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.
WHITE HOUSE ISSUES MORE EXECUTIVE ORDERS AS COMPANIES CUT MORE JOBS
Gary B. Smith: I think this is hurting the economy. One executive order was for a website. The country is begging for leadership-the kind of leadership we had under Ronald Reagan, even the kind of leadership we had under Bill Clinton. And we get a website? The government already has a website. They were using Monster.com to look for jobs. The government decided they could do it better. It's called USA Jobs. The thing has crashed. It hasn't been online. The passwords haven't been updated. It's been a complete disaster, like usual with these government programs. The other one is like a headline you'd see out of The Onion. Obama says ‘we want to speed up the transfer of federal research and development from the laboratory to the market place.' Seriously? Are you making this up? What kind of program is that? That sounds like some kind of billboard for nothing. So, the problem is we're looking for leadership. Companies and businesses out there just want the government to lay a clear foundation and get out of the way. Instead, they're micromanaging and when they do micro-manage, they're doing stupid stuff.
Tobin Smith: I get the feeling that this administration's whole business strategy is pulling levers and doing cool things then all of a sudden someone will wake up and change their attitude. In fact, the tinkering and the micromanagement and the idea that you could actually create a sustainable economic environment by pulling those things doesn't work. We know it doesn't work. It hasn't worked for three years. Get out of our way. We'll do just fine. I'm hiring people right now, but I'm not hiring based on anything else besides we're building a business and get out of my way and I'll hire more.
Jonas Max Ferris: I don't think Maytag really wants the government out of their way. In fact, they're going to the government to protect them from foreign competitors, so that's asking the government to help you. A company like Maytag is benefited more than most companies from all the government stimulus, which is still going on to some extent when you get credits for buying energy-efficient appliances. Those extra sales led them to not having to fire people. Are you borrowing from future prosperity to do that, sure. Right now you're seeing a slow down in Maytag sales because these things have run out. You're going to take from future prosperity to limit the depth of a recession.
Steve Murphy: I don't see anything wrong with these orders whatsoever. Secondly, there is always uncertainty. Thirdly, the private sector is doing a decent job of creating jobs right now. Almost to the tune of 100,000 a month. It's being offset by the layoffs in the public sector, which is exactly what most of the people on this panel want to see. I think laying off teachers is a dumb idea because they help create the work force of tomorrow, but that's exactly what's going on out there right now. The middle class can't buy anything because they're under water on their mortgage through no fault of their own entirely because of Wall Street's irresponsibility.
Matt McCall: Since Obama has become president, we have already had over 20 of these plans pass, really aiming at getting economic activity moving here in our country. So far, that has not happened. So, I don't think having five more this week and starting a website for businesses is suddenly going to have me go out and hire people or have anyone else hire. The problem is there are a lot of unknowns out there because no one is sure which plan is going to come next, which initiatives and how it's really going to help us. So, that leaves companies that could potentially be hiring to sit on their hands and wait for the unknowns to go away. At the same time, as a consumer, the unknowns are keeping me from spending. We had Whirlpool lay off 5,000 people. The reason for that is there are big ticket items that are not being bought. So, when there are unknowns out there people are not buying, people are getting laid off and it's not good for the economy.
COLLEGE TUITION JUMPS 8.3 percent, TWICE THE RATE OF INFLATION
Gary B. Smith: We've seen the scenario replace college education costs with housing. Why did housing spike up? Because it was subsidized at low rates and demand exceeded supply. We're seeing the same thing with college tuition. Why is it going up faster than inflation? Because it's subsidized by the government. The government thinks that college education is a great idea and for some, it is a great idea. That's the reason it goes up. Why do professors and others build these grand facilities? Because they have more money than they can spend because the kids come in with all this cheap money. That's why it's there and it's going to keep going up as long as we come up with idiotic programs like the one the President just announced.
Tobin Smith: The biggest issue here is that these government schools have become the piñata. Property taxes have come down because house values have come down. We're trying to plug the hole by sucking money out of the federal government that goes into the state. It's as simple as that. It's not strange math.
Jonas Max Ferris: In the short run, the school prices are going up mostly at the state and university level because the governments are shrinking. The state and federal subsidies and amount they give to these schools is going down. It's not the result of the loan program. The longer term, they have gone up fast because, like housing, there is too much money available to everybody to go to any kind of school, any quality. The bigger problem is not these quality schools that states run. It's the for-profit, non-government schools that are financed almost exclusively by the student loan program. That's the real scandal here and that's where you get a worthless degree and come out with $25,000 worth of debt.
Steve Murphy: To have cause and effect according to the scientific method, the cause has to occur before the effect. It's been going on for decades and you have to decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing for a higher percentage of American high school graduates to go to college. I wouldn't mess with this system at all. It's one part of the American economy that actually works. Our college and university system is the envy of the world. Keep it going exactly like it is.
Matt McCall: In the last year, prices in a public school went up 8.3 percent. The private universities only went up 4.5 percent. The reason these prices are going up is because the states have put themselves in trouble by spending too much and now they're getting it back by charging for you and I to go to college. Back in 1970, to go to UC Berkeley, it cost $700. It's now $15,000. Imagine something that cost $7 back then would now be $150. Prices are going up way too high and it's the states and government's fault.
WALL STREET PROTESTERS ENDORSING 'ROBIN HOOD' TAX
Gary B. Smith: Investing is our lifeblood. It gives the funds to Google and Apple to start up. We kind of have this global government with the U.N., which is known for fraud and waste and oil for money scandals. If we give it to a government, we're giving it to, by definition, an inefficient organization. In our country, we've been fighting the war on poverty for almost fifty years. The poverty rate is now higher than it was when the war first started. This is just a dumb idea across the board.
Tobin Smith: We have government that's like Greece that will now be able to go to a global pot and take money from that. That's a fabulous idea. Even worse, if you put this transaction tax on, it hurts the mid and small sized people. So, they're less competitive. So, they roll up and who do they go to? They go to the big guys. So they put more power into the big guys and then they create less jobs. I thought they were protesting to take away from the big guys and then create more jobs. This is how upside down their logic is.
Jonas Max Ferris: I think that governments have to look for revenue enhancements that aren't destructive to the economy and a trading tax, of all the taxes you could have in a semi-weak economy-would do the least damage to anybody but the high frequency train department at Goldman Sachs.
Steve Murphy: I think a really small tax on speculative finance investments that goes into either micro loans or into direct aid to schools or hiring teachers in the third world. John Paul was right. The Northern hemisphere needs to do more for the southern hemisphere.
Matt McCall: You go after the "big guys." But it's a trickle down effect. Eventually, it affects everybody who is invested in that stock. The majority of people have 401k's or pension plans and if the value of that drops, they're working longer and that's less jobs for new, young kids coming in. What has been the issue for the past three years? A too big government. This is making government even bigger.
Gary B. Smith: Newmont Mining doubles in 5 years
Tobin Smith: Ultra Petroleum gains 25 percent by January
Jonas Max Ferris: Coca-Cola has 20 percent profit in one year
Matt McCall: Bed, Bath and Beyond up 25 percent in one year