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CNN IN THE MONEY
An Expert Discusses Bird Flu; Discussion Of Health Savings Accounts; New Tax Code Proposal
Aired November 5, 2005 - 13:00 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.
A private jet went down at Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, killing two people, officials say both victims aboard on the Citation aircraft that had taken off, circled back around and was trying to land when it crashed. An incoming 737 that had reported problems was diverted to Bush Intercontinental Airport. We'll have more updates throughout the afternoon on CNN.
Military officials report U.S. and Iraqi forces killing dozens of insurgents and finding a city full of explosive in Operation Steel Curtain. They report civilians have been evacuated from areas where the firefights are happening in Husayba, an insurgent stronghold on the Syrian border. At least three marines received minor wounds. More than 3,000 U.S. forces and 500 Iraqi soldiers are taking part in the offensive.
The Prime Minister of France is meeting with top officials and a Muslim leader to look for a way to end rioting that has spread from several Paris suburbs across that country. Nearly 900 vehicles were set on fire in the ninth straight night of violence. The British and American governments are urging visitors to avoid affected areas in France.
Off the coast of Somalia, a luxury cruise ship has gotten away from attacking pirates, armed with machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The Seabourn Cruise Line says it's ship, Spirit, suffered minor damage, and one person was injured. The operator is evaluating whether to stay away from the area in the future.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta, more news at the bottom of the hour. IN THE MONEY begins right now.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, don't fear the peeper. We will look at whether the coverage of avian flu is scarier than the real thing.
And picking a doctor, like you would pick a breakfast cereal, see if you would be healthier and wealthier with consumer-driven medical insurance.
And thinking skin deep and what it means for business. Find out how low-key racism is still keeping minorities out of some of the top jobs. Joining me today a couple of our IN THE MONEY veterans. CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, hot off a two-week trip to France; and "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer hot off a 35-minute ride from 51 Street and 6th Avenue to our building here.
Jobs report came out on Friday, less than expected new jobs. However, Alan Greenspan gave a speech in front of the Congress earlier this week, says he likes what he sees in the economy.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, I can understand that. It was weaker. We got 56,000 new jobs, we were looking for 124,000, but to me the real issues right now are gas prices and consumer spending. You know we look at different things at different times, sometimes it's interest rates we look at, sometimes it's jobs. Right now gas prices are falling. That's a positive. I think it will put more money in people's pockets and they're going to shop towards the holiday season.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly October retail sales were strong, one of the reasons why was because of the lower gasoline prices. Right now we've had this extraordinary weather in the northeast so we haven't had the demand for heating oil, that is one of the reasons crude has come down so sharply. But that was a very good trend that we saw with October retail sales.
Also the productivity numbers came in on Thursday. They were very good, better than expected, and unit labor costs within that were down, also better than expected.
SERWER: That means we're working harder and getting paid less.
LISOVICZ: But that's all about inflation, and that's about raising interest rates and --
CAFFERTY: The other thing Greenspan said in his remarks was that the hurricanes have not knocked as much off of GDP as a lot of people thought when they first happened. In fact, one of the guests on the program today, the Secretary of Treasury John Snow, right after Katrina and the one that hit Texas, said it could take off a half- point off of the GDP. The destruction of those hurricanes, apparently that didn't happen. And Mr. Greenspan said, I think he called it significant forward momentum that he saw in the American economy. So that is good news.
SERWER: Good stuff.
CAFFERTY: Check out some of the coverage of bird flu and you might think your goose is cooked. Interesting play on words there, I think.
CAFFERTY: Now there is no question that it's potential a serious problem, but maybe not right this very minute. So serious that President Bush this week said that he was going to ask Congress for $7.1 billion to throw at the problem, but it's easy to get caught up in the hype about this virus, so we're going to give you some perspective on how real the danger is or isn't.
For that, we'll talk with a virus specialist, a real expert, Peter Palese from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine here in New York, the professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology. Mr. Palese, it is a pleasure to have you on the program.
PETER PALESE, MT. SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Is this thing being blown out of proportion? Are we going to get the panic before we get the pandemic?
PALESE: Influenza is a serious disease in humans, and clearly we should protect ourselves against the ordinary influenza. What you're talking about here is the avian influenza, which would be a new pandemic, and clearly we have been sort of -- we have had experienced several pandemics in the last century, specifically the 1918 pandemic, was one which caused probably about 50 million deaths worldwide, and also in 1957 and '68 we had serious problems. So that's what's in the background.
But the question you are asking is whether the avian influenza pandemic will come and whether it's imminent. I'm not completely sure that it is really imminent, and part of the reasoning is that the virus has been around in Asia for at least a decade, documented, and it hasn't jumped into humans in terms of being a virus, which can be transmitted from human to human.
LISOVICZ: So, professor, what do you do? You have tens of thousands of people who die every year from the ordinary flu. There's all this concern about a pandemic and what it may bring. I mean, how is a reasoned health professional supposed to approach this?
PALESE: Yes. So learning from the past, we know that about two to three major pandemics happen per century. That's sort of again the 1918, 1957, 1968 pandemics, we still know about this, and therefore we should be cautious and we should have precautions and measurements against such an event.
Whether it is the -- whether the pandemic is an avian flu, which we are sort of made to believe now with all the press and several of my scientific colleagues, sort of scare mongers in terms of predicting that this is coming tomorrow, or at least at the end of this year, I'm not so sure. What I think is important is that we are prepared and I think the program which was announced this Tuesday by President Bush is an excellent one.
SERWER: Without getting overly technical, can you tell us why you don't think it will jump easily from human to human?
PALESE: Yes, the avian flu is clearly a very serious disease for chickens, and there it has killed millions of chickens. It has been probably more prevalent in China, because the number of chickens in China has probably quadrupled in the last five years and probably may ten times as many chickens over the last 20 years, because the economy improved, so there are more chickens there, and therefore the h5 avian virus is more common in that chicken population. When people are working with poultry handlers, they get infected with massive amounts of the virus. Those are the cases we hear about. But the important thing is that the virus has not shown the ability to be transmitted from one person to the other. As long as the virus doesn't do that, I think for humans it is not really a major danger.
CAFFERTY: One other quick question, I know less than nothing about the science of this thing, but I keep hear these words that the virus will mutate, that it will somehow change. When that happens, that's when the real danger happens. Can you comment on that?
PALESE: That's correct. I mean, obviously something has to happen with the virus, either mutations, but we don't know whether it takes five or 10 or 50 mutations to make it into a virus which can be transmitted easily from human to human, or whether it requires some genes from a human from the ordinary influenza viruses which are constantly circulating.
So I think it is clearly not predictable at this point, and the program President Bush announced, where monies will be giving for surveillance, better surveillance, is important, because I don't think scientifically we can predict at this point that it's bound to happen, and certainly I don't think we can give it a time frame when it's going to happen, meaning acquiring mutations or acquiring new human influenza virus genes to become a virus, which is really dangerous for humans rather than just for chickens.
CAFFERTY: I'll tell you, that's the most reasoned dialogue on this subject that I've heard in the last several months, and I thank you very much for coming on IN THE MONEY and talking to us about it.
PALESE: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Professor Palese is the chairman of the Department of Microbiology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine here New York City.
When we come back on this tidy little program we do, Doctor. Yes health savings accounts, put you in charge of your medical care. And they could be the next big thing. We're going to see if a good idea for those of us who never went to medical school.
Plus the tax America loves to hate. Hell, I don't like any of them. A presidential commission is taking a fresh look at the alternative minimum tax. Find out if it's heading for the hopper.
And on looks alone, we will find out how racism is hurting talented employees and the companies they work for. Stick around, lots more to come.
SERWER: If you're a worker bee in corporate America, then you probably know it's open enrollment season. As the annual scramble to pick a company-sponsored health plan gets under way, there's a new twist on the insurance side of things -- the health savings account. You pay more out of pocket for things like doctor visits and prescriptions, which can be a good deal if you're healthy. For a look at where the changing system may be taking us, we're joined by Jonathan Cohn; he is a senior editor at "The New Republic" with a special focus on health care and social welfare.
Jonathan, welcome to the program. Can you explain what these health savings accounts are and tell us how prevalent they're becoming, please?
JONATHAN COHN, "THE NEW REPUBLIC:" The basic idea -- I think everybody has seen, I think everybody with health insurance has seen their deductibles and cost sharing go up over the last few years. The idea of health savings accounts is to take this trend about five steps further.
And basically this replaces comprehensive insurance, the kind most of us are used to, replace it with an insurance policy that only covers the most catastrophic costs, over several thousand dollars, then the idea is you pay for the rest out of pocket, using ideally the money that you've salted away in these tax-deferred savings accounts.
CAFFERTY: It's been my experience and I'm a lot older than you, that anytime the government or my employer says, come here, let me help you, they probably are not really going to help me. Who are these things going to benefit?
COHN: The idea is to transfer more of the responsibility of health spending onto the individual. So if you're not the kind of person that will use a lot of healthcare over the course of the year, it's a terrific deal. If you're young, if you're healthy, you probably will come out ahead. And they know that, and that's why they're pushing these on to people.
The problem comes if you're not one of those people. Maybe you have a chronic health condition or you're unlucky enough to have an accident or heart attack. If you have serious medical expenses in the course of the year, you will get hammered by these policies. That's the concern of people, that overtime we're going to see a gradual transformation away from comprehensive insurance in which everybody is covered for the majority of their health costs and we are basically going to place the burden for health spending primary on those people that use it.
So healthy people will be better off. The minority of people at any time who have serious medical conditions will lose a lot of money, and you'll see people really overwhelmed with their medical bills, not just the very poor, but well into the middle class.
LISOVICZ: In fact, Jonathan, you write about it and you compare the approaches sort like auto insurance, that, yes, if you get into a crash, your auto insurance will take care of some of it or most of it, but for the car wash, the oil changes, things like that, that's how the human life and health is being looked at?
COHN: Well, that's the analogy that promoters of these schemes use. That's explicit. The Bush administration in its presidential papers on this also has talked about the analogy to auto insurance. Like I said, it's fine for automobiles. The problem is you really are looking at punishing those people who have the misfortune of developing the worst medical conditions.
The idea of health insurance in this country, really in every country, has traditionally been to insulate those people against those risks. It's the recognition that we all risk some day of coming down with a catastrophic illness or having an accident and it's a risk we want to protect ourselves from. That's why we pay into health insurance.
SERWER: The whole notion that we're punishing sick people kind of blows my mind, it implies that somehow they're responsible for it. The other thing that gets me that it suggests we're seeking treatment and drugs unnecessarily and that if we're using our own money, then we'll buy less. Isn't that's what's going on here?
COHN: That's a theory. I should say I think most people who study this think there's a bit of truth to that. I think everybody would like to see consumers being more intelligent about the medical care they use, we all would like to see people seeking out the best treatment, thinking twice before getting a procedure that might not be necessary and so on. The question is how far do you go in that direction?
CAFFERTY: How do you decide what to do? It sounds to me like you're shooting dice with the devil a little bit here. If you buy one of these, you're gambling that something horrific is not going to happen to you. I'm from Reno, Nevada. That sounds like a bad bet.
COHN: Well I think that is exactly the correct analogy. It is a gamble. You're betting that you will not somebody who has serious medical expenses. At any one time, most people won't have those serious medical expenses. It's a very small group of people at any time who have serious medical conditions, but maybe today as a stranger on the street, but tomorrow maybe it's a friend, the next day maybe it's your sister, your daughter or your granddaughter and the next day maybe it's you. You really got to ask yourself is that a gamble you want to take.
LISOVICZ: So, Jonathan, if your gene pool turned up unlucky and you are chronically ill, this is not a good situation with these kind of savings -- these kind of plans, but if you are in the financial industry or the insurance industry, this is the way to go?
COHN: Well, it's definitely the way to go if you're an employer paying for your employees' health insurance premiums. And that is why we are seeing this. And in fairness the employers they are bearing a huge expense on behalf of their workers for health insurance. You see what's happening in Detroit to the auto industry, which is just being crushed by the expenses of its retire health benefits.
I think that's why in the end we really need to decide that the employer system maybe isn't the way to go, but you need to ask what do you want to put in its place? Do we just want to make people individually responsible for this, or is it maybe time to start talking about something we haven't talked about seriously in this country for ten years, but every other country does which is to have a universal health insurance system, where we all pay into one pool for the money and we all take care of each other.
LISOVICZ: This conversation will continue that's for sure. Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at "The New Republic." Thanks for joining us.
COHN: Thanks for having me.
LISOVICZ: For those of you lucky enough to have company sponsored health insurance. Here are a couple things to look for as you consider new health plan options this season. If you already have a doctor, check to make sure he or she is part of the plan you're considering.
Cost is always an issue so if you're healthy and don't have a chronic condition, look at lower cost plans that cover 100 percent of preventive care or plans with minimal co-pays. Check to see if the plan you are considering requires a referral to see specialist, it's always easier if referrals are not required.
SERWER: All right. Coming up after the break, they lose some, they win some. As Merck racks up a victory in its second suit over Vioxx we'll take a look at the stock.
And later, packing the tax code. A presidential commission has been looking into it. We'll talk to Treasury Secretary Jon Snow.
And jumping threw hoops; the NBA is proving that American sports can be a hot export if you sell them right. Allen Wastler is going to tell us how basketball is playing in China.
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute" Alan Greenspan's. His tenure in office is winding down, but he's still on a crusade to fight inflation. The Fed chairman and the open market committee raised interest rates another quarter-point this week and hinted that more hikes are on the way.
October sales were the worst sales month in seven years for U.S. automakers. The drop-off from the summer sales was rougher than expected, as was the effect of the end of employee discounts programs. U.S. car companies now have just a 52 percent share of the American market down from 70 percent in 1999.
But the nation's big retail stores are doing just fine, thank you. Wal-Mart, JC Penny, and Costco all had stronger than expected October sales reports. A burst of cold weather toward the end of last month help to kick start sales of clothing and winter gear. Many consumer experts had expected higher gas prices to keep people away from the mall.
SERWER: Merck got some much-needed good news on Thursday when a jury found in favor of the drug maker in one of the first major lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx. This comes after Merck's loss in a similar case earlier this year in Texas, where a jury awarded the plaintiff more $250 million, but the judgment there is on appeal and this latest verdict seems to be boosting confidence at Merck. Merck shares soared after the court victory, but the stock is still down about 35 percent from where it stood before the bad news of Vioxx came out late last year.
That makes Merck our stock of the week. This is case was interesting because this is a guy who had a heart attack, but survived, he wasn't taking the drug for a very long time. We're sort of back to square one. Merck won one, they lost one, 6,000-plus more cases to go.
LISOVICZ: And I was listening to the conference call with reporters right after the verdict, and Merck was feeling very good. In fact the company said it's talking to regulators about bringing Vioxx back. Imagine that.
CAFFERTY: So the question is, based on this big victory they had, do we run out and buy the stock? You can buy it at a 35 percent discount right now.
SERWER: And actually Jack that stock was at $90 going back five years. It's gone down a lot. I would say it's kind of early to get in here. We're not talking about new wonder drugs or what's in the pipeline; we're talking about how bad the plaintiffs' lawyers are. That to me is not a good situation. Take a loose at Philip Morris.
There is a stock that had plaintiff lawyers for a whole decade, the whole 1990s, the stock was at $20, it did go up a lot but it ended at $20. Now, finally the plaintiffs' lawyers in tobacco litigation is going away and the stock is going to $70. It took ten years. I think Merck has a long way to go to deal with all this kind of stuff.
LISOVICZ: But having said that, I mean you know Merck is not a sin company. It is a company that dispenses valuable medications and risk is one of the things that come with it. It would be interesting to see what it does in the next case, which comes up, if I'm not mistaken, later this month in Texas.
CAFFERTY: Valuable medications, except for the ones that may cause you to have a heart attack. Except for those, yes.
LISOVICZ: A fatal heart attack at that.
SERWER: And also what is hurting here too, is this you know regulating drug prices and we're all going to be talking about the costs of healthcare yada, yada at nausea and that is not a good environment also for this company. It is a great company, but I think it's ...
LISOVICZ: Still in a rough patch. It's won one as you mentioned, and it's got a 6500 or more cases down the pike.
SERWER: All right. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, tax reform and what it could mean to you. We'll speak with Treasury Secretary Jon Snow about tweaking the system.
And later, vintage advice, see how the end of one career can mark the start of another, in our "Life After Work" segment.
Also ahead, they will call you Flipper; see if you can thrive in a housing bubble on our "Fun Site of the Week."
WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Our top stories.
In Operation Steel Curtain more than 3,500 U.S. and Iraqi troops are working together to weed out insurgents along the Syrian border. U.S. military says civilians are being evacuated to a secure location. Dozens of enemy fighters have been killed in at least 30 explosive devices have been found. The U.S. military adds that at least three marines received minor wounds.
Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas has reopened after a private jet crashed this morning, killing two people. Officials say both victims were aboard a Citation aircraft that had been ordered to make way for an incoming 737 that had a reported problem. The Citation took off, circled back around, and was trying to land when it crashed. The 737 was diverted to Bush Intercontinental Airport without incident.
More news at the top of the hour.
CAFFERTY: In January, President Bush put together a bipartisan panel to simplify the tax code. Now, there's an assignment. No small task, but a little more than ten months later, they have come up with a couple ideas. The panel handed over their suggestions to Treasury Secretary John Snow earlier this week, and Secretary Snow is with us on IN THE MONEY now to talk more about this. Mr. Secretary welcome. Nice to have you with us.
JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY: Thanks, Jack. Good to be on with you.
CAFFERTY: Some people are suggesting that when the headlines on these recommendations are the repeal of the mortgage interest rate deduction, the repeal of the deduction for state and local taxes, that politically it will be impossible to get this thing to take flight. Is this thing dead on arrival based on those kinds of changes that are being advocated?
SNOW: Jack, what we've got is a report of a panel that was appointed by the president. We at treasury will take a hard look at what they recommended, and I commend them for what they did. They were asked to take a bold look at the code. Now the ball is in our court to look at what they've done, use that as a starting place, then try to figure out what makes sense in terms of recommendations to the president.
So I don't want to prejudge the report or the recommendations we'll send the president, but I do commend the panel for having fulfilled what the president asked them to do within a relatively brief timetable, take a hard look at the code, come up with a set of bold, far-reaching improvements.
SERWER: Mr. Secretary a key part of the plan is the consumption tax that is an idea that has been around for a while. But isn't it and again this argument has been around. Isn't that a regressive tax that hurts poor people more, and again, does this really stand a chance of being implemented?
SNOW: Look I think good ideas stand a chance of being implemented. You don't find, an answer to your question is you don't find a lot of people saying the code is terrific just leave the code alone, don't touch it. I like the simplicity of the code, I enjoy that complexity. It's terrific, give me more of it. People's attitudes are the other side of that. They inherently want to see us do better, they want a simpler code.
SERWER: Would you favor a consumption tax; I guess is what is what I'm asking?
SNOW: Well, I'm not going to get into the details of what I might recommend to the president. There are advantages to encouraging more savings. The panel has given us some ways to do that. There are other ways to do that. We do need to save more in the United States. We're going to look hard at what they had to say and we are going to look hard at other ways to accomplish the president's objectives. But I think it's just inappropriate for me at this point to be commenting on the specifics of what they've recommended.
LISOVICZ: In theory, then, Mr. Secretary, can you address the corporate tax dodge? Just a couple figures here more than 60 percent of U.S. corporations failed to pay any federal taxes from 1996 through 2000, when the economy was doing fantastic, that tax receipts overall have fallen to under 7.5 percent of overall federal tax revenue in '03. That's just outrageous.
SNOW: Well, there are all sorts of complex tax rules that come into play, tax loss, carry-forwards, and accelerated depreciation. All sorts of things. On that issue, the panel has recommended some fairly far-reaching changes in the corporate tax structure, going to expensing, getting rid of depreciation schedules, going to a territorial system where you pay taxes in the United States and you get taxed on your foreign earnings abroad.
Some things that we're going to look at. The corporate share of total tax revenues has fallen. It's now beginning to come back up. We're going to take a look at all of those issues, and importantly in all of this is to make sure that the system is fair, people are paying their fair share, and we go after the loopholes. I agree with you, we've got to go after loopholes.
CAFFERTY: Congressman Tom DeLay wrote a rather scathing op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" on Friday, suggesting that the panel squandered an opportunity to do some really bold stuff, to scrap the tax code and get down to some real basic far-reaching fundamental reform. He suggested the president handed them this opportunity last January when he called for ideas on tax reform. Congressman DeLay says what they did was some minor tweaking and came up with some stuff that came up way short of the opportunity that was given them, and Mr. DeLay suggests saying thank you very much, putting these recommendations in the garbage and starting over. How do you deal with that kind of reaction from someone with a voice that's as widely listened to as Mr. DeLay's, particularly among the Republicans?
SNOW: Well, as I say, Jack, we're taking the panel's work, and they did a lot of good work. I wouldn't accept the view that they haven't been bold and far-reaching. There's been a lot of good work. But we're taking it as the starting point, not the finishes point. They've done their work, now it's up to us to think through the issues that the president has asked us to look at, and there are other ideas out there. There's the value-added tax, there's the national sales tax, there are a whole bunch of ideas out there that we need to look at.
LISOVICZ: That is for sure and we're interested in knowing what comes out of that that is for sure. John Snow, Treasury Secretary, thank you for joining us.
There are lots more to come here IN THE MONEY. Up next, sideline, new research says prejudice still affects who gets the high- level jobs. See what happens when companies don't give everyone a fair shot at the top.
And later, beat the bubble. Find out if your brain and reflexes are fast enough for a hot housing market.
LISOVICZ: A report in the November issue of "The Harvard Business Review" says many minority executives feel stuck on their rung of the corporate ladder. Our next guest says hidden bias gets most of the blame. Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett is co-author of the study and she is also director of the Hidden Brain Drain Task Force at the Center for Work Life Policy. Welcome Sylvia.
SYLVIA ANN HEWLETT, CENTER FOR WORK LIFE POLICY: It's good to be here.
LISOVICZ: You know, we talk so much obvious discrimination. What is the hidden bias that you're talking about?
HEWLETT: I think discrimination is quite subtle these days, it is wrapped up in seemingly very simple things, like choice of jewelry, tone of voice, hand gestures, but the cumulative impact can be enormous. In our study, we show that 42 percent of minority executives feel constrained by the white male model. I think the backdrop here is that 40 years ago, discrimination was very easy to see. Remember some of the phrases -- at the back of the bus, Irish need not apply.
I think we wore discrimination on our sleeves; we enshrined it in our laws. But these days it's much more hidden, but I think that the impact really continues to be quite great. Twenty percent for instance of the executives in our sample experienced these kinds of subtle discrimination seriously enough so that they were considering quitting their jobs.
SERWER: Sylvia, how do you reconcile your findings with the fact, though, that it seems to me if you're a talented minority executive, you are in high demand. If you're at Goldman Sachs and you're African-American, they want to hire you at Morgan Stanley. Isn't that true also?
HEWLETT: You know I think there are two things going on. Most senior management teams these days almost have to have a piece of very conspicuous and powerful minority talent. Just look at the White House or even Wall Street. But if you look at the numbers, all though 29 percent of managers these days are men and women of color, only two, three percent of them rise to the top. They really are clustered on the lower rungs of career ladders.
And in our survey, we find that there's a great deal of alienation, a great deal of disengagement precisely because of the ongoing hidden bias. Many women, for instance, feel they either talk too softly or too loudly to be seen as leadership potential. It's as though it's almost impossible to hit it right if you're a woman of color.
CAFFERTY: One of the things in your study that you focused on was the emphasis on appearance and the fact that minorities sometimes feel a certain pressure to conform to the expectations of the work environment they're in. The National Basketball Association recently dictated to its players that when they are on league business, i.e. post-game interviews or appearances in public on behalf of the NBA, that they would wear traditional, acceptable business dress, pair of slacks and a shirt, no bling bling, no rap-oriented type costumes.
They don't care what they wear on their own time, but when they're working for the National Basketball Association, they'll dress a certain way. What are your thoughts on those requirements and how appropriate they may or may not be?
HEWLETT: Both in our survey data but also in our focus groups, these men and women were talking about shoe horning themselves into this very constricted white male model. There's a great phrase out there in the literature it is called "Bleached-Out Professionalism" and it as though you need to shrink yourself, you have to only present a tiny slice of who you are, and obviously that is profoundly alienating in anything like the long run.
LISOVICZ: You know Sylvia being politically correct can be maddening. It's really awful when everybody has to be vanilla, on the other hand we're talking about work and there are certain things that are appropriate and certain things that are inappropriate.
In your research, you said some of the Asian-American women for instance felt like they weren't speaking loudly enough. Some of the African Americans would seldom say were speaking too loudly. I mean there is a certain justification or not speaking to loudly enough, is there not?
HEWLETT: Well, you know, that is somewhat true, but we are talking about executives who have already made the grade, are incredibly credentials. These are folks that know how to handle themselves. For instance, if you get into trouble because you have the wrong manicure, it just shows how constrained our acceptable model of behavior is.
SERWER: And Sylvia isn't this really all about corporate assimilation, if you will? I mean this is the same sorts of things that Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans, and Jewish-Americans had to do. They joined companies, they didn't sort fit in they learned to fit in, they weren't accepted at country clubs, ultimately they were they were accepted to country clubs. It's a process that takes decades, doesn't it? It's sad, but it's true.
HEWLETT: Yes, but I think we're missing out on something huge by not creating these levels of acceptance and trust in the workplace. For instance, in another part of our study, we describe the community leadership, the ways in which minority professionals disproportionately reach out and give back. They form Girl Scout troops in homeless shelters. They are disproportionately involved in their religious communities. Because they feel so kind of edited, so constrained at work, they're reluctant to share the full scope of their lives.
Because of that, all of these transferable skill sets actually don't get to play out in the workplace. One of them told us in an interview, he dare not talk about the full scope of his life, in case it was used as ammunition against him, because he thought that it would reinforce a certain set of negative stereotypes, so I think this ongoing hidden bias has all kinds of spin-offs in terms of inculcating a lack of trust and lack of ability to bring your whole self to work. I think employers as a result lose out on some significant kind of pools of talent.
LISOVICZ: Sylvia Hewlett economist, also director of the Head and Brain Drain Task Force. It's been a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.
Still to come, the road to a rich retirement. Find out how smart financial planning helped a former professor find the good life.
And put our producer to the test with your e-mail insights. Drop us a line. The address INTHEMONEY@CNN.com.
CAFFERTY: Don't use any big words, please.
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LISOVICZ: For most of us, a job is a means to an end, it something that lets us raise our kids, buy a home, and hopefully enjoy life after work, but careful financial planning is also part of the picture, especially when it comes to retirement. Today we're going to introduce you to a man who's enjoying a dream retirement, thanks to a couple smart moves.
HAROLD WATTS, TERNHAVEN CELLARS: It's wine.
LISOVICZ (voice-over): Harold Watts has a passion for wine. He first started making wine in his New York City apartment. When it came time to retire, he went looking to follow his dreams. In 1997, he produced the first vintage in his Long Island winery, Ternhaven Cellars.
WATTS: Before I got this, I spent 42 years as a professor of economics. It was the retirement income from that ...
LISOVICZ: One of the area's smallest producers, Watts makes around 600 cases a year from five acres of grapes. He doesn't have any employees, and Ternhaven doesn't turn a profit, but Watt's never saw that as not the point of the operation.
WATTS: It is not really livelihood since I do end up spending more than I take out of it, but it's an affordable indulgence.
LISOVICZ: Watts used his retirement funds from 42 years of teaching to buy an annuity, which along with his university pension helps fund the day-to- day operations of the winery.
WATTS: I got into it at a very, very favorable time when land prices had been flat out here for a long time, and I got the equipment from my friend at a very favorable price. So I was into this operation for well under $100,000.
LISOVICZ: Ternhaven Cellars' wines have won numerous awards, but Watts' retirement goal was to make something he would enjoy.
WATTS: I have enjoyed selling here in the winery, because I do meet a lot of people and teach them a bit about wine and sometimes about winemaking, so that's been very gratifying.
LISOVICZ: At 73 years old, Watts is starting to think about the next stage in his retirement.
WATTS: I may be about ready to put that back as a very interesting and nice chapter of my life and move on to one where I can do a little more traveling.
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LISOVICZ: Over the next month or so here on IN THE MONEY, we'll be meeting some of the men and women who are really enjoying life after work. Next week we'll introduce you to a woman who's quite literally cooking up a dream retirement.
Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, the big game, see how Houston Rockets star Yao Ming is helping the NBA ring up some all-star numbers in China.
And if you've got something to say about basketball or anything else that's on your mind, send us an e-mail. WE are at INTHEMONEY@CNN.com.
CAFFERTY: American companies have been trying for a long time to reach Chinese consumers, about a century, actually. For the most part, it ain't working out so well they failed miserably. But Money.com's Allen Wastler has the story of one American that is making a lot of headway over there. Who is that?
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: The NBA. And actually we started thinking about this last week. Remember the "Fun Site" last week, the two Chinese kids in a college scene, and Andy pointed out they were both wearing the Yao Ming number 11 jersey. That tied in with some of the coverage we've seen this week, and the NBA is making inroads where a lot of the other companies haven't been able to do it.
And some of the things that the Chinese market is sort of playing into their hands. One, piracy, you know, Disney, Time Warner -- all bless Time Warner -- you know, they go over there and their movies get ripped off, but the NBA, first of all, they're selling the ads, so the advertiser is still happy, they are still watching the signal and watching. So hey you can charge more --
CAFFERTY: And it doesn't cost the NBA any money.
WASTLER: No it just some more people are watching it. Also, when you talk about the sports franchise like that, if you check out the kids, I'll bet you those two guys we showed last week, they were wearing official NBA Yao Ming jerseys, none of the knockoffs.
LISOVICZ: How did you know that?
WASTLER: Well you can look at it ...
SERWER: The point is you can't pirate Lebron James. You know he is the trademark and they like him and they respect him.
WASTLER: You can't do that. Also, when you think about the content of the NBA it selves, it ties into sort of a cultural phenomenon that's happening in China right now. For a long time, basketball has been in China for a long, long time. With the Mao revolution, they made it part of the state, you work with the team. But with Yao Ming going over to the United States becoming the superstar, now there is a transition and they're saying, hey, wait a minute, that's about individualism.
CAFFERTY: He must be a god over there.
WASTLER: He is. He did two exhibition matches; they had to build out the stadium. The crowds were sold out.
LISOVICZ: And then you have the summer Olympics are coming up.
SERWER: He can dunk.
CAFFERTY: What's the "Fun Site of the Week." WASTLER: OK, we've been talking about real estate. I found a game on the net which lets you play real estate flipper bubble tycoon, OK? Let's show them the footage. Houses are going to pop up. You start with $100,000 in cash, and you have to buy them real quick, see those numbers they are going up, but they can suddenly start turning down, so you got to sell it and flip it. See that big one at the top? That's the million-dollar mansion.
LISOVICZ: That's the boardwalk on Monopoly.
WASTLER: And the way you keep score is runs and years and time, till how long you get the mansion. I am at 15 years, 11 months. Try to beat that, if you can, 15 years, 11 months.
LISOVICZ: He's a gamer.
CAFFERTY: All right. Time now to read your answers for our questions about whether you think other companies will follow Wal- Mart's possible plan to try to hire only healthy applicants.
Chari in Tucson, Arizona wrote this, "That depends on how much it costs to determine good health. A simple blood test & physical won't always catch problems. And if they try to discriminate against the elderly or disabled people, they'll lose a lot more money from lawsuits."
Vera in Dallas wrote, "I hope more companies do follow that example. It's clear too many Americans aren't taking the proper care of themselves. Maybe if companies forced people to shape up, it would work."
Anthony wrote this, "Wal-Mart may succeed in finding out how physically fit its job applicants are, but it seems to me that anyone who wants to work there should have their mental health assessed."
CAFFERTY: Here's next week's e-mail question of the week. Are you concerned that your employer might cut your health benefits or eliminate coverage completely in the coming years? Send your answers to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com. And you should also visit our show page at Money.com/inthemoney, which is where you'll find the address of our "Fun Site on the Week."
On that note I thank you for joining us for this week's 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.
We will see you back here next week hopefully. Saturday at 1:00 Eastern, Sunday at 3:00 Eastern. Until then enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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