Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Don't Always Buy Your Stuff<p> There&#39;s a new chapter in the &quot;eat this, not that&quot; movement, and it&#39;s providing plenty of food for thought.</p> <p> Several corporations are offering or testing items that aim to please all kinds of consumers. Mars Food is but one example. The maker of various products from candy to Uncle Ben&#39;s Rice recently announced a new global <a href=";Id=7109">Health and Wellbeing Ambition</a> to create and promote what it calls &quot;healthier food choices and to encourage consumers to cook and share healthier meals with others.&quot;</p> <p> However, <a href=""><em>USA Today</em> and other publications point out</a> that one part of the platform includes labels advising customers that certain products with high sugar, salt, or fat content should only be eaten occasionally.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&quot;This is more of this desperation from these companies that are trying to simultaneously sell what some would consider unhealthy foods and satisfying the food nannies who suggest these food companies shouldn&#39;t exist in the first place,&quot; says Julie Gunlock, senior fellow and Culture of Alarmism director at the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&quot;Moderation is fine advice, and I think most people understand that they shouldn&#39;t be eating a diet full of these types of foods.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Gunlock adds that it is a little strange seeing companies sort of vilifying their own products. Because of this,&nbsp;Gunlock wonders, &quot;Where is the pride in your company?&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">&quot;I think we are in a culture now where&hellip;these types of foods, snack foods and sweet items, things that contain sugar, that are still high in fat, are sort of the new smoking,&quot; she says. &quot;So there is this nervousness on the part of these companies to sort of have it both ways, both produce items that are unhealthy and warn people away from the products they&#39;re manufacturing.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Whatever the case may be, Gunlock doesn&#39;t think that&#39;s a recipe for business success.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Speaking of business success, Will Rosenzweig, dean and executive director of The Food Business School tells </span><em><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">USA Today</span></em><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);"> that this has everything to do with survival. &quot;We&#39;ve just reached a point where you can&#39;t ignore that if you&#39;re on the wrong side of this health and climate thing, you&#39;re going to be in a declining business,&quot; he says.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><strong><span style="background-color: rgb(234, 66, 91);">Even then, Gunlock says activists will never be satisfied, adding that if a company labels or removes an ingredient from an item, people will demand more.&nbsp;&quot;Once you give them an inch, the activists will take a mile,&quot; she adds. &quot;Activists are never satisfied.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> As of now, Mars says candy bars will not feature the labels.</p> GunlockThu, 28 Apr 2016 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen 21 Hosts Author Julie Gunlock<p> Centennial Institute&rsquo;s Women 21 (Women of the 21st Century) met at Cool River Caf&eacute; to hear Julie Gunlock from Alexandria, Va. relate a humorous presentation on a serious topic&mdash;the culture of alarmism. She included excerpts from her new book From Cupcakes to Chemicals and demonstrated how the food nannies, environmentalists, public-health officials, politicians and government regulators benefit from keeping the American public scared.<br /> <br /> Headlines alone are scare tactics while progress and technology are at odds with each other, Gunlock said.<br /> <br /> To combat being told how to live, she cautioned: &ldquo;Trust your instincts and evaluate the sources while being overwhelmed with so much information.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Gunlock is the director of the Culture of Alarmism Project at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and has written for the The New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, U.S. News &amp; World Report, The Tampa Tribune and other publications. She has also offered political commentary on Fox News and other networks.</p> GunlockWed, 27 Apr 2016 16:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCelebrities and Their Terrible Non-Problems<p> Rich people, Hollywood actresses, and the media elite like to think they understand the struggles faced by middle and working class Americans. And very often, they try to act as if they share those difficulties.</p> <p> Gwyneth Paltrow is the poster child for such behavior. Her most noted example was when she once publicly said, without a hint of irony or self awareness, that being a working mom is so hard, adding that her particular situation is comparatively much more difficult than that of the average career women:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> I think it&rsquo;s different when you have an office job, because it&rsquo;s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening.</p> <p> Of course, let&rsquo;s give Gwyneth a break. She&rsquo;s got a very thin skin and is easily rattled. <a href="">Consider how hard she finds it</a> to deal with your common hotel employee in European cities:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it&rsquo;s like, &lsquo;No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?</p> <p> Like, seriously! Those are some problems! The struggle is real!</p> <p> Despite the backlash from her many oddball comments (if you can stomach it, <a href="">here&rsquo;s a list</a> of Paltrow&rsquo;s 25 most pretentious quotes), Paltrow has learned very little. In fact, her latest book, titled It&rsquo;s All Easy (oddly close to <a href="">her nemesis&rsquo;</a> favorite phrase: &ldquo;<a href="">It&rsquo;s a good thing</a>&rdquo;) shows the same clueless disregard for the reality of what most women deal with every single day. Yes, Gwyneth, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s all easy&rdquo; when you have millions in the bank, own several homes, enjoy regular vacations, employ a variety of minders to care for your every need and desire, and have a job that gives you the flexibility required to raise and care for your children.</p> <p> Yet this sort of attitude is pretty common throughout the media. This &ldquo;<a href="">Stars: They&rsquo;re Just Like Us</a>&rdquo; narrative is what gives rise to the belief, at least on the part of media editors, that the average person gives a fig that Kelly Ripa didn&rsquo;t get advance notice that Michael Strahan was leaving Live! With Kelly and Michael. And the nonstop media coverage of the duo&rsquo;s bust-up is what no doubt led Ripa to utter upon her return to her morning gig, &ldquo;Our long national nightmare is over.&rdquo; She was obviously kidding, but to look at the media coverage, you&rsquo;d think it was a Nixonian level scandal.</p> <p> Arianna Huffington&rsquo;s latest project is similarly oblivious. Claiming she wants to focus on an issue of great importance, she&rsquo;s written a book about <strike>the grinding poverty created by the collapse of the coal industry, stagnant wages, underemployment, increasing healthcare costs, greater regulations on small businesses</strike> <a href="">sleep deprivation</a>.</p> <p> Huffington doesn&rsquo;t just view sleep deprivation as a nuisance or a problem people should be aware of or try hard to tackle. No. In a <a href="">recent NPR interview</a>, she called sleep &ldquo;a basic human right&rdquo; and prattled on about how businesses are somehow responsible for the sleep deprivation crisis in America (brace yourself for a bunch of Huffington Post columns calling for mandatory nap rooms&mdash;sort of like nursing and pumping rooms but with cots, pillows, soothing music, and alarm clocks). Is it any wonder Huffington&rsquo;s daughter has a <a href="">screwed up sense of what the real world is like</a>? Additionally, as Huffington tends to do, she&rsquo;s launched a whole new initiative on the subject, called the Sleep Revolution, on The Huffington Post.</p> <p> To be sure, we are a sleepy and stressed and somewhat over-extended population. Yet, is sleep deprivation anything new? Is it at crisis-level, as Huffington would have you believe? Is this something the average person cares about?</p> <p> Go ahead and take a nap and get back to me.</p> <p> When you wake up, take a look at <a href="">this study</a>, which found some good news: we&rsquo;re all getting a pretty good night&rsquo;s rest. <a href="">Shape magazine reported on the study</a>, concluding that the whole sleep deprivation crisis is a myth:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Researchers at Arizona State University examined data from studies going back 50 years and found that for the last half century, the average adult has always gotten&mdash;and is still getting&mdash;around seven hours and 20 minutes of shut-eye per night. That&rsquo;s smack dab in the seven-to eight-hour range that experts say we should be in. . . .</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> So why all the hype about sleep-deprived Americans stumbling through life like zombies with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bottle of Ambien in the other? Well, for starters, the recent research linking too little shuteye with a higher risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer is in fact legit. It&rsquo;s just the idea that most of us aren&rsquo;t getting enough sleep that&rsquo;s a myth, says lead author Shawn Youngstedt, Ph.D.</p> <p> In the case of Huffington, there&rsquo;s one very simple reason she&rsquo;s interested in pushing the sleep deprivation myth. She wants to sell books. That&rsquo;s fine. But Americans shouldn&rsquo;t be fooled into thinking this is a crisis worth losing sleep over. And in fact, most Americans have plenty of real worries, so the stars shouldn&rsquo;t try to make their imaginary stresses the stuff of our nightmares.</p> GunlockWed, 27 Apr 2016 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMom Lets Her 3 Kids Wait in Car. FBI Agent Tells Her She Can't<p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">My friend Julie Gunlock lives just outside of Washington, D.C. She&rsquo;s a great mom and the author of a book I love,&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.