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.
SHOULD ALL STATES OFFER STATE WORKERS A "BUYOUT" TO SAVE TAXPAYERS MONEY?
WAYNE ROGERS: I don't know that it's the best way (to save taxpayers money), but it's certainly a great way to do that. We know from the private sector that it works. All of these public pension funds are massively underfunded. They based everything on an eight percent return and they're not getting it. They're getting a four or five percent return, some even less than that. CalSTRS and CalPERS, two of the biggest funds in California are massively underfunded. It's goodbye USA and hello Greece if we're not careful.
MELISSA FRANCIS: You know the concern is we're going to end up with less state workers. Oh no. You know smaller government is better in my book, so we're going to save money and at the same time shrink the size of government. That sounds like a homerun to me. I hope we're doing enough of it.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: It's not just about having small government; it's about having smart, efficient government. The size is relative to the value they provide and if these buyouts succeed in losing the talented employees who are providing great value to taxpayers, than the short-term bottom line gain may be long-term public sector pain in terms of what services we taxpayers are getting. You know this is a tool. It can be used. I'm not saying you can't ever pursue buyouts, but to think that it's a magic bullet is wrong-headed thinking.
JONATHAN HOENIG: As Melissa pointed out, private companies do this all the time and often times the workers are better off because those pensions they've been counting on are gone once the "you know what" hits the fan and the company is called insolvent. We have insolvent public pensions; the hundred largest public pensions have a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. So yes, I'd say take the deal and let's work long-term towards actually shrinking the size and scope of government and get it back to its actual constitutional role. If we follow that you'll never need a buyout and you'll never have a municipality go insolvent.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Of course it's worth considering because the deal might not be there. Cities are spending 41 percent of their revenue comes from the state. They're not balancing their budget. The government, the federal government, has 40 percent of their budget that they are borrowing from other countries. So once you have any type of austerity measures put in place, you're going to feel this most at the local level. They're going to have to start laying off people. So you take the money now because it may not be there later and to the states' point of view, you're either going to pay them now or pay them through unemployment, so it's a win-win for the states.
WHO SHOULD PAY FOR JOB TRAINING: THE GOVERNMENT (TAXPAYERS)... OR COMPANIES?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Tracy, I almost threw up in my mouth when I heard that Governor Romney was supporting this. I mean, the same government that's failed so miserably at educating kids, now they want to have a job program to educate adults forgetting for a moment the fact that it's mentioned nowhere in the constitution, as you pointed out, companies have been doing this for decades; from Henry Ford, to George Pullman, to Walmart, which has an extensive training program that helps a lot of people. What Governor Romney should have said is that government's role is that of a policeman, not a school marm. This is for the private markets only.
WAYNE ROGERS: You make a good point and let me tell you why. This is an interesting thing. We used to have a garment center in New York. There is no garment center anymore; it went overseas by virtue of competition. As a result of what you cannot find in the city of New York, good pattern makers, people who are intermediaries to take a design and make it into a dress. So you've got to train those people and educate them again, but here's the problem; we have lost a generation of that. Mothers don't teach their daughters how to sew anymore or their sons. No one knows how to use a sewing machine or design or anything like that. It's an example and yes we do need it, and private industry should be doing the training.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: They probably agree it should be both the government and the private sector working together. Let's just put brass tacks out there. Competitors around the world; you don't think they invest in job training for their workers to make sure they can compete in the industries that are going to dominate the global economy? Well the short answer is of course they do and if we don't want to fall behind, we need to do the same thing. It's government and it's private sector workers that think that just because it's not in the Constitution. Jonathan, most of the things we do in our society today are not in the Constitution. The constitutional writers were not as purist about the Constitution not adapting to the times as you are my friend. This is something we all need to do if America is going to lead the world.
MELISSA FRANCIS: I think we already pay for training. It's called high school and we're not doing a very good job of it. When did we get away from having a vocational education? I love learning about the arts and humanities and everything else, but we have to train kids to actually be able to go out and get a job and figure out what they're good at and what their career is going to be. We're not doing that in schools any longer. I think that we need to start in high schools by training kids for the jobs of tomorrow.
JOHN LAYFIELD: I'm learning how to sew right now in Bermuda. I work with high school kids every single day and the one thing I tell them is you've got to get a degree that matters. We're losing jobs in the United States, not necessarily because of competitiveness, but because there are more tech engineers in China. They have the ability to get the workforce there. We are losing that. We are having kids getting liberal arts and political science degrees when they aren't trained to do anything. We're going to have 20 billion tech jobs outsourced over the next decade because we don't have enough people in tech to furnish that. We need to push kids towards math and science.
STATES USING MONEY DESIGNED TO HELP TROUBLED HOMEOWNERS TO "PLUG BUDGET GAPS"
MELISSA FRANCIS: Bear with me here. I know I'm going to turn into everyone's punching bag on this one, but the only thing that's going to solve the housing crisis in this situation is time, foreclosures, more jobs and the economy getting better. There is nothing government can do; there is no program they can set up, that's going to make the housing crisis better. So why not let them use the money to pay off the dumb stuff they've already committed to. Don't encourage government to get bigger by creating programs that are going to "help" homeowners. They're not going to and then they're not going to go away. This is a better use of the money. I know it's painful and it's not what it was meant for, but it's actually damages like in a civil suit so they do have the right to do this. I think it's a better use of the money.
JONATHAN HOENIG: I agree with Melissa. Even if it went to the homeowners, it would do nothing to actually solve the housing crisis. I think it's pretty shady when money intended for one purpose actually goes to a totally different purpose. Of course, in our current culture the notion is that it's public money; wherever it goes to help the greater good, that's great. It's always theft, it's always immoral, it's always destructive and that's why this whole program is a joke from the start.
JOHN LAYFIELD: You can categorize it however you want. This money was supposed to go to homeowners and even if you think, let's do something better here, that's what the money was supposed to go to. It's like the lotteries in the southern states. They were sold to the states saying they would help the education system. They took this money and put it in the general fund. Same thing they did with Social Security in the late 1960s. This is what politicians do. You see a dime on the floor, a politician is going to take it and use it for whatever he wants. To me that is wrong. I don't care if it's legal or not, that's wrong.
WAYNE ROGERS: Well I'm just thinking I don't know why you would expect anything else. I mean, they're going to take the money anytime they get money and use it for anything they want to use it for. The public be damned. It's our fault because we elect them. These are morons and they're going to take the money and do what they want to do. Forget about it.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: This absolutely should have happened. Remember this was to deal with fraud in the mortgage industry that actually effected homeowners and I've got to agree with John and many others who have actually just simply said look, homeowners were supposed to receive some benefit from this. The suit was actually brought on their behalf to win an award based on their behalf and then to not use the money to assist them is absolutely immoral. It's irresponsible and while I understand that some money should go to general funds because the housing collapse actually affected everybody, the majority of that money should be reserved for foreclosure assistance and homeowner relief.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
MELISSA FRANCIS: Don't just cut corporate taxes, eliminate them to create jobs.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Deepwater drillers gushing with profits; buy (SDRL).
WAYNE ROGERS: Get healthy returns with biotech and (FBT).
JONATHAN HOENIG: Fed playing with interest rates backfires; buy (DFVS).