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The Job Cut Ripple Effect; How to Build a Business; Small Business Survival; Is Your Home Making You Sick?; Is Tweeting Cheating?

Aired June 11, 2011 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Is your home making your family sick? Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

Everyday items surrounding us when we eat, sleep and breathe are on their own safe, but taken together are raising danger flags. We'll tell you how to reduce your exposure to wireless radiation, dry cleaning chemicals and plastic.

Plus, is tweeting cheating? The rules of social media mingling and an essential guide to outsmarting the economy and growing your small business.

But first, the services you use every day, the people who protect your community, and the teachers who educate your children, all of their jobs are on the chopping block. How many jobs? State and local governments are forecast to cut 110,000 state and local jobs in the third quarter.

This is the first time this number has ever risen into the triple digits that's according to IHS Global Insight. In Monticelo, Georgia the police force cut from 15 to 5 officers. They planned to eliminate the force entirely, but did find some money to keep a few officers.

Zanesville, Ohio, just cut nearly 50 jobs from its schools, mostly through layoffs. In California, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Headquarters in Sacramento, it will eliminate more than 400 positions saving the state $30 million. Over the last year and a half more than 1,000 positions have been eliminated there. Chris Hoene from the National League of Cities, your group represents 19,000 cities and you say this is just the beginning.

CHRIS HOENE, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES: Yes. Right now, it's the times are very tough for local governments all over the country and we have another year or two to go before they find their way out of it.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that they're very reliant on property taxes to fund services and because of the housing market and the fact that we haven't seen the bottom there yet.

They still have a ways to go before they're out of the woods and a lot of positions that are going to be cut and services that are cut over the next couple of years. ROMANS: All right, so two or three-year lag that we'll still see more of those public sector jobs being cut. Bill Bennett, CNN's political contributor and frequent guest on this program, according to Moody's analytics, Bill every one of those jobs supports 1.3 private sector jobs.

I want you to a listen to a guy that's we met named Bill Darah. He is the co-owner of Superior Uniform Sales in Toledo, Ohio. He has 17 employees. They supply uniforms to police officers, firefighters, nurses and public sector employees.


BILL DARAH, CO-OWNER, SUPERIOR UNIFORM SALES: We caught the recession fourth quarter 2008. In '09, I mean, like budgets were cut. This is mainly the first time that we've been affected this much because the previous recessions never really touched policemen and firemen. But this time, you know, you see layoffs and, you know, even in the health care sector.


ROMANS: You know, Bill, the leaders of your party want to keep cutting. Is that going to keep hurting private sector --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! We want to --

ROMANS: Right away.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We want to keep cutting federal spending, but look, we're in a severe economic turn down and I think partly to do now in the last couple years to the policies of this administration if we want to do politics. Let's not do politics.

We're in a severe economic turn down. Everybody is tightening the belt. Everybody has to tighten the belt. Private sector employment is way down and public sector employment is down less than private sector employment. This is what happens when an economy goes bad.

On the teacher thing, we really have to look very closely, Christine, there are 27 states where student enrolment went down and nevertheless in 15 of those states, teacher hiring went up. There are ways in which supply and demand don't apply to some aspects of the public sector because of collective bargaining. But look, everybody is suffering now because of this economy.

ROMANS: Well, some of those school layoffs are not teacher layoffs per se. They're laying off other --


ROMANS: You know, pair of professionals in the schools. Sarah Wessling, you're the 2010 teacher of the year from Iowa. These cuts might only get worse this summer with teacher layoffs expected. We'll be hearing more in the coming weeks and months for some teachers, but two years since the recovery now, officially into the recovery, 180,000 local school jobs were lost.

As a teacher of 10th and 12th grade English what are you hearing from your colleagues about teacher cuts?

SARAH BROWN WESSLING, 2010 NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Well, you know, I think it's just really - it's difficult when we have to contend with this.

Because a lot of times these teacher cuts end up putting more space between teachers and students and that's what we want to make sure to really protect, is that time and effort and energy that teachers can really target towards their students.

And when other facets of the school, of the school culture and the school community, and those resources are being taken away, it really places an additional burden on teachers in the classroom.

ROMANS: Chris and Bill, I want to look at sort of life post- recession if you will, some of these members. I mean, Bill you talked about some of these earlier, but these are state and local government jobs.

You know, two years after the 1991 recession ended, that two-year recession of '90/'91, there were 430,000 jobs added, state local jobs. Two years after 2001, you created about a quarter of a million new state and local jobs after that recession.

But two years after the last recession technically ended in June 2009, we've lost about a half a million jobs in state and local governments including those 188,000 school teachers. You know, Bill, I talked to Senator Jeff Sessions this week about this very topic.

