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.
STEVE FORBES: Every agency, every organization over time loses sight of what they were created for, loses sight of who they are supposed to serve. At least in free markets you get caught up short if you don't pay attention to your customers. This is a bloated government agency. Break it up, privatize it, put it out for competitive bidding and get real efficiencies. You're not going to do it through hearings or memos or commands from the top.
RICK UNGAR: Blaming the entire agency for the bad behavior of a few people would be akin to blaming the entire securities industry for Bernie Madoff. Some bad things happened here-no denying it. The people in charge were fired. The woman who was running the agency took responsibility and she resigned. Not good things to happen, should never happen in any organization but you can't throw out the baby with the bath water. We need the GSA they are the quarter master for the executive branch of government.
VICTORIA BARRET: Here's the really damaging irony here is that we have the organization overseeing procurement. They are setting per diem hotel rates for federal employees and they are the ones who seem completely corruptible. They are hosting these lavish conferences they are making these bizarre videos about giving President Obama a press release by going green. This is a really broken organization. Steve is right we can probably outsource it, probably automate half of it honestly so I agree with Steve.
DENNIS KNEALE: It was really witty and really stupid. How did these federal employees not know that these videos were going to make it to YouTube in some way? Here's the thing, Liz MacDonald for our network Fox Business has been doing great reporting on this. I don't want her to cut that but I do want to say. This is a gnat on the backside of an elephant. Right now our government is spending $1.3 Trillion more than it will take in, in the coming year and we are worrying that they spend less than a million dollars on a retreat for employees I am scandalized!
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: The GSA was responsible for policing federal spending on airline tickets and hotel conferences throughout the government. The issue is that the president wants to raise taxes at a time where we have really scandalous waste and abuses going on at agencies like the GSA. I say get rid of it. Look I'm not a ‘burn down the government' kind of person I don't think the CDC for example does a great job. The other example that the GSA-- it didn't unload the real estate it's sitting on at the top of the market. It's like over a trillion bucks it could have made for US tax payers. That is an indication that it is completely incompetent. I say break it up.
JOHN TAMNY: You're never going to reform a government that by definition can't act like a business because it doesn't suffer under market discipline. This is what the founders thought about when they authorized the federal government then severely limit its power. Keep its power limited. We have too much government spending way too much money and it's a bludgeon on real economic growth. Let's either return the power to the states or return this to someone so they can abolish organizations like this.
MICHELIN IS THE LATEST COMPANY HIRING IN A RIGHT-TO-WORK STATE
STEVE FORBES: What a contrast to Europe, we don't have labor flexibility. Indiana just went right-to-work. The phone was ringing off the hook, the governor reports. Let's bore our viewers with some statistics. Last 10 years private sector jobs, right to work states up 1.5 million. Pro- union states down 1.9 million. Look at the state economic growth, up 55 percent in right to work states, and only 40 percent in pro union state and on and on it goes. The facts may be inconvenient but they are conclusive, labor flexibility is good it creates more prosperity, bottom line.
BILL BALDWIN: No I think right to work is all about stabs and free loaders. Listen if workers at Michelin and Boeing vote in a union that contract should apply nationally Boeing should not be allowed to unrun it by moving jobs to South Carolina. The workers who are benefiting from union representation should not get a free ride by saying ‘I don't like the union' if they don't like the union they vote it out. Steve you don't get a break on your New Jersey taxes by saying ‘well tax collector I would have voted for a tax reduction. ' You don't get a break like that.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Boeing was adding a plant and workers in the state of Washington and they were basically moving a new plant, building a new plant in South Carolina that would have created jobs. What I like, and what Mike Ozanian is pointing out too is that in Right to work states, income growth has risen nearly 40 percent in 7 years for the year 2010 where it's up only 36 percent. Look foreign manufacturers like to come to right to work states, I'm saying that only a CEO shouldn't take that only into consideration, you have to do customer market and supplies but it's a good deal for companies overseas who want to build businesses in the United States to get all of that regulation and union folder out of the way.
RICK UNGAR: Let's start with Steve's statistics. I have dug into those more deeply than I would like to tell you and they are just not telling the truth. Let me tell you what those statistics do. They take states like Texas which is a right to work state, and they show the increased employment. Do you know where all that employment is coming from ironically? Employment in state government. They take statistics from states like North Dakota, a right to work states; you know where those increases are coming from? The boom in the oil industry. Here what we know for real. We know that right to work states do not produce more employment, they do not bring in more manufacturing what they do is that they hold down earnings at around $1500 bucks a person no matter what.
RICH KARLGAARD: Sure let make me make a point. If you want to buy an American car buy a BMW with Michelin tires. They are both made in South Carolina. The argument that Rick makes its like the argument made about communism and socialism. If these were such great systems then why every communist country is prohibited its people from leaving the country. If unions are so great why do we need laws in these pro unions' states that force people to join unions? People should have a choice.
MIKE OZANIAN: I love the example with France because during the great depression of the 30's actually Europe had much more flexible rules for companies to hire and fire and so forth. They actually got out of the depression much faster than the United States because Roosevelt wouldn't give American companies such flexibility. So there is a historical context here as well. But yes, unfortunately our current president believes we shouldn't have freedom whether it is with healthcare or whatever. We should have to do with whatever edict he passes on. But you're right this country is based on freedom and that's something we should strive for.
Is Facebook password ban in Maryland bad news for jobs?
RICH KARLGAARD: Sure it's simply foolish of Maryland to pass such a law; it enhances its reputation for being a nanny state and being anti- business. And here you have Virginia which is right across the border who is pro-business so it is doubly worse. It's stupid for companies to ask for facebook passwords, but you don't need a law to prohibit that kind of behavior because lawsuits and flow of talent will take care of the issue.
MIKE OZANIAN: I don't think it will hurt jobs. If I was an employer and someone came to me looking for a job and I didn't have the right to access their facebook password, it wouldn't have any impact on whether or not I would hire that person. There are a million other ways to get the information I need.
VICTORIA BARRET: Well look it's a minor thing but it's a hurdle in the sense that you have government telling employers what they can and cannot do to hire someone. So if you are in HR you have to be aware of this, lawyers have to be aware of this. Its minor, but its one more step of government involving itself in business and in this case simply in Maryland.
BILL BALDWIN: THIs is going to have no effect on jobs because password prying is a fictitious boogieman I mean what's next on the Maryland agenda? Are they going to pass a statute forbidding employers demanding that commuters come to work commuting on elephants? Wouldn't that be terrible because they couldn't get parking spaces for their elephants? Let's have a law against this; this is how silly this is.
STEVE FORBES: Rich is right -- it just underscores that Maryland is getting the reputation for being anti-business state. It is a green light for lawyers, you don't need that. Make it simple, if you want a dumb employer that does that kind of stuff-they aren't going to do very well.
Stocks to buy ahead of Company's earnings report
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: BlackRock Inc. BLK (NYSE)
52-WEEK HIGH: $209.37
52-WEEK LOW: $137.00
DENNIS KNEALE: Abbott Labs (ABT)
52-WEEK HIGH: $62.57
52-WEEK LOW: $46.29
BILL BALDWIN: Time Warner Cable (TWC)
52-WEEK HIGH: $81.97
52-WEEK LOW: $57.15