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CNN IN THE MONEY
How Does Image Influence Presidential Politics?; Program Attempts to Put Americans Back on Savings Track
Aired July 18, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. IN THE MONEY begins in 60 seconds. But first here are some stories now in the news.
Wildfires are burning in California right now, keeping hundreds of people out of their homes. Firefighters got some help from rain and wind in their efforts to contain fires near Los Angeles. But other fires are flaring up in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.
The acting director of the CIA says the agency has not found any link between Iran and al Qaeda. John McLaughlin says that's even though several of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran before attacking the U.S.
Charles Jenkins is now in a Japanese hospital. Jenkins is accused of deserting the U.S. Army and defecting to North Korea in the mid '60s. He has come to Japan to be reunited with his Japanese wife and receive medical care as well. Jenkins might still be prosecuted by the U.S.
More news coming up in 30 minutes. IN THE MONEY begins right now. Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Susan Lisovicz sitting in today for Jack Cafferty. Coming up on our program:
If looks could thrill: Getting into office these days is as much about your mug as it is your money. Find out how your image can make or break a bid for the White House.
Plus, hooked on plastic: Americans are hotter on spending than they are on saving. We'll show you a program that is trying to change a country's money habits.
And out of their league: Bossy adults are turning baseball into a buzz kill for kids. See how a couple of ex-major leaguers are fighting to bring back the fun. We're all for that.
Joining me today, the usual suspects, "Fortune" magazine editor- at-large, Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor, Allen Wastler.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum -- I mean, convention. It was set, who was going to speak, what time, what they were going to say at the democratic convention, just a few weeks away now, in Boston, and then there was one noticeable omission. That mistake was corrected.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE": Yes. They didn't -- they forget to ask Hillary Clinton to speak, and -- you know, the Democratic Party famous for shooting itself in the foot, shot itself in the foot. I heard Laura Bush was available, they could have asked her. And you know who got ticked off is Barbara Mikulski of our great state of Maryland. Now, that's someone you don't mess -- no mess with Barbara Mikulski with her.
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: Oh, don't mess with Mikulski.
SERWER: She got ticked off. Right?
WASTLER: Well, the thinking was that what they were trying to do is make it an all Kerry message, you know, and that maybe...
SERWER: No women?
WASTLER: Well, it was a bone-headed decision, I didn't say it was a great one, but the thinking was "let's make it about John Kerry" you know, and Hillary would take some of that away. But you're right, Hillary is one of the main headliners for the party, so all the rest of the faithful, especially Barbara Mikulski and all the others, they just went nuts.
LISOVICZ: And she is a huge fund-raiser. So, I think it came down to money as much as inclusiveness.
SERWER: And women do vote for the democrats, don't they?
LISOVICZ: They -- I've heard that. I believe I've heard that. I believe I've heard that. Fifty percent of the population, some of them do vote for the candidates. It's about image, ultimately, too, of being inclusive, and our next guest is going to talk about that.
We'd like to think that the fight for the White House is about big ideas, high standards, and smart politics, but deep down you can't help suspecting it's about big hair, high cheekbones and smart outfits. Hmm, wait a minute.
Image has been a part of the U.S. elections since Lincoln or before. But, this year, it's front and center. Republicans are even calling John Edwards the "Breck Girl" on account of that lustrous head of anchorman hair. For a look at the role of image in American politics, we're joined, from Washington, by Emily Yoffe. She's a contributing writer for the online magazine "Slate." Welcome.
EMILY YOFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "SLATE": Thank you.
LISOVICZ: Well, John Edwards is a good-looking guy but not a cardboard kind of guy. He's an energetic speaker, he's very charming. It's not just about being handsome because that only goes so far. Would you not agree?
YOFFE: Yes, although Teresa Heinz Kerry just said I have to say I find John Edwards to be very, very beautiful. My husband is very smart, so, his looks have gotten everyone's attention.
LISOVICZ: Beauty and brains.
SERWER: Yes, I mean, looks don't matter. I mean, it's not everything, is it, Emily? First of all, I want you to note that I do not have anchorman hair and I may actually get away with it, I guess.
LISOVICZ: You have hair.
SERWER: But, you know, LBJ was a lot uglier than Barry Goldwater, right? I mean, so it doesn't always work.
