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ALLOW STUDENTS TO GRADUATE SOONER TO SAVE TAXPAYERS?
JIM LACAMP: Look, everybody pays these taxes whether they own a home or not; whether they have children or not, everybody pays for education and every year they get a worse education and it costs more, so we've really dumbed-down school program to rush kids through the system. Why not do it the other way? Why not let the achieving kids rush through the system and get away from this burgeoning idiocracy. Beyond that, I think we're spending money on things that aren't being productive for our economy. So let's send these achieving students the message that if you achieve, you will be rewarded, but the idea that we're going to get any of this taxpayer money back is kind of a mirage. Taxpayers never get any money back. It will just move on to the next boondoggle, but I do think it's a good idea.
TRACY BYRNES: The money issue for me is very separate from the academic developmental issue, because I don't think these kids should be rushed through school and I do think there is a reason why they need these years to develop as people, but when you do look at the dollars and cents, I mean there are a lot of people that live in towns that don't even have kids in the school system and close to 50 percent of their taxes are going to the schools that are not spending their money properly. If you can get a kid that can take advantage of every dollar that is given to them and they can get through the system and take advantage, why not?
SALLY KOHN: As taxpayers, we pay for a lot of things that we think are in the general interest and not just in our own self-interest and public education is obviously number one on that list. Look, we could let these kids graduate two years early. We could give them all guns and let them patrol the streets and we could fire police officers and that would also save taxpayers' money. It doesn't mean that it's a good idea right? Obviously it would be nice instead of just talking about how we can keep cutting public services that help middle-class families, we would actually talk about millionaires and billionaires paying the same tax rate as the middle-class. Maybe then we wouldn't have to make these cuts.
JONATHAN HOENIG: (We're talking about) billions of dollars and accelerating kids; smart kids who are probably wasting their time in the public schools. I've got to tell you I agree with Jim. I think the less time a kids spends in the public schools, on average probably the better; especially the gifted ones. I mean, don't hold them back. Grade skipping used to be very common in this country. In the 70s and 80s this whole egalitarian philosophy that says you've got to cut down the tall poppies and in fact, the government monopoly that we have in this country incentivizes kids to stay longer and have this peer-to-peer learning; this whole idea of kids boosting test scores so it makes the teachers look better. Let gifted students move on and save taxpayers' money in the process.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: I think you guys are being very naïve because you're actually assuming that you're going to have so many kids that are going to be in this accelerated program. Look, it's not a linear number, so you don't just say in two years this is it and they're done. You're going to have a big percentage of kids that are still going to be there for four years. It's a revolving number. Plus you're going to have some that are held back and what do you do with all of these kids that are out of school already? You don't even have the jobs that are there for them anyway. Look, you're going to see property taxes go through the roof because the counties are going to have to hire more people to babysit all the kids who just graduated.
PENDING STATE PENSION CRISIS: IS THIS THE NEXT BAILOUT?
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well it's already here Cheryl. You've got legislation underway in Michigan for bailouts. It could easily happen in California; in Illinois where they've underfunded the state pension plan for years. So yes, pensions are dramatically underfunded. We're going to be hearing all about the needy teachers and policemen and firemen and all about all the evil, greedy Wall Street bankers in the one percent. Of course they're not the ones that actually caused this mess. It's the progressive philosophy of government that has lead to this major expansion and of course the sweetheart deals to unions. What worries me is the breakdown, not only in the economy, but in society. Look at Greece, look at Spain; those riding in the streets with the Molotov cocktails are members of public unions. I fear that if we don't solve this problem, that's what could happen here as well.
JIM LACAMP: Bailouts are coming, but let's not forget, it's not just the public side. The private sector has a lot of unfunded liabilities on their pension plans as well. So the problem here is that 40 percent of the population are baby boomers and they're hitting retirement. So we've got over 40 percent of corporate pensions that are underfunded and we have basically all of the states that are underfunded. So we're going to see fights between public and private sector bailouts. I think they should treat everyone the same and what's not being said here is that one reason why all these pensions are underfunded, is Federal Reserve policy that's kept interest rates so ultra-low that these pension funds can't get a return on their fixed income.
SALLY KOHN: Two points here. First of all, when we even use the language of bailouts, it tends to evoke what we did for the banks and you know bailing out a bunch of private sector big banks because they took reckless, risky bets is very different then saying look, we have this obligation to public workers and to teachers. We said look, come take this job, get underpaid, work long hours, deal with our kids that we don't want to deal with during the day and in exchange we're going to give you a good pension and oops, we're going to start depriving that pension for year after year after year instead of raising taxes, and now we're not going to help you have a secure retirement. I'm sorry, but that's our obligation we've made to public workers and there is nothing wrong with it.
TRACY BYRNES: Promises, promises. How many broken promises are sitting at this table? We've got so many marriages under our belt here we don't know what to do with ourselves. Look, the notion that we're still saying this kind of stuff to people is Looney Tunes. We don't have the money. You cannot keep printing money to bail these people out. This continuum has got to stop. Our children; we just spent the last block talking about them. They are the ones that are going to be dealing with this. Just stop it. How about this? How about you take half? You do not have to live happily ever after on your pension. I'm not getting one.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: Guys let's bring it in here. First of all, look, Sally is right though. You can't change the rules in the middle of the game. There are life changing events; people have stayed with these careers. They were guaranteed these pensions, so yes they need to be there; however, future employees should not be given these great, golden pension plans and everything else that's given to them and the health care for life, and their family, and survivor benefits, and everything else because that's not right. That's where the change actually has to take place, but you can't change the rules in the middle of the game right now because once you do that, people are going to revolt.
STUDENTS REVOLT AGAINST COSTLY SCHOOL-LUNCH PROGRAMS: TIME TO GET UNCLE SAM OUT OF SCHOOL CAFETERIAS?
TRACY BYRNES: I made three lunches this morning Cheryl and I do it because I know what each one of my kids needs throughout the day. Some of them need more food than others. Look, I get that there are kids out there that sometimes, this is the only good meal they get for the day, but we can't do this one-size-fits-all; everyone only gets three pieces of broccoli and two fish sticks. It's not enough for some kids and quite frankly it's more unhealthy because then their blood sugar levels fall and they're dragging and they're not going to do as well in school.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: The calorie idea I get. I understand that; however, maybe if they had parents who were more like Tracy and they actually were getting a full meal with the vegetable and the fruit, but they're not. They have one bag with a potato chip bag and they're holding a king-sized Snickers. Look, these kids do need a diet. They need good discipline and they're not getting it at home. That's why this program works right now.
JIM LACAMP: Look, this needs to be decided on by the state; the local level, not the federal level. They're trying to control every movement that we make. I think it's a bad idea and I think calorie counting is a horrible idea.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Well we've come to see a school lunch as a right in this country Cheryl, but it was only in the 1940s when the National School Lunch Program even started and it was started as a means of propping up food prices because we had farm surpluses that year. So it's another example of how government controls always leads to more government controls. To Tracy's point, the responsibility of feeding a child, let alone educating a child, rests with the parents not Michelle Obama.
SALLY KOHN: Meanwhile, half the kids rely on free lunches at school and look; they only lowered the calorie count by like 20 to 30 calories. This is an effort for government to try and help our kids develop more healthy habits unlike what some ideologues seem to think, which is that it's a Socialist effort to redistribute calories.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
TRACY BYRNES: Average family health insurance premium is up 18 percent under President Obama, or $2,370.
TODD SCHOENBERGER: "Oktoberfest" helps Sam Adams (SAM) bubble up 20 percent by Thanksgiving.
JIM LACAMP: iPhone 5 helping Sprint (S) ring up a 25 percent profit by Christmas.
JONATHAN HOENIG: Netanyahu's U.N. speech lifting Israeli stocks and (EIS).