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Bulls & Bears
Job Fears Mount as Average Government Workers Makes Twice as Much as Private Workers
BRENDA BUTTNER: Jobs still taking a hit. Filings for new jobless benefits hitting a six month high. And there are new signs that companies aren't planning on hiring anytime soon. Is this why? Look at where all of our money is going. The average government worker making twice as much as a private employee. Is that what's killing the job market?
ERIC BOLLING: This is exactly what the problem is and it will kill the job market. Any time you pay government workers more, give them better benefits, and then can't get rid of them when they're not performing, that will bring down the job market. It artificially inflates the value of a worker. $123,000 if you work for the fed. $70,000 if you work for the state or local. $61,000 if you do it privately. That's all in wages and benefits. It can't be sustained.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: There are no low-end jobs in the government. The government doesn't run a McDonalds. Pay in the private sector has upside—there is no upside in the government. At Max Funds, we paid people from Goldman and Harvard half of what they would have made in the government because if we ever went public, they would all be richer than anyone who works in the government including the President. You don't have upside in government work so it has to pay you more.
SCOTT MARTIN: Over the past decade, you've seen federal payrolls increase by 30 percent as far as wages go, while we've seen the private sector grow at 9 percent or 10 percent. That's a huge disparity—bad dispersion between the federal and the private.
TOBIN SMITH: Let's not forget that wealth is created in the private market so by taking these workers into the federal government we're also taking wealth. But let's look at some of these numbers. A clergy makes $70,000 in the federal sector, $39,000 at the private sector. A broadcast technician makes $90,000 working for the fed, $49,000 working in the private sector. And that's before benefits. The best and the brightest in this country went to the private sector because that's where the opportunity is. Now our best and brightest are going to the government.
GARY KALTBAUM: There is absolutely no accountability in government, in its spending, how many employees it has, and what it pays them. What all of this does—what these massive deficits do—is crowd out the private sector and hurt the economy, which hurts the employment picture. You're seeing it on a daily basis. The job market should be much better at this point and it's not even close.
New Plan To Rescue "Too Big To Fail" Banks Overseas
BRENDA BUTTNER: Remember this?
President Obama, July 21, 2010: "There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period."
Well, that didn't take long. Less than a month after the President makes that promise, Congress released a new report suggesting taxpayer bailouts are going to go global.
GARY KALTBAUM: You know, the last I looked, when all of these banks, foreign and domestic, were making trillions of dollars, I wasn't opening my mailbox and getting the profit checks from them. When they leveraged their balance sheets and lost tons of money, now, all of a sudden, I and everybody else is on the hook for their stupidity? We shouldn't be, it's immoral, and it needs to stop.
ERIC BOLLING: I thought they were going to take care of "too big to fail." I though it was going to be out completely. Listen, don't bail our own banks out. Let the foreign banks bail out our butts. I don't think we should be spending a dime. Take "too big to fail" out of your vocabulary completely.
TOBIN SMITH: The idea is, in the old days, you know, like two, three years ago, when a financial institution went bust, and we had plenty go bust, there was a standard way of doing this. The equity shareholders got the hair cut. They got killed. The bondholders got what was left and the depositors were covered and they sold it to a profitable bank. Now, if I'm a bank like Citibank, I have more of my deposits overseas than in the United States. The other countries have to sign a no-bailout pledge as well. Mutually assured destruction—they've got to get out of it.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: When the government bailed out AIG, Europe got a bailout. The authority was in fantasyland with the number. We were directly giving checks to Goldman and then all of the foreign banks who had deals with AIG, so you want to officialize that and make that a better policy. TARP is probably the most profitable thing this government's done with its money since the Louisiana Purchase and it has had a pretty good return on investment.
SCOTT MARTIN: Poor Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale. Why do we have to protect these guys from their investments? These overseas banks should regulate themselves and take care of their own portfolios. This global regulation is only going to contract credit even further, which is bad for the consumer and for the business man. I'm saying that we don't bail them out.
