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.
STATES TRYING TO BLOCK EMPLOYERS FROM CHECKING YOUR CREDIT: SHOULD WE LET BUSINESSES DECIDE?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well Cheryl, a job is between an employer and an employee and government literally has nothing to do with it. Laws like this are literally laws that tell you how to use your mind; how to think; how to judge someone; how to invest your own money. I mean, what if someone comes in with unkempt clothes? What if somebody comes in smelling like urine? Is the government going to say you can't factor that in either? It's immoral; it's an assault on people's minds and it should be stricken from the record.
TRACY BYRNES: Yeah, but I disagree completely because there are so many reasons your credit could be a mess; myself included. When I got divorced I didn't have any credit prior to being divorced and so as a result I wouldn't have gotten a job if you ran a credit check on me, which is completely unfair and so I think the notion that the government is going into my background, which is none of its business, and determining whether or not I could fulfill a job is ludicrous.
SALLY KOHN: I agree with Tracy. Maybe there are some jobs where it matters right? If you're going to be handling money, or if you're going to be treasurer in some kind of capacity, sure, maybe perhaps it matters, but what I actually think smells like urine is the idea that, you know especially in this bad economy where people may have really troubled credit records because they've lost their jobs, because they've fallen on tough times with their mortgage, etc., that we're going to stop job growth in that context and stop helping people get back on their feet because of a couple of somewhat arbitrary numbers in this moment? That seems really sad and I think we should be doing everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen.
WAYNE ROGERS: That means 91 percent are on the other side, so I think I'd go with the 91 percent. Of course the government's overreaching. It's none of their business. If I'm an employer, I should be able to use whatever tools I need to interview somebody; whatever it might be I can use that. The person who's being employed can tell me what they want to tell me or not tell me as the case may be. It is a personal response to something to make a job, that's all, and if the president's not qualified I'm the guy who has to make that judgment; not them and I'm being judged also by someone who's employing me. So, there you are.
JOHN LAYFIELD: Sure it's their right. Look, if I'm hiring somebody to deal with accounts receivable, accounts payable; if I'm hiring an accountant I want to know, have they walked away from their home loan? Have they walked away from their car loan? I want to know some credit history on this person and you can't do that according to this law. It's the exact same thing that government has done with the financials. Look at the Durbin Amendment. Look at the new financial regulation. They've said to financials, you can't look in to any other credit bureaus and because of this 1.6 trillion has come out of credit because you can't check on anything. This is a gross overreach by the government. Same thing they're doing with insurance. If a person has cancer you have to take them on your insurance roll anyway. The government here is overreaching on everything they're doing with this.
NEW CALLS TO INVESTIGATE OIL SPECULATORS: WHO'S TO BLAME FOR YOUR PAIN AT THE PUMP?
JOHN LAYFIELD: Of course they're the ones to blame. Look, every time oil prices go high since the 70's every administration, every administration has blamed the speculators because they're the only ones with a lower approval rating than politicians and that is what they're doing right now. This is straight out of the administration's talking-point book. Look, we are the only country in the world without an energy policy. When China goes from four million barrels a day just a few years ago, to nine million barrels, India the same thing, they're going to 15 million barrels a day, we are stuck at 86 million barrels a day that we can produce on this earth right now. That is the problem right now with oil prices, and add to the fact that Israel has an itchy trigger finger and they have no friends in the Middle East. That's the reason why oil prices are high; the fact that we don't have an energy policy, not speculators. That's stupid.
WAYNE ROGERS: Yeah, I think so. I mean, a trade is a trade. There's got to be somebody who's losing and somebody who's winning. If I sell oil at one price, then I decide that's my profit. Traders are not to blame for this. It's really the Congress. Listen, in the 1990's we had eight major oil companies. They're down to four now. It's the same thing that we've had before; you've got big oil on the one hand and big government on the other hand and both of them are competing to bribe the Congress to get favors for them. That's all that's happening and it doesn't have anything to do with speculation. Besides which, Democrats just voted down in the Congress the Keystone Pipeline. Here they are yelling about high oil prices and they don't even pass a Keystone Pipeline that would relieve part of this. It's just insanity.
SALLY KOHN: We don't have enough time for this. First of all, domestic production in the United States is at its highest in the last decade and number two; according to Trans-Canada's own permit application for the pipeline, it would actually raise gas prices in the United States, particularly in the Midwest. You can't make this stuff up. It's in their permit application by depleting oil reserves in the Midwest, but look, the larger point is here, the Fed did a study; 15 percent it's not overwhelming, but 15 percent of gas prices are in fact accounted for by speculators, but we can all agree the bigger problem here is all of this saber-rattling with respect to Iran, which incidentally a lot of the Republican candidates are trying to trump up so that they can drive up gas prices and blame the president.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well Cheryl, speculation is just a slur-term for judgment. I mean, that's what it is. We all make speculations every day and yes, a lot of us use gas; use oil. I think that it actually helps our lives and when we see a potential war in the Middle East, when we see an administration that is openly hostile and demagogues the fossil fuel industry, or we see a Federal Reserve that's printing more money, lessening the value of the dollar, yes of course, a lot of us who actually value gas and oil, actually buy it, speculate that prices are going to go up because given the administration they probably are.
TRACY BYRNES: But here's the thing. First of all Cheryl, you made the point, there's been no proof of any speculation ever every time they investigate this and two; the oil market trades on the future. It is a futures market. What's the market telling us right now? They are so uncertain about what this administration is going to do about anything, uncertain because there's no energy plan, uncertain because they can't handle Iran to save their lives, uncertain because we don't know where gas prices are going and how that's going to affect our overall economy. So the oil market right now is telling us that the administration is laughable at best and that we are going to see five dollar a gallon of gas way sooner than anybody believes.
MAKING COLLEGE AN ENTITLEMENT: MICHIGAN PROMISES FREE COLLEGE
TRACY BYRNES: First of all, last time I checked, Michigan is sending notes home to parents asking them to send in toilet paper they're so broke. They have no money to afford this in the first place. Second of all, where's the drive and the incentive to want to graduate to get in to a good school? Why go to high school if all I have to do is graduate? Why even bother if all I have to do is graduate and I'll get sent to college? And look Cheryl, let's face it, not every kid should be in college. We need people to do other things other than astrophysics in this world. It is a silly, silly idea and we cannot afford it.
WAYNE ROGERS: I don't think it's a question of that. There's not a college in the United States today that you can't get in if you really want to. They've got scholarships. Over 50 percent of the students in the Ivy League; Harvard, Yale and Princeton, are on some sort of student aid or scholarship. So if you're bright and you have the ambition and you want to go, it's going to get paid for by somebody else in most cases and you'll get it free anyway. So what you're saying about free; we have free public education in secondary schools today and look what a mess that is. So if you're going to start trying to legislate this in some form of fashion it's just insane.
SALLY KOHN: No, and I think Wayne, while I respect you, is a little out of touch. There are millions of kids and certainly many in Michigan who, you know, qualify to go to college, work hard in school to get in to college and their choices of what college they can attend are very blatantly made by which school they can afford and instead they're sent to community colleges and what not. What I'm saying is, if you're suggesting that people's decision as to which college they can go to is driven solely by what they get into and not by the finances, I think you're really not in touch with reality, and the larger point is if we're concerned about people's motivation then why not have those junior high kids start sweeping floors so that they can really appreciate being in school.
JONATHAN HOENIG: As I understand it Cheryl, essentially one in four of those is actually past due and in fact there's been much written about this supposed student-loan bubble that's occurred in this country as government has gotten more and more involved in it, but you know any first year economics kid will tell you the basics that there is no free lunch. So whenever government comes in and says we're going to give you something for free, know that beyond that surface is force. They're going to take money from certain people and give it to others who haven't earned it. That's where this whole notion of a right to college education; a right to health care; a right to a job. There's no such thing.
JOHN LAYFIELD: It's never going to work. Look, what's completely out-of-touch is the fact that what Tracy's talking about, there are five cities right now including Detroit that are about to be taken into receivership in Michigan. They don't have the money to pay their firefighters, the teachers they have in public schools, the police they have. They don't have the money to do this. This is a typical pie-in-the-sky dream of, hey let's give free pizza to everybody. We'll just get the rich kids to pay for it; absolutely ridiculous.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
JOHN LAYFIELD: (PZZA) eats up profits if Peyton Manning goes to the NY Jets
TRACY BYRNES: Wind farms paid to shut down; get taxpayer cash
WAYNE ROGERS: What profits "percolate" with Starbucks, buy (SBUX)
JONATHAN HOENIG: Ship Finance (SFL) gives great dividend and protection from inflation