YOFFE: No, absolutely not. Looks, as we all know, looks matter to some degree, but they are not everything. And interesting thing, if you look back at politicians and their looks, the public perception of looks change as the politician, him or herself, comes into focus. For example, Dan Quayle, unquestionably, young, attractive person, opened his mouth and suddenly he's the kid with the beanie on his head and propeller.
SERWER: Oh, nice.
YOFFE: So, you know, it is not everything. I talked to presidential historian, David Greenberg, who wrote a book about Richard Nixon. In the beginning of Nixon's career, he was described as a handsome six-footer and he did not get described as ugly until the "Tricky Dick" label started being hung on him.
SERWER: Yes, something happened there. Right?
LISOVICZ: Something happened in between.
WASTLER: Emily, you touched on height there a little bit. And, it's not all about just what the face looks like, it's about bearing and stature and you know, height matters. Right?
SERWER: No, it does not.
WASTLER: Yes, it does.
YOFFE: Height matters everywhere. If you look at leaders, they tend to be taller than average. Obviously, there are always exceptions, we've heard of Napoleon. And if height were everything we'd look to the NBA draft and the one NBA candidate we had, Bill Bradley, lost badly. So, height isn't everything. Although, George Bush is certainly aware of it, I have read that in the upcoming presidential debates, there's been some discussion about getting some way to ameliorate the probably six-inch height difference between the two candidates. LISOVICZ: You know, Emily, we're living in scary times and it's nice to have an attractive telegenic candidate, but at the end of the day, when you go into the voting both, certainly you're thinking about somebody who is going to keep you safe. That's one of the things that you're going to think about. Now, Dick Cheney, I don't think can compete with John Edwards in the hair department, but his -- I guess his appeal, if you will, would be more on the experience kind of level. Doesn't that count a lot, too?
YOFFE: It all matters, because who you are and what the times demand changes a person's perception. Now he -- you know, Dick Cheney could be -- come off as the experienced, safe person, or the kind of cranky old codger, maybe we need to get rid of him. And Edwards who, really, is being introduced to the country for the first time is young and attractive, but we'll see if he's considered to have the depth that you need to be a potential president. JFK's answered that question in his famous debates with the far more experienced Vice President Richard Nixon. And the big question was, is he too young? Is he ready to be president? But, it was his wit and confidence in answering the question, not just his good looks that got him elected.
SERWER: No question, Ross Perot had the whole package when it comes to looks and height. I'm being facetious.
YOFFE: He could stand on his money, right?
SERWER: Yes. Is John Edwards, is he really going to get more women to vote for him because of his looks? True or false?
YOFFE: Well, there's an interesting historical parallel. In 1920, Warren Harding, who, if you go back and read the coverage was tall and handsome, handsome and tall, tall and handsome. If look at him today, he looks like a kind of jolly white-haired person, but he was considered handsome in what a president should look like. Now he won, but it was the first election women could vote in and they did not vote for him.
WASTLER: Emily, George Bush, he's not that bad looking. I mean, you know, straightforward. Where does he register in this debate on the...
SERWER: What, how do you rate him?
WASTLER: How do you rate him? Where does he fall in?
LISOVICZ: One to 10.
YOFFE: Well, I think the question, is what kind of jokes do people make about a politician's looks. You know, John Kerry has the "why the long face?" He looked like Lurch from the "Addams Family." The most common thing you see about George Bush's looks is that he looks like a chimpanzee. There's even a Web site devoted to putting pictures together of the two of them, so there -- when somebody sticks, there is always something to how a politician's looks get made fun of. LISOVICZ: And since the campaign process is so visual, should John Edwards work it? Should he -- you know, unbutton his shirt a little bit or...
SERWER: Oh, Susan.
WASTLER: Oh, Susan.
LISOVICZ: What would you advise? Or, should he play that down?
YOFFE: Well, he probably should play that down because you don't want to look like you realize I am the "Breck Girl" and I'm coming off that way. I mean, he's good looking and let that play out. But in a way he doesn't want to just be the male model. He has to prove something else.
LISOVICZ: He has a lot to prove and we have a lot of time yet to decide. Emily Yoffe, contributing writer at slate.com. Thanks for joining us.
YOFFE: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: Time for a break, when we come back:
Beating the urge to splurge: Find out how a new program is teaching Americans to save it not spend it.
