Recap of Saturday, March 29

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Bulls & Bears

This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, director of stock research; Scott Bleier, president; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Joe Battipaglia, Stifel Nicolaus, and Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University.

Trading Pit: Is Now a Great Time to Buy Stocks and Homes?

More tough times for stocks and homes? Not so fast! Stocks are within shouting distance of their first winning month since last October, and existing home sales were actually up in February. So is now a great time to buy both?

Gary B Smith: It's a great time. The Fed has shown that they absolutely will not let the economy fail. Consumer confidence will come back as the market does. And higher equity prices will make people feel richer, allowing them to bid up home prices.

Tobin Smith: It is not a great time yet. Housing stocks are only rising due to short covering. A few more will go down like Bear Stearns before all bad news is priced in.

Scott Bleier: Yes it's a great time for some stocks and some houses-but not all stocks and not all houses. As far as stocks are concerned, I would keep away from big banks and brokerage houses. We just don't know what they are worth. But I am attracted to many areas of technology and the consumer. There are some real bargains in the stock market.

Joe Battipaglia: Now is not a great time for housing or stocks. Home prices should continue to fall this year by a national average of 10 percent, and that means even more trouble for credit markets. The fallout from recession is still ahead in terms of unemployment and weakening earnings. It's too soon to sound the "all clear".

Pat Dorsey: Stocks will bottom before housing. Still too much unsold inventory. The next couple of months and the spring selling season will be key.

Tax Dollars Paying for Flood Damage: Enough Is Enough?

Major flooding continues across the Midwest. And who is coming to the rescue? You! Your tax dollars at work: 19 counties in Missouri are getting federal money to help with the clean up. Is it your responsibility, through your taxes, to fix these flooded areas?

Gary B Smith: Enough is enough! People can choose where they want to live. If you choose to live in a flood plain or in a place that will have forest fires like parts of California or in tornado alley, then it would beholden on you to make sure you have Insurance. If you can't afford the insurance or you don't want the insurance, you shouldn't live there. It's called personal responsibility.

Marc Lamont Hill: The reality here is if these people could leave, they would. They would get in their helicopters and private jets and go. There are plenty of people stuck in Missouri. They have generational ties; social ties; and more importantly, they have economic ties. They can't leave. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to help fellow Americans.

Stock X-Change

The crew's most recent buys right now in the "Bulls & Bears" lightning round!

If you want to watch what each had to say about each stock, click here.

Tobin Smith: Arch Coal (ACI )

Joe Battipaglia: Avnet (AVT )

Pat Dorsey: Quicksilver Gas Services (KGS )

Scott Bleier: TiVo (TIVO )

Gary B Smith: Costco (COST )


Tobin Smith: Oprah/Howard merger equals profits! "SIRI " up 50 percent in 1 year

Gary B Smith: Bull run continues for oil; "HAL " up 30 percent by end of '08

Pat Dorsey: Pipes are smokin'! Magellan Midstream (MGG ) up 40 percent in 2 years

Scott Bleier: Safety sells! Autoliv (ALV ) up 30 percent in 12 months

Joe Battipaglia: Chow down on Kraft (KFT ) as food prices rise!

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on FOX | Cashin' In

Cavuto on Business

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Neil Cavuto was joined by Ben Stein, "Yes, You Can Supercharge Your Portfolio" author; Charles Payne,; Tracy Byrnes, FOX Business Network; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; and Peter Sheahan, "Fl!p" author.

Bottom Line: Are Mainstream Media Talking Down the Economy to Get a Dem in the White House?

Neil Cavuto: Is the economy slowing? Yes, it is. Now, call me crazy… is it as bad as this: This week, the Associated Press said Americans are being subjected to, and I quote, "Economic water torture." And then there was this wire story on the GPD: "The economy nearly sputtered out at the end of the year…"

We were UP at the end of the year!

