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CNN IN THE MONEY
Latest Poll Numbers; Some Roman Catholic Bishops Oppose Kerry, Urge Flock to Do Same
Aired October 17, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City America's financial capital. This is IN THE MONEY.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY -- your move, now that you've seen Bush and Kerry square off, the next big step, of course, is all up to you. We'll look at where the presidential race stands heading into the home stretch, and mercifully, after the debates are over.
Plus the power of the pulpits: Some Roman Catholic bishops are opposing John Kerry and telling their flock to do the same. Find out whether Catholic voters are paying attention.
And go ask your mother: Marketers are turning children into customers before they can read. We'll talk with an author who has studied what that means for childhood.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer.
You know, back when Ronald Reagan asked during the campaign, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago" it was a simpler question that had probably a simpler answer. But, there's a question now being raised in this campaign, and given all of the rather unusual events, the recession, the events of September 11, it's an issue worth addressing and I suppose it depends on, you know, what side of the economic scale you're on, whether your answer to that question's yes or no.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, I think you're dead right that it's more complicated this time because from a purely economic standpoint I think you could argue the answer is no, because of the job losses, the stock market, gasoline and oil prices, which I keep saying is going to be a big issue throughout the end of this year. But, the whole 9/11 and security thing, are you better off when it comes to security, and we don't really know. I mean the jury is still out -- are we better off now? I mean, maybe our borders are more safe, the Army's out there, but you know, it's still uncertain if you ask me. SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I think when you're talking about "are you better off now," we're not just only talking about our own -- whether we -- the ability to put food on our table and to put gas in our car, we're talking about a much word broader picture, the world at large. Some people are concerned about no WMDs, tries to al-Qaeda and Iraq, other people say the right thing to do, the U.S. taking charge. So, it's a complicated question, but that's ultimately how people vote. Are you feeling better than you were four years ago?
CAFFERTY: Exactly. That's the $64,000 question.
LISOVICZ: Should the CEO of the United States be rehired or not?
CAFFERTY: And if it turns out we're not any safer because of the events involving terrorism, then it becomes a moot point whether we're all better off economically. Because, if we're not safe it just doesn't matter in the end, does it?
CAFFERTY: A presidential race is part political theater, and sometimes not very good theater, at that. And we're closing in on the final act in this one, mercifully. The conventions are history and as of Wednesday, so thankfully are the debates. So, we're going to take a look at what lies ahead. There's not much time now. If you're already sick of hearing about the debates well, we'll try go easy on you, but we are going to talk a little bit about it. Joining us now from Charlottesville, Virginia, is Larry Sabato. He's the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Larry, nice to have you with us.
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
CAFFERTY: What was your sense of these debates? A lot of people felt they were so constricted, restricted, so many rules, so many conditions, the flow of information. So confined, that we didn't really get a chance to see any good old honest give and take, here.
SABATO: Well, I couldn't agree more with the criticisms. I think the debate process has been contorted and it's really an embarrassment. Frankly, in the greatest country on earth in many ways we ought to have candidates who can freely exchange ideas, ask themselves questions and all the rest of it. You know, the campaigns and the parties have taken over this whole process. The only people left out are the voters. What a shock.
LISOVICZ: It's disgraceful. I think we all agree on that, but was there any light or was it just heat? Were there any moments, any key phrases that you think will resonate through the years? SABATO: Ah boy, that's a good question. I would tell you, as somebody who loves both political science and history that I can truthfully say neither candidate uttered a word that will live through history.
LISOVICZ: There you go, again.
SABATO: Yeah. No, I'm sorry, but it's just not true. But I will say, I will -- I will say this. The debates matter, and people -- despite all their problems, people did learn some things especially about the challenger who was relatively unknown. They know President Bush, they've watched him, they saw, in essence, more of the same, both positive and negative. But look, this race was almost over in Bush's direction, when the debates started. By the end of the debates, Kerry had evened it up. It's -- now as tight as a tick. So the debates did have an influence, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, whether these debates really, truly reveal the nature of these candidates, we could argue forever.
SERWER: Larry, I was going to ask you where's the beef, but maybe I better hold that question. But...
SABATO: I'm a vegetarian.
SERWER: Oh you -- OK, well then I really won't to ask that question then.
SABATO: OK, good.