</span></em></span></a></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">She recently found herself fighting back a particularly stubborn misconception. She&rsquo;d let her kids, ages nine, seven, and five, wait in the car for 15 minutes while she ran into the store to get dinner. She emerged to find an FBI agent flashing his badge and insisting, &ldquo;m&rsquo;am, you can&rsquo;t do that&rdquo; because &ldquo;kids get snatched all the time.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie knew that was untrue. She told him to put away his badge and go find a real crook.&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Here&rsquo;s her feisty article</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. And here&rsquo;s her note to me:</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Dear Lenore: I thought you&rsquo;d want to see&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">this article I wrote for Heat Street</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. As you know, this incident rattled me and I am so thankful that I could contact you (actually,&nbsp;I emailed you before even calling my husband!) for comfort, support and accurate information about my rights and&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">the laws currently on the books</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">I&rsquo;m so grateful to you for creating a website where moms can go for solid information and for creating the Free-Range Kids movement. Without it, I would be feeling quite guilty, and&nbsp;probably questioning my own instincts as a mom.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s nice to know I&rsquo;m not alone and that there&rsquo;s a movement to push back on the sort of harassment I experienced. Equally gratifying is seeing my children&rsquo;s pride in me. They&rsquo;re thrilled that mom stood up for her rights and didn&rsquo;t back down when the man tried to throw around his authority. That&rsquo;s a valuable lesson for them to see and it&rsquo;s because I knew my rights that I was able to stand up for myself.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Thanks again! &mdash;&nbsp;Julie Gunlock</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Some people wonder why the topic of kids waiting in the car comes up so often in my writing. After all, it&rsquo;s not like the kids are out playing or delivering newspapers&mdash;classic Free-Range activities.</p> <p> The reason is that the &ldquo;car wait = death&rdquo; hysteria is emblematic of our culture&rsquo;s belief that kids can never be unsupervised, even when all the evidence shows that this activity is&nbsp;extremely safe. It&rsquo;s not perfectly safe: perfect safety is an impossible goal. But sitting in the car is safer than being&nbsp;<em>driven</em>&nbsp;in one (<a href="">the number one way kids die</a>) or&nbsp;<a href="">being dragged across the parking lot</a>, even though that&nbsp;is what the authorities encourage parents to do.</p> <p> When both driving and dragging are demonstrably more dangerous than a short, unsupervised car wait, and yet are not subject to societal disapproval (including arrest),&nbsp;it&rsquo;s clear we are dealing with superstition, rather than rationality.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s hard to fight a deeply held superstition. But if we want to be able to raise our kids the way we see fit, and especially if we want to give them any Free-Range freedoms, we must fight for the right to parent outside the prevailing Cult of Constant Supervision. This cult&nbsp;keeps manifesting itself in shopping center parking lots, which is why I keep writing about it.</p> GunlockTue, 26 Apr 2016 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF's #womenLEAD Event + Soda Taxes + Parenting • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 26 Apr 2016 09:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSign the Petition: Hands Off Our Salt<p> For years, IWF writers have tracked the FDA&#39;s dangerous regulatory actions to reduce salt in Amercans&#39; diets (see just a small sampling of our coverage <a href="!">here</a>, <a href="">here</a> and <a href=";-Lower-Life-Expectancy">here</a>).</p> <p> Over the years, we&#39;ve witnessed a troubling trend in Washington--where agencies willfully deny the latest medical and health data that is contrary to their regulatory goals. That&#39;s exacly what&#39;s happening at the FDA. In the face of overwhelming medical research that quesitons the relationship between salt and cardiovascular health, the FDA continues pursue salt-reduction regulations that could actually lead to disasterous health oucomes. In fact, two Danish researchers were so worried about the FDA&#39;s proposed salt reduction policies that they warned in a recent study pulbished in the American Journal of Hypertension that &ldquo;the &lsquo;science&rsquo; on which the FDA policy on sodium reduction is based is dubious&rdquo; and that &ldquo;the present recommendations may kill people instead of saving them.&rdquo;</p> <p> Luckily, for the American public, a petition has been started to get the White House to pay attention to FDA&#39;s dangerous actions. The petition reads:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> We ask the federal government to stop their plan to push sodium reduction in food produced in the U.S.