Someone here says this is all part of the media's plan to get a Democrat in the White House. Ben Stein, you write for everything from The New York Times to Yahoo!. What do you think? Is there an agenda here?

Ben Stein: The media has been selling fear of recession for months, maybe years now. Even before there was any seriously bad news, the media was selling, selling, selling fear. The media have been shouting fire in a crowded theatre now for months. The actual economic conditions are not that bad. I think if we have a recession, if we have a serious recession, a great deal of blame lies at the media's feet. I don't know why they're doing it because they're the ones who will lose their jobs.

Neil Cavuto: What do you make of it? We are going into a slowdown… maybe even a recession, but to hear some of the media tell it… you'd think we're going into a depression.

Charles Payne: The real problem is it's not fair to the public they're supposedly serving. When you stir things up and say things like "water torture" it seems to me that the media is taking a shot at the GOP on the economy and the Iraq war. The phrase "water torture" reminds me of "water boarding." It's so transparent. I think the media is creating a crime against the public.

Neil Cavuto: Peter, you're very big about words mattering and the impression they leave mattering… words like "water torture" and "depression" are strong words.

Peter Sheahan: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell people life's going to be bad, they're going to tighten their wallets, stop spending money, and their life will be bad. I'm from the outside, so I get to watch it from other parts of the world…

Neil Cavuto: I would have never known…


Peter Sheahan: Well, you can't tell!


Charles Payne: I thought he was from Texas.

Tracy Byrnes: Or New Jersey.

Peter Sheahan: We're seeing economies tighten in other countries because of a fear of a recession in America. The fundamentals look pretty good to me. It's not just the American economy that may be in trouble because of the fears; other economies around the world may be in trouble too.

Neil Cavuto: Even rumors affect the markets and can set the tone?

Tracy Byrnes: Rumors can kill you at the end of the day. And you're absolutely right that it sets the tone. People are skittish. They're on edge. They hear one, little inkling that something could go wrong and bam! They're pulling their money out of the market. It's interesting because we saw the savings numbers go up this week. That's because people are panicking. They're reading and hearing all this stuff and they're panicking. They're putting their money under their mattress.

Neil Cavuto: I don't buy that, by the way, because the malls are still very, very crowded.

Tracy Byrnes: I agree with you, but I think the media find the glass-half-empty version of the story. But, I don't think it's because there is a political agenda.

Charles Payne: Let me cut to the real chase. The reality is it's not that the media is selling negative news. It seems to me they want to get a Democrat in the White House.

Adam Lashinsky: No. Charles, let me cut to the chase. Among the many things that bother me about this conversation is the word "they." I've got news for you friends… they are we! We are all acting as journalists. Some of us only do it a little bit of the week; others of us do it 110 percent of the week. I just couldn't disagree more with our entire conversation. The media like two things. It likes news and it likes a good fight. That's true for conservative journalists; it's true for liberal journalists. I didn't hear anyone complaining three years ago that the media was over-hyping the housing market…

Charles Payne: They didn't over-hype it, Adam. That's the point! We're economically where we were about a year ago. We never heard that things were great. Sixty-eight percent homeownership wasn't great, but when you come down a little from that… it's the "end of the world." Five percent unemployment isn't great, but when you get there from 4.8 percent, it's "horrible." The media want a Democrat to win the White House.

Adam Lashinsky: We aren't where we were a year ago. You can cite a statistic like unemployment, but I can cite a statistic to show you the growth trends are going in the wrong direction. I think it's preposterous to say that the media as a whole has a political agenda. Who was tougher on Bill Clinton than the editorial board to The New York Times. Do you want to explain that one to me?

Neil Cavuto: No Adam. We're actually talking about you. You are single-handedly to blame.


Adam Lashinsky: I think I need a raise then!

Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, what do you make of this idea that the general impression left by the general media is that things are awful?