Plus, a delicate balance: In countries like China, men could seriously out number women, soon. See why that could affect you and where you live.
And (UNINTELLIGIBLE): Kids love baseball until adults kill the fun. We'll look at what two former major leaguers are doing about it.
SERWER: Don't spend it all in one place, put it in your piggybank and save it for a rainy day. If those words still echo in your ears from the days of allowance and after school jobs, consider yourself lucky because many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and aren't saving a dime. The Consumer Federation of America has teamed up with the Ford Foundation to help teach families how to save. Here with more on the program is Steve Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.
STEVE BROBECK, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Pleased to join you.
SERWER: Let me ask you a question, Americans used to save, but the savings rate nutritiously has fallen low. Why is that?
BROBECK: Many reasons. Probably the two most important are the greater availability of consumer credit, consumers now owe about $700 billion on credit card debt. Second reason is actually the growth and asset values. People's homes and stocks are worth more than they were, say 30 years ago.
LISOVICZ: Hey Steve, I'm wondering if those low interest rates, which we all love, have really aggravated the problem.
BROBECK: Well, in a way they have because there isn't as much of an incentive for people to save money. If you put it into the savings account at your local bank you may only earn one percent or at most two percent and on the other hand, however, credit card rates have come down for credit worthy borrowers to the 10, the 11, the 12 percent range. Now, the average credit card rate is -- people are paying is still 18 percent, because a number of people are paying in the 20s, nevertheless, I think you've hit on an important reason here.
WASTLER: Steve, let me ask you this just to sort of broaden the subject a little bit. If I'm out there and I'm making a pretty good income, and I'm saving away a little bit, why should I care whether or not brackets -- you know, lower than me are saving as well?
BROBECK: Well, I mean, first of all, they do care. Those people who are making less money than you do. Second of all, in the long run that does not hurt the economy, if those people are spending beyond their means, and it's not just the people below you, but the people with incomes at the same level you have, and maybe higher incomes, they go into personal bankruptcy, that hurts the economy.
SERWER: Steve, you know, I want to tell you. The most important thing I did was get one of those accounts where it automatically yanks money out of my checking account once a week and I'm sure you recommend that, too. I mean, it's amazing, you can take 50, 100 bucks a week out, a lot of people can, and you don't even miss it in some instances, so I think that's an important thing. What about the bankrupts laws, though, you just alluded to? Are they too lenient?
BROBECK: Well, we at the Consumer Federation of America don't think so, most people who end up declaring bankruptcy have suffered some important crisis in their life, such as a huge unexpected medical bill or the loss of a job, for example. But the problem is they have not built a sufficient savings cushion to keep them from falling over the edge of the cliff when that huge unexpended expenditure or loss of income occurs.
LISOVICZ: You know, Steven, we have been seeing signs for the past year or so that the economy is improving, but still we see this personal savings rate plummeting. I think it went from 9.4 percent to -- in January of '84 to two percent, 20 years later, this year. What happens if -- you know, we go into another recession? Do the bankruptcies skyrocket?
BROBECK: Well, we think that the important numbers to focus on even -- are not really the savings rate, but rather what sort of savings of households accumulated. If you look at the typical household they have $80,000, about, in net wealth, net worth, and about 12,000 of that represents net financial assets, that's for your typical family. You low and moderate income family only has, typically, several hundred thousand dollars in net financial assets. And most of those assets for the people who do have net worth -- substantial net worth is -- represents home equity. Now, we go into a recession, all kinds of bad things will happen to the people who have piled up that $700 billion in credit card debt. We would estimate that 10 percent to 20 percent of the households in the country are at serious risk.
WASTLER: Steve, it seems sort of like you're in a David and Goliath battle right here, I mean you're trying to get people to save, but you're fighting against a credit card industry that -- you know, hits massive ads, and go and live the high lifestyle and all that. Tell us about how your program's working so far. Have you had any success stories?
BROBECK: Yeah, well we -- you know, we are working with literally 1,000 other institutions, employers, financial institutions, churches community groups to initiate this America Saves campaign nationally and already in 50 different communities around the country. And I think there are a number of things that are unique about the program, but the most important is that we recognize that a huge barrier to savings is not just lack of money, it is lack of hope. The pessimism among low to middle income people who are not save, about not being able to save even a thousand dollars is just quite astonishing for us to learn and so, if we can give them hope, as well as, give them information and assistance about how to begin saving money, it's that savings habit which is the most important thing to develop as opposed to trying to immediately save 10,000 or $100,000.