&mdash;a plan that will affect almost the entire U.S. food supply and will change the foods that consumers depend on and enjoy. The American people already revolted against sodium reduction schemes. Public comments on the FDA&rsquo;s proposed restrictions on sodium were overwhelmingly negative, yet the federal government continues to call for salt reduction despite far-reaching costs and consequences. Science indicates that population-wide sodium reduction is unnecessary and could be harmful and Americans don&#39;t want their favorite foods to change. The case against the federal government&#39;s Dietary Guidelines on Sodium and their sodium reduction tactics can be found here&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> </blockquote> <p> Go <a href="">here</a> to sign the petition and let the White House know you want the President to reign in an out of control FDA.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 26 Apr 2016 07:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre Microbeads Really Bad?<p> Environmentalists have long been on a tear about microbeads and their campaign to ban them has been successful. So successful, in fact, that late last year, President Obama banned the beads (effective in 2017)</p> <p> Activists that promoted the restrictions on microbeads often say that banning microbeads will clean up the waterways and help marine life. Will it? It&rsquo;s worth asking those questions, right? Especially before the government puts in place a regulation that will cost industry a significant amount of money in redesign costs.</p> <p> Now Allen Burton, a professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, is <a href="">asking just tha</a>t&mdash;will banning microbeads do any good? Burton sites a new study on the issue:</p> <blockquote> <p> At the University of Michigan, scientists have cut apart and examined 145 fish from Lakes Huron and Erie, where some of the highest levels of microplastics in the world have been reported. These represented the six species most likely to consume microplastics. Under the microscope, we examined the gut of each. Not one contained a microbead of plastic. Not one.</p> </blockquote> <p> So, why aren&rsquo;t they eating the microbeads? Allen explains that &ldquo;there are very few microbeads in the water where fish feed. The very worst sites have only 1-3 microplastic particles for every 300-700 liters of water&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s think about that. The average bathtup holds about 80 liters of water so imagine 3 or four bath tubs worth of water with three microbeads floating in it. It&rsquo;s not hard to imagine that a fish might miss a tiny microbead in that much water.</p> <p> Yet, so often, consumers hear a different story. For instance, consider <a href="">this article posted on CNN</a> about the President&rsquo;s microbead ban, which includes this passage:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip;microbeads do not dissolve and may pose a threat to the environment. In September, a study published in <a href="">Environmental Science &amp; Technology</a> reported that more than 8 trillion microbeads were entering the country&#39;s aquatic habitats daily. The volume was enough to coat the surface of 300 tennis courts every day.</p> </blockquote> <p> OH MY GOD! 300 tennis courts-worth of microbeads! Those poor fish. They have nowhere to go!</p> <p> Except, that&rsquo;s not actually how it works. Allen explains: &ldquo;The high concentrations of microbeads that environmentalists cite in their campaigns are from trawls of water surfaces, where most fish do not feed.&rdquo;</p> <p> Secondly, Allen points out that &ldquo;fish are attracted to movement&rdquo; eating what moves and that because &ldquo;microbeads simply sit in the water&rdquo; fish aren&rsquo;t attracted to them as a food source.</p> <p> But&hellip;But&hellip;.the President banned microbeads! It must be bad if the President banned them, right?</p> <p> Well, yes, President Obama did leave the situation room to ban microbeads, leaving many scratching their heads and asking whether he maybe, sort of, kinda has a few more important things to do. But, in the President&rsquo;s defense, he certainly had a few studies to back up the move. Allen takes a look at those studies finding they hardly replicated the realities of marine life and the feeding habits of fish:</p> <blockquote> <p> So how is it that environmentalists can claim fish are eating microbeads that we then ingest when eating fish? The claim is based on studies placing fish in beakers filled with water and microbeads. In these experiments the fish have nothing else to eat, so they eat the microbeads, which are present at extremely high concentrations.</p> <p> In rivers, lakes and oceans fish have a vast variety of plants and organisms to consume. They&rsquo;re simply not interested in a leftover microscopic bead of plastic from your face wash, if they can find one. Algae, zooplankton, and other fish are far tastier for them and infinitely easier to locate.</p> </blockquote> <p> So, if you like your scratchy face wash, keep using it without the guilt that you&rsquo;re killing Nemo and Dora. It&rsquo;s good to see articles like this popping up pushing back on the accepted narrative that microbeads are harmful.</p> <p> Perhaps public pressure can reverse this actions so women everywhere can stop hoarding their favorite exfoliating face scrub.