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.
22 STATES CURRENTLY HAVE RIGHT TO WORK LAWS
Gerri Willis: I have to tell you only look at state balance sheets to understand the trouble there is for state workers being organized and let's talk about unions. They have been desperately trying to build membership, they were 20 percent in 1983 and today it is 12 percent. They're trying to drive those numbers higher. However, what is happening? We have 3 trillion dollars in unfunded pension liabilities with more taxpayers angry, why? Because they're only making $27 an hour on average, and union workers are making $40. People are angry.
Ben Stein: I think people should be allowed to not join the union if they don't want to. I am a union man myself, I've said repeatedly, and belong to the Screen Actors Guild among others, but the idea of compelling people to join unions, compelling people to fork over their money for dues that are then used for political causes not necessarily what they believe in. That's not right; it's a violation of their first amendment rights among other rights.
Adam Lashinksy: I think it's neither here nor there for our economy, I think what we're doing is infusing or lumping together several issues that don't need to be lumped together. There's no question that states like Wisconsin need to get their costs in line, and there's no question we have to do difficult things with workers and breaking unions and going off abolishing collective bargaining, for example, the way to go about doing that, it's one way to do it. It's one particularly nasty and political way to go about doing it. However, it's not the only way. The Governor of Wisconsin could get the costs down without specifically attempting to break the unions, which is what he's trying to do.
Charlie Gasparino: Let's make it clear they're not looking to break unions, they're looking to break public sector unions and listen, my dad was an iron worker and he was in a union, he was obviously working in the private sector, what these public sector unions have done is hold the state budgets hostage and they control a big part of the voting pop here, if you don't give in to them they literally bump you out of office.
NEW IRS STAFF WOULD COST TAXPAYERS NEARLY $1 BILLILON
Gerri Willis: Simplification. They pay out $160 billion for people to do the taxes for them, and it's not just about simplification it's about equity and fairness, 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and 61 percent come from the top five of earners. We've got to simplify it.
Adam Lashinsky: No one is going to argue with Gerri's argument to make it fairer. A lot of name calling going on here. We have thuggery and now Congressman calling IRS agents, government employees doing their jobs, goons. No shock that when we pass legislation we have to enforce the legislation. That's what's going on here with hiring IRS agents to enforce the legislation. By the way we should be glad about raising revenue, given the budget situation and the deficit situation we have in our country, and that's what these people do is collect revenue.
Charlie Gasparino: I agree we need a flatter tax code and some of this is the result of the fact that if you're going to vote for big government, which this country did, you're going to have to implement the tax code and the programs, and you need more agents to implement health care.
Ben Stein: I even can't remember the last time I was not audited, but that being said, I think Adam nailed it, that we have laws that have to be enforced and they need to raise revenue. If someone is making calculations and raises significantly more the cost, and by the way, I'm not quite sure what my colleagues mean by making the tax code fair, if you mean by making lower income and middle income people who can't get by anyway or being gouged or ripped off by bank credit cards now have to pay more taxes. It seems to be perfectly fair that the well to do should pay more taxes
REGULAR UNLEADED GAS RISING TO $3.15/GALLON-AAA
Ben Stein: I'm saying that these are in place, and inflation, after that one thing, and bad recessions are hindering prices and everything else is in place, if the banks ever start unloading hoards of cash and recovery starts, we're going to have blow off inflation and those are big, big if's. We have inflation, then we've got to get the demand back in the bag and that means back into a slow growth or recessionary mode. We're headed to a no-win situation here and that's not a pretty picture and I'm impressed the market keeps rallying, but I don't see the good news there.
Gerri Willis: Food alone is up 0.5 percent and we're starting to see it percolate, even at the consumer level, and we know the impact on consumers and they pull in when it happens and decide I'm not going to spend, I'm going to be more conservative. We find where consumers get a little more excited about spending, if this continues it's going to be worse. Remember, gas in particular, that's a tax. If you drive to work and you drive the kids to school, you have to get gas in your car every single day and you have to pay that money.
Adam Lashinksy: There's not a direct link from what's going on in the Middle East in the last, let's say, month or so with the higher gas prices that exploded over the last year, there's no link on that. You know, correct me if I'm wrong, but we're in a recovering economy and not a recession, so there's a lot of bubbles in the economy.
Charlie Gasparino: I think the pieces are in place for stagflation, this is an economy that's growing by GDP because it's cutting jobs and getting cost efficiencies and it's not the kind of growing were more people are working, greater output from businesses, it's a bizarre recovery so it's not really a recovery and we're getting inflation on top of that. I tell you this feels like the 1970's and that's when you add high unemployment and rising inflation, and by the way, the only way to deal with that is it to ratchet up interest rates very high and create a very, very harsh recession.
STOCK PICKS: MORE FOR YOU MONEY
Adam Lashinsky: Deere & Company (DE)
Ben Stein: SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)