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.
PRESIDENT, REID VOWS TO KEEP PUSHING SPENDING PLAN FOR GOVERNMENT JOBS
TOBIN SMITH: There are two issues here. Most times, for instance, teacher's education is paid for by property taxes in these various regions. The properties were way over-valued. They are coming back to a normal value. The tax revenues are a lot less. We had too many employees that lived on that dole and we have to adjust to the new reality. What he is saying also, is that he wants to hire specifically jobs that are union jobs. Of course, these union jobs are the same people who donate to the Democratic Party. So, you can't say that this is not crony capitalism at its worst.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: There's a reason that federal workers make a lot more money. Yes, okay, the health care plans and the pension plans are a little more lucrative than private sector. There's not a lot of people that work for the federal government. It's less than one percent of the country. It hasn't grown. It's lower now than it was in the ‘80's under Reagan. Frankly, they usually have college degrees. They're usually in their 40's and 50's. The private sector has a lot of low end jobs, a lot of lower aged jobs. They're never going to make as much money as federal workers just because of those two factors.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: Look at some of the other jobs in the federal government right now. You can simply look at a cook. They make $65,000 a year -- 47 percent more than what you're going to get in the private sector. Broadcast technician makes double-more than $85,000 a year versus $41,000 a year. It goes on and on. The inflation is there with just these jobs alone. We're not saying get rid of all the government jobs, but there clearly has to be a step back on some of these salaries.
SUSAN OCHS: I don't agree with Senator Reid's characterization that the private sector is fine, but I think the point he's trying to make is that the past year the private sector is adding jobs, albeit very anemically, but they are adding jobs, whereas the public sector has lost 300,000 jobs over the past year. These are not the big, sitting-on-the-public-dole jobs. These are firefighters, police officers, first responders and teachers. This is sort of a defensive play for the economy to say that we can't afford to continue to lose these jobs at this level. It's going to start to impact society and our safety.
SCOTT MARTIN: Another case of 'Hey guys, the government knows best.' The government says we create the best jobs, not the private sector. Since the recovery began in 2009, the private sector has lost over one million jobs. The government has created about 100,000 jobs, yet unemployment is still at 9.1 percent. GDP is struggling at just over 1 percent. We're doing great!
WALL STREET PROTESTERS SAY WALMART HURTS THE 99 PERCENT
TOBIN SMITH: They are helping the 99 percent without a doubt. The math is the math. The average Walmart family gains $2,300 in spending power. That adds another $2,300 to their pocket book every year. In a world where average incomes are down from $59,000 to $49,000, where inflation is higher, this is absolutely helping the 99 percent and this is why these guys are so misguided. They are just going and tilting it in every windmill that they think is a bad guy and capitalism is all bad. Well, capitalism has brought a lot of people out of poverty and Walmart is doing a great thing for our country.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: They giveth and they taketh away. That's the honest truth. They do lower prices, certainly not to the top 1 percent who don't shop at Walmart. I will say that they also are a major driver of outsourcing manufacturing to other countries, to lower prices that can lead to a net loss of jobs. There are benefits and there are negatives to the Walmart business model. I would say net to the economy I'm glad we have Walmart. It's not all gravy for everybody that they are where they are.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: When they open up these shopping centers, you have multiple retail establishments surrounding Walmart, which creates more jobs for these 99 percent-ers. This is a capitalistic issue there right now. That's why these protesters are out there. They don't like the idea that Walmart is actually making some money. They aren't looking at the jobs. They don't care about that. They're worried about people making money and that's what they're really bitter about.
SUSAN OCHS: Walmart's problem is that they are straddling the line. It's true they serve the 99 percent. That's who their customer base is, but they also employ and compete against the 99 percent. One of the biggest problems that Walmart faces is that they are competing against a lot of small businesses and they wind up running a lot of small businesses out of business. So, it's those small businesses and their employees who have been the most concerned about Walmart coming into New York City, which is what this protest is actually about.
SCOTT MARTIN: There is a little bit of an impact to a small business when Walmart moves in, but what is wrong with a little bit of competition? If you get prices down in an area, that's good for the consumers. If you look at stores in Chicago that are opening in for Walmart, you're talking about hundreds if not thousands of jobs opening alongside other businesses because Walmart is there because Walmart brings people to the area. I think it's great for an economy.
STOCK RALLY PUSHES DOW INTO POSITIVE TERRITORY FOR THE YEAR BUT FEARS MOUNT THAT INFLATION WILL DERAIL ECONOMIC RECOVERY
TOBIN SMITH: The bigger issue here is that it's not as much inflation as it is a combination of the fact that an average family income is down about $5,000 a year. The average healthcare cost is up about 8 percent thanks to some things that have been passed recently. When you take those two subtractions from your spending power and then you have higher prices, it's the combined effect that is putting a lid of about 1 to 2 percent of GDP growth on the United States and that is going to be here for a while.
JONAS MAX FERRIS: Dairy is up 10 percent every year. Food is up less than 5 percent. It is a symptom. The economy was improving over the last year until the last few months and that's when most of these gains happened. Recently, prices, commodities, etc. are heading down. That is a bad thing because that means people aren't consuming as much. You actually want a little inflation if it results from people buying more. If it results from creating magic money, which is very rare incidentally that that actually happens, that's a bad thing. But we don't have that yet. What you saw is the best inflation-I call it the best-in three years because we haven't had any ___ because the economy is so cold.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: Anytime you're looking at higher prices for anything, from food to energy to clothing, that's going to hit in discretionary income budgets and clearly that's going to hurt revenues, as well as growing economies. Look at food costs. They are up 10 percent year over year. That is hitting Americans pocket books right now.
SUSAN OCHS: It's starting to creep up slowly, but it's still at a relatively low level. It's true, food and gas are up, but we've also seen apparel plummeted. Wine has plummeted. So, you're going to see less eating and driving and maybe more drinking and shopping.
SCOTT MARTIN: Demand is going to affect price. Price will eventually come down if demand is not there. I have to channel my inner Milton Friedman here. Inflation is a monetary phenomenon. Monetary wages just aren't going anywhere.
TOBIN SMITH: AvalonBay up 25 percent by April
JONAS MAX FERRIS: T. Rowe Price Group returns 25 percent gain by 2012
TODD SCHOENGERGER: Hershey's up 10 percent by Valentine's Day
SCOTT MARTIN: Power Shares returns 20 percent gain in one year