Ben Stein: Adam is dreaming. I mean, I respect him and I like him, but he's dreaming! I mean, The New York Times, whom I work for part of the week is just hammering, hammering, hammering that the economy is terrible. We're not even in a recession yet! I mean, if we are, we don't know it yet because of the way a recession is defined. A recession is 6 months of downward economic activity. We've had at most 6 weeks. What we do know is that 95.2 percent of the population is employed, 70 percent own houses, more people than ever are in college, and last time I check corporate profits are quite high… we're in a very prosperous society. Yes, there are fears on Wall Street. Yes, there are tremors on Wall Street, but overall the society is very prosperous. The media is selling fear.

Neil Cavuto: Peter, let me ask you this… in Australia, is the media as dastardly?

Peter Sheahan: The media likes a good story. Fear is a good story. Now, I don't know if there's a political agenda, but whenever you have a political campaign, the opposition is always going to try to tear the Party in power apart. If the media feels like that's going to sell newspapers… it's going to go with it.

Neil Cavuto: If the message is the US economy is not what it was, then you can take that to extremes, right?

Peter Sheahan: In Australia, we decided to pick on social issues instead of economic issues. People found a hole in the social issues, which from my personal point of view was a good thing to go after. That is what brought the incumbent government down. We had 70 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

Neil Cavuto: So the environment became a very big issue?

Peter Sheahan: Yes, and apologies to the indigenous population. All of which were long over due. So it wasn't a bad thing. And back to the "water torture" thing… words drive behavior and the media has a big part in that.

Ben Stein: Very good.

Tracy Byrnes: I just have to defend financial journalists because I was one for 10 years.

Neil Cavuto: Thank goodness you came to TV.


Tracy Byrnes: When you write a good story, you show both sides. What's what I mean when I say "they," Adam. I have to exclude myself because I have been trained to show both sides.

Neil Cavuto: I should be clear, what I meant was CNN and CNBC.


Head to Head: Are Airline Cost-Cuts Putting Your Safety at Risk?

Neil Cavuto: Hundreds of flights grounded as airlines check for faulty wiring. A plane's window is smashed as part of a wing rips off mid-flight. Tires blow out and a plane reportedly gets on fire. A scary week for travelers. Are airline cost-cuts putting fliers at risk?

Charles Payne: I am worried. It's gotten to the point where I have stopped racial profiling. I had the terrorist looking-guys sitting next to me, but I was looking at the wing the whole trip. That's how this has shifted, as far as I'm concerned. One of the things we have to really be worried about is oversight. The FAA seems to have fallen asleep at the wheel. These airlines are desperate to make money. And you know when it comes to cutting costs, one of the first things that does suffer is safety.

Neil Cavuto: Ben Stein, you also travel a lot. Do you have a concern about the reliability of the safety checkers so to speak?

Ben Stein: I have a great deal of concern. One of the most frightening things is when there is a safety problem and they bring mechanics on board. Mechanics all look like homeless people. They are a very scary-looking bunch.


Ben Stein: I would like to see them looking more alert. We should never have gotten rid of the CAB. The Civil Aeronautics Board actually set fares. Airlines could charge enough to keep the planes well-maintained. Deregulation in air travel has been one of the biggest disasters in the history of American economic policy. I'm just waiting for some terrible crash because of this deferred maintenance. Please, government, go back to regulated air travel.

Neil Cavuto: Peter, you're very good at how companies handle their image during all this. I heard from so many airline-types this past week on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network… have I told you about the Fox Business Network? We'll talk later.

Ben Stein: That sounds like the best thing to watch ever.


Neil Cavuto: Let me get your take on the way the airline industry handles this. Saying, you're very safe flying. I know of no other industry that says, "Peter, at least we haven't killed you."


Peter Sheahan: Well, that's a good start when you fly as much as some of the people here fly! But I don't think deregulation of the marketplace is a bad thing. It costs $17,000 to fly from Australia to New York, because it's a regulated route.

Neil Cavuto: Are you flying first class?

Peter Sheahan: No, it's business class. First class is $23,000. There is nothing wrong with deregulating the marketplace, but you still need some level of regulation when it comes to safety. So, I think this is a failure on two parts. First, we as customers are driving the market place down and are unwilling to spend any more than $50, $80, $100 on a flight. That's got to stop. Secondly, the airlines have no choice but to look to cut costs. They're shipping their supply chain all over the world. It's going to have an impact. Safety is the scariest place it will have an impact. So that's where the government has a role to step in. They can have as many carriers as they want, provided they don't let standards of safety, etcetera go down with it because you can only cut so many pretzels from the menu.

Adam Lashinsky: I can't believe I'm the only person chuckling to myself here about the media trying to scare people. Ben talks about the terrible changes that have happened since deregulation. The fact is that fatalities have come down in the last 30 years to the point where they are statistical freaks. They are freak accidents when they happen. I think what happened last week shows that the FAA and the airlines are on the ball. I've very pro-airline by the way, and I think it has something to do with the fact I met my wife on an airplane.

Neil Cavuto: Ooohhh, well that explains everything.


Tracy Byrnes: I agree with Adam. I think the regulation is there. I think we are short FAA agents which is something Congress needs to deal with. We need more people out there investigating these planes, but they are doing their job. Clearly, you're going to get fewer peanuts, you're going to get a scruffy blanket if you get one at all.

Neil Cavuto: You don't want the blanket. It has been used. If someone told me, "Neil, you can get the soda or the screw in tight." I would go for the screw in tight.

Tracy Byrnes: Bring your own snacks! I want good wheels on the plane.

Neil Cavuto: Ben, maybe you can elaborate on this. In this unrealistic sort of pricing environment, where you're essentially flying people below the cost of getting them there, you have automatically compromised their safety.

Ben Stein: You have automatically compromised their lives! What I really think is they are cutting a little bit of our lives off us every hour of every flight by torturing us on the flights and ruining our lives, and making us miserable.


Ben Stein: I was at an American Airlines terminal in Orlando the other day. I must say it really looked, God forbid, it looked like something from the maximum security prison on Pelican Island. It's just terrifying how badly they treat us on now.

Neil Cavuto: This happened to Ben Stein. You and me, forget it.

Charles Payne: Even in first class, they throw you peanuts! I think people would pay more. This is the airlines fault. They went thought this in the 1970s. They put each other out of business.

Adam Lashinsky: And you call me naïve for saying the media is not politically motivated and yet you think people are lining up to pay more. I don't think so.

Neil Cavuto: No, we weren't saying the media, Adam… we kept saying you.


More for Your Money: The Best Funds!

Click here to see this segment.

Neil Cavuto: Forget stocks! Our money pros say put your money in funds. It's time to get "More for Your Money."

Ben Stein: Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO)

Charles Payne: Fidelity Select Construction & Housing (FSHOX)

Adam Lashinsky: Vanguard Health Care (VHT)

FOX on the Spot!

Charles Payne: Make Big Money with "RIMM" & "AAPL" - Both Jump 25 percent!

Tracy Byrnes: Credit Card Debt Could Become a Tax Burden for You!

Ben Stein: Bear Stearns Buyout is a Crime against the Stockholder System!

Peter Sheahan: Subprime Will Prove to be a Great Money-Making Opportunity!

Adam Lashinsky: Homeowners Don't Need a Government Bailout

Neil Cavuto: Just Wait & See Who "Won't" Get a Mortgage Bailout!

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on FOX | Cashin' In

Forbes on FOX

In Focus: Hillary's Housing "Fix": Bad News for Homeowners And Home Prices?

Mike Ozanian, National Editor: Hillary's plan would send home prices crashing down. She wants a massive bailout for people who borrowed too much to buy their homes. It would punish investors, and it would punish mortgage lenders. Think of the disaster it caused by Nixon's plan in the ‘70's to freeze wages and prices. That same thing would happen to homes.

Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief: Look, you're in the middle of a massive reset here. For years, people bet on home appreciation and home borrowing to fuel consumer spending because wages didn't go up. You see the turnaround now in collapsing home prices around the country, the worst consumer outlook since 1973, and a drop in durable goods orders. It's going to continue. The issue is how do you have an orderly decline? Hillary's proposing to spend $30 billion, by the way the same amount that it took to take the toxic waste out of Bear Stearns, to take supply off the market and have housing prices go down a little more slowly and orderly so that people have time to adjust. McCain on the other hand says let prices go into freefall, maybe mortgage companies should plan to voluntarily drop profits. Which do you think is more realistic?

Victoria Barret, Associate Editor: Well, I think it's bad. She's trying to create order out of what has to be disorder, Quentin. Home prices have to fall. What happened was a bubble. Home prices rose way out of control. People were spending too much on homes as a percentage of their income, taking out loans they couldn't afford.

Elizabeth MacDonald, Fox Business Network: I think it's bad, and here's why. This whole idea of $30 billion, that Hillary is saying is a rescue fund, is just a cheap shot about the whole idea that the fed is bailing out Wall Street by providing the $30 billion backstop to the Bear Stears- JP Morgan deal. That $30 billion is just a drop in the bucket, it can't be taken seriously when $350 billion dollars of arms are resetting this year. Yeah, I hear about pushing down the road to foreclosures. They could happen anyway. I don't know if it would cause prices to crash, but it's really unfair when people who lied about their incomes to get their mortgage can tell the truth to get these lower rates. I don't think that's fair.

Evelyn Rusli, Reporter: Hillary wants to swoop in and save the innocent buyers from the evil mortgage lenders and the villains on Wall Street. Well, guess what? Everyone needs to step back and say mea culpa. Hillary's plan is really bad. When you look at the 90-day freezes on foreclosures, five year freeze on adjustable rates, that's bad because it will just send the rates higher in the future. That's going to freeze the lending industry, making it harder as a homeowner to get lending in the future.

Lacey Rose, Senior Reporter: I think it's good. I don't think it's just about these homeowners who are about to lose their homes. It has a ripple effect, a really devastating one, and it will only continue to. The larger goal of freezing foreclosures is a good one.

Employers Using Online Profiles When Hiring; Is That Fair?

Quentin Hardy: If somebody comes in and has a tattoo on their forehead that says ‘Spring Break 2006: Thanks, dad, for the bail money', I shouldn't be allowed to read it? If you are publishing stuff, people will read it.

Victoria Barret: Well, I hope Quentin is ok with the fake MySpace and Facebook profiles that I made of him where I talk about what he did on spring break. You can't trust what you see online. People can fabricate things very easily. I spent last summer talking to people who were wronged by the anonymity of the web, and that's twofold. People can make up stuff about you and it's hard to verify.

Lacey Rose: First off, I think you can also make up stuff at the interview. I think it's imprudent for employers not to look at that stuff. It's a window into who these people are, what kind of judgment they have. It's a factor like references are a factor, like thank you notes are a factor.

Jack Gage, Associate Editor: The idea that there's now talk of litigating this space and making rules and regulations about it are ridiculous. This isn't an ACLU issue, this is about the time employers are spending vetting employees. The time you're spending looking online at how many keg stands your perspective employee did last weekend is a minute wasted in a time when competitors have a chance put an offer out there and hire a talented employee.

Mike Ozanian: I say the internet is here to stay. Look, the more information the better. Nobody is saying use Facebook only to make your decision whether to hire someone. It's just one more piece of information. That's all. There's nothing wrong with that.

Josh Lipton, Staff Writer: If my prospective boss was gullible and naïve enough to believe what he or she was reading on an online profile, I'm not trying to work for that guy anyway. Why would you believe anything on a social networking site where anybody can post just about anything?

Should Sponsors Boycott the Olympics?

Lacey Rose: I think this is one of the few times where we can put external pressure on the Chinese government. I think companies would be foolish and frankly irresponsible to just stand idly by and let these atrocities continue. I think sponsors and broadcasters account for 87 percent of Olympic revenue. That's clout.

Josh Lipton: I'm not coming to the defense of the Chinese government here, but I would say there's a larger lesson which is if you want to change the behavior of a country, you have to engage with them in the international community. Look at places like Burma, Sudan, North Korea – they've isolated themselves from international order. You pull out from the Olympics right now, the only lesson you're teaching China's political class is that engagement causes more problems than benefits.

Jack Gage: I agree with Lacey to a certain extent that they should stay out of the Olympics this time. Nobody crashes a party like Communists with tanks. If I'm a share holder of Coca Cola or Anheuser Busch, one of these big US based sponsors of the Olympics, I don't want my company's name branded all over these events that are going to be interrupted by chaos.

Elizabeth MacDonald: We're boycotting effectively Iran and North Korea with sanctions, but I agree with Jack. You go to China's website for the Olympics, and it's about promoting socialist modernization of China at a time when Monks are getting shot, and they are brutalizing their workers. Watch what happened with the propaganda in 1936 with Hitler. He used those games as propaganda. ‘The New York Times' reported this will bring Germany back to a family of nations again. Boy, that was a victory for Hitler back then. This is a propaganda coup for China.

Quentin Hardy: Tibet is an illegally occupied country. Maybe we shouldn't have sporting games at big repressive dictatorships. Countries boycotted the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 over the invasion of Hungary, we boycotted in 1980 over the invasion of Afghanistan. Maybe companies should also have a little responsibility and say no to this. This isn't about ending commercial relations. It is saying we do not approve of the way you're treating people.

Informer: $tocks on $ale!

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Kai Falkenberg, Forbes Editorial Counsel: Dillard's (DDS)

Josh Lipton: Tyco International (TYC)

Evelyn Rusli: Sunoco (SUN)

Jack Gage: Blackstone Group (BX)

Bulls & Bears | Cavuto on Business | Forbes on FOX | Cashin' In

Cashin' In

Our Cashin' In crew this week: Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris,; Wayne Rogers, Wayne Rogers & Co.; Dagen McDowell, Fox Business Network; Joey Vento, Owner, "Geno's Steaks"; Mercedes Colwin, Fox News Legal Analyst; Pat Powell, Powell Financial Group.

Wall Street Heaps Money on Dems: Is that a Bad Investment for The Street?

Wall Street has given about 6 times as much money to Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as it has given to Republican John McCain.

Is that a bad investment?

Pat: There's an old saying that says "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." That's what Wall Street is trying to do. It's trying to buy into its enemies but its making a big mistake here. If you want an example of this, try Charlie Rangel. He's gotten more money since he became the head of the House Ways and Means Committee. and it has bought them nothing. This is a terrible mistake on their part.

Dagen: But why is that a mistake if one of them ends up in the White House? Why is that a bad thing? They want to be at least sort of on their good side.

Jonathan: The problem is there is influence to peddle. I think in a proper government there wouldn't be any reason to support candidates because there would be no favors you could buy off them. There are really no free-marketeers running. In fact, I resent John McCain the most because it's because of him I can't donate anonymously. I mean, you give two grand to a campaign, everyone knows your business and I think that, to me, is a real turn off about supporting any candidates.

Wayne: I think the point is this: they all want a winner. Jonathan's right in the sense that sucking around the coattails of power gives them some influence. That's all they care about. They think they've got a winner. They think the Democrats are going to win. So all they're looking for is a winner. They want access to power. That's the only reason they're giving money.