SERWER: What should we do? I mean, what would be your optimum plan to have the debates? How would they look? How would they feel? What would we do?
SABATO: The moderator would be there as a time keeper and just to help the flow. The candidates would run the debates, by asking each other questions, back and forth, back and forth, and then there'd be a segment at the end for audience questions. I think the audience questions can be good and helpful, as this town hall meeting suggested, but look, there have to be follow-ups. You all know that. That's your business. It's so easy for a candidate to evade a question unless you can ask a follow-up.
CAFFERTY: What about the argument that President Bush made a tactical mistake even agreeing to do these things. You said it already, just a minute ago. Going into these debates, he had a commanding lead in virtually every poll across the country; he was leading in double digits in many of the battleground states, like Ohio and Florida. Now it's a dead heat, again. What would have prevented him from saying, "you know what, I got too much to do, I got a war in Iraq, an economy -- you know, I'm up to my ears and I just don't have time and we're not going to do this at all." Might he have come out of this thing better off if he had just said "no?"
SABATO: Now, reasonable people can disagree about this, but I happen to agree with you. I think...
CAFFERTY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you can be on any time you want. We'll have you back soon. All right?
SABATO: There you go.
I knew I'd say the right thing eventually. But look, he was ahead, and other incumbent presidents have gotten away with this. Would he have been criticized? Is the Pope Catholic? I mean he would have gotten enormous criticism, but that's not how and why people vote and most people thought that Bush was probably going to win the debates anyway.
LISOVICZ: You know, I was intrigued by the follow-up questions. Since you said it, Larry, it's so important and we all agree here. Here's my follow-up. Charlie Gibson did ask a follow-up question on how each candidate would really reduce the deficit. Both of them gave their two-minute or 90-second banter, but neither of them addressed it, and so we asked the question. I don't think anyone came away from that response figuring that out either. So, they're just running -- in other words they're having their way with the moderator.
SABATO: Well, of course, and I thought the moderators, given the rules, did a pretty good job. I really did. I thought Charlie Gibson and Bob Schieffer. And Schieffer in particular did a very good job. But look, here's the essence of it, with this debate format, you've got these candidates giving America a diet of hot fudge sundaes, question after question after question, and they get away with it because they don't even challenge one another. They don't want their diet of hot fudge sundaes challenged either.
SERWER: Yeah, I mean, that's what sort of blew my mind, Larry, is when one candidate would say to the other, "and you did you this 78 times," and then the other candidate would just go, "my position is..." and -- you know, they just -- they wouldn't respond to each other, and it's just sort of -- it was surreal in that sense. But let me ask you, do you think that this debate -- these debates really changed people's minds?
SABATO: It changed some people's minds. You know, it's hard for us, who follow this on a daily basis, to believe that there actually are truly undecided people out there. Who could be undecided with these macro issues of war and peace and the economy and strong personalities? But there really are. And some of them did switch. They really did move from one to another as a consequence of the debates.
CAFFERTY: How do you fix this system? The democratic and republican parties now have control of this thing. We had the rules for this whole charade, and that's what it was, being negotiated by Vernon Jordan and Jim Baker behind closed doors and out of view of the public. Nobody gets a vote except the democrats and the republicans. I mean, it ought to be criminal, but it's not. The League of Women Voters used to run these things and they were a hell of a lot better. What can be done?
SABATO: You know, most things that are wrong are legal...
SABATO: ...and that's what really bothers me about life, but I couldn't agree with you more. These were better debates when the League of Women Voters ran them. I think we need to seize it back from this bipartisan debate commission. That's a function of the democrats and republicans. Why shouldn't there be one debate out of, say four, where you have the libertarian candidate and the green candidate, and some other third party candidates included? Sure, they're not going to win, but they introduce ideas that the major party candidates would have to respond to.
CAFFERTY: Well, and some of those...
SABATO: It's a good thing.
CAFFERTY: Some of those third party and minor party candidates have, in fact, influenced the outcome of elections.
CAFFERTY: You can look at Ross Perot, who got 19 percent of the vote the first time he ran and changed what would have been the outcome if he wasn't in it. You can look at Ralph Nader in the last election and suggest if he hadn't been in the race it might have been Al Gore's presidency instead of George Bush's. So, they do have a role and the fact that we're not getting to hear from anybody but the democrats and republicans, well, it's only an hour show and I got to stop.