So, our program has people select a wealth-building goal and then develop a very -- a practical plan to achieve that goal, and then save money every month. The savings can be as little as $5, the average savings for the 20,000 people who are already enrolled as American Savers is $100, but the range is huge from $5 maybe up to $1,000 a month.
SERWER: All right, sage words from Steven Brobeck, the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America from Washington, D.C.
Thank you very much.
You don't like ads? Go watch "Masterpiece Theater," Or C-SPAN or some such. The rest of us are going to meet up here after the break. Just ahead:
Martha Stewart may soon trade her lavish estate for a small cell. Will her sentencing stick? We'll have a recap.
And later, the big problem with little league: Some adults act like its pro ball for the short set. We will tell you about a campaign to put fun back in the game.
Plus, get off the couch and get in the game: As the jeopardy contestant breaks the million dollar mark, see which game show really delivers a pay-off.
SERWER: Sentencing day finally arrived for Martha Stewart and her stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, on Friday. The pair, of course, were convicted separately on counts of obstruction of justice and making false statements on March 5.
Chris Huntington has all the details.
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: When Martha Stewart entered court, she looks stoically braced for the worst. When she came out, she looked somewhat relieved. The sentence at the lower end of the federal guidelines and considerably lower than what most legal analysts expected. Martha Stewart was not contrite but she did apologize to those who had suffered as a result of her crime, particularly those who had lost their job but then she returned defiantly to her classic form.
MARTHA STEWART: I'll be back. I will be back. Whatever I have to do in the next few months, I hope the months go by quickly. I'm used to all kinds of hard work, as you know, and I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid whatsoever.
HUNTINGTON: Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum gave out a sentence of five months in prison followed by five months of home confinement, two years of supervised probation and a $30,000 fine to Martha Stewart. For her former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, the same sentence with the exception of the financial penalty, in his case only $4,000. Both Bacanovic and Stewart are appealing their convictions and pending those convictions, their sentences will be stayed. So they'll be out and about. Martha Stewart made it clear that propping up her company is a high priority.
STEWART: Perhaps all of you out there can continue to show your support by subscribing to our magazine, by buying our products, by encouraging our advertisers to come back in full force to our magazines.
HUNTINGTON: Martha Stewart has every intention of staying in the public eye. She's already arranged for two high profile nationwide television interviews and if her statements here are any indication, she will remain on the offensive.
This is Chris Huntington outside of Federal court in Lower Manhattan, back to you.
SERWER: This is the week for settlements for Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley. The big one was a $54 million deal to end a major gender discrimination suit against the firm, but there was also a deal with the government to end an informal accounting probe of some of Morgan Stanley's bond trades. It's been a rollercoaster year for Morgan Stanley shares, they're now trading near their 52-week low. That makes Morgan Stanley our "Stock of Week."
I want to get back to this discrimination stuff, because it's something that's plagued Wall Street firms. Merrill Lynch had problems with them, Citigroup had problems, I got an e-mail from a woman who works at Morgan Stanley, afterwards, after the suit was settled. "Between you and me and the lamppost, I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened before. I've worked there 12 years and was overtly hassled -- harassed three times. I've been through this thing there. Quite simply unbelievable stuff. The testosterone-laden culture permeates everything."
SERWER: It's obvious, in the numbers, you ever work on Wall Street -- walk on Wall Street, physically it hasn't changed. And the settlement's interesting in itself, $54 million. That's a lot to you and me, and most people. Certainly makes headlines, but this is a company that reports $1 billion in revenue in the quarter, and Allison Schieffelin, I believe the trader who won a $12 million settlement -- you know, it sounds like a lot of money, but you take taxes and legal fees, let's just say conservatively speaking, that's half. This is what she could earn in a few years as a successful trader on Wall Street and her career on Wall Street is over.
WASTLER: Still a pretty good paycheck and I think your points well taken, I mean, this is teeny-tiny money to Morgan Stanley. Cost of doing business, I mean if you're looking at the stock, well, look at interest rate picture. Look at what is going on in the economy, that's the mega trend that's really going to affect which way it goes.