Fears Mount That New, Risky Government Mortgages Will Create Second Financial Crisis
BRENDA BUTTNER: They're back: 3.5 percent down for a government-backed loan to buy a luxury condo worth $3 million. Check. People buying a new home and then letting their current one go into foreclosure. Check. And a government plan offering a $1,000 down for high-risk mortgages. Check. Unless we get these risky lending practices in check, is a new financial crisis coming by this time next year?
ERIC BOLLING: That's right, unless we get it in check, they'll be another housing crisis, another downturn in the economy, possibly another recession and maybe a depression. You can't give someone a house with a $1,000 down or a $3.5 million condo or home for 3 percent. This is crazy. This is one of the most broken systems in the economy.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: That is exactly the problem. And the reason why the housing bubble crashed and cost into the trillions to clean up, is because the backing doesn't stop at the median home price, or even half the median. You're talking about $1.1 million dollar credit you get on interest for deductions. Fannie and Freddie raised the limits to over $700,000 in some cases, and FHA raised their limits a couple of years ago. So we have more taxpayer-backing of people buying large houses that aren't always their first homes. It's absolutely ridiculous and it's why it costs so much to bail them out when they come undone.
TOBIN SMITH: I don't buy it. We'll have a bailout, there's no question the taxpayers are going to be taking out FHA in a big way because we're completely upside down and the only saving grace we have here is this time we're not financing homes at the top level. These homes financed are 50 percent lower, many of them are significantly below the actual cost to build the structure, and they're also below the rental equivalent. So, yes, we're going to have to bailout FHA. No, it does not create the next financial crisis.
GARY KALTBAUM: Well, all I know is they screwed up. They blew up and now they're doing the same things again to screw up again. It's amazing. They're just repeating history and the financial system is tied to housing prices, still—ten fold and twenty fold and thirty fold. That's what caused the collapse in the first place. This is classic. It can feed right into it again and we're going to be back to ground zero again, if somebody doesn't do something about it. You just can't hand out homes to people that don't have money to buy them.
SCOTT MARTIN: I'm just surprised about the FHA thing, that these aren't for low income people. These are really interesting deals they're giving out. I'm kind of with Toby on this. The bailout is going to come from the taxpayer or the FHA. I'm worried about it, but the prices have fallen and I've taken a good look at some of the apartments and they are twice as much as they were a couple years ago.
Gary Kaltbaum: McDonalds (MCD)
Jonas Max Ferris: Diageo (DEO)
Tobin Smith: Mulson Coors (TAP)
Scott Martin: American Elsectric Power (AEP)
Eric Bolling: Pfizer (PFE)
Cavuto on Business
This week Neil Cavuto was joined by Charles Payne, Adam Lashinsky, Ben Stein, and Dagen McDowell.
Jobless Protesters Demanding More Jobless Benefits
BEN STEIN, AUTHOR: The thing that really is upsetting is the Wall Street Journal is reporting that there are millions of jobs going unfilled. People won't take them because they want to get their unemployment benefits instead, because the unemployment benefits pay more than jobs pay. What kind of craziness is this? We're paying people to be unemployed. Obviously, this doesn't apply to all people. There are plenty of people that would take jobs if they had them, but millions will not take jobs that are being offered and there's something deeply wrong with this that's preventing the economy from adjusting. It's preventing people from having a decent life with some self-respect.
CHARLES PAYNE, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: You're right, I was in a mall this week and saw a lot of for hire signs. The point with that sort of thinking is that right now you probably can more on unemployment than some jobs. But once you get a job maybe you could advance to become manager of the store. Maybe the store owner says 'this guy is such a great manager that we'll help him open his own store.' What I'm really afraid of is that people get trapped living off the government and they're fighting for a higher minimum wage or unemployment benefits and the mediocrity is a sink hole. Forget about the unfairness of people that are working and paying high taxes, this is what you do to yourself when you get sucked into the trap, it's devastating.
DAGEN MCDOWELL, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Well, you see what happens in any country that gets sucked into this trap. You get permanently high unemployment, which you see in Europe. It is a big extended entitlement program and every research report I've read on this subject says that about 1 and 1/2, or even higher, percentage points of the unemployment rate could be contributed just to these extended unemployment benefits. And that accounts for almost all of the increase in unemployment rates we've seen since early last year, if that's even imaginable.
