• With: Steve Forbes, Rich Karlgaard, Bill Baldwin, Mike Ozanian, Neil Weinberg, Quentin Hardy, Victoria Barret, Morgan Brennan, Mark Tatge, Elizabeth MacDonald, Dennis Kneale


    Is National Debt a National Security Threat?

    DAVID ASMAN: Egyptians celebrating, but should Americans be worrying? In the chaos leading up to this week, America's own CIA Director saying our massive debt is creating a national security risk. Is he right? Is our national debt causing us to lose all influence?

    STEVE FORBES: John Kennedy was right that great power doesn't have weak money. Debt is symbolic of our weak money. America's the most powerful nation in the world, but the fact of the matter is the world sees us as a declining power because of the weak dollar and our inability to get our finances in control. That's why the Chinese have contempt for us, that's why countries like Iran and others don't fear us. So the trend line is down for us, up for countries like China. That's the perception.

    MARK TATGE: I think that it's time that we basically take a look right now at our foreign policy, which has largely been geared around going into countries, putting in strong-man dictators, and supporting them so we could get their oil. So, we're about sixty years behind the curve here and we need to reevaluate our foreign policy and this is the perfect opportunity to do that.

    RICH KARLGAARD: Steve is exactly right, particularly with China and Russia that this is a grave weakness and we hope that it could be corrected with a growing economy. I think Egypt, and Mark might be a little more right, is a different situation. There, I think President Obama's passivity has contributed to this, although we will see. With President Mubarak's stepping, down President Obama has a real chance to convert his presidency from a Jimmy Carter presidency to a JFK Cuban Missile Crisis presidency if he brings this off.

    MIKE OZANIAN: One of the things that's happened, David, to support the $14 trillion dollars of debt we've piled on is we've printed a lot of money, and as Steve had pointed out that's caused the value of the dollar to fall. And as far as poorer countries are concerned, the impact is much higher food prices; commodity prices have soared, they have trouble feeding themselves in places like Egypt and some other countries where the cost of food is a large portion of their total spending. That causes anti-Americanism to spread.

    QUENTIN HARDY: [China is] just an enormous power. They have a dominant position politically, they have dominant position with population, and now yes they're recycling their money to buy our debt. It's pretty ironic, isn't it David? For thirty years now, we've spent a fortune building up this military that we thought would make us influential and in fact it's helped put us into enormous debt. But wait a minute, maybe there's another side to this. It looks like Mubarak might've moved out without an enormous amount of turmoil in the country, protests but not murders. It's better than Clinton did with Milosevic. It's better than Bush I did with Noriega. It's better than Bush II did. It's probably even better than Reagan did with Marcos. We have to live with dictators; they're a fact of life in the world. I think President Obama played a pretty weak hand pretty well here.

    ELIZABETH MacDONALD: China has been finger-wagging at us saying the world doesn't have so much money to keep buying our debt. That was a real eye-opener when they made those statements. And it's not just spending on the military. By the way, interest costs on the U.S. debt is going to equate the spending on the military by next year. We're on track to add more debt under this administration than the forty-three prior Presidents combined. So, David you know it is a national security issue, even the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has already said that.

    'Must Be Currently Employed'

    DAVID ASMAN: The jobless need not apply. The same week we're learning that companies aren't hiring, the ones that are, are posting ads like this: "To be considered, you must be currently employed." Now, Morgan you think this is discrimination and should be outlawed.

    MORGAN BRENNAN: I do think this is discrimination. I think this is a terrible trend and it needs to be squelched. We don't discriminate against people based on race, age, and sex, and we shouldn't be discriminating them based on their employment status, essentially on their economic status.

    RICH KARLGAARD: Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a job. Oh wait... there is no guarantee of a job, so you'd have to create one. This would just open up a Pandora's Box of lawsuits at the very time we want to encourage employers to expand their businesses and to hire people, not to have them look over their shoulders constantly; that would be the worst thing for growth and employment.

    MARK TATGE: I think it is clearly discrimination, and it may already be illegal. And it's very sad David, I mean it's just representative again of our have and have-not culture: Let's take from the poor and let's give to the rich and the well off, and let's forget about the people that don't have something -- they're now down in the dumpster and let's leave them there to rot. We aren't supposed to discriminate people based on many different areas and this may be one of those areas. This isn't a talent issue.

    VICTORIA BARRET: You know, Mark, I agree it's sad and it shows where we are in our unemployment rate, but as an employer hiring, you have to make certain decisions of one candidate over a hundred others, and skills are going to come into play; that's just natural. This isn't about being poor.

    STEVE FORBES: No, David, all this is is an "employment act" for lawyers. The idiot who wrote those ads should be fired because all you have to do is look at the resume to see what their situation is. This is going to lead to making resumes illegal. Use a little bit of common sense, because if you want to hire somebody you might want somebody who's hungry rather than someone you're going to have to pay twice as much for.

    MIKE OZANIAN: I'd like my good friend Mark to say if he's going to hire an attorney or go see a doctor, is he going to go to somebody who's been out of practice for two or three years? No. But the bottom line with too is this is what happens when you pay people to not work for two years, you get a large percentage of the workforce that has no incentive to get back in and have been out for a long time.

    In Focus: Are Teachers Unions Blocking School Reforms?

    DAVID ASMAN: A big victory for teacher unions might be a big loss to students and tax payers. As struggling cities and states try to cut back, an arbitrator is forcing the District of Columbia to rehire teachers that it had fired a couple of years ago. Yes, fired. It gets better. They also get back pay that could cost up to $7.5 million bucks. Dennis you say that it's a big blow to reforming failing schools everywhere?

    DENNIS KNEALE: I think it really is David because unions, I believe, are the single biggest intransigent obstacle to try and reform education. All they care about is their dues and protecting jobs instead of quality. And if you want to look a little broader, name me one industry guys where unions have really helped that industry thrive- autos, government, trucking/Teamsters, newspapers, construction trades. Unions are hurting all of them and unions are hurting education.

    QUENTIN HARDY: Healthcare, weekends, the thriving steel and auto industries we had then the management ruined. Yeah, I thought unions were okay. In this case unions are okay because the administration level doesn't get to pack it full of cronies. These guys were fired without cause; that was against rules both sides agreed on. The $7.5 million will only happen if all seventy-five go back and get reinstated a princely sum of $50,000 a year in salary. Not a problem. The problem with schools is rambunctious kids who are out of control.

    STEVE FORBES: These teachers were fired for incompetence, and all this is going to do is add another layer of bureaucracy red tape to getting accountability, which is why David we need an anti-trust suit against public education to give parents real choice. If they don't like a school they should be able to put their kids in a school that they like, just as they now do in New Orleans. Guess what happens? Even though those kids come from low-income families, their test scores are going up because parents are in charge, not unions.

    BILL BALDWIN: I think it's time to stop bashing unions, and get to the root cause of educational failure, which is government monopoly. Give every family a voucher, now Steve is right about this part of it, give them a choice, a meaningful choice of different schools to go to and then the unions won't be a problem.

    NEIL WEINBERG: [The unions] are dead-set against anything that would help competition, and that's the real problem here. They don't want young teachers to have an advantage, they want to have the last-ins be the first out, they want the old teachers who're tired and get lazy to be the ones that can be there for the rest of their lives. That's what's costing and that's the reason we need to change the system.

    Informer: Rally Stocks

    DAVID ASMAN: Stocks near 2-year highs. Our Informers are here to get you ready for the next big market rally.


    NEIL WEINBERG: OYO Geospace Corporation (OYOG)


    DENNIS KNEALE: Toyota (TM)