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MORE STATES PUSHING RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS; UNIONS FIGHTING BACK
Gary B. Smith: I'm surprised all fifty states haven't done this because the facts bear out. Right-to-work states have higher GDP growth. They have higher wage growth. They have higher pay. They have more productivity. They have higher population growth and they have more of the population covered by private insurance. You have to scratch your head and say, why isn't this the rule in every state in the country?
Tobin Smith: The National Labor Relations Institute has done a ten-year study and every one of the numbers has been in favor of right-to-work. Right-to-work is simply the fact that you're not forced to pay union dues or be a union member to work in America. I don't even understand that concept when you look at the facts and how you would force people to pay union dues to have less growth and less wages. That's not America.
Jonas Max Ferris: There are a lot of factors in these states as to what's helping their economies or not-energy, people moving to them because they're warmer, which booms the economy. It has nothing to do with labor laws. If you lower the cost of hiring somebody, you're going to see the unemployment rate going down. I think it would put more people to work. It's a diminishing return because states can't steal workers from other states every time. There are also some negatives, which are the wages. The states that are generally not-right-to-work are richer. They have higher per capita incomes. They have higher GDPs. You get more 401(K) benefits. You get higher pension benefits in a state that is not-right-to-work. So, you will lower the unemployment rate, but the sacrifice is the workers are going to get fewer benefits and fewer pay. It can be a benefit in some cases, particularly if you have a high unemployment number, like we do now. But, it's not always a great solution for everyone, particularly the worker.
Amilya Antonetti: The bottom line is that growth is going to come from jobs and jobs are going to come from small businesses. That's a fact. If you're talking about small businesses being able to do it then the reality is if you don't put me in a right-to-work state, you golden handcuff me. I can't fight you if I'm not in a right-to-work state. If I am, I have leverage. I can employ; I can do cash-over-cash and I can move a lot faster than if you handcuff me where the union can basically shut me down because I can't afford it in my margins. So, as a small business, if you want us to do what we need to do, which is a lot of work in the next couple of years, then you have to make it a right-to-work.
David Mercer: If you look at other states that are right-to-work, like Alabama, Arkansas or Florida, they all have unemployment rates that are way above the national average. In addition to that, a lot of those states that are right-to-work are also on the federal dole in returning less tax dollars back to the feds than they receive. So, to say that it's the panacea, I don't think it really matches up with the facts.
WORRIES MOUNT PRESIDENT'S NEW BUDGET PLAN WON'T CUT GOVERNMENT ENOUGH
Gary B. Smith: The last fiscal year the government spent $1.5 trillion more than it takes in. The current administration wants to cut $3 trillion over ten years. So even if nothing changes, we're still $12 trillion in the hole. The problem is Obama wants to put that $12 trillion on the backs of these tax increases on the rich. We know that's not going to pay for it, even if behavior didn't change. The problem is as that bill comes up in a few years intraspending alone will drown out everything. He doesn't want to change entitlements, so we know we're not going to get any savings there. Defense spending is still going to go up. The rate of the spending increase might top off a little, but that is still going up. So, nothing has changed and that's why we're going to become Greece.
Tobin Smith: It doesn't matter. He gave a budget last time that didn't even get voted on. The same thing is going to happen this time.
Jonas Max Ferris: This problem that keeps resurfacing abroad is essentially a government debt problem. We have regained the confidence of the international investor in recent weeks. That's why the market has done well. However, we have to show that we're not Greece. We can't run trillion dollar deficits not in a recession. The market is very tolerant of a government that does that when the chips are down, when the real estate market is in the crapper. But, right now we have to show smaller deficits. The 2012 economy is not like 2010 or 2009. We don't need to be in that sort of a stimulus mode with the artificially low taxes and the much higher spending. We're not cutting programs fast enough.
Amilya Antonetti: The big hesitation right now is to see what actually does happen on Monday. I'm holding faith like everyone else that the administration has figured out that we really need to do something really severe and make the cuts necessary in order to be able to be in survival mode. That's where we are-survival mode. The reality is, we're not certain that will happen. If we can't do the actual cutting back and have more appropriate spending, so we're getting a return on our dollars for where we are spending, then business owners both big and small need to make other decisions. So, that's your influential market. For people who are just consumers are looking at the video from overseas and saying I get it. This is actually where we're going if we don't do something right now.
David Mercer: I think the Euro crisis and what's going on in Greece is significant to the markets. We saw it with the European markets earlier before ours closed. With regard to the budget, there's nothing really new there. We don't have any signs of inflation. We have economic growth. I will point out this-if you look at some of the stocks that lost today it was Honeywell, it was Raytheon, iRobot and other defense contractors. In anticipation for the budget cuts they're going to be seeing in defense, they're the ones that are also losing in the market today-because of those cuts that this administration is making to the budget.
WALMART'S NEW HEALTHY LABELS SPARK CALLS TO SCRAP FOOD POLICE
Gary B. Smith: This is very simple. Walmart is giving what the customer wants. I'm not saying the customer always wants the right thing according to the government. But, they want what they want and Walmart is in the business of satisfying that need. It's the same issue as McDonalds. McDonalds thought there was a market out there for sometimes offering healthy food, particularly with the kids' meals. They don't think they can make a lot of money off of it but they thought we're satisfying a customer need. They can do it and Walmart can do it without the government.
Tobin Smith: We should have sugar in food and we should have calories in food for full disclosure. People can make better choices. The government doesn't need to make the choices for them.
Jonas Max Ferris: There is a role for the government in food. The points Tobin made, aren't those all government things? There was a government label initiative in the ‘80's which is why we know the calories in food so we can compare. You wouldn't be able to compare necessarily what Walmart says is good for you to what Target says is good for you without some sort of standard or rules they have to follow so the consumer will know. That's the role of government. The government shouldn't say how much fat you should eat or they can sell us, that's a different story.
Amilya Antonetti: Walmart already has a communication and trust between their customers. They are going to now change their store schematics so you can see it side-by-side and actually do talking points. They can say instead of potato chips, apple chips are better. Instead of Frosted Flakes, here's Kashi. They built a lot of the natural brands. They're already a trusted resource with their consumer. I'm all for this.
David Mercer: This whole initiative, which I think is a great branding exercise by Walmart to take advantage of all the attention that came from the bully pulpit of the White House, especially Michelle Obama. They're taking advantage of that and teaming up in partnership. She was at the announcement in doing this and they also consulted with government officials on the standards they have arrived at. So, it doesn't have to be an either or and government and business can work hand in hand to make this a healthy America.
Gary B. Smith: ProShares Short Dow30 (DOG) picks a 10 percent gain by March
Tobin Smith: Centene Corp (CNC) up 50 percent by December
Jonas Max Ferris: Vanguard Information Technology (VGT) up 25 percent in one year