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.
NEW FEARS RISING FOOD PRICES WILL "EAT UP" AMERICAN JOBS
TRACY BYRNES: Well, anyone that's gone to the food lately knows that you come out with way less money than you did before. You're spending so much money on the necessities, Cheryl, that there's not enough left to go out and buy the things that the economy is expecting us to go buy to beef up this economy. It's not going to happen. So, if I don't go out and spend and buy new TVs, there is no need to keep people employed selling them.
JOHN LAYFIELD: This economy is starting to show some signs of recovery. I think we have some real head winds that are coming about in the second half of this year. Remember now, every recession since 1970 has precipitated it by six percent energy of consumption costs for the average household. Now, at $3.90 per gallon, we've reached that 6 percent threshold. Now, during those recessions, consumption has been around 6-7.5 percent. It is now around 9 percent. So you have a combined 15 percent of household spending on food and energy. This is really large. The only recession that wasn't was in 2001 that was done by a terrorist event. We have a lot of head winds going forward that could potentially derail this economy in the second half.
STEPHANE FITCH: You know, the numbers sound a little scary and they're certainly a factor for the poor - a recession's always looming. But, you know what, food's really just not that big a deal - It's 14 percent of the CPI. Shelter is actually twice as big a component in the CPI, and shelter has been just flat because of the housing slump - probably the only good thing about the housing slump. Food, I'm sorry, is not that big a deal. And you know what? More expensive Big Macs might be good news for America's ever-widening gut.
WAYNE ROGERS: Food and energy are not part of the inflation numbers that the government gives us. John is on to something. The fact of the matter is, the President just this last week talked about energy prices and he's going to investigate energy prices and the speculation in energy prices and all that. What does he think about the speculation in food prices? The same guys are on the Chicago Board of Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Board of Trade. They're trading the same kind of things, so why not investigate them? It makes just as much sense. What I'm trying to say is, yes, all of these prices are going to affect inflation and they're also going to affect jobs creation.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Inflation wreaks havoc on businesses. Stephane is right about one thing. It also wreaks havoc on poor people, exactly, those low-income individuals that the government talks about trying to protect so much. But Wayne, to your point, who's causing the inflation in everything from sugar to crude to everything else? It is the government, Cheryl. It's the government artificially inflating the money supply. That's what causes the inflation. I brought along my Zimbabwe $100 trillion bill for anyone that says, ‘Oh, don't worry, the Federal government can take care of inflation.' Once it gets started, it's almost impossible to curtail and it's the biggest factor affecting the markets right now.
NEW FEARS AIRLINE REGS WILL BACKFIRE ON CONSUMERS
TRACY BYRNES: Look, Cheryl, these airlines have no money to begin with and they don't have a printing press, unlike our federal government. So where are they going to get this extra cash from to pay all these extraneous new fees? You and I the next time we book a flight. So our ticket prices will secretly be reflected of all these fees.
WAYNE ROGERS: I think the airlines should be fined if they, in fact, keep people sitting on a runway for four or five hours and they cancel flights and they do this arbitrarily. The thing that will correct all of this is competition, not government regulation. So what you need is more competitors in the airline business to compete with each other on certain flights. Then that will bring prices down and will improve the service that they give to the public.
STEPHANE FITCH: I support the regulations because there is a little too much of a good thing. Sticking somebody on the tarmac for three hours while they wait for a one hour flight is outrageous. You put the regulation in, the very good airlines and the best airports will work around this, they'll actually deliver good service and they'll win the competition. Yay for the free market. I'm for this.
JONATHAN HOENIG: The partially free market is part of what has made air travel in this country so unbelievably cheap, so outrageously affordable. Since the mid-1970s, domestic air travel is up by about 68 percent, public education is up by 1000 percent, prescription drugs are up by 500 percent. So the air industry, to the extent that it's allowed to, does compete. The problem is that the industry isn't fully privatized and the government still controls everything. Forget how long you wait on the tarmac. How about how many airports are built? How many flight crews can run? They still control the entire industry. We should move to privatize the industry and create the competition that you know and we know we all need.
JOHN LAYFIELD: I think the fees can be [justified], it depends on what they go to. Look, I've been stuck on the tarmac like everybody else with a bunch of ugly flight attendants who were grumpy and didn't want to serve drinks, and I would rather have been water boarded. You couldn't pay me enough to stay on that tarmac again. That is a separate issue than what we're talking about. The government interfering with baggage rules, having a receipt of the services if baggage gets lost - that has got to be ruled by the aviation industry. I am for sticking a surcharge on the aviation industry and let flyers pay for the security that they cause as far as the TSA and everything. It should all be privatized to the airlines.
NEW GOVERNMENT PLAN TO STOP RX DRUG ABUSE: TRAIN DOCTORS
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well, Cheryl, I'm sorry - the government is not my parents. And what an adult puts in their own body in conjunction with their own doctor is their business, not that of the FDA or of the federal government. It's even more hypocritical considering you've got thousands of people waiting on drugs which are in the experimental phases within the FDA who aren't getting the treatment that they need. It just shows you, in my opinion, the opinion of the administration -what they think of doctors, right? That doctors would write anything to get their patient hopped up on prescription drugs and it shows you what type of respect or lack thereof they have for medical professionals in this country.
WAYNE ROGERS: The administration is not a medical profession in and of itself either. We have laws on the books that control this already, that control the use and how drugs that have not supposed to be used are punished, for people who do that. You don't need any more regulations, you don't need any more laws, there is enough there. You just have to enforce what's there. As far as them entering in and making a judgment about what a doctor does, they've got as much sense doing that as they do running anything else which is terrible.
TRACY BYRNES: Oh my god, waste of money. I read it the way Jonathan did: total insult to the medical industry. So now we have the government saying you need to go back for some Continuing Ed classes because you don't remember what you learned in medical school. This is awful, and Cheryl, we're going to pick up the tab if this comes through.
STEPHANE FITCH: I think it's a disappointing idea. Doctors are some of the most educated members of our society. Prescription drugs, they kill more people than coke and heroin combined. Here is a message for Congress and the drug czar: if you really want to solve this problem and take John's logic to the ultimate end, Americans want to get high - really high. So legalize things like marijuana and get people who want to get high out of their doctor's office. That's the solution.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Most of these young celebrities and athletes who have died have died because of prescription pain meds. These doctors know what they're doing. There's no sense in getting after a bunch of good doctors. You've got a few doctors out there that are the equivalent of crack dealers and they know what they're doing by prescribing these guys too many meds - it's what's blowing up these young guys' hearts. Throw these guys in jail, that's how you get rid of this. Don't over regulate the amount of good doctors out there, which is the overwhelming majority of them.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
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