ADAM LASHINSKY, FOX BUSINESS CONTRIBUTOR: Common sense dictates if you're out of work, it would be better for you to find a job. Having a job for an indefinite period of time is better than going on unemployment for a finite period of time, which at this time in the U.S. is at 99 weeks. There are countries where you can be on the dole indefinitely and that's not the culture we have in this country. We in an unusually bad economic time so we move the expiration of jobless benefits because of it. I will agree with everybody else and say, I am glad we put an end date on benefits. This is something that I think Clinton worked hard on all those years ago.
BEN STEIN: We're doing way more harm than good. That's exactly what Charles and I and we've all been talking about. It's devastating to the self-esteem and the sense of confidence and self-worth of the people who are unemployed. Some of them are taking away their self-esteem and making them permanent wards of the state. This is a very, very bad idea. It is a much more dignified way of life to work as a shoe salesman than to be unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits, and I say that because my first job was working as a shoe salesman.
CHARLES PAYNE: I wish we could have seen people out there protesting for the government to take a different route. That's what they should have been out there saying: 'hey government, why are we talking about raising taxes and doing it this way.' Everyone in this country, particularly the people rushing for free mortgages, and things like that, they should be the ones that are wondering why we're in this position and why the government isn't trying a different tact to create jobs.
ADAM LASHINSKY: Charles, philosophically, it's a very interesting point, but you can't seriously expect people who are out of work to go out and protest for lower taxes. I mean, they're not paying taxes. They don't have jobs.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: Instead they're getting behind Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who wants extended unemployment benefits in states where the unemployment rate is 7 1/2 percent, 2 percentage points lower than the national average. That's the insanity we're living with.
$12 Billion Being Cut From Food Stamps to Pay for $26b State Aid Bill
CHARLES PAYNE: Here's the real deal, lawmakers are going to take this money from food stamps supposedly somewhere down the road, in 2014. That will never happen. We've got 40 million Americans on food stamps, could be 50 million by 2014 and could possibly lose that many electoral votes, give me a break.
DAGEN MCDOWELL: Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., was on "Your World" with you this past week and couldn't utter the word "cut". I thought, well, of course they're not going to cut. Just look at the Medicare reimbursement cuts that they planned for Doctors back in 1997. They've never gone into effect and they keep kicking the can down the road because they don't want to make the cuts and have some people feel some pain.
ADAM LASHINSKY: These are budgetary shenanigans that all politicians do. So it depends if you're the guy in power or the guy out of power. You could almost envision the conversations when the Bush tax cuts were passed. They were written to expire in ten years and someone says, 'don't worry no one's ever going to let them expire.' And here we are debating if they should expire or not. If anyone has another suggestion for how we should do budgets in congress, I'd love to hear it.
BEN STEIN: I have a great suggestion. This is something that was told to me by Mr.. Richard M. Nixon. He said "honesty may not be the best policy, but something worth trying every once in a while." So let's have the Congress try every once in a while to be honest and say, 'look, we're going to raise the deficit over and over and over again until this whole country comes crashing down and then were going to fault on the debt and laugh at you all, because we're still going to be paid.' This is a congress that's out of control on spending and the Republicans are out of control on tax cutting and neither can tell an honest story to save their lives.
New Plan to Give Seniors $250 Check Sparks Worries We'll Never Fix Entitlement Programs
DAGEN MCDOWELL: This shows that the politicians will never ever fix this program until it blows up in their face. There's not the political will to do it and they're using it as handouts and they're living in fantasyland. By the way, seniors got $250 checks in the stimulus package last year, so, let's give them another one? They're already getting a bonus, there's no inflation to begin with and the prices are falling and that's in their pockets and the Democrats.
CHARLES PAYNE: They're using it as a political wedge by saying they want to help seniors and that Republicans want to hurt them. This is a serious block of voters who always go to the poll. But at some point we do need strong lawmakers to step in there and say we've got to fix social security. It's like negotiating with my son who wants to keep buy stuff at the mall and at some point I draw the line and say 'no'.
BEN STEIN: Why don't we at least say this: let's give the $250 to impoverished seniors. I have many friends who are extremely rich people who are over 65 and getting social security. Should they get a $250 check, should a person with a $100 million in the bank get a $250 check? That's crazy.
ADAM LASHINSKY: I don't have a read on the motive, whether this is a payoff or whether it's well meaning. It's a bad idea. If you don't need the cost of living adjustment because the inflation is so low, you don't need the cost of living adjustment. The sad thing here is this is how we have public policy debated in this country with nasty ads that bring into all sorts of things that aren't currently being discussed, but should be discussed. I mean, those individual retirement accounts taking the social security money and having put it in the market three years ago, would have been a horrible idea.
Retirement Stocks That Won't Go Broke Like Social Security
Ben Stein: MSCI Japan Index (EWJ)
Charles Payne: Duke Energy (DUK)
Adam Lashinsky: Vanguard Target Retirement 2030 (VTHRX)
Forbes on Fox
On Saturday, August 14, 2010, David Asman was joined by Rich Karlgaard, Bill Baldwin, Neil Weinberg, Mike Ozanian, Quentin Hardy, and Fox Business Network's Elizabeth MacDonald.
Flipside: JetBlue Flight Attendant "Freakout" Combined With Worker Productivity Drop Is Good News for Job Market!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You're not going to say anything at all?
STEVE SLATER, JETBLUE FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Not just yet.
REPORTER: What about all the people who have supported you? What do you say to them?
SLATER: It's greatly appreciated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ASMAN: There he is. The talk of the town! To the Flipside on flipping out on the job. Did that JetBlue flight attendant just save all of our jobs? Hi everybody! I'm David Asman. Welcome to Forbes on Fox. Let's get the Flipside from Rich Karlgaard, Lizzie MacDonald, Bill Baldwin, Neil Weinberg, Mike Ozanian, and Quentin Hardy. Neil, how could this rude behavior possibly be good for the job situation?
NEIL WEINBERG: I don't know that he saved our jobs, David. But, what you can say is that Mr Slater, by saying take this job and slide it, is really tapping into the Zeitgeist a lot of Americans are feeling right now. If you look at productivity in the second quarter, it was down 0.9 percent after several quarters of very strong growth. What this shows is American workers are just tapped out. They're tired. And they're saying to their employer, please start hiring somebody – we need some help here.
RICH KARLGAARD: You know, people don't burn out and "go postal" because they're working hard. They burn out and "go postal" because they feel that their work is futile and that's what's happening right now in this slow-growth or no-growth economy. People are really feeling this kind of desperation. And this guy just acted it out. I don't see how you can put a positive spin on this at all.
BILL BALDWIN: I think this guy may have flipped a little too far. But he proves something else, which is maybe corporations have gone a little too far, gone a little overboard in all their downsizing and laying off that it's time to start rehiring people. We've got to give them the incentive to hire back. We've got to do that at the federal level.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: You do have to take responsibility for acting decently. Look, I don't think he's a hero. What are we going to have? Woody Guthrie writing a new Johnny Appleseed song about him? If he doesn't like his job, he should go run a water slide at a carnival. I mean, I'm sorry. At a time when computers are really taking the place of workers, I'm not saying just here, I'm saying that he is replaceable. So many people would want that job that he has. This plays into the Zeitgeist of rudeness when we are a services economy. We aren't manufacturing as much anymore. We have to deal more one-on-one with people. He made a big mistake here.
QUENTIN HARDY: I think you make an excellent point, David. People do need to be responsible for their behavior and act with dignity to others. But, welcome to the pointy-end of a modern stick. The airlines are driven by prices, prices, prices. Everybody wants everything cheaper all the time. That puts more stress on people to do more for the same money or less in the working force. And yeah, it's gonna stress 'em sometimes.
DAVID ASMAN: Mike, is there anything good that might come out of this?
MIKE OZANIAN: Yeah, he maybe he'll get fired.
MIKE OZANIAN: Competition and hard work are no excuse for somebody to be rude and not treat their customers right. I think we're making this to be too complicated. This guy screwed up, his behavior is unacceptable, and he should be dealt with accordingly. Hard work is no excuse for acting like a fool.
In Focus: Should All Health Plans Pay Americans to Go Overseas for Cheaper Medical Care?
DAVID ASMAN: Take an all-expense paid trip overseas compliments of your boss. Hotel, airfare, car service, you name it. What's the catch? You gotta get surgery. That's right. Surgical vacations in foreign lands. It's a health care trend gaining popularity among U.S. companies. They say it's saving them up to 90 percent on health care costs.
MIKE OZANIAN: It means more competition for American insurers and American health care companies. Look, competition has helped all industries almost across the board. Why not introduce competition to health care? It's something we already do with MRIs and other diagnostics; hospitals ship them overseas to countries like India. We need to have that option.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: Yeah, but we have another very important variable and that is a potential worldwide health problem that could come from a gene that could get picked up in India or Pakistan that could turn a bacteria into a superbug, an antibiotic-resistant superbug. Already Lancet, a medical journal, is warning about this. This is a very, very dangerous development that can arise or be aggravated by medical tourism.
QUENTIN HARDY: Yeah, but superbugs come more from people getting too many antibiotics than they come from being in India or in Mexico or somewhere else. I think this is a positive development. And if you're worried about malpractice or something, there's no reason that an American insurer or a foreign insurer couldn't write policies that go on top of your medical tourism for the duration of that trip.
BILL BALDWIN: There's no question that health costs are spiraling way out of control in the U.S., but there are other ways to get them down than with shipping jobs abroad for surgery. Why don't we bring some of that talent into the United States with more liberal immigration policies? Bring the doctors over here! That'll bring prices down.
DAVID ASMAN: Aren't there already plenty of foreign doctors here?
BILL BALDWIN: Let's get more of them. Let's get more competition. And what if we had consumers, patients with a little bit more skin in the game? This is the antithesis of what President Obama's trying to tell us is the right way to do things.
QUENTIN HARDY: Can we find another way to put that?
BILL BALDWIN: No, listen. Why don't we have higher co-pays and higher deductibles so that you do want to shop for the cheaper hospital? And let's get more transparency. You should be able to go online and get the cheapest surgeon if that's what you want.
DAVID ASMAN: Quentin you wanted to jump in.
QUENTIN HARDY: It was just the term "skin in the game," David. It's not very good for this topic.
NEIL WEINBERG: I think Bill is wrong about bringing more doctors in. The problem is this whole system is screwed up. We're spending about $6,700 per person for health care versus $3,400 in Canada. Fifteen percent of our Gross Domestic Product is health care. Drugs cost twice as much here as in Canada or Mexico. What we need is competition. The only way we're going to get competition is to give people opportunities to go overseas. I think this is a great idea. You don't make this mandatory, but you make this available.
Should States in the Black Return Bailout Bucks?
DAVID ASMAN: You know that $26 billion teacher and state bailout? Turns out all states are getting a piece of the pie, whether they need it or not; even states not planning on laying off teachers. And Quentin, you say those who don't need should give the money back to taxpayers?
QUENTIN HARDY: Darn right, David. Let's look in the mirror here. We got a depression on, not a recession. It's bad. We got deflation. We gotta get out of this. And we gotta pull together to do it. If you don't need the money, don't take it. It's as simple as that.
MIKE OZANIAN: I think he's absolutely right. The only thing is I differ from Quentin on where that money should go. I don't think it should go back to the feds; they'll just waste it. Give it back to the taxpayers within each state. Let them get a rebate in proportion to their property taxes.
ELIZABETH MacDONALD: Senator Judd Gregg wanted an amendment in financial reform that said states are required by law to send that money back. And no surprise, that amendment failed. Of course it's going to fail in this fiscal dipsomania that's taken hold in Washington, DC. I agree - send that money back. You gotta send that money back. We're basically giving states the incentive to lean on the taxpayers, when they should be balancing their budgets.
BILL BALDWIN: Listen, I'm not in favor of taking back that bonus money if it means pursuing Quentin's collectivist agenda and President Obama's collectivist agenda, taking away from successful and frugal and hard-working citizens, states, and corporations, and giving to the unsuccessful and the spendthrift ones. I just don't like that.
RICH KARLGAARD: Bill's absolutely right. All you do is create a moral hazard when you reward the people who have screwed up and paid their teachers too much and their pensions too richly, and you punish the people who have done it correctly. Look, I'm against all teacher bailouts until we can fire the bottom 10 percent of teachers because we know the bottom 10 percent of teachers are no good anyway.
Informer: "No Fear" Stocks
DAVID ASMAN: A wild week for the Dow as economic fears send shivers down the spines of investors. But our Informers found three "No Fear" stocks they say you should buy Monday morning:
NEIL WEINBERG: American Water Works Company (AWK)
MIKE OZANIAN: Newmont Mining (NEM)
BILL BALDWIN: Diageo (DEO)
Do Handouts Have to Stop for Housing and Economy to Come Back?
CHERYL CASONE: You are looking at a government handout gone very, very wrong. Riots breakout in Atlanta as more than 30,000 people show up to sign up for government subsidized housing. This mob scene hitting the same week we saw the White House doling out another $3 billion for jobless homeowners, mortgage rates plunging to a new record low, and despite all of it, foreclosures surging to a near-record high. Is it time to stop the handouts to bring housing and America back?
TRACY BYRNES: Holy sense of entitlement. Everyone is walking around with their hands out these days saying, give me, help me pay because I'm not going to go to work and do it myself. The Home Affordability program didn't work—we spent $75 billion out of TARP that went nowhere fast. We put another $3 billion on the table this week to help unemployed people looking at foreclosure. We have riots in Atlanta. We're extending unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. There is no incentive to work, no incentive to pay your mortgage. But there is a huge sense of entitlement in this country and it has got to stop.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: It's not going to work until we get jobs under control. What you saw in Atlanta was people clamoring for low-income housing. Certainly we can all agree that they are in need of that. But the real issue here is that all of the government's programs for housing have been marginally successful only because we have such high rates of unemployment. Until people have jobs and growing incomes, all of these programs are going to have marginal success.
WAYNE ROGERS: As opposed to a direct handout, the tax credit for housing did work. That was a very successful program and it did increase the number of people buying homes. I think they should continue that. That at least is a direct subsidy to the person buying the house. This is not paying your taxes into the government and having an administrative arm draining it off and then sending it back to the people. It's a direct help to housing and a direct help to the person.
JONATHAN HOENIG: The housing boom and subsequent bust was built on that entitlement mentality—that notion that everyone has a right to a home. We don't want high housing prices in this country. We should want accurate prices and that can't occur if government is such an integral and essential part of how housing works. You're underestimating the amount of dollars we have poured into this. From FHA Secure to another billion dollars this week to HUD—program after program is shoveling money to people who can't afford houses that they shouldn't have bought in the first place. All of this is just prolonging the crisis and making it more expensive in the long term.
JOE BATTIPAGLIA: Unfortunately, the social safety net which is supposed to help you in times of economic distress and help us avoid what we are seeing in Atlanta, is not where government took us over the last 50 years. They have broadened government intervention in the housing market to the point where they can't let prices go to their natural level, they continue to have to put out more support, and they've made Fannie and Freddie, those government institutions that provide mortgage liquidity markets, so powerful that they constitute 95 percent of all mortgages, which means the government is guaranteeing all the mortgage paper in the marketplace. That sends the wrong message to investors and gums up the housing market. It's why the problem has persisted until this point. And don't forget, the housing bubble burst well before we had high unemployment. We were at 4.6 percent unemployment when the housing bubble first burst.
Why Do Unions and Majority of Americans Support Such Different Policies?
CHERYL CASONE: While most Americans go one way, unions go the other. According to the latest WSJ poll, two thirds of Americans say the President is dropping the ball when it comes to handling the economy. Meanwhile, unions think he's doing a great job, launching a major campaign to keep Democrats in office.
TRACY BYRNES: Unions used to be the voice of the American people but times have changed and companies have changed. You have unions fighting for card-check, fighting for more spending, fighting for the Bush tax cuts to go away—these are all of the things that the American people don't need or want. Unions have really separated themselves from Main Street and much of it is driven by greed.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: Americans are disappointed because we don't have jobs, we don't have retirement security, and we don't have fair taxation. These are the reasons they are disappointed with Obama and the Democrats—not because they espouse policies like the Employee Free Choice Act or repealing the Bush tax cuts on the upper 2 percent. Those are things that Americans support. I really don't know where you're coming from here. Unions support jobs and investment.
JONATHAN HOENIG: The country is based on capitalism and you can say whatever you want about the President and the unions, but it's hard to say that their economic philosophy is a capitalist one. Everything is away from free-trade, towards a centrally-planned economy, with high taxes, regulation and government intervention. 55 percent of the population thinks Obama is a Socialist. He's sees himself as an active participant in the economy, not a policeman of it. I think that's where Main Street, and certainly Wall Street, would rather see him reside.
WAYNE ROGERS: You can make the case that union leadership is out of touch with the rank-and-file. But the biggest problem I think is in the government unions. Government pay is roughly double private pay for the same job. Most of that money is given in pension plans and the reason for it is that Congress can be lobbied to death by the unions and government workers. There are more people now working for the government—federal, state and local—than there are working for the private sector. 20 percent of us are supporting 80 percent of the people out there. It comes in taxes and all kinds of things.
JOE BATTIPAGLIA: In the private sector, there is a natural tension between labor and management. If management concedes too much, they lose the competitiveness or they go out of business. On the government side of this, there are no natural forces lined-up against the unions, so they have captured the political process on the false theory that there's an unending amount of tax dollars that can go towards pensions, funding, and more employment in the government sector. That's why we have more people in the public unions than in the private sector and it looks like the politicians are owned by the unions. And unlike the private sector which was able to get away from defined benefit plans and move to defined contributions during the 80s and 90s when defined benefits were proven unsustainable, federal and state governments are still stuck with defined benefit plans that they can't afford, and they don't have a way to articulate pressure against these unions that keep knocking them off during election time.
Is Government Making It Too Expensive to Hire?
CHERYL CASONE: It's the inconvenient truth about unemployment in America. Business owners now saying the government is making it too expensive to hire anyone. From regulation to rising taxes, is Uncle Sam the real reason so many Americans are still out of work. Democrats say the economy is the reason no one if hiring, but listen to what one business owner just told Fox Business Network this week:
"I was just shocked by the numbers when they were all pulled together. I had no idea that to put $44,000 in cash and $12,000 in benefits in the hands of one of my employees, I have to write checks for $74,000."
WAYNE ROGERS: This guy is absolutely right and I have the proof right here. It costs us $65,757 to deliver to her $35,338 in discretionary income. That means she gets $53,000 in gross income, but after Social Security, federal tax, medical flex, state tax, disability insurance, etc., her deductions take her back to $35,000. It costs us, the employer, for the training, health insurance, disability, unemployment insurance, federal and state taxes, another $8,290. It's outrageous. And when you have defined benefit plans for your employees like Joe was saying, it costs you a bloody fortune.
CHRISTIAN DORSEY: This has gotten cheaper for employers during this recession. You have employer cost for compensation which have only increased by $1.60 over the last 2.5 years—that's really slow wage growth. Under the Obama administration, costs for employers have gotten lower. We've had a tax credit for new hires where you exempt employers from paying Social Security tax. For anyone to claim that their costs have gone up is a complete fabrication.
TRACY BYRNES: It's only going to get higher. Medical insurance expenses are going to kick in and taxes are going up.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Government is a cost to business. It costs a lot of money to create jobs. The economy is made up of business owners, and it costs $77,000 to pay somebody $42,000. Where do those thousands of dollars go? To government.
JOE BATTIPAGLIA: This is amazing at both ends. If you're a high wage earner with a Cadillac health care plan, they're going to tax it. In a recession when people need jobs, they raise the minimum wage. That's not a way to get people to work again. Clearly the government is gumming this up too.
What Do I Need To Know?
TRACY BYRNES: Nuns are suing Morgan Stanley over bad investments. If they won't forgive, no one will.
WAYNE ROGERS: Meeting on Tuesday to discuss Fannie and Freddie won't accomplish anything.
JOE BATTIPAGLIA: For good yield in a shaky market buy (LQD).
JONATHAN HOENIG: It's not too late to dial-up profits in telecom with (DCM).