SERWER: And you know, this company has not been in full gear, I have to say, over the past five years. The stock's gone nowhere, it's underperformed Goldman, Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Phil Purcell has had other problems that he's had to deal with, as well. So, I think this is a company that needs to get back on track and focus on doing things because it's not -- it's a very competitive business and it can't afford to fall behind Goldman, Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
LISOVICZ: Amen to that!
SERWER: Amen to that.
LISOVICZ: Brother Andy, thank you so much.
Up ahead on IN THE MONEY:
Hold the testosterone: In countries like India, the ratio of men to women is rising. See why the consequences could stretch all the way to your door.
Plus major league players with little league attitude: Find out how the Ripken brothers, yes, those Ripken brothers are putting the fun back into baseball for kids.
And get your game on with the player breaking the million-dollar mark on "Jeopardy." We'll look at game shows where it pays to play.
WHITFIELD: Hello. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. IN THE MONEY continues in 60 seconds. But now in the news, in Iraq, a top commander of Saddam Hussein's defeated Republican guard has been arrested. He was taken into custody in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. With no resistance and is being held at a military base.
Twenty-seven -- or rather a new round of violence in Gaza. A shootout erupted between Palestinian militants at a new security commander and an 18-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops on Gaza's border with Egypt. The Israeli military says the man and several others were suspected of attempting to plant explosives.
American Todd Hamilton is the winner of the British Open. He's a 38-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour and says he spent most of his time on the Japanese Tour. Hamilton beat the better know Ernie Els of South Africa in a four-hole playoff by one stroke.
More news coming up at the top of the hour. IN THE MONEY continues keeping you informed, CNN the most trusted name in news.
LISOVICZ: Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, North Korea's Kim Jong-il, these are the people and organizations we think of as security threats to the U.S. But our next guest says there's another threat looming and it has no famous face. It's the millions of unmarried men growing up in Asia today. In China and India, a surplus of men may spell trouble for the international community. Valerie Hudson is the co- author of "Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population." She's also a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. Welcome.
VALERIE HUDSON, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: Disturbing findings that you have here. We've seen it before, have we not? When you have this unnatural imbalance, bad things happen in a society. And now that we have a global economy, it's not just in Asia where we're going to see the consequences.
HUDSON: That's right. Almost 40 percent of humanity resides in China and India alone and those two nations have some of the worst sex ratios in the world.
SERWER: Valerie, let me ask you a question. You talk about the subject too many men, at least to a situation where there's violence but I think you write that in eastern Europe and Russia, that is not the case. In other words, the sex ratio, as you call it, is not out of whack. The male-female populations are somewhat more equal. Yet, there certainly there is violence in eastern Europe and Russia. Explain that, please.
HUDSON: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned that. Actually, eastern Europe and Russia are on the other extreme of the spectrum of sex ratio imbalance. Eastern Russia -- excuse me, eastern Europe and Russia have a dearth of males. For example in Russia, there's 24 million fewer males than there are females. And so we find on both ends of the spectrum with very high sex ratios favoring males or very low sex ratios disfavoring males, that societal instability follows. WASTLER: Professor, I think it might help our viewers a little bit if you could explain a little bit how does it get so unbalanced one way or the other?
HUDSON: Great. In the Asian situation, the root problem is intense son preference that is built into some of these cultures. So, for example, China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, to a lesser extent South Korea and Bangladesh, we see this intense desire to have at least one son, probably two to ensure social security in old age as well as continuance of family lineage and so forth. So in Asia, it's actually the daughters are being actively weeded out. Historically, female infanticide has been the manner in which this has been carried out. Since the 1980s, the mid-1980s, it's been through prenatal identification of the sex of the fetus, followed then by abortion if the fetus turns out to be a girl.
LISOVICZ: It's just shocking you know in the 21st century that you would continue to see this horrific practice. Professor, some stats. In China, for instance, I believe there are 13 million more boys than girls under the age of 9. By 2020, it may be 30 million to 40 million. Can you talk about the specifics that you see? What kind of violence? What does the community have to bear and how does it affect the rest of the world?
HUDSON: Great question. In societies where you have very high sex ratios, approaching 120 young adult males per 100 young adult female, these societies are inherently unstable and in virtually all cases, this has led to a growth of violence, crime, vice, development of a chattel market for women and we're beginning to see the beginning of that take place in China. In China, historically, which has had many episodes of favoring males, we've also found that some of what we call these bare branch or these surplus young adult males begin to coalesce, first into gangs, which are only interested in criminal activity, but later coalescing into small armies that challenge the government's control of certain regions in locations.