</p> GunlockMon, 25 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLeaving Your Kids In The Car + The Professor & The Pro-Gun Student • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 19 Apr 2016 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumYou Can Leave Your Kids In the Car, and Don’t Let the FBI Tell You Otherwise<p> It was a normal day. I let my kids loose on the playground after school dismissal. They were having such a good time that I decided to let them play a bit longer. This was free, unstructured play. They raced around, climbed trees, wielded swords (really sticks), talked with their friends, rolled on the ground, fought with each other, and ran some more. My oldest son could often be heard yelling &ldquo;retreat!&rdquo; or &ldquo;advance!&rdquo; The two younger brothers eagerly followed their fearless commander&rsquo;s every word.</p> <p> According to childhood and mothering experts, I did the right thing by letting my kids run feral after school. According to the zillion books produced by &ldquo;experts&rdquo; since I had my first child in 2007, free play is an important part of a child&rsquo;s development. According to the zillion nutrition books produced by &ldquo;experts&rdquo; since 2007, exercise is a key part of keeping kids at a healthy weight.</p> <p> By the time we were all slowly making our way to the car that afternoon, I could pat myself on the back for being a good mom. I&rsquo;d done everything right. Yet, 30 minutes later later, while parked in front of my neighborhood grocery store, I was accused of quite the opposite by an authority few would question: an FBI agent.</p> <p> Let me explain what happened.</p> <p> Since we spent so much time on the playground, I knew dinner would have to be &mdash;as <em>Food Network</em>&rsquo;s Sandra Lee would say&mdash;semi-homemade. I&rsquo;d boil some rice and steam some green beans and rely on a store-bought rotisserie chicken. So, I loaded the kids in the car and headed to the store for that one item. The kids were hot and exhausted from so much expert-approved running around so I decided to leave them in the car, with the windows rolled up&hellip;</p> <p> Gotcha!</p> <p> Of course I rolled down the windows (to the angst of my 7-year old who claimed he was cold. It was around 60 degrees that day). I reminded them of the rules and headed into the store. My kids know the drill. They are not to leave their seats and they are not to talk to anyone if someone approaches the car. If someone scares them, they are to exit the vehicle, hold hands, and follow their oldest brother into the store to ask for help.</p> <p> My oldest is 9. He&rsquo;s very smart and resourceful, and as I&rsquo;ve watched him mature, I know I can trust his instincts and his ability to lead his brothers to safety. He&rsquo;s my kid. I know him. I bet the parenting experts would applaud me for having such a deep understanding of my own child.</p> <p> My 7-year-old has the conscience of a novice nun considering the monastic life, so he&rsquo;s never the one I worry about. My 5-year-old is a 5-year-old. Enough said. Yet he understands consequences and knows he&rsquo;ll face the wrath of the most feared villain in the superhero comics if he breaks the rules. I run a tight ship.</p> <p> So, off I went confidently in search of a chicken. I emerged, chicken in hand, 15 minutes later. As I approached my car, I noticed a man in street clothes lingering at the front of the vehicle. I had a feeling he was waiting for me.</p> <p> And he was.</p> <p> He walked toward me as I got close to the car. He fidgeted with his wallet, opened it, and showed me a badge, saying, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m with the FBI.&rdquo; He didn&rsquo;t give me his name. Closing the wallet, he pointed at my car and said, &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t do that.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;What can&rsquo;t I do?&rdquo; I asked.</p> <p> &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t leave kids in the car unattended.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Wow.&rdquo; I said. &ldquo;Are you really doing this?&rdquo; I laughed a little and then turned to put my chicken in the car. When I turned back to him, I could tell I had knocked the wind out of his sails. I wasn&rsquo;t cowed. I wasn&rsquo;t nervous. I hadn&rsquo;t started begging for forgiveness. I didn&rsquo;t immediately agree with him that I had done a bad thing and started giving him my weak excuses.</p> <p> Instead, I calmly placed the chicken in the car, turned to him and firmly informed him that his harassment wasn&rsquo;t welcome. I pointed my finger at him defiantly as I told him that I hadn&rsquo;t done anything illegal or unethical and that unless he wanted me to call the police, he better back off my car and my kids.</p> <p> He stuttered and said &ldquo;ma&rsquo;am, ma&rsquo;am, kids get snatched all the time&rdquo; &ndash; to which I replied I would expect law enforcement to know that&rsquo;s not true. And it&rsquo;s not. It&rsquo;s not even remotely true.</p> <p> What is true is that in Virginia&mdash;where I live&mdash;there&rsquo;s no law preventing me from practicing my own judgment when it comes to leaving my kids in the car. That&rsquo;s right. I hadn&rsquo;t broken any laws, and yet this FBI official told me what I had done was illegal and implied what I&rsquo;d done was morally wrong too. What&rsquo;s more, this FBI official repeated the myth that kidnappings are common. Hogwash!