening while a whopping 47 million Americans are on food stamps, millions continue to struggle with unemployment or have dropped out of the workforce, and home ownership continues to decline. Yet, despite these statistics, instead of going for the less costly items at the grocery store, Americans are increasingly buying the more expensive products.</p> <p> Why are Americans, even those struggling to make ends meet, willing to shell out their money for this high-priced food? Is organic food more nutritious? Is it worth the price?</p> <p> Researchers at Stanford University have found that organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious. In a large meta-analysis published in the Sept. 4, 2012, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional food. The article indicated that both contain similar vitamin and nutrient content. The researchers also found no significant difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk. This study echoes a 2009 independent study funded by the UK&rsquo;s Food Standards Agency that also found no significant nutritional benefit in organic food when compared to conventional food.</p> <p> In spite of the anti-GMO hype, thousands of studies, including one that examined the health of a whopping 100 billion animals that were given genetically modified feed over their lifetime, find that the GMOs are perfectly safe for the animals to consume. Still another recent study done at Italy&rsquo;s University of Perugia examined more than 1,700 separate studies on GMO food and found no instances of harm to humans or to animals that consumed GMO food. These researchers also found no evidence that GM food is toxic or allergenic.</p> <p> Many mothers, however, believe the hype surrounding organic food, believing it to be healthier because it&rsquo;s grown without pesticides even though there is no evidence to support this claim. Indeed, most organic farmers use some form of pesticides, and the USDA maintains a list of pesticides organic farmers are allowed to use to stave off bugs and weeds. The USDA even allows organic crops to be grown with the use of many synthetic chemicals as long as the grower has proven his use is essential.</p> <p> Consumers should be free to spend money on items that may not be healthy. There is a rich history of people doing just that, spending money on potions and elixirs and oils that do nothing. Yet those who care about the poor in this country should take care not to echo the claims of activists who peddle fear, and who guilt struggling families into purchasing costly food.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock writes about food at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and is the author of From Cupcakes to Chemicals, How the Culture of Alarmism Makes us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back</em>.</p> GunlockThu, 16 Jul 2015 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumVox: The World is Getting Better and Better<p> In today&#39;s culture of alarmism, it can be difficult to feel good about the world in which we live. Activist organizations, aided by the media, constantly tell doom and gloom stories about the current state of the world. Whether it&#39;s climate change, chemphobia, fear for our children&rsquo;s safety, complaints about modern agriculture practices or the near constant drumbeat that the American diet (more specifically, the food industry) is killing us, it&#39;s hard to avoid these scary stories.</p> <p> Happily, an unlikely source is offering relief from the mainstream media&#39;s anxiety-inducing drumbeat of Danger! Danger! Yesterday, Vox posted some useful charts showing just how much better life has gotten on planet earth.&nbsp;</p> <p> Covering life expectancy (it&#39;s higher than ever), global GDP (it has surged), poverty (declining globally), deaths due to war (lowest ever), deaths from major diseases and child birth (record lows), hunger, freedom, and education--each of these data points shows us that the world is becoming better on a global scale.&nbsp;</p> <p> Check it out <a href="">here</a> and feel better.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 15 Jul 2015 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum