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 GOVERNMENT PUSH TO STOP YOU FROM DIPPING INTO YOUR 401(K): SHOULD GOVERNMENT TELL YOU WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY?
Jonathan Hoenig: Cheryl, government is supposed to act as our protector not our parents. I mean honestly, Senator Cole knows what's best for my family, for my investments? This is private money. It's money that folks and individuals have earned, and the notion that government knows what is for your own good, or they should tell you how to invest, what debts to pay off, how to put your money to work is absurd. You should be able to invest how you want, when you want, and government should have no role in influencing you to invest in anything, or make any behavior in that regard.
Wayne Rogers: It may be disconcerting, but I think it is the point that it is your money and you have every right, if you want to go to Vegas and gamble it, you can go to Vegas and gamble it. You have earned the money and put it in the 401(k). It's still your money. Suppose you didn't elect to put it in a 401k and you just spent it, it's still your money. The government has absolutely no right to tell you what to do with your money. There's a whole insidious philosophy here about the government getting into our business on every level. This is just another example of it. They're going to somehow protect us. If we're so irresponsible that we can't protect ourselves, we shouldn't be here.
Jehmu Greene: It's actually laudable that these two senators, a Republican and a Democrat are trying to help Americans be more fiscally responsible, and I think what Jonathan and Wayne totally forgot in this debate is that it's retirement savings. This is not your savings account that they're going into your personal savings account at Bank of America. This is your retirement savings. We have a serious problem in what people will need and what they will have saved. There's a $6.6 trillion gap that is developing and growing.
Tracy Byrnes: I mean Cheryl, the reason that number keeps going up is because we are still in a recession here and if that money were not available to many people, they couldn't pay bills. They couldn't have fed their kids. Those loans came in handy, and to Wayne's point, it's my money. I use it the way I want to use it and if I opt to pay withdrawal penalties and extra taxes, that's my own dumb decision, but I'm making that decision because I need to feed my kids, not because I'm worried about what's going to happen 50 years from now.
Gary Kaltbaum: Well look, it's the continuance of the nanny-state. They're going to tell us what to eat, where to walk, where to bicycle and now what to do with your money and I have to tell you, I find it ironic that two of the people that cannot balance their own checkbook in Washington, that have absolutely castrated the tax payer going forward, are now going to tell us what to do with our own money that's in our 401(k)s. It's abysmal to even watch something like this and it's not going to stop. They've been getting in the way for awhile and unfortunately no one's doing anything about it.
PRESIDENT FOCUSING ON FOREIGN AID AND FOREIGN DEBT: SHOULD WE FOCUS ON OUR MONEY PROBLEMS HERE FIRST?
Tracy Byrnes: Cheryl, this is so frustrating for those of us here at home. All we've been hearing about is how we're blowing through the debt ceiling and that August 2nd is our next D-day, and meanwhile he's forgiving debt left and right. Forgive mine. Could someone do that for a change? Look, Pakistan started this whole ball rolling. Twenty billion dollars for what? They weren't helping us find Usama bin Laden apparently, and now we hear Egypt getting forgiveness, Syria we're still sending money too, and all of these countries are just fighting within and here at home we have 9 percent unemployment. I think we maybe could use the money here.
Wayne Rogers: I have a slightly different take on this. I'm not so much worried about the fiscal part of it as I am that I think that all foreign aid should be associated with foreign policy, and therefore you've got to identify how it's used and who it's used for and for what purpose. It's got to be to help the good old USA. I don't care what it is, whether we withdrawal, whether we make them pay it back. However we use it, it should be an instrument just like military policy, it should be an instrument of foreign policy and it should be used for that purpose only.
Jonathan Hoenig: Great, so explain to the guy who's working in Nebraska why sending three billion dollars to whatever the Middle East, Syria, and whoever's on the list, benefits his bottom line. For years we've been shoveling money to the most collectivist, Islamic countries in the Middle East, all of which hated us then and hate us now.
