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 CALLS TO GIVE ALL WORKERS THE RIGHT TO OPT-OUT OF UNIONS
MIKE OZANIAN: Right to work states are better economically, better for job growth. People vote with their feet. Since 1970 the population in right to work states has gone up four times faster than in closed shop states. People want the right to work.
NEIL WEINBERG: I wouldn't say it's a bad thing, but I would also say that if you look at the employment in these states there isn't that much difference. What you're going to find here is people should have a right, if they want to join a union they should be able to. If Boeing wants to move its employment to South Carolina it should have a right to do that. Let's let everybody choose. I don't think you're going to have a sudden bump up in employment because you've started eliminating unions.
DENNIS KNEALE: Business needs the lightest rules possible. I grew up in Florida, a right to work state where you have the choice to join a union, but you don't have to. I interned later at the Detroit News in Michigan, a closed shop state, I had to join the union as an intern and they docked my salary. Why don't unions instead decide to provide good services and get you to vote them in so that you have the right to choose a union but you don't have to. When you have no choice, unions are just going to come in and rule the roost.
MORGAN BRENNAN: Right to work is a great idea on paper, in theory maybe, but you know Dennis was just talking about Florida. Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and that's the case in a lot of right to work states - Arizona, Nevada. Right to work does not guarantee jobs.
BILL BALDWIN: Let me quote some statistics that are being used by the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank to prove his point. He's got a chart that shows employment growth over the past 20 years and he compares his district, which includes several right to work states including Texas, with another district, namely New York, which is a very union state. In New York state the employment growth over the past 20 years is around 0 percent. And in the Dallas Federal Reserve district it's around 50 percent. That's a dramatic number.
KYM MCNICHOLAS: I think every corporation has a choice as to where they want to be. I don't think the federal government should be doing that, I don't think they should be fighting Boeing on this. The thing is here in America corporations do have a choice, if you have quite a few amount of states to choose from depending on what is going to support your business. That's why you see Boeing actually migrating into South Carolina because it wants to be in a right to work state versus Amazon which is looking to leave there because it's not getting the tax breaks it's actually looking for for its distribution facility that it's looking to build.
CALLS TO END EPA'S "SUMMER GAS FORMULA" AS PRICES NEAR $4/GALLON
MIKE OZANIAN: The EPA should be abolished. They are going to drive gas prices another 30-40 cents higher this summer. If you look at the two main additives MTBE and ethanol when you fix that into the gasoline it causes gas prices to go higher. Look what they did with DDT, they banned that and millions of people worldwide died of malaria. And then they said, I guess that was a mistake. Tell that to all those that died from malaria.
BILL BALDWIN: I don't agree with this at all. If you want to blame high gasoline prices on the Obama administration or on the EPA, there is a better way to do it. Gas prices are high for two reasons; number one, the Obama administration is chasing our oil drilling rigs from the Gulf of Mexico down to Brazil. That's a big thing over the next 20 years. The other reason is that we've got a gigantic ethanol boondoggle underway. And we're not backing off from it, that costs billions of dollars.
DENNIS KNEALE: That's just a sign of how government can screw up things when it means well. Ethanol, we want cleaner fuel. We are burning 40 percent of the corn this country produces so we can provide less than 2 percent of gasoline and that in turn sends up prices of grains and that in turn sends up prices of beef and pork and chicken. Thank you government. Let the market decide, let the prices go where they need to go.
NEIL WEINBERG: I think we should do a cost-benefit analysis, but this is obviously a political hot potato. In terms of gas prices this is a rounding error. What's going on here is that we have a world that is ravenous for oil. Even now we have China growing quickly, India growing quickly, Brazil growing quickly, we have a world which wants oil. And that's why the prices are up - supply and demand.
MORGAN BRENNAN: Neil and Bill bring up great points, that is contributing to the increasing price of oil. But in California for example, reformulated gas adds about 10 cents on average to every gallon that you buy. We're looking at rising food prices, Americans' purse strings are strained, let's ease that wherever we can.
KYM MCNICHOLAS: Let's go back to the basics, supply and demand. Yes reformulated gasoline will cause a price spike, normally. But I would argue this summer, supplies yes they will be tight, but I think they are going to be a little less tight because demand is dropping. Americans are absolutely fed up with these high gas prices, they're already cutting back which is reflected in U.S. imports, they've already dropped, they've been declining since February.
THE FLIPSIDE: 1 IN 7 AMERICANS ON FOOD STAMPS IS GOOD NEWS!
NEIL WEINBERG: Obviously I am not happy that people have to live with government assistance, but certainly the fact that the roles are not increasing now, it's only at 44 million and that has leveled out, that is good news.
DENNIS KNEALE: When you're in the financial sector, I always make the mistake of looking where the numbers are, instead of looking at the to what, from what. And for the first time in a couple of years that number has not gone up and we seem to be at a point where it can go down. And that's where the good news is - in the rate of the change. I guess also it's good at a time when we're talking government cuts, we have not gone after food stamps because that just seems to go a little bit too far.
KYM MCNICHOLAS: I would agree that the number of people on food stamps has plateaued. And I think it's going to further improve, the economy seems to be improving as well. On Friday, the jobs number came out which showed 244,000 jobs were added in the month of April. And I think the jobs are only going to be continued to be added as we head into the summer.
BILL BALDWIN: I think whatever the ups and downs of the economy, the month to month variation in these numbers are unimportant. The big trend is definitely up. Just as you said David, there has been a long-term trend and more people collecting welfare, more people collecting unemployment, what do we do about this.
MIKE OZANIAN: Back to the economy right now, I think the demand for food stamps is going to go up and it's going to cost more simply because the economy is not getting better it's getting worse. The first quarter we saw the economy grow by 1.8 percent versus over 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 and initial unemployment claims last week shot up. And the unemployment rate went back to 9 percent.
DOLLAR HITS A 3-YEAR LOW; PUT YOUR BUCKS IN THESE STOCKS
BILL BALDWIN: Dolby Labs (DLB)
MORGAN BRENNAN: iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
NEIL WEINBERG: McDonald's Corporation (MCD)
KYM MCNICHOLAS: Lululemon (LULU)