SERWER: Valerie, let me ask you a question though. Statisticians have a concept called auto correlation. You might be familiar with it. It's when two things occur simultaneously but there's no causality. What proof do you have that these birthrates and weights of sexes actually leads to violence? There's a lot of violence in the United States. There's gun violence. What's the causality between this and the violence?
HUDSON: That's another excellent question. We've taken pains to point out that you don't have to have an abnormal sex ratio to have violence in your society. That's absolutely true. But what we found is through historical case studies and theoretical investigation, we can show that these abnormal sex ratios -- excuse me aggravate or amplify the instability found in any society.
WASTLER: Professor, OK. So we've got a problem, imbalance, what do you do to sort of fix this problem? I mean, not to be facetious but you point out the lack of males in eastern Europe, Russia, heavy on males - are we going to see...
SERWER: Bring them together!
WASTLER: Immigration patterns change or something like that?
LISOVICZ: It's a big business.
HUDSON: Well, I think there's some cultural reasons that might not work out, some geographic reasons. But I'm glad mentioned what we can do about this. What I'd like to present is that there's some reason for hope but there's also some reason for despair. The despair part comes in because there's nothing that can be done about what's happened over the past 20 years in China and India and some of these other nations that I've mentioned. Nothing the government does right now can alter the fact that, by the year 2020, they'll be facing tens of millions of young adult males who have no chance to marry and settle down and form a family.
SERWER: All right, controversial stuff, Valerie Hudson author of "Bare Branches, the Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population." She's a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. Thank you.
We've got some games coming up, the kind you play for fun and the kind you play for money. After the break, sending the grown-ups to the dugout. Adults with attitude are taking the fun out of baseball for kids. That's too bad. Find out how a couple of former major leaguers are getting the big guys to lighten up.
And mind over money. We'll check out game shows that can pay big for the right answers. Stay tuned.
SERWER: Here's a shocking idea -- when your kids decide to play little league baseball, maybe they'll actually have some fun. Our next guest is a former major leaguer who is doing something about the ultra competitive trend that's making youth sports anything but fun for thousand of kids. Joining us now from Baltimore is Billy Ripken. He's the director of the Ripken Baseball Academy which he runs along with his brother, hall-of-famer Cal Ripken. Billy, welcome.
BILL RIPKEN, CO-OWNER, RIPKEN BASEBALL: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
SERWER: As a native Marylander and the long time fan of the Os watching you and your brother and your dad for all those years, we're delighted to have you on. Can you tell me exactly how bad this problem is right now, though with kids?
RIPKEN: Well, I don't think it's that bad. I like to view when we're doing our academy and we're hosting tournaments, I like to watch 12-year-olds play against 12-year-olds and you can instantly see there's nothing wrong with the game of baseball. The problem does lie within sometimes the coach putting too much pressure on trying to win games at that level and the 10-year-old level and some of the parent's reactions up on the hillside when they're watching the games. Some time that can get a little bit over top, but if the coach and the parents take it into perspective of what they're trying to accomplish and understand they're competing and they're trying to get better, then it's a great experience for the kids to go out there and play this game of baseball.
WASTLER: Billy, I'm also from Maryland so go Os!
SERWER: Fix up the team.
WASTLER: What do you think motivates parents to go off of the deep end like that? When did it change? Why all of a sudden are parents raving maniacs?
RIPKEN: Well, once again I'm not going to call them raving maniacs. I think some of them kind of get a little edgy. I think some of them and I've heard this with kids that have come to my camps before, my kid's going to be the next A-Rod. You should see him play and he's 9 and I'm not qualified to understand if a 9-year-old is going to be to play in the big league. I could look at a 9-year old and say he's pretty good. He's got some tools but I can't project him into the big league. I think some of it is for the parents is, they see the contracts that are getting thrown around in professional sports all over the place and they look at this and they want to invest in the kid's future and the kid has some talent and sometimes they go about it in the wrong way. Because if kids want to play 70 games as a 12-year-old, let the kid be the one that's kind of pushing the envelope on that instead of the parent actually pushing the kid in that direction. Say, we have to go play this tournament. We got to go play that tournament. The kid should be the barometer. If he's very interested in baseball and loves playing the game, let him play and let me progress on his own.