Jehmu Greene: I absolutely agree with Wayne. It is not in our national interest for Egypt to be saddled with the debt of its past. This is absolutely a tool of foreign policy, and Jonathan, that guy in Nebraska needs the president and needs Congress to protect the interest of America and that is absolutely what this aid is about. I think what President Obama laid out is actually about trade, not aid, and it's about investment, not assistance.
Gary Kaltbaum: Well we've been doing this for years, and I have to tell you I've read all kinds of stories throughout the years of the billions and billions of dollars that have been lost by giving it to dictators around the world and the money just poof into thin air so I am not a big fan of that. My bigger issue right now is this is a fiscal issue. We are $14 trillion in debt. My biggest worry for the last couple of years, and I will continue to say it, is that if we don't stop the markets are going to eventually stop and we're not going to have a dime to lend to anybody and that's the bigger worry going forward. I just think there's just no care about the taxpayer right now. That's why at this time, I don't think it's politically palatable to start handing out money right now while we've got this debt in our hands
IS D.C. MORE INTERESTED IN SLAMMING OIL COMPANIES THAN HELPING THEM TO PRODUCE TO DRIVE DOWN ENERGY COSTS?
Gary Kaltbaum: Add supply, prices come down, and it's amazing to me there are zillions of barrels of oil in the continental shelf, tons of cubic feet of natural gas, and what do we want to do? Parade the oil companies and make up a story that they're controlling prices in order to make the political win for themselves. Absolutely amazing. I remember when oil was down at 40 dollars a few years ago. They didn't say anything then that the oil companies were manipulating the prices down. I wish they'd get their act in gear.
Jonathan Hoenig: It's about blaming producers. This is a Salem witch hunt for people who actually work for a living, and oh I don't know, pay their taxes unlike some elected officials on Capitol Hill. I mean the Democrats always trot out big oil. It's a convenient scapegoat and it's completely without merit. I mean prices are based on supply and demand as Gary alluded to and this is the populous, un-solicited scapegoating of people who actually produce for our economy, unlike all of the green energy that the Democrats want to spend your tax dollars on.
Wayne Rogers: Harry Reid is just trying to get votes. I mean these are morons. Twenty-seven different brands and kinds of gasoline; refineries have to put out jet fuel, automobile fuel, and all kinds of things that go on it's a much more complicated question. The bigger problem is that the Congress created this by allowing the major oil companies to become much bigger. Competition is what helps the economy and brings the best product at the best price and we don't have competition anymore. We have too many big oil companies and big government operating together.
Jehmu Greene: Well clearly there is very little that can be done to ease the rising gas prices in the short-term, but I think it's really important to point to the fact that these big oil companies in the past few months have made record profits; four billion dollars a week, yet they still get four billion dollars in subsidies and absolutely we should be investigating.
Tracy Byrnes: Jehmu, they pay 40 percent in effective taxes back to the government. They pay one of the highest effective tax rates. You want to investigate them? Investigate tech companies for all the R & D credits they've been getting. Investigate the rails. They're making money too these days. This could go on and on. This is stupid. The answer is to drill here in the United States.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Tracy Byrnes: States could take advice from my governor, Chris Christie. He cut spending, held taxes, and what do you know, tax revenue up nine hundred and fourteen million. I love him.
Wayne Rogers: The sex-scandal that occurred in the IMF with Strauss-Kahn is just meaningless. Bill Clinton survived it. Everyone survives it. It will go away and be off the front page in a week.
Gary Kaltbaum: Coming into this week I thought the market was on the ledge here at support levels and I don't like what I'm seeing. Commodities have broken down, financials are acting terribly, and now retail is starting to crack. One or two more bad days will confirm it and I expect about a 15 to 20 percent correction akin to like last year.
Jonathan Hoenig: Look to Singapore. GDP growth in Singapore is 22 percent and their unemployment rate is under two percent and check out ALD. This is the Wisdom Tree Asia Local Debt Fund. Among their holdings is debt from Singapore dollars and I think it might be a nice diversification even if markets get rough as Gary alluded to.