DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING "Cost of Freedom Recap" CONTAINS STRONG OPINIONS WHICH ARE NOT A REFLECTION OF THE OPINIONS OF FOX NEWS AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS INVESTMENT ADVICE WHEN MAKING PERSONAL INVESTMENT DECISIONS. IT IS FOX NEWS' POLICY THAT CONTRIBUTORS DISCLOSE POSITIONS THEY HOLD IN STOCKS THEY DISCUSS, THOUGH POSITIONS MAY CHANGE. READERS OF "Cost of Freedom Recap" MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
WOULD FISCAL CLIFF HELP CUT DEBT?
TRACY BYRNES: Let it go. That is the only way we are going to take our medicine and finally understand what is happening. Let the spending cuts kick in. Let people start to feel what it's like. We cannot keep pushing this off an extending and borrowing from our kids' future. Over the cliff I say we go.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well Cheryl, reality exists you know? We've got this $16 trillion debt. We can evade the reality, but we can't evade the consequences of evading reality and we see that playing out in real time in Europe. Just those ingredients have created an economic implosion; twenty percent unemployment and essentially total economic chaos. So, whether we deal with it now, as Tracy said, take our medicine now or later, reality will eventually kick in and the results are anything but pretty.
IMOGEN LLOYD WEBBER: It is such a bad idea to voluntarily do this right now to the world's largest economy. Bear in mind, the world's second largest economy, the Euro zone has all sorts of problems involuntarily as it were. Yes, medium-term you have to focus on that deficit reduction, but right now listen to Ben Bernanke and no, do not voluntarily fall off the fiscal cliff when you don't have to. You've got plenty of other countries in the world already doing it anyway.
WAYNE ROGERS: It requires political courage and there's no political courage in the congress whatsoever. You know, eventually we all have to pay the piper and they're not willing to. Listen, the President even went so far as to set up Simpson-Bowles and that was a commission that made a report. Everybody bought into it and when the report came out everybody turned their back on it. This is a ridiculous conversation if you really think about it in the sense that the congress is not going to do anything. Nobody's going to do anything. Even when they have to, they're going to kick the can down the road. So they'll cut some spending, they'll raise some taxes and they'll mealy-mouth their way through this thing until the people rise up and do something about it and get them out of office.
JOHN LAYFIELD: No it's not the right strategy. Businesses usually plan three years in advance. At the least they plan one year in advance. They have no idea what the economic landscape is going to look like next year; what the tax policy is going to look like. Wayne is 100 percent right. Look at what congress did with the post office. They're looking at a $5 billion default. What do they do? They didn't deal with it. They didn't even kick the can. They went on vacation. They've got another default coming up and they're still on vacation. That is what they're going to do with this fiscal cliff. We've got to do something. The Ryan budget, the Obama budget, both are trying to rein in spending. We have got to somewhere rein in our fiscal responsibility.
FACEBOOK APP RECOGNIZES YOU WHEN YOU SHOP AND SHARES YOUR INFO
WAYNE ROGERS: Well it already is an invasion of privacy. I mean, you think about the fact that whenever any commercial transaction you're going to be photographed doing it, maybe I don't want to be photographed. Maybe I have some personal freedoms that I'd like to exercise. Maybe I don't want you photographing me. This is an outrageous thing happening everywhere and this whole thing of the internet invasion of privacy on all levels is bad for us.
JONATHAN HOENIG: This is the fundamental difference between economic power, which is done by trade, and political power, which is done by force. Whether it's Facebook or Walmart Cheryl, or Pfizer or any other company, they only succeed by actually providing a value that people want and listen Wayne, if you don't want Facebook, don't do Facebook. You want to shop at a store that doesn't use this product? Don't shop there, but companies only succeed by improving your life and Facebook has done just that.
IMOGEN LLOYD WEBBER: What price is freedom? What price is liberty? I mean this is very scary in the land of the free. Do you really want to live in the world of Big Brother or "Minority Report"? It's absolutely crazy and actually being on Facebook isn't a choice. I'm on Facebook. I don't want to be on Facebook. It's crazy.
TRACY BYRNES: I'm pretty sure that in London there are cameras everywhere and on every street corner watching you anyway. You should be used to this by now. Look, I am not on Facebook for this exact reason. This is voluntary and Facebook has an obligation to figure out how the heck it's going to make money. Right now it's doing a crappy job of convincing shareholders of just that. So if getting out there and taking a picture and sending you a coupon is going to make shareholders money, than that is what capitalism is all about and if you don't want your picture taken don't sign up; don't walk into the store. Quite frankly, stay home.
JOHN LAYFIELD: You've got the idea of common sense. Look the English rugby captain was caught tossing a midget in a bar down on New Zealand on CCTV cameras. Look, if you don't want to get caught doing something stupid, don't do something stupid. It's that simple. These morons in Olympic Village say stupid stuff on Twitter and are getting thrown out of the village. This is an option to be on Facebook. It's an option to be on Twitter. Don't do something stupid in public and you have nothing to worry about. As far as advertising, this is a boom for advertising.
TAX PREPARERS NOW EQUAL NUMBER OF POLICE & FIREFIGHTERS: TIME TO SIMPLIFY THE TAX CODE NOW?
JOHN LAYFIELD: There's no doubt about it. We don't need a marginal increase or decrease at 39 percent. We need to throw this entire system out. We have accumulated 72 thousand plus pages of IRS restrictions, codes, regulations because we've had politicians who have granted favors for decades to different people. The effective tax rate is around 23 or 24 percent. The only people who pay the highest corporate tax rate in the world are small businesses. Businesses who can't afford lobbyists to buy off politicians. We have got to simplify this and make it fair for all.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well I'd rather have police and fire Cheryl. I mean isn't ironic that the notion of equal treatment under the law doesn't apply to taxes? To John's point, it's this arbitrary, politically-driven, always changing, whim-focused notion of always trying to incentivize behavior. It's the only law that I think you actually have to hire someone else to explain it to you. We spend $400 billion a year on tax compliance alone. We should have a flat tax on consumption. Of course the left would never go for that because that treats everybody equally.
TRACY BYRNES: The problem is though, simplification is a pipe dream. That book is so complicated and as John said, it is a book of favors. You can never unwind it. The only way to do this is to junk it and start over. Come out with a flat tax. Come out with one or two numbers. Stop the political nonsense that has created the tangled web that is our tax code.
WAYNE ROGERS: It would help everybody (to simplify the tax code), but I don't know why we talk about this, but nobody's going to do anything about it. That's the problem. You know, when you've got an IRS that, for example, granted over 12 hundred tax exceptions to prisoners; guys who were on death row; that kind of stuff. You've the IRS who can't even run its own business. I mean for God's sake no one's going to change it.
IMOGEN LLOYD WEBBER: Fundamentally the last major reform of tax form here was in 1986. Long overdue and all these loopholes cost the federal government a trillion dollars a year and they could do with that revenue right now.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
TRACY BYRNES: Fannie & Freddie pushing banks to buy back bad mortgages -- report.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Jetblue (JBLU) is ready for liftoff.
WAYNE ROGERS: Build profits with (PCL) as housing rebounds.
JONATHAN HOENIG: (TBX) goes up with rising interest rates.