Larry, it's nice to have you on the program. Thank you.
SABATO: Enjoyed it. Thanks a lot.
CAFFERTY: Larry Sabato, he's the director of University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Coming up next, Catholic versus Catholic: Some of the bishops in John Kerry's church have turned against him. We'll look at why and whether or not they could sway voters in the race.
Plus so much money it's almost scary: Find out from Halloween went from a little celebration for kids to a major, major retail blowup.
Plus don't monkey with the trunk monkey: Find out why. Allen Wastler tours the "Fun Site of the Week" later on IN THE MONEY.
CAFFERTY: For generations, Catholic voters in this country have been solidly democratic, but over the last several elections that's begun to change. This year much has been made about John Kerry's stance on abortion. He's pro-choice and that position has pushed many parishioners into opposing corners. How are they going to vote? We're joined now by James Fisher, co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University.
Mr. Fisher, welcome to IN THE MONEY, nice to have you with us.
JAMES FISHER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Great to be here, thanks.
CAFFERTY: How's the -- how's the John Kerry phenomenon any different from, Mario Cuomo comes to mind, the governor of New York, I think it was, three terms. A staunch Catholic and yet was elected overwhelmingly in a very strongly democratic state with a huge Catholic population. Is this -- is this that serious an issue among Catholics do you think?
FISHER: Well, Cuomo made a famous speech at Notre Dame about 20 years ago where he outlined his position where he, as a Catholic opposed abortion, but as the governor of a state which represented a really diverse array of views, he didn't feel it was appropriate to impose those views on the electorate.
CAFFERTY: But, isn't that the old cake and eat it syndrome, I don't want to own up to the fact I'm violating one of the tenets of my church by looking the other way on abortion?
FISHER: It's a very difficult position, and of course -- and President Bush jumped at Kerry and even ridiculed him saying you have to decide for the answer. It's a very difficult position to make convincingly for Catholic, national Catholic democrats, who inevitably are pro-choice because they're required to be.
SERWER: Yeah, well James, isn't it very possible that President Bush could get more of the Catholic vote than John Kerry?
FISHER: Well, Al Gore won narrowly the Catholic vote four years ago. See, the thing is, there's no such thing as the "Catholic vote."
FISHER: There's many Catholic votes and in this case, there are at least two, probably two clear-cut Catholic votes. There are conservative Catholics or those who see the moral issues, like abortion, as paramount and they're much more likely to vote for President Bush and then there are other Catholics who see this whole range of, sort of, global social justice issues as extremely important and they may very well vote for John Kerry. And the thing is, there's strong traditions within Catholic life and Catholic thought that support both points of view. So, there really are at least two distinct Catholic votes at work in this election.
LISOVICZ: But James, I live in a town where my state senator quit the Roman Catholic Church, this year...
FISHER: Would that be Bernard Kenny of Jersey City?
LISOVICZ: Hoboken, actually.
FISHER: Hoboken, right. LISOVICZ: Yeah, he was no longer being served communion at the parish he'd attended for many years. My question to you is, where do you stop? The Roman Catholic Church took a stand against abortion, but where do you stop? What about politicians who support the death penalty? What about a war in Iraq where people say, "You know what? I thought there were weapons of mass destruction there." What about weapons, military-style weapons that are free to customers, perhaps underage consumers? Where does the Catholic Church stop and open the door?
FISHER: Well, that's why some years ago the late Cardinal Bernardino, of Chicago, tried to propose what he called the "seamless garments approach" where Catholics took a pro-life position across the board, which would include a peace or anti-war position, a position on behalf of workers and the poor. That is a consistent ethic of life which tries to, sort of, overcome these partisan divisions. Well, it just didn't work. I mean, for decades, Catholics took a beating from people on the outside and in recent years we're beating ourselves up. And so it's very fractious and divisive time within the church.
Now bishops, you know, their job is to assert the moral teachings of the church and that's what they're going to do. The question becomes when people start to feel that bishops are actually telling people how to pull a lever in the voting booth, that's a whole another story and there's no evidence, really at all, that people vote because a bishop indicates to them they should vote one way or the other.
CAFFERTY: But, is there a legitimate question that we ask you about bishops standing in the pulpit on Sunday telling people how to vote in light of the ongoing difficulties over the last several decades within the Catholic Church itself? I just wonder how much moral credibility still remains when it comes to things like lecturing people on who to vote for in light of the church sex scandals that have been in the news for years and years now.