</p> <p> All crimes against children&mdash;homicides, sexual crimes, and abductions&mdash;are down, as is crime in general in the Unites States. Moms don&rsquo;t often hear this reassuring fact, but as Free Range Mom founder Lenore Skenazy often points out, crime rates are back down to the level they were before the invention of the color television. Think &ldquo;Mad Men&rdquo; days!</p> <p> And you know where all that comforting data comes from? Oh, you know&hellip;the FBI.</p> <p> The FBI declined to comment on this incident, but it has left me rattled and insecure about the community in which I live. And you know who else is rattled? My kids. For two reasons: first, it turns out that Mr. Law and Order was standing outside my car for almost the entire 15 minutes I was in the store. His presence made my kids nervous. They didn&rsquo;t know him and didn&rsquo;t understand why he was lurking around the car. Second, they were startled when Mr. Badge Flasher started making their mother upset.</p> <p> Well done, law man. Way to make my kids feel safe.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m still rattled. I&rsquo;ve read about these incidents for years. I&rsquo;ve had friends deal with this kind of harassment, but I&rsquo;d managed to avoid these sorts of confrontations. Last week, it happened. And now I have a choice. I can cave and stop leaving the kids in the car while I run quick errands on temperate days and instead drag them tired and complaining through the grocery store, yelling at them the whole time. Or I can risk having to deal with the nervous FBI guy (and other do-gooders like him).</p> <p> We do indeed live in safe times when mothers have no fear of kid snatchers, but instead deeply worry that some pearl-clutching, <em>Law and Order: Special Victims Unit</em> binge watcher will threaten them or harass them for making normal parenting decision.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s even more frightening is the idea that law enforcement&mdash;ostensibly the very people who should know the law&mdash;can get the facts so wrong, and conflate the horrifying cases of parents forgetting their kids are in the car, which sadly often results in their child&rsquo;s death, with a quick pop into a store with children perfectly capable of opening a car door if needed.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m glad I knew my rights that day (mostly thanks to following the work of Free Range Kids founder Lenore Skenazy and checking her website for updates on laws preventing me from making my own parenting decisions). Few do. I hope my aggressive stand and lack of contrition made this FBI agent check his facts and I hope he thinks twice before messing with another mom.</p> <p> Meanwhile, I&rsquo;ll be watching out, not for kidnappers and child molesters who might prey on my kids, but for lurking law men looking to push around conscious and reasonable parents.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock writes about food and parenting for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></p> GunlockMon, 18 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCheck Your Privilege, HuffPo • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 12 Apr 2016 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCheck Your Privilege, HuffPo<p> The Huffington Post has a new <a href="">feature</a> where the children of famous, wealthy, and well-connected media and Hollywood moguls interview and <strike>pay someone to ghost</strike> write about their powerful and famous parents. Called &ldquo;Talk To Me,&rdquo; creator and producer Christina Huffington has written the first piece where she talks about the woman who raised her&mdash;her nanny . . . oops, I mean, her mother&mdash;the founder and namesake of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington.</p> <p> Setting aside the hard-to-ignore stench of nepotism, self-indulgence, and hypocrisy given the &ldquo;check your privilege&rdquo; narrative so often promoted on sites like the Huffington Post, Christina Huffington offers an interesting insight into her family&rsquo;s dynamic.</p> <p> She starts off explaining that she&rsquo;s very close to her parents and speaks by phone to them daily. Yet, she&rsquo;s also confused about the relationship, which has required regular trips to various therapists, all of whom have advised her that she needs to establish &ldquo;a firmer parent-child boundary&rdquo; so that she can better ease into adulthood.</p> <p> Perhaps this is a good time to mention that Christina is almost 30-years-old. I&rsquo;ll just let that sink in while I write this next paragraph.</p> <p> Scott Fitzgerald adroitly pointed out that &ldquo;the rich are different from you and me.&rdquo; Ernest Hemingway supposedly responded to Fitzgerald&rsquo;s quip with, &ldquo;Yes, they have more money.&rdquo; Yet clearly that&rsquo;s not the only difference. It seems to me that many&mdash;including the Huffington clan&mdash;lack basic common sense. And so often&mdash;from the Hilton&rsquo;s damaged offspring to the media savvy and sexually exploitive Kardashians&mdash;children of the rich and famous often are unfamiliar with the normal phases of life, what maturing into adulthood means, and how relationships are supposed to develop.</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s Christina&rsquo;s description of how the conversations with her parents run:</p> <p> . . . Despite the frequency and intimacy of our conversations, I recently realized how much there still is left unsaid. I started noticing how many times our phone conversations about some problem I was having or some exciting news I&rsquo;d received would end with me hurriedly asking, &ldquo;and everything good with you?