Jonas: I think companies get good bang for their buck on the amount of money they're investing in these candidates. I mean you look at someone like Hillary Clinton who's supposed to be a populist. The bankruptcy bill history with her is absurd. When you start taking money from companies like AmeriCredit that are in subprime auto lending, you're going to influence your voting record and you'll step out of votes that you should be voting on, that are supposed to be for your constituency. Right now, this is very important because Wall Street is about to get laid on with a whole bunch of regulations.

Wall Street's Message to Congress: Stay Home?

Congress is coming back from a two-week recess with big plans for the economy. From new regulations to housing fixes, lawmakers are ready to hit the ground running. But… should Congress just stay home to help the markets?

Pat: Absolutely. No one is as brain-dead as a subprime lender, except perhaps for Congress. We don't need more regulation. We don't need new laws. In fact, the FBI has opened up investigations to look into whether there's fraudulent lending going on. Congress is going to be full of pet pork in these bills.

Dagen: The first thing they're going to do, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, is get together a plan to basically refinance mortgages, keep people in their homes, and if they can put a bottom in this housing market, or give us some support, I can't find one person, at least not right now, in Washington or across this country who would not support that.

Wayne: We can't pay for homeowner relief and yes, they are going to do it and it's unfortunate because this whole thing was created by a derivatives market that was, in fact, unregulated. Worse than that, go back historically, when they threw out the Glass-Steagall Act and they allowed the major banks to also own investment houses, so there was no Chinese Wall. These guys were all playing together. They abused the system and they're going to pay for it.

Jonathan: I want them to come back if they focus on doing what they're supposed to do as enunciated in the Constitution. One of those duties is declare war. I think on the top of their list should be declaring war on militant Islam. That's their business. Not necessarily getting the regulation of micromanaging every element on our lives and certainly not more regulations.

Jonas: The mortgage industry was relatively regulation-free, relative to, say, the securities industry, both in how mortgage brokers were regulated, how much of a down payment was required, all that stuff. All that's about to change because they screwed it up so royally and created such an epic problem. All they would have had to have was a law that says you need to make a down payment to buy a house and we wouldn't even be in this mess.

Should Employers Be Able to Fire Workers for What Language They Speak?

Julie Rios is a Texas woman who is afraid she will get fired because she speaks Spanish at work and her boss doesn't like it.

Should her boss be able to fire her over this?

Joey: If you don't understand what your employers are saying, like in my case here, I wouldn't know if they were plotting, one, to rob me, or maybe, one, speak in Spanish and misdirect me in another direction, maybe they could go through the register, maybe they could set up something. I just don't understand. It's like a no brainer.

Mercedes: It's the safety of the employees; that's what the issue is here. The law is very clear. If you have a legitimate business reason, sure, you can restrict your employees. But the safety is not about the store owner, it's the safety of the employees and their coworkers. Are they at risk? In this Rios case, she's an assembly line worker. She doesn't interact with customers, she doesn't talk to the other customers. If there's a problem with the machine, she can go "machine, machine." She can point to the machine. There's no necessity for her to say it in English.

Jonas: If she was taking customer service calls for a cell phone company, yeah, she should have to speak English. I will say one thing: if we start requiring workers to speak English, we won't be assembling cell phones in America for very much longer because that's a low-paying job that will go to China where they don't care what language you speak when you're on the assembly line.

Wayne: Who can hire whomever you want to. If speaking English is a requirement of the job you can say, "hey, I'm sorry, I can't hire you." On the other hand, once you do hire someone you've got to expect they could start talking sign language. What difference does it make? And you should probably educate them.

Jonathan: The employer has the right to hire anyone he wants and FIRE anyone he wants at any time. The boss owns the establishment. The employee is a hired hand and I think the boss has the right to fire him for speaking Spanish, or looking sideways, or for any reason at any time.

Best Bets: Home Run Stocks

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Our money experts give you the stock picks that will make you cheer!

JONAS'S PICK: Vanguard Pacific Stock ETF (VPL )

WAYNE'S PICK: General Electric (GE )


PAT'S PICK: McDonald's (MCD )