FISHER: The bishop's job is to teach and it's not clear that bishops are preaching you must vote for candidate X or Y or republican or democrat. Their job is to provide a very clear statement of the church's teaching and they do that to a greater or lesser degree of success. But, it's quite clear in this election that there is a group of bishops, and certainly not all, but there is a group of bishops who clearly are endorsing, without publicly necessarily saying so, they're suggesting that the only appropriate vote for a Catholic is to vote for President Bush. The question becomes, however, how does that really translate into behavior? Because again there's been no evidence from recent elections that, for example, a significant number of Catholics vote for a particular -- on the basis of one particular moral issue such as abortion. They tend to vote across a wider array of issues.
SERWER: Right, so an unemployed Catholic is an unemployed voter first and Catholic second. That sort of thing.
FISHER: That's right. Well, that's exactly right. But, an unemployed voter might, in fact, see his unemployment in the context of Catholic teachings about the economy. SERWER: Do the parties pay any attention to this at all? Do they talk about we should appeal to the Catholic vote here? Do they do that anymore?
FISHER: The parties pay tremendous attention, because again, the democrats understand there is a Catholic base of voters who are -- who have an affinity for the kinds of issues that John Kerry is promoting most fervently. The republicans clearly understand there is a base, and they feel it's a growing base of conservative Catholic voters who are more likely to enter their camp.
Now, don't forget, Richard Nixon took the Catholic vote in 1972, and that was year before Roe versus Wade and that was the first time in American history it happened. So, it's been a gradual shift. Ronald Reagan, of course, took a tremendous swathe of the Catholic vote, the so-called "Reagan democrats" were really mostly Catholic. But, then they came back into the democratic fold for President Clinton. So, it's a very volatile constituency which could -- you know, could -- the balance could tip one way or the other and it seems to be pretty evenly divided in this election.
LISOVICZ: Just like every other constituency.
FISHER: Like everything else. Right.
LISOVICZ: And a volatile election. James Fisher, co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies thank you so much for joining us.
FISHER: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: Coming up after the break: Showing it like they see it: Sinclair is taking sides with an election season broadcast. We'll check the political fallout.
Also ahead, giving kids the business: We'll hear from a psychiatrist about how marketers are changing childhood in America.
And what is that thing, anyway? Stick around as Allen Wastler of money.com digs for the truth under what really was under the president's jacket.
LISOVICZ: Now, let's take a look at the week's top stories in our money minutes. Strong auto sales helped boost retail sales by a lot more than expected last month. That's after they fell slightly in August. Experts say buyers responded to strong incentives from the automakers. There was also a spike in sales at supply stores thanks to those hurricanes in the south.
But those strong auto sales did not come soon enough for lots of GM investors. General Motors says intense competition, price cutting and the higher cost of employee health care led to much lower than expected profits from July to September. Investors punished the stock and sent shares down nearly 5 percent the day the news came out. And here's some news about outsourcing that you might actually like. Guess who's getting hit with job exportation now? It's the lawyers. A number of U.S. companies are now outsourcing routine legal work to India, South Korea and Australia. GE is leading the way with a subsidiary in India that employs about 30 lawyers.
SERWER: Another big story this week was the Sinclair Broadcasting group's decision to air an anti-Kerry documentary film on all of its 62 TV stations just a week before Election Day. Many Sinclair executives are outspoken Bush supporters, so the decision is being seen in some corners as a violation of Federal election laws. Sinclair shares have been on a mostly steady decline this year. But the question is, will the company's controversial decision play a role in the stock's performance? That makes Sinclair Broadcasting our stock of the week.
First of all you guys, this is a pretty small company that is not really on the radar screen. I mean it's a market value, it's worth $600 million, which is teensy-weensy in the greater scheme of things. Bottom line is, I don't think if you own television networks, like this, that you have any business telling people how to vote or how to think. It would be like a cable company putting political ads on. I think it's wrong.
CAFFERTY: That's fair enough. But let me ask you this. Was it considered a violation of election laws when movie theaters showed Michael Moore's 9/11 film all during the campaign season for the last six months?
SERWER: No, they had a right to show it. But they don't have the same licenses with the government.
CAFFERTY: So does Sinclair Broadcasting.