&rdquo; before saying our I love yous and hanging up. I&rsquo;m generally a pretty inquisitive person and tend to like asking questions more than giving answers, but with my parents the conversation is undeniably tilted in the opposite direction.</p> <p> While Christina scurries off to her various therapists to figure out this puzzling problem, there&rsquo;s an obvious solution. Christina could simply stop talking about herself for five minutes. She could begin the conversation with a simple &ldquo;How are you?&rdquo; instead of leaving that question to the very end, when she has to jump off the phone. I give this advice minus a psychology degree, by the way.</p> <p> These common sense solutions never seem to occur to Christina. But that&rsquo;s okay; this &ldquo;Talk to Me&rdquo; series isn&rsquo;t just a vanity project (or a desperate move to work out her problems after her umpteenth therapist gave up on her). Rather, Christina reveals this series was born out of an altruistic need to help others. She uniquely understands that making the transition&mdash;you know from a self-centered toddler to 30-year old adult in a matter of weeks&mdash;isn&rsquo;t just a problem for her, it&rsquo;s a problem for, like, everyone!</p> <p> We are launching &lsquo;Talk To Me&rsquo; in the hope that children everywhere will begin to initiate these conversations with their parents and ask the questions there never seems to be the time to ask.</p> <p> For those of us dealing with real problems, does this child-parent relationship- building issue really cry out as something worthy of a generous benefactor and a feature in a prominent online magazine?</p> <p> Is it even a problem at all? While this may come as a shock to Christina, plenty of Millennials manage to have conversations with their parents on topics other than themselves, their love lives, money woes, and how this season&rsquo;s Fendi bag is, like, a total let down. Parents have even been known to head off these developmental problems with their kids by explaining the basics of civility and by telling their kids that every conversation should not revolve around them.</p> <p> Clearly some HuffPo readers will enjoy this series, not because they get anything out of it personally, but because it&rsquo;s yet another voyeuristic peak into the blessed lives of celebrities.</p> <p> And let&rsquo;s face it, when you consider the real problems families are facing these days: drug abuse, unemployment and stagnant wages, rising healthcare costs, and an overwhelming sense that things just aren&rsquo;t right in this country, who wouldn&rsquo;t rather be entertained by the silly &ldquo;problems&rdquo; faced by the world&rsquo;s richest children?</p> GunlockFri, 8 Apr 2016 16:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFive Reasons Why You Should Care About Soda Taxes<p> Discriminatory taxes on beverages have been rejected in cities and states across America more than 40 times. Despite being deeply unpopular, some activists and politicians continue to push for them. <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">In </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">a new policy brief</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, Julie Gunlock from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum breaks down five reasons why Americans should care about beverage taxes. We at Sip &amp; Savor offer our thoughts on her five below. Beverage taxes</span></span></strong></span>:</p> <p> &bull;&nbsp; <strong>Harm America&rsquo;s hardest working families:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Taxes on common grocery store items like beverages <a href="">are regressive</a> &ndash; meaning they hit lower-income families the hardest. In Mexico, where a one-peso-per-liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was implemented in 2014, it was found that <a href="">63.7% of the revenue raised</a> came from lower-income families.</p> <p> &bull;&nbsp; <strong>Lead to higher food costs:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">From Gunlock&rsquo;s paper, &ldquo;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">According to the USDA</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, grocery prices are expected to rise an additional two to three percentage points in 2016. Soda taxes will increase costs further, hurting the poor as well as local grocery stores, which may lose customers as shoppers seek to avoid the tax by going outside of city limits.&rdquo; </span></span></strong><span style="font-size:12px;">As businesses lose customers, they have to lay off staff leading to job loss.</span><strong> </strong></span>Ultimately, a community may lose small businesses due to the tax. After the implementation of the Mexico soda tax, more than 30,000 small mom and pop stores closed, <a href="">resulting in the loss of 50,000 jobs</a>. These taxes have far-reaching consequences.</p> <p> &bull;&nbsp; <strong>Facilitate government waste:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> More and more politicians are supporting beverage taxes not as a way to tax people into &ldquo;health&rdquo; but as a revenue-grab to fund new government programs. <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">As Gunlock points out, &ldquo;While there may be worthy government programs that deserve funding, leaders should better prioritize these projects and cut the wasteful and duplicative programs that already exist.