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Bulls & Bears
This week Brenda Buttner was joined by Gary B. Smith, Tobin Smith, Pat Dorsey, Eric Bolling and Mark Levine.
President Makes New Green Energy Push
Eric Bolling, Fox Business Network: We should worry about the effects energy legislation will have on the job market. President Obama is bringing a supposed non-partisan group together next week to talk about the future of energy. But the problem is that everyone he's bringing together is at least open to an idea of putting a cap on carbon emissions. It's a tax that will hit every American out there. Higher energy costs along with higher prices in consumer products. And it will be a major imposition on companies across all sectors of the economy.
Mark Levine, Radio talk show host: I'm not worried about the effects an energy bill would have on the job market. There are vast new energy sources waiting to be developed and expanded. From geothermal, wind, solar, nuclear, etc. There are a vast amount of new potential jobs that will come as a result of this. Economies evolve, and working toward a cleaner, more efficient economy will be good for everyone. It's time to leave fossil fuels behind us.
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: America has created great industry after great industry throughout its history. Look at auto industry for example—and that wasn't created by government fiat. The problem with green jobs is that the only way green energy gets money right now is throughout government subsidies and loans. The private sector doesn't see it as viable. Even worse, the Congressional Budget Office said an energy bill would cost us about $300 billion and about two million jobs per year. Gasoline prices would rise about 58 percent. Electric utility bills would go up about 90 percent. This stuff just isn't going to work, and it would be a brutal hit to our economy.
Tobin Smith, NBT Media: The main issue here is jobs. Any energy bill would hit consumers, which means less spending, which means fewer jobs. There's just no way to get around it. You can't fudge these numbers unless you borrow money to make it happen, which is what Congress wants to do. But, it's important to note private enterprise and venture capital are working hard to start and make this transition. But the idea that the government can just magically wave a wand and create a viable, profitable green energy sector is the height of insanity.
Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com: If we got a cap-and-trade plan that priced carbon around $30 a share, a price that would induce a change in consumer behavior and change business' carbon producing habits, you'd see a negative effect on jobs. But the likelihood of that happening is like me playing in the World Cup. We'll probably see a watered-down bill that might affect utilities, or might not. In the end, I think we'll see a bill that has very little effect on the economy or carbon emissions.
Unions Using 'Scare' Ads to Fight Layoffs, Budget Cuts
Gary B. Smith: It's time for these union groups to stop the scare tactics. They just love to talk about how teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc. are all going to go away if they don't get more money from taxpayers. The public sector is basically at full employment, while the private sector has seen skyrocketing layoffs. Let's say, God forbid, states had to lay-off 100,000 teachers. That would raise the national student to teacher ration from 15.3 to 15.6. The firefighter union in L.A. is scaring people about all the layoffs they might have to incur. There are 1,100 firefighters in L.A. You know how many may be laid off? Eighty-seven. It's all fear tactics.
Mark Levine: I don't think any of us would deny that police officers, firefighters or teachers are useful. So I really don't understand why they should suffer because Wall Street was irresponsibly gambling. These unions have a right to free speech at the end of the day. And the idea that they should suffer, that our teachers, police officers, etc. get laid-off due to Wall Street's mistakes and behavior is ridiculous. Try asking a taxpayer how much they like it when it takes forever for police to respond to a crime committed against them.
Eric Bolling: None of us should be surprised that unions have priced themselves out of the job market. Over the years, they kept asking for higher and higher wages, and more and more benefits. And they were wages and benefits that began to far outweigh those in the private sector. Unions simply made it too expensive to keep many of their workers employed. So municipalities or companies have a choice—go broke or cut union pay and benefits. Clearly unions don't want that, so they put out these ads trying to scare the heck out of taxpayers demanding union cuts, which will effectively bankrupt the municipalities.
Tobin Smith: You want a fear tactic? We're going to have mass bankruptcies at the county and city level across this country in the near future. And this wasn't because Wall Street's forced these cities, counties, and states to borrow massive sums of money and promise exorbitant pensions and benefits that were totally unsustainable over the long term. Unions and municipalities negotiate these contracts, and they're going to implode. If you look at the raw numbers, many municipalities will have to cut 50 percent to 70 percent of service workers to make the budgets work.
Pat Dorsey: This is a mess of municipalities' own making. This has nothing to do with Wall Street. If you had been a canny municipality, you could tell firefighters, teachers, etc. that they can keep every person employed, but all new hires get lower benefits, wages, etc. because that's where the problem lies. But unfortunately that's not even the case with many of them.
Lawmaker Pushes Drug Tests for People on Unemployment and Welfare
Tobin Smith: This is a great way to get people off the public dole. If you're going to get a job, many private companies already drug test. The U.S. government does drug tests for new hires. We have to get rid of this idea that unemployment is some sort of a vacation program. When people go out and have to start looking for jobs, they get jobs.
Mark Levine: I'm okay with drug testing provided BP executives get drug tested too, given how irresponsibly they've behaved. The question is, what happens when people don't get unemployment checks? People have to take drastic action. We can't forget, jail and drug treatment programs are far more expensive than an unemployment check.
Eric Bolling: This is common sense. Why should we pay people to not look for a job and do drugs? Drug testing unemployment check recipients is a great idea. If they come up positive for drugs, then they get their benefits pulled. People should not receive money courtesy of taxpayers when they're involved in illegal behavior.
Gary B. Smith: I'm sure some people are abusing the unemployment benefits they receive. I'm no fan of unemployment benefits, but I'm sure people are generally using that money for other things, like food, or cable TV, etc. But the last thing we want is the government intruding on and inspecting the personal lives of its citizens. Once you get to the point where you start drug testing, you pave the way for government to force people not to do other unhealthy things like drinking to excess, smoking, etc. It's a very slippery slope.