SERWER: They don't have the same licenses with the government Jack.
CAFFERTY: I'm not sure that showing the anti-Kerry documentary's a violation --
SERWER: We haven't seen this film by the way. No one's seen it, so no one really knows anything about it anyway.
LISOVICZ: I have to side with Andy on this one.
CAFFERTY: Not a surprise.
SERWER: That's always tough.
LISOVICZ: We talk about, you know, it's something that people pay money for. They have a choice. When you turn on the television, free over the air, television, it's put in front of you. I think that is the difference --
CAFFERTY: You have the same choice there, you can turn it off.
SERWER: Not this show.
CAFFERTY: Not IN THE MONEY. No, we're talking about Sinclair Broadcasting.
LISOVICZ: They're granted licenses to serve in the public interest. This is clearly someone with a very sharp point of view and the other thing tied to the stock, this is a person who has a controversial viewpoint and we've seen how that can affect the stock in other instances, like Martha Stewart.
SERWER: The stock's been doing terribly, but basically the company's not doing well. I mean just last month, they announced their third quarter earnings were going to be lousy. The company is not doing very well. I don't think it has anything to do with their political views. The other thing is, this is going to be very interesting. They're announcing their earnings on November 4th. So we shall see what we shall see. The other little thing I think it's kind of fun is what happens if Kerry wins and then they go to the government and they ask for certain legislative things to happen.
CAFFERTY: Could be a problem.
SERWER: Yeah. Might not be so good. I think it's an interesting - it's a little debate though.
CAFFERTY: But it's a good story.
SERWER: It is interesting. All right. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, the walking wallet. For a kid who's crazy about a product, a parent is just a bank on legs. Find out how marketing is changing childhood.
Also ahead, scare and scare alike. We'll look at how Halloween went from small time to big ticket.
And forget the tiger in your tank. See what happens with a monkey in your trunks. Unbelievable. Stick around for the fun site of the week.
LISOVICZ: The whining, the nagging, the temper tantrums. It won't be easy, but next time you go shopping with your little darlings, try not to lose your patience. It's not their fault they want everything in sight or so says Juliet Schor. She's author of "Born to Buy," the commercialized child and the new consumer culture and she joins us now with a look at what makes your kids want. Welcome.
JULIET SCHOR, AUTHOR, "BORN TO BUY": Thank you.
LISOVICZ: You know, children have always been targeted by whether it's cereal companies or toy companies. Focus groups, they've been around forever. What's different now?
SCHOR: Well, you have to compare that old environment, which was a couple of hours of Saturday morning TV, maybe a little bit of afternoon TV, a small number of commercials and just a few products, to what's going on today, which is a total barrage. The average kid is seeing 40,000 television commercials a year. He or she is being advertised to in the schools, on the Internet, even in playgrounds. I took a look in my book at how marketers are infiltrating virtually every nook and cranny of kids' lives and pitching to them one thing after another. So it's like comparing the BB gun to the neutron bomb.
SERWER: One of the first companies in charge of the BB gun, I guess Juliet, was McDonald's. They figured out early on by having a clown out there, they could get kids to tug on mommy and daddy's sleeve and say, can we go there and visit Ronald McDonald which is very smart. But I think you're right. I mean there's a proliferation. What interests me is how marketers are linking toys and junk food into all sorts of different sectors. Take health care, for instance. Can you talk about that, how it's sort of more of a toy mentality? When kids look at band-aids which have cartoons on them, things like that, right?
SCHOR: Right. I spent time with the company that developed these tattoo band-aids. So it's not just a utilitarian product anymore, it's a toy. They call it trans-toying. It's turning all kinds of things into toys. Food is a prime example of this. Instead of being food that you eat because it tastes good, because it's good for you, they're turning food products into toys, things that kids play with. And of course, the whole concept behind the happy meal, one of the people I met in my research was the inventor of the happy meal. And they started that because kids were bored at McDonald's. And they needed something to keep them occupied while the parents ate and talked. They started with sort of toys they could play with during the meal. And of course, now, it's the lure of the toy that often gets the kid asking for it. And the result is that we have a generation of kids hooked on junk food. Fifth percent of children's calories now are coming from added sugar and fat.
CAFFERTY: How concerned are you about the mental health of these kids who are bombarded with all this stuff? Are they at risk in any way?
SCHOR: Well, we see steady increases in a whole range of emotional disorders, whether we're talking about depression and anxiety. The average American kid now has an anxiety level which is the same as what kids who were admitted into psychiatric hospitals had in the '50s. So it's a huge increase in their stress and anxiety. Marketers are very aware of this. And they figure out how to market to stressed-out kids. But the research I did for my book asks the question, are -- is this rising depression and anxiety, this rise of psychosomatic complaints like headaches and stomach aches, is it due to kids' growing involvement in consumer culture? And I found very strong evidence that the answer to that question is yes.
LISOVICZ: OK, then, how so because that's a big reach. We know, we can see for ourselves, kids are bombarded by marketers. But to say that they're stressed out, they're anxious, they're depressed is another region entirely. How can you defend that? SCHOR: Absolutely. I developed a measure of consumer involvement. It measures how psychically keyed into consumer culture kids are, how much they care about stuff and labels and being cool and having a lot of money and the kind of car their parents drive and so forth. And what I find is that the kids who score higher on that measure are more likely to score higher on depression measures, on measures of anxiety, on measures of psychosomatic complaints like headaches and stomach aches. And I also tested to see, well, is it just a problem that these kids who are already depressed and anxious tend to have higher consumer involvement. And the answer to that question is, no, it's the consumer involvement that's driving the depression, anxiety and psychosomatic complaints.
SERWER: Juliet, do you think it's safe to say that the level of sophistication in marketing to kids has increased faster than the level of sophistication to grownups over the past 25 years?
SCHOR: No question about it. I mean, this is a huge growth area in marketing and advertising. It's a cutting edge place. It used to be a backwater with very little money, low creativity, not the cutting edge, really talented people and that's all changed. It's a really hot place. They've got incredible intensive new research they're doing. And I looked at that. Their messages have gotten so more sophisticated from what they were in the past. That's another big difference between the marketing that we remember from our childhoods and what's going on today. They really tapped into kids' psychic vulnerabilities, their emotional vulnerabilities.
SERWER: To the degree that you're able to, let's offer a little hope to parents who might be watching this program. The marketing machine in this country isn't going to go away. What can parents do in terms of, you know, addressing this concern, if they have it, about their own children?
SCHOR: Two things. Number one, my results -- my research shows that the more exposure kids have to marketing messages and commercials, the more consumer involved they're going to be and more likely to suffer these problems. So reduce the amount of television and screen time more generally.
CAFFERTY: What about a show like IN THE MONEY? Is it OK for them to watch that?
SCHOR: Absolutely. That was a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on television.
LISOVICZ: Doctor approved. That's for sure.
SCHOR: The other thing is, look at what's happening in your child's school. There's a huge amount of marketing in schools. They're going around parents. That's one of the reasons they're there. Find out if your child's being marketed to in schools. Call your senators and congressmen. We're trying to get some junk food marketing legislation in schools through Congress now.
LISOVICZ: Be involved, in other words. Juliet Schor, the author of "Born to Buy," the commercialized child and the new consumer culture. Thanks for joining us.
SCHOR: My pleasure.
LISOVICZ: There's much more ahead here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, more treats than trick. Halloween's become as much about shelling out cash as it is about handing out candy. We'll find out how that happened.
And later, pop the trunk and brace yourself. A trunk monkey is the star of our fun site of the week.
SERWER: The numbers are spooky, scary, outright shocking, $1 billion on costumes, another $1 billion on candy, $780 million on decorations. Americans are crazy about Halloween and spend big bucks to celebrate it each year. Of course, it hasn't always been that way. Here to tell us how this ancient observance hit holiday mainstream is Nick Rogers, author of "Halloween, From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Nick is also a professor of history at York College. Welcome, Nick.
NICK ROGERS, AUTHOR: Good afternoon.
SERWER: What's interesting to me are my kids who insist now, insist on buying Halloween costumes out of catalogs. I try to tell them, throw a sheet over your head and cut out the little eyes and be a ghost. No, no, no. This thing has really elevated to a major commercial holiday, hasn't it?
ROGERS: It has. It has indeed. And there are a number of reasons why that's the case. I think it's being very consciously promoted as a commercial opportunity. But I also think that when you have double-income families, and when you have parents who don't have time to make costumes as they did in the past, that also is an inducement to go out and buy some.
LISOVICZ: Nick, I'm an adult. I'm a big kid. And I always make my costume. That's a big part of the sales. I don't want to tell you what --
SERWER: I see what you are.
LISOVICZ: I'm afraid to tell you, but I always go as a news story, a news person and I'll leave it at that. Halloween falls on a weekend this year, so that should be another terrific year. It's adults that are also fueling the sales numbers. A lot of adults like this, and they throw parties to celebrate it.
ROGERS: That's absolutely right. And 20-somethings actually spend more on Halloween probably than anybody else. That's been a feature of the period since the 1970s, when the gay community started promoting Halloween. I think other people cashed in and decided that it would be a great sort of bar scene, club scene, street scene, Wisconsin and M in Washington, for example and it's gone from there.
SERWER: It's interesting that you mentioned that. I hadn't made the connection, but now I do. Clearly, the gay community in Greenwich Village here in New York for years doing local news. We always used to send a camera crew down to cover the Halloween parade in the village. And 20 years ago, it was kind of this little thing where a few whack jobs would get together and dress up and so on. Now it is an international event and I'll bet you're right. Let me ask you this, though. What is it, do you attribute the sudden presence on lawns all over America of these absurd blow-up figures of Frankenstein and pumpkins and various dumb looking things that just litter up the landscape? Who in their right mind would put garbage like this in their yard?
ROGERS: I don't know. I think one of the reasons why they - I don't do it.
CAFFERTY: Andy, do you have any of those?
SERWER: I don't have a yard.
ROGERS: But I think one of the reasons is that, you know, in the '70s, when there was a bit of a panic about trick or treating, it wasn't safe, haunted houses made their appearance big time. And I think people picked up on that. Now the technology is such that you can create your own haunted house. And that's what we are seeing.
CAFFERTY: There you go.
SERWER: Nick, first of all, we're going to try to figure out what Susan is going to be this year. How about Martha Stewart?
LISOVICZ: Been there, done that.
SERWER: Oh, you've already done that. Well, I'm behind the times. Let me ask you, Nick, is it the case that some Christians in the country are not so keen on Halloween, that they do sort of link it to a pagan ritual? I know a couple who actually turn an eye away from it, and consider it maybe not such a great holiday?
ROGERS: I think that's right. Not all Christians think this. I think actually it's the conservative Christians of a Protestant persuasion who think this. They think Halloween encourages the occult. It encourages and peddles evil, basically. And they think and they associate that with its pagan origins.
CAFFERTY: Is it still OK to go through your kids' trick or treat candy under the guise of protecting them from razor blades and straight pins and steal all the good stuff out of there? Is that ethically still acceptable?
CAFFERTY: Because I used to do that all the time. Let me see that. I just want to make sure there's nothing dangerous in there and then I would find the Tootsie Rolls and their bubble gums and the little things that I wanted and squirrel them off into my own pocket.
LISOVICZ: Nick, since you're a scholar, and you probably don't steal your kids' candy --
LISOVICZ: Like how dependent is the holiday on like really outrageous character, like Martha Stewart, presidential election? Do they connect at all?
ROGERS: Yeah, they do, in a certain way. There's always been an element of parody, of transgression, about Halloween, and certainly I think that people that are in the news, or characters that are in films get presented.
LISOVICZ: What's the number one mask right now? Do you know?
ROGERS: Well, I think actually people are picking up on pirates again.
ROGERS: As a result of "Pirates of the Caribbean."
LISOVICZ: If Johnny Depp comes to my door, I will make sure to give him a lot of candy. Nick Rogers, professor of history at York College, thank so much.
CAFFERTY: ..give a whole new meaning to the phrase trick or treat, wouldn't it?
LISOVICZ: Jack? Don't go there, Jack.
SERWER: He already did.
LISOVICZ: Coming up, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Allen Wastler of money.com looks into the dispute over that mysterious bulge in the president's jacket.
And tell us what's on your mind. Please don't send any e-mail about Johnny Depp or trick or treat. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. But first, this week's edition of money and family.