LISOVICZ: Hey, Billy, I am not from Maryland. I hope you don't hold that against me.
RIPKEN: No, I'm fine with that.
LISOVICZ: I'm a huge baseball fan though and I think it's time to give you some props that you are considered a master of the basics. You started at all four infield positions. Very few players can claim that type of feat. So we're very glad you are still involved in the game. And because of your knowledge of the game, I'm curious how you feel about steroids in major league baseball. The only professional sport considered not to have an iron-clad policy on steroids.
RIPKEN: Well, one thing I'd like to point out is I appreciate you knowing that I played four infield positions in the big leagues. Some would actually say that I wasn't good enough to hold one position so they had to make me play other ones. I like to think that I spent 12 years in the big leagues and I did what it took to stay on teams and do some things. So I appreciate that. Now, if you look back at my career I had 20 big league home runs. So obviously no one ever accused me of being on steroids.
LISOVICZ: I didn't mention that Billy!
RIPKEN: Which was a nice thing. I think that that issue being bounced around and getting into the forefront is OK right now because it's going to force major league baseball and the players association to kind of come together and figure out a way to do that. If somebody is using something that is illegal and against the rules, it's unfair, in my opinion, to the other people that weren't doing it. And it can taint some records along the way, if somebody's found out doing something a little bit wrong. But this being discussed and talked about, I think is a good thing because I think it's going to force the association and the major league baseball, the ownership group, to get together and actually fix the problem.
SERWER: Hey, Billy, getting back to kid's sports though, for a minute here. I coached my girls' soccer teams and let me tell you, it's very hard to sort of restrain yourself from getting too into it! It's a very emotional thing for parents. What tips can you give us to parents who are coaching to just sort of, you know, chill out? Get into it but not get overly emotional, I guess.
RIPKEN: Right. I think for one, and I'm with you on that one. My daughter plays soccer and she plays lacrosse and you're getting on the side and you want to see your kid do so well, because anything that they do as a parent you want them to succeed and sometimes it's hard. Cal, being Cal, and what he's done in his career, he can always take a few minutes and reflect on things before he answers questions. He says, you as a parent and a coach have to understand, you have to act like you know what's going to happen. And when something good happens, you got to stay here. When something bad happens, you've got to stay here.
Because he also believes that there is a danger of cheering too much and what happens in a baseball game, the 10-year-old teams out there bludgeoning another 10-year-old team and the parent's are on the side, high-fiving, cheering, hooting and hollering. Number one, that has a negative effect on the other 10-year-old kids who are getting whomped. But there was one particular instance where his boy was on the end of getting whomped. They came back to win and all of the cheering on the side that was doing the early kicking, turned to dead silence and now the kids actually thought they did something wrong.
So if it's a positive experience and the team's winning big, you got to try to fly straight. And if something bad happens, you got to pretend that you've seen that before because you're the one that can handle the kid's emotional side of it. And you're the one that has to fix the problem and explain things at the end because they're 9 and 10 years old, they can't do that on their own.
LISOVICZ: Words of wisdom from Billy Ripken, director of the Ripken Baseball Academy down in Maryland. Thanks so much for joining us.
RIPKEN: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
LISOVICZ: Time to take that seventh inning stretch now. But after the break, political karaoke! This land is your land and a couple of cartoon candidates are going to tell us how they see it. Stick around for our "Fun Site of the Week." and take your mouse for a walk on the wild side. Send us an e-mail and just might read it on the air. The address is email@example.com.
SERWER: We're still not sure if he's a human or a robot or an "I, Robot," but Ken Jennings is sitting on a ton of money thanks to his record "Jeopardy" run. The software engineer from Utah is now the winner of more than a million bucks. But is going toe to toe with Alex Trebek and company the easiest way to win game show gold? Webmaster Allen Wastler has some answers to that question and a fun site of the week that's really worth waiting for. Allen, take it away.
WASTLER: Quick answer, no. That wasn't the easiest way. "Jeopardy" has the rep of being the hardest game show. What is the hardest game show on TV and right now it's "Jeopardy." It used to be "College Bowl" but "College Bowl" is defunct, OK. "Jeopardy," you got to work hard for your money and you got to work hard to get on there, too. You have to take a 50-question test. Then you got to go through some mock trials.
LISOVICZ: You have to have personality too.
WASTLER: And then you got to see if the producers like it. You know? Sort of the same game in all of TV, do the producers like you.
SERWER: And you go on "Millionaire," you win one show and you win a million dollars.
WASTLER: One show. In fact if you look at the top five payouts, if you look at the five top five payouts, OK, three out of the five are actually from "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire."
WASTLER: ... because they just crank it up.
LISOVICZ: Ken Jennings has wasted his time.
SERWER: He's getting messed over.
LISOVICZ: He's getting ripped off.
SERWER: He's getting messed over.
WASTLER: The winner -- the top winner of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." got $2.18 million. So Jennings would have to win 60 more games at least.
SERWER: Forget it man. He's never going to do that because I mean it's just impossible. He's got this great streak. He's Like Cal Ripken.
LISOVICZ: I've been watching this guy for weeks. He's a Mormon from Utah. He's going to tithe 10 percent of his winnings to the church. And you know what was really interesting, he not only knows technology and travel and art, but in the cocktail drink section, he breezed through that. SERWER: That's knowledge (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
WASTLER: He's with the popes and ancient kings. I don't think so.
SERWER: Is that like "Quiz Show." (ph)
WASTLER: No, it wouldn't be like "Quiz Show," geez, conspiracy- minded.
SERWER: I'm just asking the tough questions here.
WASTLER: But they're saying OK, so "Jeopardy" is the hardest. They say "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" biggest pay out. Easiest is "The Price Is Right" apparently because in getting on and...
SERWER: My speed, my speed.
WASTLER: You got to be a shopper.
LISOVICZ: Let's get to the "Fun Site."
WASTLER: The "Fun Site," OK we've been talking about politics, right? There's this great little flash movie running around the Internet right now that, here's the Bush side of the argument. Now don't think we are busting on Kerry too. Because in this one it's a bipartisan thing. Kerry gets his say too.
SERWER: Who has the time -- I thought those were excellent, I mean very creative but who has the time to do that stuff? Who are these people? And they do it for free, for fun, just for all of us to enjoy?
WASTLER: These guys are trying to make a little money off it. It's jibjab.com. You can watch it free on the net or you can download it to your computer. They say it's a charge that they're using just to help pay server costs. I know previously in the week when I was trying to get back to the site, their servers were slammed and the site was temporarily off.
LISOVICZ: We like free and we like fun. And you always bring us...
WASTLER: And check out the "Fun Site." It has a heart-warming ending, folks. You'll love it.
LISOVICZ: You should know because you are the webmaster.
Coming up next on "In the Money," it is time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week and you can send us an e-mail right now. We're at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LISOVICZ: Now it's time to read about some of your worst cell phone horror stories. Bill in East Haven, Connecticut, wrote: "We were on the highway when a woman talking on the cell phone rolled through a stop sign and lightly hit our car. Even after the accident, she kept talking on the phone as we waited for the police!"
LISOVICZ: Isabel from New York City had this horrific story. "I was holding a memorial service for my husband. Suddenly the cell phone of the woman standing next to the priest conducting the service began to ring and ring and ring. Five minutes later, the phone started to ring again! She never apologized."
SERWER: Another one!
LISOVICZ: But at least this next e-mailer had the decency to learn her lesson. Elizabeth from Austin, Texas wrote: "A few years ago I was watching a play when during an important and quiet moment of the play, my phone started ringing loudly. I ran out of the theater as fast as I could and stayed in the lobby until the show was over. Later I went back stage and apologized to the entire cast. Now I always just leave my cell phone in the car."
WASTLER: Lesson learned.
SERWER: It's a little tortured but better.
LISOVICZ: Yes, an improvement. Time now for our question of this week and it's linked to the race for the White House. "Is America more politically and culturally divided now than it was 30 years ago?" Send your answers to email@example.com and you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney. That's where you will find the address for our "Fun Site of the Week" and Allen says there's something really good on it. Right, Allen?
WASTLER: You bet.
LISOVICZ: A little tease. Thanks for joining us for this edition of "In the Money." Thanks to "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us next week at 1 p.m. Eastern and Sunday 3 p.m., or catch Andy and Jack all week on "AMERICAN MORNING" starting at 7 a.m. Eastern.
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