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CNN IN THE MONEY
America Celebrates Independence Day; How Would Fouding Father's View America Today?; How To Handle A Bully Boss
Aired July 4, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: ...best hope on earth, I don't know why, but those two things kind of stuck in my head from Friday morning.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Yeah. And it is only in America, as they say. This still is the country that draws immigrants like a magnet and there's a reason for that, it's because this is a damn good place to live. And -- you know, I think a lot of us feel that way, maybe because we're born here. But, you look around the world. What else is there? Fourth of July is a great time to sit back and reflect.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, and I think for a lot of us there is a lot more reflection since September 11, 2001. We realize just how good we had it and that, in fact, what we were accustom to on that terrible day is something people in the world has to deal with on a regular basis.
Having said that, I think that this is still a work in progress, very much so. And we saw it in the past week with the Supreme Court ruling saying that said, in fact, that even at a time of war and heightened security, we still have to give some of these prisoners who may in fact be guilty of terrible things, we still have to afford them the basic rights of democracy.
CAFFERTY: And that's...
SERWER: Are you saying America is not perfect? What do you think about that?
LISOVICZ: I'm a patriotic American, yes, I can say it.
CAFFERTY: Following up just for a second on the reference to September 11. Maybe one of the things to come out of that awful, awful day is the willingness on the part of this people to protect this country and to fight for this way of life. Neither of which was being done to the degree before September 11, that it is now.
CAFFERTY: And maybe that's a good thing.
CAFFERTY: And as we pursue that line of thought, here for a moment, and Americans get together to celebrate our way of life, liberty, and the pursuit of a really good barbecued hamburger. And by the way, I like mine rare. We were thinking a little bit back to the founding fathers who got this whole the experiment underway about 236 years or so ago and wondering how closely today's America matches the country they envisioned.
To help us figure that out, we're delighted to be joined by historian and novelist, Kevin Baker, who's a columnist for "American Heritage" magazine. His latest book is something called, "Paradise Alley," based on the Civil War draft riots that happened right here in New York City.
Kevin, it's nice to have you with us. Happy Fourth of July.
KEVIN BAKER, HISTORIAN: Thank you. Happy Fourth of July to you.
CAFFERTY: What do you think the biggest surprise would be if the founding fathers could travel through the time machine and dropp in to the middle of the U.S. of A on July 4, 2004?
BAKER: Well, there would be a lot of surprises for them. I think possibly the biggest surprise would be what a multiethnic country America has become. After all they lived in a time when it was still a predominantly protestant, predominantly white and white dominated country.
So I think they would be surprised and probably very pleased to see how many people have felt this was a beacon of liberty and came here and able to become -- you know, wonderful, productive citizens of this country.
LISOVICZ: You know, Kevin, what do you think they'd think about the public servants of today? Call me a cynic, but -- you know, when I read this book on Lewis and Clark expedition "Undaunted Courage"
LISOVICZ: Thomas Jefferson spending years trying to educate Mary Weather Lewis and funding that great expedition, it just seems like we don't have visionaries anymore in public office for all sorts of reasons. Can you address that? What's changed over the last two centuries, three centuries?
BAKER: Well, you know, I think in a democracy, the people have a great deal of responsibility for what they get. And I think that is one thing that would disturb the founding fathers somewhat, is how passive we've become about a lot of our participation in this democracy. I think they'd be kind of appalled by at most 50 percent voting rates. I think even in terms of the war, they might be upset at how this is being fought by a relatively small number of Americans and how the rest of us kind of get to -- you know, sit back and enjoy these rare hamburgers.
SERWER: Kevin, there's a historian at the University of Pennsylvania, I believe, named McDougal, you probably know his work, who has a book out which talks about the history of America and really how our country was settled and developed by rogues.
SERWER: And, you know, that's what made America great, people who went out there, Robber Barrons, people who developed the railroad, maybe the internet. What's your take on that?
BAKER: There are great many rogues; there are a great many idealists, too. And in fact, if you get the two together, it's often a very dynamic combination.
BAKER: Look at something like Central Park which is put together by the most idealistic people in New York and the biggest scoundrel of politicians. It was a great result.
CAFFERTY: As you look into the future, and that's a tough thing to do, the current polling of Americans indicates that a lot of people don't think the country is on the right track. Leaving today's short- term political arguments and dialogue out of the discussion, what is the right track for this kind of melting pot of all of us that has developed here over the last 240 years? Where should we be going as we look down the road?
BAKER: Well, it's hard to say. I mean it's -- yes, I -- you know, am a frequent critic of things going on in America and I think that's the role that historians and writers should have. On the other hand, things are just going -- you know, very well in many ways.
You know, it's -- I think we'll be on the right track as long as we keep endorsing the things that have worked so well for us so far. That is, keeping hold of the checks and balances in the system, keeping hold of our civil liberties, being willing to embrace people coming from different countries, being willing to kind of take in -- and that's America's biggest advantage, I think, it that ability to attract the best and the brightest and just the most kind of fervent and dedicated people to from -- you know, the most eager to improve themselves, people from around the world.
I think as long as we can stick to that, and we don't become a xenophobic place, we'll be doing well.
LISOVICZ: But at the same time, Kevin, and we're hearing a lot of this in this presidential election year, there is a growing gap between the haves and the have nots.
LISOVICZ: And that's something, perhaps, that we didn't see at the founding of the company -- I mean at the founding of the country, I should say. Too much business news on the brain here. Can you address that? BAKER: Yeah. I think money is a -- that is one of the huge problems going on here, the immense disparity of wealth. You know, and the founding fathers were around, you had very rich people and you had very poor people, but the difference was not nearly so immense. Most people still lived in relatively small communities, and it was a relatively little class difference. Yes, that's a constant problem.
However, as long as you're arguing and people talk about class warfare, I think as long as you are argue about class, you're arguing about something that can be resolved. You can always find ways to divvy up the pie in a fairer way. I think when you start arguing about things like religion, then you get into areas where there's no compromise and that's kind of more dangerous.
SERWER: Kevin, quick last question. The Constitution and the thoughts and ideas of the founding fathers, still relevant as a framework today?
BAKER: Oh, more relevant than ever, I think that would be something they'd be very pleased at, the fact that this has become the idea around the world, in most places, that democracy is the only legitimate means of government.
It becomes more evident, I think every day, the more you see where countries that don't have democracies, that don't have civil liberties, and checks and balances, what happens in the nations. I think it's the only philosophy for today.
CAFFERTY: Kevin Baker, historian and novelist, appreciate you sharing part of your holiday with us her on IN THE MONEY, thank you.
BAKER: Thanks for having me.
CAFFERTY: All right. Coming up next on the program, giving workplace bullies the business: A bullying boss can dive you right out of your gourd and eventually out of your job. We'll look at a way to fight back against the nasty creep in the corner office.
Plus, the toughest thing in type: With the new "Spider-Man" movie, find out if the webbed one is a superhero for investors in Marvel Enterprises, their company behind the blockbuster.
And money that's missing its target, maybe: College aid is designed to give poor students a boost. Find out why they're not always the ones that tend to benefit.
ANNOUNCER: It's dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Waste Management Incorporated tops the industry by the same name on this year's the Fortune 500 list. Ridding more than 25 million residential and commercial customers of their garbage, Waste Management rakes as the nation's largest trash hauler. In addition to filling it's almost 300 landfills, Waste Management also recycles more than five million tons of trash per year and converts thousands of tons of solid waste to electricity every day. Revenues only increased six percent for the first quarter of 2004; however, net income for the company, more than doubled.
CAFFERTY: We have all had tense moments, at one time or another, with our boss. I know it's probably surprising to think that would happen with me, but it has. When you dread going to work each day, though, because the guy or gal in the corner office yells and insults you, it may be a sign you boss is a bully. Our next guest calls this kind of workplace abuse a silent epidemic, he's not only trying to raise national awareness about it, he's trying to make it illegal, as well. Dr. Gary Namie is the founder of the Workplace and Bullying Institute and he joins us now to talk about this new book "The Bully at Work."
Welcome, nice to have you with us.
GARY NAMIE, DIRECTOR, WORKPLACE BULLYING AND TRAUMA INST.: Thanks, guys. Thanks for having me.
CAFFERTY: How many of the creeps are out there?
NAMIE: Oh, one in six people are affected. I'd say maybe one in 10 -- one in 10 bosses are bullies.
NAMIE: We really don't know. Funny, the companies don't let us go in and measure it.
CAFFERTY: But, don't we have -- I mean, aren't there like H.R. departments and all these civil rights laws and all kinds of social protections for -- against abuse built into the system that should sort of preclude these creeps from plying their trade with us poor workers?
NAMIE: Isn't it amazing? Isn't it amazing? Here we are just past the 40 anniversary of civil rights laws and everybody thinks harassment's illegal, but actually only for a very few. And, so, no, there's very little legal protection.
And boy, you mentioned the heart of the problem, and I'm sorry to say it, we love H.R. people who care about bullying and those are the ones that bring us into corporations, but most of them like to blow it off and discount it. They just treat the people who make the complaints as -- they treat them as troublemakers, whiners, complainers and they say, "just grow a thicker skin" which, of course, is the wrong attitude to take in this because bullying folks is business's costliest secret, too.
SERWER: Hey Gary, I'm very anxious to talk to you because over the course of my career, I've had the pleasure of working for several jerks, weasels, martinets, and if you're watching out there, I think you know who you are. My question is...
NAMIE: Fill in the blank.
SERWER: Yeah. Do these people succeed? Or do they eventually get their comeuppance? I guess what I'm asking you is, is life fair?
NAMIE: Oh, No. And yes, they do get promoted. And no, it's not fair. We have actually got statistics on that that only nine percent of bullies ever get their comeuppance.
SERWER: Nine percent of bullies? I like that statistical approach you got. Nine percent of bullies get...
NAMIE: Only nine percent of bullies, comeuppance, that's a technical term, comeuppance, you used it. But the, once a person is targeted, 70 percent of them lose their jobs. So, no it's not quite equitable or it's not quite fair. And the funny thing is, the tough clowns think that they're good managers and you know they're not, they violate every tenant of good management, but the issue is that they get away with it totally.
They bully with impunity and it's -- they're just too expensive to keep, the companies need to sit down and do the write-ups. Look at the turnover, look at the disability costs, and the damaged reputation, and then maybe if you have a compassionate inkling in your soul, you'll actually consider how the individuals who are targeted hurt, and I'm talking about PhD's, M.D.s and a whole bunch of professional people who get dinged and turn into -- they turn into basket cases.
They become traumatized, they go right from anxiety, depression, to trauma. It is crazy. It's crazy making. These people, they're funny to laugh at, especially the screaming Bobby Knight-types, but truth be told, they're eroding American business and we got to stop them.
LISOVICZ: Well, and -- well, I'm going to follow up on Andy's question, is life fair? Because, perhaps there is a bit of fairness in seeing those corporate criminals, white collar corporate criminals, perp walk. Don't you think that perhaps that these CEOs, who were once lionized as these rock stars almost, in the '90s like the Dennis Kozlowski's, Bernie Ebbers, Al Dunlaps, you name it, in fact, they could have been bullies themselves in a way that it sort of inhibited employees from blowing the whistle.
NAMIE: Absolutely. If indeed -- I think the perp walk does provide some satisfaction, but the truth is, if there are true -- if bullies are psychopaths and very tiny, tiny, tiny aren't, because by the definition psychopaths can't stand routine. The only people who could be psychopathic and still work are CEOs.
NAMIE: They have complete freedom, they don't have -- they don't have 9:00 to 5:00 -- they don't work a 9:00 to 5:00. And everybody else is tethered to their desk and their job, see? And so, I hope it brings satisfaction, but most people are too wounded to see it. It needs to be highlighted more, there needs to be more follow up.
CAFFERTY: What's a person to do, though? You just said that a lot of the H.R. departments just write this off as, all right, we'll put your complaint in a file someplace and nothing will be done about it because, hey, the boss, at the end of the day, is that, he's the boss. And if you want to get too frisky in voicing your complaints you could find yourself in the unemployment line and we all know what kind of a job market's out there these days. So, if I've got a jerk or a weasel, as Andy so colorfully described him, that I'm reporting to, realistically what can I do it about it?
NAMIE: We've got a three-step model for individuals, that's what we highlight in the book, "The Bully at Work," it's written for individuals. We're writing an employer book now based on the corporate things we're doing in terms of policy. But right now, you're basically a lone gun slinger against the goliath, so here's what you got to do -- the little David's of the world.
One, you've got to name it. By naming it, you gain strength and you externalize the source of the problem, you know it's not you.
Two, you've got to take time off to consider the legal ramifications, get some mental health counseling, and gather data.
Step three, is the data you have gathered, you're going to use to expose the bully. What you're going to do is you're going to make a business case. Not an emotional case. Not a psychological case. Nobody wants to hear about the conflict or the pain that you're in. But the business needs to be confronted with it at the highest level, CFO and finance people and risk managers. Do you care about the liability these jerks are bringing?
NAMIE: If they don't, get out.
SERWER: I like the fact of telling us to get mental counseling. I think that's very appropriate. Quick last question, any businesses worse than others?
NAMIE: We find that most of the complaints to us come from healthcare and the public schools. School bullying couldn't happen if it's not imbedded in a place where teachers beat up kids and superintendents beat up teachers.
LISOVICZ: Phew. So, glad that news organizations weren't high up on the list. Hmmm. Maybe you need to check into that.
NAMIE: Second dirtiest secret.
LISOVICZ: Gary Namie, who is on a one-man crusade to eliminate bullies in corporate America, we wish you a lot of luck here, on IN THE MONEY... NAMIE: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: He's also with the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute. Thanks for joining us.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, bottle rocket or big bang? We'll recap the past six months on Wall Street and jam it into mere minutes.
And that picture say what you're thinking: Find out about a company that makes motivational posters that motivate workers to laugh at their jobs.
Plus, tainted what? Test your recall of songs from the '80s on this week's fun site -- that would be tainted...
LISOVICZ: Love. Thank you, Andy.
LISOVICZ: This week, not only marks the long anticipated interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve, but it also was the end of the first half of the year. Christine Romans joins us now for a look at how the first six months of '04 has been for the markets.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Susan. It was a maddening first half of the year. If you're like most people, if you own stocks and mutual funds, your mutual fund statement won't make you happy. You probably earned just maybe two or three percent on those stock investments. The Dow actually fell in the first six months of this year. The S&P and the Nasdaq slightly higher. You know you had to be invested in Japanese stocks, natural resources, small cap stocks or wireless stocks to get any decent returns. Frustrating -- you know, because so many of the so-called experts actually recommended selling small cap holdings after last year's big rally. So, you might have missed move.
And now the economists are optimistic are optimistic on the second half of this year. So you know, we started the third quarter with some troubling news this week. You mentioned the disappointing jobs growth, also GM sales fell 15 percent, Wal-Mart, Target the discount retailers saying that June looks softer than they thought. Taken together, that might be indicative of a weakening consumer. So, June is turning out to be a real interesting turning point to watch for the rest of the year.
CAFFERTY: What are you hearing about the fed decision on interest rates, Christine? The much anticipated quarter point rise didn't take anybody by surprise and then later in the week, some data came along that tended to suggest they might have had the right idea, and I'm talking about the jobs report that only showed 150 or so thousand jobs. Perhaps preempting any thoughts of a more aggressive interest rate action on the part of the fed, on Wednesday. ROMANS: Jack, that's exactly what I'm hearing. I'm hearing a lot of people saying that any thoughts of a move of 50 basis points move next time around has now all but disappeared, because -- you know, you have 35 states in this country with fewer jobs than when the recession ended and so that is something that people are still looking to. Also, Boston consulting report out saying American companies outsourcing as many jobs as they possibly can. So some people saying that -- you know, this jobs situation is going to be really interesting and it might be something to watch for the fed. It means the fed might continue to go pretty slowly if jobs aren't started growing more quickly now.
SERWER: All right. Christine, lots of data flying around there, right?
ROMANS: Sure. Yeah.
SERWER: Christine Romans, thanks for that report.
SERWER: "Spider-Man 2" is sure to be a big hit at the box office this weekend and that's music to the ears of the company that owns the Spider-Man character, Marvel Enterprises. In addition to movie books, Marvel is also expected to make a webful -- get it? -- on the merchandising tie-ins to the film.
Marvel's trading near its 52 week high, but is Marvel already at its peak? That makes Marvel Enterprises our stock of the week.
And I got to tell you, this has been a tortured, tortured company, finally getting it right after years. Goes all the way back to 1962 with Stan "the Man" Lee, he's the guy who created "Spider-Man"
LISOVICZ: He's a legend.
SERWER: And then you get people like Ronald (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Perlman, the raider, who owned company and Carl Icon coming in, was a big mess, finally seemed to have it right.
LISOVICZ: Filed for chapter for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection five years ago, but when you have a sequel that comes out like "Spider-Man" with reviews that say it was better than the first, yes it is a marvelous time for Marvel. I was waiting to use that. I was waiting...
CAFFERTY: That's enough. No more of those.
LISOVICZ: But, there are 4,700 characters in the Marvel repertoire and they include X-Men, Fantastic Four, the Hulk and there are sequels coming out for a lot of these characters.
CAFFERTY: I was reading that the price of the stock, you mentioned this here, an all-time high, is already baked into the returns that they're going to get on "Spider-Man 2," but it occurs to me -- you know, when they made the first couple of James Bond movies, they didn't stop, they kept making them because people kept going to see them. There's nothing to say they couldn't have "Spider-Man" three, four, five, six, seven...
CAFFERTY: I mean, look what they did with "Superman," the same thing. You know, once one of these characters gets into the public consciousness, the sky's the limit. Maybe buy the stock now in anticipation of another half a dozen "Spider-Man" movies.
SERWER: Yeah, it could be. I don't know if you own any of the action figures, Jack (UNINTELLIGIBLE), OK, but those were big, too.
CAFFERTY: My action figures are all in a covered wagon.
SERWER: And you know what was so maddening for the people that ran this company, though, is they watched "Spider-Man" and those movies in the '70s and '80s. And they watched "Batman," which Warner roled out and make huge amounts of money, and their sitting there in litigation with "Spider-Man" year after year, they finally were able to get these things going. You know, these are property that are hot, you're right, they can keep going on for a long time. I wonder how faddish it is. Hulk, they rolled out tons of toys. I was in a Wal- Mart, they were just sitting there, not selling. So, it's not a straight shot. It really is kind of a gamble, I think.
LISOVICZ: Well, what the company is trying to do now is get that growth overseas and there's a lot of potential there -- you know, and it really helps, of course, if you have a blockbuster sequel like Marvel has now to tie into with "Spider-Man."
SERWER: Well, once I find out what Jack's action figures really are, then maybe I'll invest in...
CAFFERTY: They're old.
SERWER: They're old.
CAFFERTY: They're very old.
SERWER: Like "Toy Story," going back.
CAFFERTY: Same idea.
SERWER: Right. All right. All right. The producers are going to yell at us if we don't run some commercials, so we're going to stop here for a minute.
Coming up, big money on campus: Nobody said college is cheap, but we'll tell you why it may cost less than it looks for some people.
And every silver lining has a cloud. Huh? Find out about a company that took the bosses motivational posters and put in what the workers really think.
CAFFERTY: Here. Here. SERWER: And bad hair and weird ties: It's all come rushing back when we show you a Web site that's tests your knowledge of '80s song lyrics, hint, Flock of Hairdos.
LISOVICZ: Oh my god. Seagulls!
LISOVICZ: Rebates, incentives and comparison shopping. I'm not talking about buying a car, I'm talking about getting an education. While base tuition prices at most colleges are going way up, our next guest says not everyone is paying full price.
Sandy Baum, is a senior policy analyst with The College Board, and she joins us now from Washington.
Great news. It sound like my approach to shopping, always avoid paying retail. The fact is, the good news is it really can be done, increasingly for college tuition.
SANDY BAUM, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, THE COLLEGE BOARD: Well, it's true that very -- a very large number of people do pay less than the published price of college. That's very important for people to understand because otherwise they'll think that college is out of reach. And in fact, over the last years of the 1990s and the first couple of years of this decade, financial aid for students was increasing very rapidly. There was more and more grant aid available and that is very good news for students. The question is, which students are getting that grant aid and are we doing enough to help low-income students pay for college?
SERWER: Hey, Sandy, can you quantify this because, of course, you read about six-figure cost of sending those dear little ones to college and it's just daunting. I know because I got two, and I'm looking at saving oodles of money.
But how much off of retail price are we looking at here?
Can you give us a number?
BAUM: Well, it really depends on what kind of institution a student attends and it also depends on who that student is. We do know that on average at public colleges and universities students are getting about $2,500 of grant aid. That comes from the federal government, it comes from state governments and also comes from institutions. Some students don't get any grant aid at all. The federal government gives grants to low income students. And institutions and states give grants sometimes to low-income students and sometimes to other students that they're eager to enroll.
CAFFERTY: You mention who the money is going to. If a student can demonstrate financial need, then they probably can get some sort of financial aid. On the other hand, the middle class students why who may not be in dire straits, but unable to meet the huge costs of college, particularly private schools in the country, are getting an increasing number of grants.
What's wrong with that?
BAUM: Well, an increasing number of grants are going to both middle and upper income students although, it's important for low- income students to know that many, many grants still go to them. The problem is that there are limited funds. Middle and upper income students are likely to go to college anyway and while it's difficult to pay giving them additional grant aid doesn't really increase the possibility that they'll go to college, it might change their choice of institutions. And for low-income students the issue really is can they go to college at all. The tax credits that the federal government has instituted helped primarily middle income students because the lowest income students don't pay taxes and, therefore, are not eligible for them. The federal government's Pell Grants do help low-income students. They can get a maximum of $4,050 to help pay college tuition.
CAFFERTY: There are a lot people that suggest, though, that giving middle class a break on some of the expense of college education is probably a good idea.
BAUM: Well, that's right. And certainly many middle class people do need help going to college and the problem is not that there is money out there to help middle income students, that's a good thing. The real issue is that there should also be enough money, more subsidies for low-income students.
LISOVICZ: Where are we on that -- on that score, since clearly the upper income levels have benefited nicely in terms of grants and some aid?
BAUM: Well, that's right, it's a mixed story. Many colleges do meet all the need of low-income students. So, if you can, for example, get into Harvard or a number of other institutions like that, you will be able to go regardless of your financial circumstances. Many other institutions don't have enough money to help low-income students as much as they might like to. But everyone should apply for financial aid and look for the money because there is money out there. In terms of the federal government, in 2001 and 2002 the federal government significantly increased its Pell Grant funding, but it's not looking good for the coming years. Right now federal government, because of budget constraint, is not planning to do much to increase those Pell Grants that are so important for low-income students.
SERWER: Sandy, we're running out of time here. But what you're saying the real cost of college is 10 to 15 percent less than the advertised price. The government is making up the difference, but it's not some sort of mandated program, it happens sort of subrosa, shouldn't taxpayers know about this and shouldn't this be out in the open?
BAUM: Well, I think it is out in the open. First of all, institutions are making up a big part of the difference and the part the government is very making out in the open. There are Pell Grant and there are tax credits, they are very programs. We would like students to know more about them so they could take advantage of them more effectively.
CAFFERTY: Well, one of the ways they can do that is by watching this fine program IN THE MONEY on which you have been so gracious to appear with us, and I thank you for that.
BAUM: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: All right, Sandy Baum, senior policy analyst, The College Board.
You're watching IN THE MONEY, where the business news show that addresses shirt and tie, but thinks more Levis and boots.
Coming up, service with a sneer. Find out about a company that makes a motivational poster which makes motivation look like desperation. My kind of outfit.
And drop a dollar in your metal juke box, the fun "Site of the Week." We'll check your knowledge of the music of the 80's. Welcome to VH1. Back after this.
SERWER: What would it take to motivate you a little more on the job.
SERWER: A pay increase, absolutely, an extra week of vacation, that would probably help. But how about a poster of two attractive mountain climbers helping each other up a cliff with some inspirational catch phrase written below. Some HR executives think motivational products do pep up worn-out workers. But who's really getting a lift?
Lawrence Kersten is co-founter of Despair Inc, an anti- motivational company. He joins us today from Dallas. Welcome, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE KERSTEN, DESPAIR INC: Thank you very much.
SERWER: Listen, if what you were doing is debunking message statements and those kind of things in corporate motivational things, then more power to you. Is that what you're up to here?
KERSTEN: Well really, we're poking fun at what we believe are some of the excesses and foibles and weaknesses that often occur in organizations both with managers and with employees. We take a lot of shots at management, but we also take shots at employees, as well.
CAFFERTY: Well, since the people on this program are all employees of CNN, let's focus our tax on management what do you say? KERSTEN: That's a good idea.
CAFFERTY: Hear, hear.
You know, Andy mentioned in his lead-in, HR departments spend huge amounts of money coming up with these things that you see on the wall someplace, going, do a better job because it's the right thing to do. And you're going, wait a minute, I asked for next Friday off and the guy said you can't have next Friday or the Friday after that, or any Friday for the rest of this year off. Is this misplaced use of resources in the corporate world in your opinion, or does this stuff really work?
KERSTEN: Well, I believe that those posters generate cynicism. If you've got posters slapped all over the office that say excellence and quality, but, yet, you believe that you're leaders are engaging mediocrity, then how is that going to inspire you? People aren't going to put up with hypocrisy in their leaders very long.
LISOVICZ: Let's critique some of your own best work, Lawrence. We have the rainbow poster, for instance, that says dreams, dreams are like rainbows. Only idiots chase them. I also like the one on team work. Can you tell us that?
KERSTEN: Let's see, team work. Is that the one with the snowball.
LISOVICZ: A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.
KERSTEN: That's exactly right. And anybody who has worked on a team has had that feeling.
SERWER: Yes, Lawrence, Can you talked to us a little bit about how you got into this line of work? It's a little twisted. I agree with what you're doing here, but to sort of take it up as a full time occupation is a little different, isn't it?
KERSTEN: It is. And it actually grew out of an unpleasant experience in my own work history. I had a couple friends who were working for an Internet service provider in Dallas and the president of the company had made all of us promises of a certain amount of stock ownership in lieu of compensation. And he continued to delay rolling out the stock ownership plan until he had made so many promises of ownership in the company that he couldn't keep them all.
And the three of us who started the company were three of the people who he chose not to keep his promises to and the day we found out that we weren't going to get what we had expected, we got together to kind of compare notes. And one of the guy husband gotten a catalog for motivational products and we picked it up and just began to spontaneously make fun of it because it seemed so absurd given our most recent experience.
And this president of the company was a big fan of motivational products. And one of the guys said that we have to start a company that sells parodies of these and when that company was sold, we didn't make a lot of money, but we made a little bit of money and we took that money and started Despair Incorporated.
CAFFERTY: Are you making any money with this sort of making fun of the guys who want to inspire us? Is this a financially viable operation you're involved in here?
KERSTEN: We've been profitable for several years now. Last year we grew at 100 percent, and our revenues are close to $4 million a year and currently we only have three employees, the three founders.
CAFFERTY: Ever think of going public? Because I'd buy some shares of your company. It kind of fits a lot of the things I think.
KERSTEN: Well, we have to get a little larger.
LISOVICZ: Lawrence Kersten, co-founder of Despair Inc. And a man who is making money on cynicism. Good luck to you. Thanks for joining us.
KERSTEN: All right. Thank you very much.
LISOVICZ: There's more to come on IN THE MONEY. Up next, don't look now, we'll peel back the leopard skin spandex for a look on a new Supreme Court ruling on Internet porn.
And get on the air without having to wear any makeup. That's a concept. Drop us an email and we might read it on the air. The address, inthemoney@CNN.com. We'll be right back.
CAFFERTY: This week the Supreme Court struck down a law that stopped kids from getting access to Internet pornography. Our webmaster, Allen Wastler, has the latest on this. And I might suggest in all the years I've known him seen him work quite so hard on the stories.
LISOVICZ: Side comment there.
SERWER: Research and research and research.
CAFFERTY: Work, work, work.
ALLEN WASLTER, MONEY.COM WEBMASTER: Actually, it gets down to the heart of the Internet. Should the Web site be responsible for letting kids in or out, or should the parent in the family be responsible for keeping kids at bay. And that's where the decision comes down.
In 1998, Congress passed the law saying, hey, Web sites, you got to put blockers on, age verifiers, credit checks so that no kids can get into your dirty little Web sites. Of course, online publishers and the ACLU and other free speech groups all went, no, no, no and took it to the court and took it to court.
Now, this last week the Supreme Court did essentially a legal punt. They sent it back to the lower court saying, hey, we're not going to rule on free speech versus protecting kids right now. What we are going to say is lower court, now that it's six years later, because our justice system works with such blinding speed, what about the technology now for filtering?
So, the lower court will have to figure it out and weigh it out. Let's see, we've got filter and we got checks.
I think if you look in the grand scheme of things, though, you have to show an I.D. for cigarettes, you got to show an I.D. for liquor. If there are certain places that you have to be 21 years old to enter, seems to me, you can extend the same kind of logic to the Internet and say, hey...
CAFFERTY: But doesn't just say, Allen, right now, are you 21? Click yes. I mean, how could you get beyond that?
WASTLER: Yes, because the law is not being enforced right now. But what if you had to click and say you're 21, you get to this part. If you're 21 then you probably have a credit card, don't you? Why don't you give us that. Or if you don't, then you probably signed up with one of these adult check services that essentially you proved to them that you're an adult. And then it's a third party referral that can say, yep, he's an adult, let him in.
CAFFERTY: And then you'll get lawsuits for invasion of privacy and trying to take information from a person that they're not entitled to have.
WASTLER: And, there's also this simple thing, you can just go to a computer that sort of resident information and just boost it anyway. Kids are smart.
CAFFERTY: On to the fun site of the week, which is guaranteed...
WASTLER: Eagerly anticipated site.
WASTLER: You know, I put these fun sites out on my daily eye opener newsletter. This one got such a response, had to share it with you. It's a site, they have a long list of song lyrics from the '80s, you've got to fill in the blanks. Let's check out the first one right now.
Blank corvette, baby you're much too fast.
CAFFERTY: Little red, little red.
WASTLER: Little red corvette
LISOVICZ: By Jack's favorite artist, the artist known as Prince.
WASTLER: Very, good. Very good. Let's try the second one, let's see how you do. We'll get a little tougher with you.
Oh, we're halfway there
Oh, oh, living on a prayer...
LISOVICZ: This is Bon Jovi.
WASTLER: Oh, yes. And the blank is?
WASTLER: We're halfway there. I'll give you half credit on that. Notice the producers put in music this time, I guess they didn't like my singing.
OK. Third one, final one. This will be the tough one here. OK, Mom threw away your best blank blank.
LISOVICZ: Got to party.
SERWER: I don't know this lyrics, though. I know the tune.
WASTLER: It would be: porno mag. There you go. From the Beastie Boys, of course.
CAFFERTY: You're proving that the same kinds of issues that are confronting the Supreme Court today were around 25 years ago when the Beastie Boys made the movie.
All right. Thanks, Allen.
Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we head towards some of the e-mails we received in the last week. You can send us an e-mail right now. We're at inthemoney@CNN.com.
CAFFERTY: It's time now to read some of your answers to our question about, how you think will change for our troops for Iraq, now that the Iraqis are running the government there, sort of.
Dave wrote this, "nothing will change. A lot depends on the Iraqi people, not the government. Will the people fight for themselves, or keep asking us for help? We'll be in Iraq for quite some time. I feel for every soldier over there."
Dan in West Virginia wrote this, "the biggest difference will be that the Bush administration is going to try to distance itself from Iraq more and more, but the insurgents will eventually take over Iraq and use it as a base for terror. The United States did the terrorists a big favor by removing Saddam Hussein."
Joe in North Carolina takes an opposing view with this letter, "as the Iraqi military gets stronger, our troops will see less action. Iraq will become a long-term ally of ours and this will be another step in the right direction of the war against terror." Time now for the email question for this week, which is as follows: "What makes you proud to be an American on this Fourth of July?" Send your answers to inthemoney@CNN.com. And the most enterprising of those will be read next week on the program.
Should you also choose to do so, we invite you to visit the show page, money.com/inthemoney, which is where you'll find the address for our fun site of the week. Which I might add, I knew the answer to absolutely none of the questions.
SERWER: Zippo. Zippo lighters.
LISOVICZ: Zero for Three.
CAFFERTY: If it wasn't I'm Earl Haggard, I don't know anything about them.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. Appreciate it. Thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler.
I invite you to join us next week, Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00. Or, if you so desire, you can catch Andy and Me all week long on "AMERICAN MORNING" starting at 7:00 Eastern time here on CNN.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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