LISOVICZ: Are you overworked and underpaid? Do you deserve more money? Here's some good strategies on how to ask for a raise and get yes for an answer. Start by documenting your performances. You don't deserve a raise just because you haven't had one in a while. Make a list of successful projects, skills and responsibilities that go beyond your immediate job. Know what you're worth. Check out sites like salary.com for extensive reports, and industry surveys that tell you exactly what you can expect. Then use that knowledge in your negotiations, whether it's with your current employer or a new one. And don't take no for an answer. If your request for a raise is dismissed, ask why. You may already be at the top of the pay scale or there is no room for growth at that company, and that means it's time to move on. I'm Susan Lisovicz for money and family.
CAFFERTY: Most Internet rumors are just that, they're rumors and they tend to die down after a short while. But the Internet fueled story about that mysterious bulge on George Bush's back during the debates is not going away. I think it was a satellite dish. And it's even forced legitimate media organizations to check it out. Our webmaster Allen Wastler is here with that story and the fun site of the week. What's up with the thing on the back?
SERWER: The battle of the bulge.
ALLEN WASTLER, CNNMONEY.COM: Just a casual observation by somebody can turn into this mad craze. Have you seen the bulge? Let's show the folks. There's the bulge. You see?
CAFFERTY: What is that?
SERWER: The hunchback.
WASTLER: Right between his shoulders. That's not a great suit, but it's a nice suit. There's something back there. So, of course, the paranoid people on the Internet, and there's quite a few...
WASTLER: They immediately started blogging about it. What could it be? The leading contender is some sort of radio transceiver and that George Bush had a secret earpiece in there and Karl Rove, his political guru, sort of was feeding him answers and stuff like that. Now, of course...
LISOVICZ: Karl Rove should be fired (ph).
WASTLER: With the availability of information on the Internet, of course, everybody combs through the transcript trying to look for some verifying thing. Here's a clip from the debate, the first debate, where he could be speaking to voices. Let's check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that's not how a commander in chief acts. I -- let me finish. The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WASTLER: Now, nobody interrupted him there. He was flat in the middle of his time. The lights weren't even blinking at him.
CAFFERTY: He was talking to the guy who was interrupting him in his ear. WASTLER: That's what the -
CAFFERTY: Let me finish what I'm saying. Everybody's sending messages.
WASTLER: There's plenty of alternative possibilities. It could be just a wrinkle in his suit. It could be a back brace.
WASTLER: It could be body armor. It could be any sort of thing. But the White House said the whole spurious comments are what it could be are just ridiculous.
CAFFERTY: But they didn't say what it was, did they?
WASTLER: No, they didn't.
LISOVICZ: This is a man who has custom-made suits. His tailor should be fired then.
WASTLER: And a few organizations hired some tailors and said, OK, OK, look at that suit. Tell us what you saw. And the tailor, oh, it looks like a fine suit, maybe off the rack, but still a pretty good suit, but that's not tailoring. No, no, no.
CAFFERTY: Let's move on to the fun site.
WASTLER: I brought you a classic. This is a classic on the Internet. Jack, I give you the trunk monkey.
CAFFERTY: Oh, yeah, you go.
SERWER: That's great. You know what that is? It gives new meaning to the phrase guerrilla marketing.
WASTLER: You've got to love it. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it.
CAFFERTY: I did very much. Thank you, sir.
Coming up next on IN THE MONEY as we continue, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. You can send us an e-mail right now if you're so inclined. We're at email@example.com. Back after this.
CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question of the week about whether presidential debates have helped you decide whom to vote for. Samantha wrote this. The debates have helped me see President Bush as too simplistic and as a person who looks like he's about to throw a temper tantrum. John Kerry appeared presidential.
Dennis in Florida writes, the debate showed me that John Kerry can't defend his record spanning 20 years in the Senate. In fact, he hardly mentions it at all. How come he never had a plan until now?
And Jeff in Massachusetts writes, the debates haven't influenced how I'll vote, but if I'll vote. They've convinced me that I must vote or forever stop complaining and I guess that applies to all of us.
Now, for next week's e-mail question of the week. It's this. Do your religious beliefs affect your vote? Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney which where you'll find address for our fun site of the week, the monkey in the trunk.
WASTLER: Trunk monkey.
CAFFERTY: Thanks for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us next week if you're so inclined, Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00, or you can catch Andy and me all week long on "AMERICAN MORNING." And this week, we'll be live in the great city of Chicago, Illinois. That's the program, starts at 7:00 Eastern Monday. That would be 6:00 Chicago time. Looking forward to visiting the Windy City.
In the meantime, thanks for today and we'll see you soon.
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