And I said, he said that the key here is we've got to cut our deficits, get our deficits under control and cut our debts so there's confidence again in the business sector.

But when you look somebody like Bill Darah, that small business owner, I mean, he's not confident when you're cutting public sector jobs too.

It's a very delicate balance here and sometimes I'm quite afraid that politicians aren't very good money managers. I mean, what do we do here?

BENNETT: Right. They've proven themselves not to be, as Chris was pointing out, the housing market, look what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did in terms of the contribution there. Get out of the way, let the private sector create these jobs and that will, of course, in the end, as in Bill's case, create more in the public sector.

There's a great line from Moby Dick, you know, the great American novel the universal thump gets passed around. The universal thump is getting passed around now and what we're seeing is that no part of American society is insulated from it.

What we've got to do is do the right things now and not overspend once you get a recovery. Don't go in and overextend those public sector jobs because then they're going to just have to shrink again when things get worse.

Plan a little better. Look at California. Will they ever recover is the question.

ROMANS: All right, another fascinating Saturday morning discussion. You guys, we have to leave it there. Bill Bennett, Chris Hoene and Sarah Brown Wessling, thanks to all of you so much. Have a wonderful weekend.

After the show today, I'm heading north to New Hampshire. I'll be hosting AMERICAN MORNING from there on Monday as we get set for the first big Republican presidential debate.

Make sure to wake up bright and early with me 6:00 a.m. Eastern Monday morning and then take a nap so you're all set for the big showdown at 8:00 p.m. Eastern hosted by our very own John King.

More than half of future job creation will come from small business. How to outsmart higher gas prices in an anemic economy and build your dream that's next.


ROMANS: Small businesses have never had to be more nimble and creative and because they create more than half of all new jobs in America, when higher commodity prices, lack of credit and skittish customers hurt them it hurts all of us.

Nell Merlino is the founder and president of Count Me In, a group that advises women entrepreneurs. Now take a look at this statistic from the Small Business Administration, 70 percent of new businesses survive two years.

Only 51 percent survive at least five years. Whether you're looking to start a business or you already have one started what are your principles for success?

NELL MERLINO, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, COUNT ME IN: I think the most important things really quickly are know what your best at and what is your business best at, really focus on that niche and build on that, understand the value of your time. As the CEO, as the founder of the business, know what you are spending your time on because that's where the money comes from.

I would also be flexible. In this market you've got to, you know, if your customers start to tell you something different that they want something a little different, go with that. And watch your cash flow.

Flexibility and watching your cash flow because then those five things, if you really roll with those, you can take advantage of whatever it is that people need out in the marketplace and fit that with what your best at and you can really roll with the punches.

ROMANS: Right now, stick with me because I want to introduce you to somebody named Paula Brandimarte, she owns a garden center in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Her costs were rising. Gas prices for deliveries were through the roof. She's not waiting for Washington or the markets to fix it. She found a clever way to outsmart the economy herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Nice to meet you.

ROMANS (voice-over): It's busy season for family run Clover Garden and Florists, the New Jersey store has been in business four years, and Paula Brandimarte is making every effort to keep prices in check. But it's not easy. High gas prices have led her flower suppliers to increase costs.

PAULA BRANDIMARTE, OWNER, CLOVER GARDENS AND FLORIST: They have put their freight up, as far as like it used to be $8, $10, now it's up to $13, $15.

ROMANS: On top of that, Paula pays $80 every time she fills up the gas tank. Money that adds up for a business dependent on deliveries.

(on camera): When you're running a small business like this, I mean, gas prices they hit you coming in are, and they hit you when you're trying to go out too.

BRANDIMARTE: Yes. It is a little difficult because people don't understand that it's affecting all of us.

ROMANS (voice-over): One solution, team up with the competition. Paula is part of a flower pool. Every day she links up with 12 other florists in a central location. They swap orders. Taking on deliveries closest to their neighborhoods, helping their profit margins by saving on gas.

PHIL OWENS, WORKER, CLOVER GARDENS AND FLORIST: Now we're seeing a lot more flower shops actually going out of business. They just can't compete, just can't, you know, afford to, you know, pay the gas prices and put up with what they have to put up with to get their product delivered.

ROMANS (on camera): Without this pool, pooling together resources with other nurseries and floral delivery places, would you have to raise your prices, do you think?

BRANDIMARTE: If I did not -- was not on the pool system, I would say yes, I probably would have to raise our prices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got everything? Let's get out of here.

ROMANS (voice-over): By collaborating these small business competitors deliver the goods.


ROMANS: Starting a business is one thing, outsmarting this economy is another. Nell, in the end, it's all about the numbers. She does not want to raise her prices, because customers are skittish. This is a quote/unquote "luxury item." She wants to keep her customers happy even though everyone is raising prices, for her she can't pass it along.

MERLINO: The value of partnerships and the value of collaboration, women are experts at collaboration and the fact that this is where she came to, and is helping all those other businesses, because there's plenty of business to go around.

This notion of scarcity is something we got to get out of. People -- 90 people of the population, has jobs who are in the work force so people have money to spend. It's how do you get them and to her point how do you keep the prices where people are not going to go, I don't need this anymore.

But her creativity and her willing to collaborate, I would say collaboration and partnership is a very important strategy for many businesses these days in terms of being able to stay afloat and actually make money.

ROMANS: And it shows one of those things on your list, you must be flexible. You must be flexible.


ROMANS: All right, Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In. Thanks, Nell.

MERLINO: Thank you.

ROMANS: From the mattress you sleep on, the dry cleaning hanging in your closet, the toy your child is handling, we look at the potential toxins around you. Prepare to be shocked, next.


ROMANS: Shut off your wireless internet at night, do not bring your dry cleaning into your living space, if it smells brand new, air it out.

Dave Wentz is the co-author of "The Healthy Home Simple Truths To Protect Your Family From Hidden Household Dangers." Dave, welcome to the program.

I have to tell you last time I heard an interview with you, caused me to go home, put a hook in my garage to hang up my dry cleaning before I put it in my closet. Not an overreaction.

DAVE WENTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "THE HEALTHY HOME": Excellent, that's a great thing to do and so easy to do, you just have to know to do it. ROMANS: What's wrong with having my dry cleaning out of my car and right into my closet?

WENTZ: Well, people don't realize that this little hanger signifies that chemicals are coming into your home and so you need to make sure you keep those chemicals out of your home because you're breathing that air.

For a third of your life as you're sleeping, eight hours of your life spent in your bedroom at least and breathing the toxic air. Dry cleaning is done with Perk. It's a chemical that they put into your clothing, they don't rinse it out and they leave it on your clothing off gases during the next few days and you breathe those chemicals.

ROMANS: Off gas, it's a word that you use a lot. It's in the book a lot. Off gassing meaning, look, if you smell something, if it smells new, if it smells real clean, you know, that very clean feeling. A smell from the floor after it's been washed, that smell means you're inhaling something?

WENTZ: Absolutely. Off gassing just means it's going to gaseous forms. Think of water evaporating, when water goes into the air that's off gassing in a sense. All of the different chemicals and things that we run into, cleaners, the dry cleaning, that new car smell, all of that is just the different materials going into gaseous form, but then we breathe them.

Our lungs are so delicate and sensitive and we're breathing those chemicals into our bodies and they're going through our blood stream. We want to breathe in clean air. Air doesn't smell. You can't smell air, but you smell the chemicals and the warning sign you should be doing something to reduce the pollution in your air.

ROMANS: You know, I opened up a baby crib basically, a baby crib, basically. A collapsible baby crib and it smelled so new. I could smell the plastic. I could smell the fabric part of it, and I opened up. I put it in the dining room. I opened up all the windows. Should we be treating our new products like that?

WENTZ: Absolutely. We take things straight out to the patio, unwrap them and leave them out there for a couple of days and let them air out. Most of the off gassing happens in the first few days as you unwrap them out of the plastics.

ROMANS: There are some things you can't off gas. Some plastics, there's actually BPA in the plastics. Can you talk to us about the specific health concerns when it comes to plastics? In some cases, these are baby products that children are chewing on and a lot of people are going for BPA-free now.

WENTZ: Yes, but there are so many chemicals in plastics beyond BPA that you have to worry about. The plasticizers are estrogen mimics and we're seeing that young girls are reaching puberty younger and younger.

ROMANS: It's because of the chemicals in the plastic, you think? WENTZ: It's part of that. The parabens in our skincare and they're endocrine disruptors as well and those things are making girls hit puberty at a younger age.

ROMANS: We just heard about the possibility of a link of the cell phones and some kinds of brain cancers. What about the Wi-Fi, the internet - wireless internet in my home, what should I do about that kind of bombardment?

WENTZ: Well, you need to think about the fact that we're energy beings. We're made from atoms that are energy and so our cells communicate. There's a lot of energies talking and if we disrupt them with unnatural, manmade fields whether it's the cell phone, Wi-Fi or the microwave or the gadgets on our nightstand.

All of those energies are bombarding our cells causing damage to our cell membranes and causing miscommunication between the cells. And we don't know what the damage will be, but we say take a precautionary principle and use common sense and say these aren't natural.

They're affecting our cells and let's be careful and see what we can do to minimize. We can't avoid them. It's impossible, but minimize, reduce 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent over a lifetime that will have a huge impact.

Especially in our children that are in a much more technology- focused world than we were. It's serious for them.

ROMANS: The book is called "The Healthy Home." Thanks for spending time with us this Saturday morning.

All right, next, how not to ruin your career or relationship in 140 characters or less.


ROMANS: OK. I'm going to assume you all know the Anthony Weiner story. If you don't, please go to, plenty to read there. But before you go out and argue whether or not tweeting is cheating or sexting is crossing that very well-defined line.

Consider this, 31 percent of adults between 18 and 29 years old have received sexts to find suggestively nude or nearly nude images sent by text messages. Think about that.

The same Pew study shows that 13 percent of all adults have sent sexts. So if all makes us wonder, does an online relationship where no physical contact is involved, is it acceptable or is it adultery and how pervasive is it?

Let's pose this question to Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist and our very own favorite tech guru Mario Armstrong. OK, first, Robi, is it cheating if you send or receive a picture that is, shall we say, very revealing over your telephone, over your phone, Facebook or Twitter? DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: It's certainly a slippery slope. Now the question somebody needs to ask themselves is would my partner feel OK if I'm doing this? Would they be completely onboard any they knew I was sending this kind of text?

If the answer is no then you're crossing a line you should not be crossing and that could certainly lead to more and more contact and a dependency on doing this kind of thing, to feel better about oneself.

ROMANS: OK, Mario, a Pew study says, men more likely to have received them around 21 percent and women coming in at 11 percent having received one of these message.

And adults, Mario, earning less than $30,000 in household income each year are more likely to receive sexts. It might be because they're younger? Do you think there's a gender, age income difference here? I mean, same question, who's doing this?

MARIO ARMSTRONG, CNN DIGITAL LIFESTYLE EXPERT: Well, no. I think it changed. I think we used to see this as a gender, age income difference and I do think it all started with young kids themselves with the whole sexting issue, but we're clearly seeing way more adults start to fall into this as well.

I mean, Pew also - Pew Internet Life Project did a study back in October that showed 6 percent of adults are doing this type of behavior. I'm certainly not suggesting that that should condone it in any way.

I'm just saying that that is pointing to the pink elephant in the room that social media and our culture, we have this clash that's happening and people still aren't -- for some reason recognizing that your personal behavior becomes a megaphone through social media.

ROMANS: You know, a couple of things here, one there's another study that shows 53 percent of all companies say they've not hired someone because they have found something provocative that they have put online or that they've seen.

ARMSTRONG: That's right.

ROMANS: Look, kids need to know that there's a digital footprint of these shenanigans. I mean, kids using social media these days. In fact, Consumer Reports says that the 20 million minors who are actively using Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million of them are younger than 13.

They're not supposed to be on the site anywhere. This is where a lot of the stuff that was happening with -- who we're not going to say, and I'm trying not to use the name of the congressman because I've been saying it for so long. How do we protect the kids?

ARMSTRONG: A couple of quick things. Number one, I think you could use kid-friendly browsers. One is called, Another thing that they could do is have a parent-child internet agreement. An agreement that says here are the dos and don'ts of today's connected society. The bottom line is here is we want to teach kids to become digital net sans and they need to how to make decent decisions in today's connecting culture.

ROMANS: Mario, quickly, is tweeting cheating? Is it cheating if you're trading pictures back and forth? Just as a cool guy?

ARMSTRONG: No. You're cheating.

ROMANS: You're cheating. Probably a blessing to you.

ARMSTRONG: If you're married, you're cheating.

ROMANS: All right, there you go. If you're married, you're cheating. Robi, what about you? Just wrap it up for us here, for kids especially. I think kids are absorbing the media and all of the talk about this and, you know, and I'm told that kids are doing this in high school and college. I mean --

LUDWIG: And also, it can lead to bullying and embarrassment. My son is about to turn 12. I had a conversation with him and I said be very, very careful what kinds of things you tweet, what pictures you send, start early.

Help them understand that there are consequences, what they think they're doing privately is not private. I told my son if he did it, it would probably go viral and he goes, that's freaky, Mom. So I'm hoping that works.

ROMANS: All right, Robi Ludwig and Mario Armstrong. Thank you both for some entertaining and enlightening discussion to end the week. Thanks, you guys.

Send us an e-mail to Find me on Facebook and Twitter, keep it clean, folks, @ChristineRomans.

That's going to wrap things up for us this morning. Back now to CNN Saturday for other stories making news right now.