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> &bull;&nbsp; <strong>Fail to combat obesity:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Beverage taxes are often touted by activists as an easy way to curb obesity rates, but the research does not support this notion. First, federal data on the U.S. diet shows unequivocally that sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity. Sugar from soda dropped 39 percent since 2000, while at the same time the rate of obesity and diabetes climbed steadily year after year up to 24 percent in 2014.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Second, taxes on foods and beverages don&rsquo;t improve public health. A study conducted in 2015 on the Mexico soda tax found that it has resulted in a decrease of only 6 calories per day in an average daily diet of more than 3,000 calories. An earlier study from the Yale School for Public Health showed no impact on adult BMI with taxes. Even if a tax on soda was set at 58 percent, BMI would decline by an amount not even measurable on a bathroom scale.</p> <p> &bull;&nbsp; <strong>Eat away our freedoms:</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Ultimately, what you eat and drink should be up to you. The beverage industry in particular looks to consumer wants when innovating. We are providing consumers with a wide range of no- and lower-calorie beverages and smaller portion options. We also give them important fact-based information with our front-of-pack calorie labeling so they can choose the beverage that is best for them.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> The most effective way to encourage changes in behavior is education on leading a balanced lifestyle. Our industry is helping to support neighborhood programs that teach good diet techniques through the U.S. Conference of Mayors Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards. We have supported First Lady Michelle Obama&rsquo;s &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s Move!&rdquo; initiative and her &ldquo;Drink Up&rdquo; campaign to encourage more water consumption. We&rsquo;re also working toward an aggressive goal to reduce beverage calories in the American diet by 20 percent by 2025 with our Balance Calories Initiative. This single-largest effort by an industry to combat obesity involves working with community partners in test-and-learn markets across the country. Collaboration on meaningful solutions works. Taxing does not.</p> GunlockThu, 7 Apr 2016 08:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA Dem. Pushing To Tax The Low-Income Brackets?<p> The mayor of Philadelphia continues to make headlines for a so-called soda tax, but critics maintain it will do more harm than good.</p> <p> Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) has proposed taxing sugary beverages at three cents per ounce, which would be the highest soda tax proposed in the U.S., and he wants to use the revenue to pay for things such as universal pre-Kindergarten, which was one of his major campaign promises last year.</p> <p> &quot;I think it&#39;s very fascinating that these taxes, these soda taxes, are coming from the left, because they are the most regressive taxes that you can come up with,&quot; comments Jeff Stier, senior fellow and director of the Risk Analysis Division at <a href="">The National Center for Public Policy Research</a>. &quot;They hurt poor people the most.&quot;</p> <p> According to Stier, wealthy people are not going to worry about paying more for soda. But for people in lower-income brackets, the higher amount will hurt.</p> <p> &quot;The tax is going to fund programs by taxing poor people,&quot; Stier adds. &quot;I&#39;m surprised that the left is in favor of that, when they always complain about the burden of tax on low-income people.&quot;</p> <p> The analyst adds that people behind these kinds of taxes purposely attach them to heartstring issues -- in this case, early childhood education. In doing so, Stier says they have a defense when critics speak out.</p> <p> &quot;They would say, &#39;If you are against the soda tax, then you must be against children being educated,&#39;&quot; Stier explains. &quot;By the way, all of the evidence shows, at least in the history of cigarette taxes and settlement money from the massive settlement agreement that state attorneys general signed, that the money doesn&#39;t go to where they say it&#39;s going to go.&quot;</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">In a related paper</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> for the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, Senior Fellow and author Julie Gunlock urges people concerned about these kinds of taxes to get organized and to make their voices heard.</span></span></strong></span></p> GunlockWed, 6 Apr 2016 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSelfie Media & Fluffy Reporting: Journalists Falling Flat • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 5 Apr 2016 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIWF Joined Cam & Co To Learn Firearm Safety & Shooting • At The Range, NRA News GunlockTue, 5 Apr 2016 12:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum