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CNN IN THE MONEY
House Committee Debates Role Of Women In Combat; TV Networks Unveil Next Seasons Lineups; Travel Tips For Summer Travelers
Aired May 22, 2005 - 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:
Letting a woman fight like man: A House committee battles it out over combat roles for women soldiers in the U.S. military. See if America is ready to send G.I. Jane into a full-fledged fight.
Also ahead, laughing on the outside, crying on the inside: The television business unveiling its new shows this week, just as "Everybody Loves Raymond" goes dark find out if the great network sitcom is a thing of the past.
Plus, travel like the editor of a travel magazine: We will have a real live one with us in the studio. Save you a couple bucks. Tips for your summer vacation, the dollar is still week, the airlines look iffy, so stick around and we'll help you out.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz; "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer.
This year's British Open Golf Tournament will mark the end of one of the great professional careers in all of sports when Jack Nicholas finally hangs up his spikes after arguably the greatest career in, certainly, in golf, but one of the great individual careers in sports period. Eighteen major championships, if you'd include the amateur titles that he won, it's 20. And one of the reasons I want to mention Jack's passing from the game is that back about 27 or eight years ago I carried Mr. Nicholas' bag for 18 holes across the Wauconda Country Club in Des Moines, Iowa. They brought him in for a fundraiser and he competed with the three top club pros in the state of Iowa. They held a statewide tournament. And I got to tell you, it was like being in the presence of a rock star. He was in the top of his game. We made a special TV show out of it for the station I was working at then.
And it's one of the great stories in all of sports. He, you know, came along kind of this chubby, fat kid from Ohio. Had to take on the matinee qualities, the marquis qualities of Arnold Palmer who was, you know, the king of the sport. Went on to dominate in every respect of the game. One of the great competitors ever.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Yeah.
CAFFERTY: He's a hero.
SERWER: I tell you what I really like about him, Jack, is that he really epitomized all of the good things there were about golf -- that are about gold. You look at other people like Vijay Singh, John Daly, even Arnie himself, a little rough around the edges at times, this guy, he was true gentleman and a sincere true gentleman, too. He was not a phony. He was truly a great guy along with being a great golfer.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I mean, and of course, his record, as you noted, speaks for itself, and his humility, too. He says he hopes he won't embarrass himself. You know, he'll play some, you know, maybe some local little tournaments, but nothing major and he knows that it will be emotional. I don't think he made the cut at the masters.
CAFFERTY: No, he hasn't made the cut in a while in a professional tournament.
LISOVICZ: And he and his caddie, at that particular juncture, was his oldest son and they embraced and there were tears in his eyes and many people who were there.
CAFFERTY: Appropriate too, that he's going to wrap it up at the British Open. One of the great two days in the sport of golf were at the British open back, I don't remember the year, but it was Nicholas and Tom Watson. And the two of them went out in the wind and shot 65- 65 on a Saturday, they got into the lead and then on Sunday, and again tough conditions, 65 for Mr. Watson and 66 for Nicholas. Four of the great competive rounds in a major championship ever played. We will miss him. We wish him well. The passing the one of the real greats.
There's no frontline in the war in Iraq which means female soldiers are increasingly caught up in the fighting. That's because the fighting is literally everywhere and that's raising some questions about whether women ought to be officially allowed to take part in full-scale browned combat. At the moment Pentagon policy says they cannot. At least not in units below brigade level with combat as their main job. This week though, the House Armed Services Committee voted to make that policy law and for a look at the long debate about whether women should be fighting, we're joined by David Segal. He's the director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland.
David, welcome to the program, nice to have you with us.
DAVID SEGAL, UNIV. OF MARYLAND: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.
CAFFERTY: Are we going to see a change in thinking when it comes to women in combat any time soon here because of the changing nature of war that I alluded to? In the old days, World War II, the Korean War, there was frontline and when troops deployed to the frontline you kept the women back. There's no frontline in Iraq. The insurgency is all around. Our soldiers are in danger of being engaged at any moment 24 hours a day. Is this going change policy in this country?
SEGAL: I suspect it's going to change the policy one way or the other. But, I think it's important to recognize that the policy has been a work in progress for sometime. When we started the all volunteer force in 1973, women in the Army were in a separate unit, Women's Army Corp., they were not allowed in most occupational specialties. Since then, in the armed forces, we've increasingly been opening up opportunities for women allowing them to serve in more jobs and providing places for more of them to serve.
LISOVICZ: Right and you know, point -- to your pointed, I mean, we've had several dozen women killed in Iraq. We've had people like Shoshana Johnson who was a cook taken hostage for three weeks. This is coming at a time when recruitments are down. People don't want to join the all volunteer force. Isn't it just a matter of a reality check that we need to have women in our armed forces?
SEGAL: Absolutely, Susan. When you're at war when you try to do is expand your mobilization base, expand the range of people you can draw upon to serve. And in some terms we are doing that. The reserve components have raised their entry level age for enlistment from 35 to 39. The Army is exploring ways to accept more of the 20 percent of the age eligible population that do not have high school diplomas. At the same time, here we have people talking about rolling back some of the games that have been made in regard to the integration of women. That piece of it doesn't make sense.
SERWER: David, isn't it ironic that we're having this conversation in the two most famous enlisted soldiers in this war are women: Lyndie England and Jessica Lynch, now, for positive and negative reasons. But, you know, they're there, so it's a moot point, I think.
I want to ask you a little bit about the draft, though. Wouldn't a draft actually be more fair? There is that argument.
SEGAL: A universal draft would be more fair, if everybody serves. We have always had, in this country, a universal draft; we've always had selective conscription. And selective conscription, generally is opposed my the America people, largely because it is either perceived not to be fair or is in fact not fair.
CAFFERTY: Is the growing scarcity of qualified combat troops and the possibility that another conflict could break out, perhaps in a place like North Korea or Iran or some place else, is that going to put enough pressure, do you think, on the Pentagon to perhaps revisit the policy of gays in the military?
SEGAL: I would think so. I would think that there is another population that can expand the mobilization base if it's accepted, but currently it is not accepted although most of our allies have listed their bans on gays in the military and when we engage in coalition operations we are in the field with armies of other nations that have gays serving apparently with no problems.
LISOVICZ: Getting back to women, though, where you see female firefighters, female swat officers, these incredibly demanding, on a physical level, jobs, what is the reason, in the year 2005, that women would be excluded from active combat?
SEGAL: The military is a very traditional institution and historically it has tried to guarantee that in the future it will look like it looked in the past. That was the reason for the segregation of African Americans. I believe it is the reason for the segregation of African-Americans, I believe it is the reason for maintaining the combat restrictions that still exist on women and is the reason for excluding gays. I also think that the long-term direction of social change is toward the exception -- acceptance of greater diversity and that's going to happen in the military as it's happened in other social institutions like firefighting and police work.
SERWER: David, has it changed, just quickly here, though, the way wars are fought? It's so much more mechanized that it's actually easier, if you will, to fight a war, to have less physical strength in that sense?
SEGAL: Well, in a sense that is true, because you don't have as many infantry troops walking to work. Most of our infantry are mechanized infantry and they go to war in vehicles. But it's also true that the highest tech approaches to warfare, the use of cruise missiles and airpower are least useful in the kinds of engagements we're currently in in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you dealing with an insurgency what you really need are boots on the ground.
CAFFERTY: All right David, we're going to have to leave it there. David Segal is the director of the Center for Research on Military Organizations at the University of Maryland. Thank you for being with us.
SEGAL: My pleasure.
CAFFERTY: Coming up next:
Taming the wild child: You might be surprised at how many kids get kicked out of preschool these days. We'll get details from a man that did the research.
Also ahead, it isn't what you spend, it's what you know: Traveling well doesn't have to cost a fortune. We'll talk to a former budget travel editor about planning your summer vacation.
And, one, two, three kick: Try it, but not while you're holding a mouse and pleas not in any room where I'm present. We will show you our "Fun Site of the Week."
CAFFERTY: A Yale study out this weeks shows kids in prekindergarten, these are three and 4-year-olds, are three times more likely to be kicked out of school than children in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Before you point the finger at the parents or the school, let's get a little more information about this. Walter Gilliam is the head author of a study. He's an assistant professor at Yale's Child Study Center.
Walter, nice to have you on the program. Welcome.
WALTER GILLIAM, YALE UNIV. CHILD STUDY CTR.: It's my pleasure, thank you.
CAFFERTY: What do we got here A generation of unruly three-year- olds? I mean, how do these kids wind up getting their -- a stigma on their folder before they're even old enough to go to kindergarten?
GILLIAM: Well, we don't really know. All we know is that -- is that when asked teachers if in the past 12 months they had every required a child to leave their program because of a severe behavior problem, and we took a look at the number children who were required to leave the program and compare that to the number of children expelled from K through 12 programs, the number in these preschool programs was far, far, far greater.
SERWER: Does this have anything to do, Walter, with the fact that kindergartens are somehow supervised by the school boards more then and pre-Ks and pre-Ks are outside of the system?
GILLIAM: Absolutely, it may have to do with that. What we were looking at were these state funded pre-kindergarten programs. And these are programs that were funded by state dollars, but still yet, about a quarter of them are not in a public school system. They are in these nonpublic programs such as faith affiliated programs or for profit child care programs, they get contracted in the schools, and so the level of oversight may be very, very different.
There's other issues too, as well. You know, when you're talking about children in K through 12 grades you're talking about children typically who are required to be in school. They legally have to be there. Their parents are required to make sure that they're in some kind of a school program whether it's that public school or private school or home schooling or something. But when you're talk about preschool children, these children aren't required to be in school. And so there's really no legal oversight in terms of whether or not they get kicked out of these programs.
LISOVICZ: Walter, just for the record, let's state the offenses that are involved with kicking kids out, because, I don't know from my experience with children, unruliness is just part of the DNA at that age.
GILLIAM: Absolutely. Absolutely. And exactly what kind of behavior problems we're talking about or how severe they are, we don't really know. The data that we have comes from the National Prekindergarten study that we had conducted here at Yale. We were looked at a wide array of factors having to do with preschool programs and teachers...
LISOVICZ: But, you don't know what they were doing exactly?
GILLIAM: No, we were collecting a lot of information on teacher compensation, teacher education levels, and group sizes and then we did ask a few questions about children who were required to leave the program because of behavior problems or children that had to leave the program because of transportation problems and on and on, but we didn't get into the exact nature of the behavior problems that require the children to leave other than we know it was some kind of a behavior that the teacher felt was so severe they couldn't contain in the classroom.
Now, I've been in classrooms and preschool classroom myself and used to be a public school teacher, and so I can certainly comment on the types of behavior problems that we do see in these preschool children, but it is impossible for us to know from this data alone what it was that caused these children to be expelled. We're hoping to later on take a much more in-depth look at that
CAFFERTY: Should we be worried about this? And I ask that question in the context that I have faur daughters. And as I recall, a child at the age of three is probably not as aware of the requirements of discipline and good behaviors as a child who's, say, five. They just -- they just aren't that far along yet. So, behavior that may occur at the age of three isn't it possible that a lot of this is simply attributed to the fact that they are three instead of five? I mean should we -- is this something we should be concerned about?
GILLIAM: Well yeah. I think in the end what we're measuring is not the behavior problems of these children, but decisions that are being made by schools and preschool teachers regarding what to do about these behavior problems. I have a daughter too, who's six now and wasn't too long ago that she was three herself. And I certainly agree with you about the differences of children's behavior when they're young versus when they're a little bit older. But the important thing to keep in mind here is that when we're talking about these preschool programs, these are programs that are about school readiness, helping children become more ready for school. When we talked to parents about what it means to be ready for school, parents typically say, abc's and 1,2,3s and shapes and colors and things like that. But when we talk to kindergarten teachers, and ask kindergarten teacher the same questions, what does it mean to be ready for school? They never say abc's and 1,2,3s, they say behavior things. Able...
SERWER: Right socialization.
GILLIAM: Absolutely, and so if we think of these programs as a school readiness program, then rather than seeing these behaviors as a stumbling block or an obstacle or a problem, we really, I think, ought to be thinking of this as part of the educational mission of these programs to help the children be able to have the kind of behaviors that they need in kindergarten. Ultimately, we're not expelling them out of states and we're not expelling them out of school districts. We're going to see these children again.
SERWER: Hey Walter, a quick last question, here.
SERWER: Doesn't that mean, though, that some of the pre-K teachers are not up to snuff that they don't understand that these kids are doing a little kicking, a little screaming, a little biting?
GILLIAM: Oh, I think the important thing also to remember is that in many cases these preschool teachers are paid about $8. In some states teachers have to have a bachelor's degree or teaching certificate in how to work with very young children, but there are certainly many states where our state funded pre-K programs have teachers who have no more than a high school diploma and are paid around seven or $8 an hour. We're lucky to get anyone in those classrooms, nonetheless teachers who know how to deal with these behavior problems.
The positive finding that we found that I certainly want to emphasize here is that when teachers had access to a behavioral consultant who could come into the classroom and work with teachers regarding child behavior problems, the expulsion rates were cut literally in half. And that's a -- certainly very positive finding that we ought to be thinking about policy around.
SERWER: Right, it is indeed. It'll be interesting to see if you follow up on the study, too. All right, Walter Gilliam is a research fellow at Yale University's Child Study Center. Thank you for coming on the program.
GILLIAM: My pleasure. Thank you.
SERWER: Coming up after the break, the urge to merge: Our corporate parent, Time Warner, could re-thinking its hookup with AOL. Stick around and find out how our stock options are looking. OK.
Plus, building a better sitcom: As TV business rolls out its new shows; don't hold your breath for another "Friends" or "Frasier." We'll look at whether the sitcom is really dead.
And, how to get smarter by watching TV, well this program: "Money.com's" Allen Wastler thinks Donald Trump's "Apprentice" show could teach one particular CEO a thing or two. He'll tell us why.
LISOVICZ: Now, let's look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." U.S. Airways and America West are merging. The two struggling airlines hoping their combined strengths can help them hold off discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue. The merged airline will keep the U.S. Airways name.
It might seem to get tougher to get a home equity loan. Bank regulators are concerned about the growing number of people getting the loans and their warning financial institutions to reexamine their requirements. The warnings could result in tougher qualifying standards. Home equity loans have become increasingly popular for homeowners trying make improvements or just to make ends meet.
And it looks like President Bush wants the maestro to keep waving the baton. A "Washington Post" report says the White House may ask Alan Greenspan to continue as the fed chairman for at least a few month after his term expires next January. Greenspan isn't the longest serving fed chairman just yet. That record is held by William McChesney Martin who had the job for nearly 19 years.
SERWER: What many have characterized as the worst merger ever may be on the road to unraveling this week. Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons said he would consider spinning off AOL. This news comes as AOL continues to lose subscribers, but it's also gaining revenue from the returning strength in online advertising. Time Warner stock has been stuck between $15 and $19 and $15 and $19 a share for two years. But the shares may get a boost from the company's announcement on Friday that it's going to start a dividend this year. Time Warner is the parent company of CNN and it's also our "Stock of the Week."
Five cents a share, I did the math. I'll get $1.35 in dividends, I think.
CAFFERTY: Let the record show, before we go any farther, Mr. Parsons said it was Andy Serwer who used the phrase "worst merger ever" to describe the AOL acquisition.
SERWER: Yes. Former employee...
CAFFERTY: Susan and I had nothing to do with that charictorizaiton.
SERWER: The former employee that was known as Andy Serwer. Yes. You know, this company, it's the largest entertainment and media company in the world. And, but, a lot of problems in various businesses from technology: The music business, piracy, they spun that off. AOL, people are going to broadband. You look at the movie business, questions there. Cable business, there's questions about the satellites coming in and pirating that business away, as well. You know, it's a great company, with -- and I can say that even though I work here, it is a great company with a lot of great brands, but you know it has been just stuck in the mud for a long time.
LISOVICZ: Well, it's improved thought, you have to -- you have to give Mr. Parsons credit for that. He did bring the debt down, still a lot of debt. Settled two government probes for more than half a billion dollars and there's been stability, but the fact is AOL is languishing and there is big "if." It's going to do this free portal service to compete against Yahoo, Google, so it's a very big "if" if that works. And if it doesn't it's going to get spun off. And of course the irony is all too great for those of us who remember all too vividly how AOL bought Time Warner with its inflated stock at the peak of the bubble.
CAFFERTY: Well, and the other, you mention stock options. That's a great idea if you're one of the executives that has five million shares of stock. But you mentioned the company is carrying a big debt load. What about the wisdom of using the money that's going to be used to pay these dividends to bring down the debt load and maybe cause the stock price, god forbid, to move above this 19 -- this idiotic price range it's been in.
SERWER: Well, you always have a question. I mean if you're an executive running a company where do you deploy your capital? Do you buy back debt? Do you pay a dividend? What you want to do, you hope, is take that money and reinvest it in other growing businesses. I mean, you're looking at these various options and this is the one that Dick Parsons has done, but Susan alluded to the fact that he has paid down some debt already, so maybe he is trying to do...
LISOVICZ: Well he also bought Adelphia, too.
SERWER: A little bit of every -- that's right, bought Adlphia. You know, AOL is an interesting business because it makes a lot of money still, it's like a cash cow, like AT&T's long distance business. Same kind of thing, it's been declining, but it makes a lot of money, so if it is on its own, I think that might make a lot of sense. And at some point...
LISOVICZ: It might improve the Time Warner stock.
SERWER: Quite frankly, the stock will move -- at some point it probably will, I'm not saying when. There's a lot of years left in this decade, unfortunately. So, we shall have to see about that one.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, no laughing matter: If you are looking for a great sitcom these days good luck as the networks roll out their new shows. See if the classic sitcom is dead.
Plus, how far would you go to get a cheap flight to Rome? See why catching a cut rate jet from London might actually make sense. Stick around for tips on planning your summer vacation.
And life imitates art: That is if you call the "Apprentice" art. Find out why Donald Trump's reality show might have lessons for one particular CEO.
SERWER: If you loved Raymond your Monday nights might feel empty now. CBS' hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" signed off this week after nine seasons. Some pundits call it a sign of the times, saying sitcoms are dinosaurs in a TV land dominated by reality shows and one- hour dramas. But our next guest begs to differ. This is the director of the Center for the Study of Popular TV at Syracuse University. And he's here to tell us why fewer sitcoms doesn't mean they're going extinct. Welcome to the program.
ROBERT THOMPSON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
SERWER: But it doesn't seem like there are any new sitcoms out there so I don't understand how you think they're not dead.
THOMPSON: Well, that's the trouble there aren't any good sitcoms out there. When the best shows on the air now in comedy are "Two and a Half Men" and "Yes, Dear" and "Accord to Jim," that tells you what the state of things are. However, if you go back to the early 1980s and your read the newspapers, everybody was writing the obituary of the death of the sitcom. The most popular show at the time was "Diff'rent Strokes" of comedies and that was down into the lower teens in the ratings. Then of course "Cosby" came out and started one of the most successful two decades of sitcoms of all time. If you give people good sitcoms are they will watch them in droves. Only a year ago, "Friends" was consistently in the top one or two shows of the week. The reason that people aren't watching sitcoms as much, there aren't any good sitcoms on the air right now.
LISOVICZ: Professor Thompson, you obviously missed all the excitement of Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to dead people. That's one of the new shows for the new season. Of course, that will compete with Patricia Arquette seeing or hearing dead people. That's on a rival network. There is hope, though. Because David Letterman's people some of his former writers, are doing a new sitcom. And the people behind "Frasier," I think are behind another program. So these people have talent, one would think, given their track records.
THOMPSON: The sitcom will be back. It has gone through bad times before. Think it's still probably the most basic and potentially successful program type of all. And I think, you know how they talk about how cockroaches will never die, even when nuclear bombs go off and meteorites hit the earth -- I think the sitcom is probably that bulletproof. I think in the end, after the world has ended, maybe there will be cockroaches watching sitcoms. We're just in a really arid period.
CAFFERTY: There are cockroaches watching sitcoms now, Bob. I don't know how to break that to you. Talk to me about the economics.
THOMPSON: There's cockroaches making sitcoms, and other television.
SERWER: Yes, that, too.
CAFFERTY: Talk to me about the economics of a successful sitcom which eventually somebody like "Everybody Loves Raymond" or "Friends" finds its way into syndication, which is where the real megabucks are, versus the economics of reality shows and the potential syndication market for shows like that.
THOMPSON: That's the thing, upfront reality is great. Doesn't cost money, you don't have a bunch of talent asking for more big raises every year and they tend to get some really good numbers. "American Idol" and "Survivor" and all the rest. The problem is, most of that reality show is virtually useless in reruns. People don't want to watch reruns of something that's already happened. Sitcoms, on the other hand, lots people are going to make wheel barrels full of money on "Everybody Loves Raymond" for year and years and years.
Those things play in the highest profile time slot, dinnertime, when they get the most money on the highest rated stations. Shows like "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Simpsons," "Raymond," "Frasier," those will make money for those stations forever probably. And once they live the high ticket places, they go to TV Land, Nick at Night. That's not going to happen to reality shows, which may end up rerunning on some reality channel to 450,000 really die-hard reality fans. SERWER: And the other thing, Robert about reality show, the ideas are just getting so far out there long in the tooth. The reality show "The Hot Dog Vendor," we'll have some guy out there pretending to be -- you know what I'm saying, kind of running out of ideas, don't you think?
THOMPSON: Yeah, think reality is never going to go away. It's going to have a shakedown one of these days. We're not going to have as much on five years from now as we do now. But it's joined the pack of what TV does. But I still say the sitcom made NBC for 25 years, out of third place -- if i were a network executive right now, i would have -- the first three things on my list to do would be to develop sitcoms, develop sitcoms and develop sitcoms. Two hit half hour comedy can change the fortunes of a network even though it's also using reality and procedural cop shows and all the rest of it.
LISOVICZ: But in the meantime, as you said earlier, we're in this arid period. In the meantime, looking for money -- there was a story in "The Wall Street Journal" earlier this week there was a show on NBC, which I never heard of, which very few people watch, but the people watching it have a higher level of income and so now those are somewhat more valuable. Are you seeing that at all?
THOMPSON: Right, and that's been -- since the 1980s, shows like "Hill Street Blues" and "St. Elsewhere" are have ratings fairly low, but had higher advertising rates because they have great demographic, upscale people with lots of disposable income and that kind of thing. And we're seeing that in shows like "The West Wing," what's left of it and "24" and a few other shows like that.
I think the biggest problem with comedy right now is that all -- not only the upscale people, but all of us have a much higher demand for how good something is. You know, back in the '80s, '70s we made hits out of shows like "Gimme a Break" and "The Facts of Life," not very good shows ...
SERWER: Those are quality programs, come on.
CAFFERTY: Let me ask you about whether or not it's still economically feasible, for the three major networks -- I guess there are four now, if you count the "F word" network, to dump tons of money into development costs and pilots to get the sitcom off the ground when in fact, the audience, the share of the network audience has been declining fairly steadily for the last 20 years or so.
THOMPSON: It has. We spent the first eight decades of the 20th century building the biggest mass audience ever, we spent the last three decades taking that apart. Nevertheless, if you look again as recently as "Friends" and "Frasier" or for that matter, last week, shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" when you hit, it's true are you have to throw a lot against the wall before you get something that sticks in the way those do. But when you do, it cannot only be a great fortune for that particular show it can change the complexion of your entire night. If you can start the night with "Cosby" all of a sudden shows like "Cheers" which was 43rd in the ratings gets placed after "Cosby" and suddenly it's number two and number three. So I think, yes, It does behoove them to spend money to develop these things for the long term if not for the short term.
LISOVICZ: Robert Thompson who teaches the most popular course at Syracuse University, the Study of Popular TV. Thanks so much for joining us.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: We're not going any place so hang out while we take this break.
Up next, pack leader, great summer vacations start before you pull out your suitcase. We have got an expert standing by with some tips for you. And don't laugh. A Web site that makes white suits and platforms okay for guys again. Disco is back on our fun site of the week.
LISOVICZ: A rebounding dollar flat broke airline and roller coaster oil prices. The headlines are enough to give you a headache if you're trying to book a trip on a budget for summer. But Reid Bramblett, contributing editor of Frommer's Budget Travel is here to sort it all out for us. Welcome back.
REID BRAMBLETT, FROMMER'S BUDGET TRAVEL: Hi.
LISOVICZ: I'll tell you, lately, the headlines are enough for you to just upgrade your TV or fix your deck because hotel prices are going up, hotel rates are going up, we all know about gas prices. Is there really a budget vacation in the U.S. to be had?
BRAMBLETT: There certainly is. Obviously, with the rising price of gasoline and with airfares being so high, it's difficult to do it on a budget, but you can. They say that, I think the figures yesterday said that 2.2 percent more Americans are going to be traveling this summer than last summer and 85 percent of them are going to be getting in their cars and doing it. So they are going to pay dearly at the pump, but can save money by look at online booking sites for cheap hotel rates.
LISOVICZ: Like what kind?
BRAMBLETT: Hotels.com. Some of the big ones actually have good, inexpensive rates. If you search on hotel names in particular, look up in a guide book and search the hotel name, call the hotel directly, you can often negotiate a better rate depending on how full they are.
SERWER: All right. Reid, I'm kind of a sucker here. I'm going to Europe with my kiddies next week and obviously it's going to be a bullet-biting experience.
SERWER: What tips do you have for those of us unfortunate enough to be going across the pond?
BRAMBLETT: It's not a misfortune. It's a fantastic time to go. I was actually just over in Croatia and Slovenia a couple weeks ago. That's one of the big hints, to go to Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe because the prices fall off. Not Prague ...
SERWER: They don't have Big Ben there but ...
BRAMBLETT: They don't have Big Ben, there, but you can save money in London as well. One great way to do that is to look beyond the traditional hotels. If you go to the Web site beyondhotels.net you'll find two dozen alternatives to lodging costs, which quote frankly can be $150 or $200 for a basic, run of the mill hotel run.
But if you want to stay in a B&B, it will only be $40 for a double room. If you want to stay in a flat in London, you can rent that starting at about $70 per night for a week.
CAFFERTY: The other tip that was interesting to me is air travel to Europe. Fly to London, get off the plane there and switch to something else. Tell me how that works.
BRAMBLETT: That's right. That's called the Big Ben switcheroo. And I've got it all described on my Web site nofrillsair.com. The idea is that you can get the cheapest air flights to Europe into London because British Airways and Virgin are competing on that route. And I think the prices I was seeing recently were as low as $269 round trip out of the East Coast, little more if you move West. And from there, switch, usually switch airports from Heathrow or Gatwick to Stansted or Luton and fly a low-cost airline or no frills airline like Southwest or JetBlue back home, but there they're called Easy Jet and Ryan Air. And there are about 40 of them criss-crossing the continent. The one-way fare averages about $50-$60. And that way you can ping pong your way around Europe.
LISOVICZ: What about Argentina, for instance. You say that is a great bargain, for instance.
BRAMBLETT: It is a great bargain. I was saying Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe but the real bargains are in South America, Central America, Asia. You can go to Buenos Aires on a five night hotel package, with your airfare and five nights in a hotel, airfare, I think it's $679. And I have these prices on my Web site at traveltools.net. There's a link to all the great package deals.
LISOVICZ: Is it nice there this time of year?
BRAMBLETT: Buenos Aires, yes, just getting into their fall season. And it's the Paris of South America, they call it. It's a very genteel and elegant city. And the crash of the peso a few years ago has left prices are in the doldrums. So you can get first world class and style at third world prices. Steak dinners are ten dollars with Argentinean wine. You can learn to tango for $5.
SERWER: That might be appealing to Susan, maybe doing it with some of the gauchos down there, what do you think, Reid? BRAMBLETT: Yeah, yeah.
SERWER: What do you think of the whole dollar situation? That's what's really at the heart of this. Any relief there? How do you play that?
BRAMBLETT: Well, it has slipped slightly in our favor. It was about $1.30 to the euro and $1.90 to the pound a couple weeks ago. Now it's about $1.26 to the euro and $1.84 to the pound. That's still a big bite out of your budget which is why you need to use these tips to shave down the price on those big-ticket items like airfare and car rental rates and hotels.
LISOVICZ: Reid Bramblett, contributing editor to Frommers Budget Travel. Andy and which learn how to do the tango.
LISOVICZ: Thanks for joining us.
BRAMBLETT: Thank you, Susan.
LISOVICZ: Coming up, "Do the Hustle" and re-"Do the Hustle." You can take disco dance lessons as often as you want (ph) on our fun site of the week.
And if you are more of a foxtrot type or there's something else on your mind, send us an e-mail, the address is email@example.com. First, this week's "Money & Family."
There's no better way to enjoy nature's bloom than planting your own garden. We'll tell you how to keep your outdoors green without having to dig very deep into your wallet. Wear spiked athletic shoes while mowing the lawn. You'll aerate the gas root with each step.
Scatter grass clipping around plants to repel weeds. The clippings are a good source of nutrients. Sprinkle the guard within liberal amounts of ground black pepper to keep stray cats away. The pepper won't hurt the cats, but it will irritate their paws if they try to dig.
Protect your plants by make collars from toilet tissue rolls. Push the roll around two-thirds into the soil to protect plants from the wind. Avoid ant invasions by spreading a thin line of salt across places they want to go. Ants won't cross a line of salt.
To nurture the healthiest tree, shrubs and evergreen, scatter ten unused match heads and one cup of Epsom salts in the planting hole. This promotes new growth and strengthens stems and root.
Happy planting. I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money & Family."
CAFFERTY: A lot of the people who watch "The Apprentice" are young business tycoons hoping to learn something by following that program. But Allen Wastler thinks some already established CEOs could take a pointer or two from the program as well. He join us with more on that and the fun site of the week. Who, pray tell, are you talking about?
