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Bulls & Bears
This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Northeast Securities senior vice president, and Adam Lashinsky, Fortune magazine senior writer.
Trading Pit: Wal-Mart Helps the Poor More Than Any Politician?
Wal-Mart, the same company vilified by some Democratic White House hopefuls, announcing a plan to open stores in cities that need an economic boost. That's not to mention the impact its low prices and plenty of jobs offer. At the end of the day, does the number one retailer do more for low-income areas than any politician could ever do?
Gary B.: Without a doubt Wal-Mart does more for the poor! The only way government can help the poor is to stay out of the way of private industry. But unfortunately, the government always seems incapable of doing this—especially this Congress. And this is exactly why the government will always be inferior to a private enterprise like Wal-Mart.
Adam: Wal-Mart is not in business to help the poor. Yes, low prices have been good for people with less money, but that is not the real reason for their success. Wal-Mart has been successful by bringing a little bit of the third world into the United States. The company pays workers less, does not allow unions, and does not have the health benefits equal to other employers. There is a very capitalistic reason Wal-Mart is moving into the inner cities: it needs more places to put stores.
Bradshaw: Other than the government, Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States. It has driven down food inflation by more than one percentage point. As for unions, look at the disaster they created for the automakers. Unions will destroy Wal-Mart. Free enterprise will always be better than the government. Wal-Mart has done more for the poor than the government ever could.
Tobin: It is all about politics here, and Wal-Mart has been a lousy politician. That has really been the issue. Wal-Mart can't fight its way out of a paper bag when dealing with politicians.
Scott: How many lower skilled employees have been put to work by Wal-Mart? Some blame Wal-Mart for putting "Mom and Pop" stores out of business. But this is not true. Politicians tax and spend, and when they spend they're inefficient. They don't bring in added value, and Wal-Mart does.
Effort to Weaken President Bush Weakening U.S. and Stocks?
From politicians to the media, the far left trying its best to weaken President Bush on issue after issue. But are these efforts actually weakening America and our stock market instead?
Bradshaw: Absolutely! A perfect example is from when President Bill Clinton was in office with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Republicans went after him like crazy. He said he was close to a Middle East peace plan and close to catching Usama bin Laden. But we don't know if that really would have happened. Clinton was a true lame duck president. The same thing has happened to George Bush. He is such a lame duck president. If we needed to go after Iran, he doesn't have the political will to do so. And this has weakened our country.
Adam: All I can say is our far-right Vice-President Dick Cheney is hurting America by questioning the patriotism of the Speaker of the House. This is just politics going on here. We are actually having a good year. The stock market and economy are both doing very well.
Gary B.: The Democrats seem to feel that if they adopt the "let's pull back, isolationist kind of strategy" America is going to be better. However, if you look back at the strength of our economy and stock market, has been that America is willing to fight the battles that others are not. If that goes out the window, we will essentially become Europe with its much higher unemployment, lower growth rate, and less innovation. I just don't think we want to go there.
Tobin: NO! This makes us stronger! Going after the President is political nature. However, we have the right and freedom to do it. No one is getting locked up in jail, nobody is getting burnt to a crisp, and that is what freedom is about. This is what our soldiers are fighting for!
Scott: I only know what the market tells me. When the President was at the height of his power and popularity, the economy was weak and we were down and in a recession. As his popularity has gained strength so has the market.
The Stock Oscars! Each of the guys picked his award winning stock.