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: Oh, well, you see, it occurred to me because I'm a big fan of "The Apprentice" and I'm watching it over and over again. I'm watching it. They say the show has no real-world applications. I'm watching it, and then I look, Morgan Stanley having all these problems, hmm, Phil Purcell, Tana (ph). Tan, Phil Purcell. And it just struck me that, if anything, the old guard on Wall Street needs to sit down, watch this show and see what it teaches you about human relationships.
CAFFERTY: There you go.
WASTLER: Especially when you're trying to get something done.
LISOVICZ: Because Tana didn't treat her colleagues well.
WASTLER: The thing is, if you watch through the season, she was little miss cheerleader, getting everybody, oh, come on, gang, let's go get it done. But in the final couple episodes, all of a sudden, she turned on her team. You guys are the Three Stooges and you know, just said don't talk to them and talk to me! And when you look at what's happened over at Morgan Stanley with the senior executives who have sort of openly revolted against the CEO and you trace how that sort of came about, yes there's numbers involved, and the stock price sort of languishing.
But you also look at the human relationships involved, the back- biting, just the CEO saying don't pay attention to them, pay attention to me, you get a good lesson in how things work on Wall Street. So, it's one of -- I talked to a business professor who used to use a lot of the episodes in his business class to teach his students about things that go into accomplishing projects. He sort of toned that down a little bit. But he did make the point that underneath it all it's the human relationship affect in business that a lot of people really don't give credence to. And it's a big part of ...
LISOVICZ: Tana got fired, so Phil Purcell ...
SERWER: He's still there.
WASTLER: I checked my favorite futures (CROSSTALK) place to see how the betting's going. They give it about a 20 percent chance that he'll be out by the end of June. He's sort of coming back a little bit. He's been going around, glad handing, making nicey-nicey with everybody. Of course this recent court case with ...
LISOVICZ: Ron Perelman.
WASTLER: Ron Perelman. $1.4 billion you're out all a sudden. That could hurt.
CAFFERTY: Yeah that will knock your odds of surviving down a peg or two. I can't believe -- I thought more of you than this. You actually found a fun site that has to do with disco?
WASTLER: I know. Disco comrade, okay? We scraped around and found a place that give you an introductory lesson if you've been behind the Iron Curtain.
SERWER: You go!
SERWER: They're cooking.
WASTLER: Disco, disco. There they are, showing you the basics. They will also show you some fancy footwork that comes in later, okay. Those sneakers could use a scrub.
SERWER: Oh, it's in slow motion.
CAFFERTY: This is painful.
SERWER: Slow, baby.
LISOVICZ: This is one of the elementary classes, obviously.
CAFFERTY: Look at those shoes.
LISOVICZ: Travolta's Eastern European cousin.
WASTLER: Here they are getting down. Finally putting all the steps together.
CAFFERTY: This is "Saturday Night Seizure."
WASTLER: You rock, people. You rock. So you find it on our show page if you need the disco lesson. There you go.
CAFFERTY: Through for that contribution. Appreciate it. All right, come up next on IN THE MONEY, 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'd like. We're at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAFFERTY: It's time now to read your answers to our question of the week about whether you're considering buying a hybrid car. Claire wrote, "I'd like to buy a hybrid but I've noticed my dealers make a few changes, like leather seats in all of them, and then they jack up the price by 10 grand. When the dealers stop playing games, I'll buy a hybrid."
Janelle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin wrote this. "I'd love to buy a hybrid, but the sedans don't have enough cargo space and I'm finding it nearly impossible to get the hybrid Ford Escape SUV in the Midwest. But I bet Honda will get a hybrid SUV to my area before too long." And Ann (ph) in Grapevine, Texas wrote this -- "We already have a hybrid and we'll buy one again. It saves us a lot of money, but maybe a little too much. Whenever people ask us about our car, my husband ends up giving a 10 minute demonstration ride. It's time I'd rather use at the shopping mall."
Time now for next week's e-mail question of the week, which is this. Do you think women should be given full combat roles in the U.S. military? Send your answers to email@example.com. Also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney which is where you'll find the address of our fun site of the week. Check out those disco lessons.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY my thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer, money.com managing editor Allen Wastler.
Join us next week, Saturday at 1:00 eastern, Sunday at 3:00. Or you can catch Andy and me all week long on "AMERICAN MORNING" which begins at 7:00 am Eastern time. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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