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CNN IN THE MONEY
Does Democracy Stand a Chance in Iraq?; Questioning Christmas
Aired December 12, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program, I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY:
Bonds and ballot boxes: Iraq's elections are weeks away now. Does democracy stand a chance there? We'll take a look.
Plus, questioning Christmas: The birth of Christ gets its annual fact check. Find out if Christians are keeping the faith in spite the media questioning.
And, guilt versus pleasure: We'll put (UNINTELLIGIBLE) America on the couch. Look at why we really give a little extra for sometimes just so-so services.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, my pal, CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer and that's it. I'm riding a Greyhound bus if this happens. The federal government is now looking at legalizing the use of cell phones on airplanes.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Oh, yeah.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heaven help us.
SERWER: Thank goodness. I mean it's a...
CAFFERTY: What do you mean, "thank goodness?"
SERWER: Oh, it's just -- I mean, we've been waiting forever. I've been waiting forever before.
CAFFERTY: Somebody had a great line, they said "American businessmen will become the most annoying people on the plane after the infants."
LISOVICZ: Next to children.
SERWER: Yeah, well, you know, I don't know how I've lived without this. I'll get on the plane, I'll be able to tell my dry cleaner stuff, my daughter's trumpet -- the lesson, I can change that really loudly next to you. Mr. Trumpet teacher, you got to come at 3:00. It's going to be a great flight. You're going to have great time sitting next to me. LISOVICZ: You know, it's hard enough flying economy class, who gets the little elbow. If you forgot to bring your own food, you have to settle for those...
SERWER: I'm talking about my cell phone. Excuse me, am I interrupting you?
LISOVICZ: I mean can you imagine...
SERWER: Am I talking over you? I'm sorry. I can't -- no, 3:00, 5:00. Sorry.
LISOVICZ: I rest my case. I rest my case.
CAFFERTY: Stewardess could we have this guy moved to the baggage compartment, please?
SERWER: He's being rude to me. He's being rude. What if they have special sections in the plane? Remember they use to have smoking and nonsmoking seriously, for cell phone? Cell phone section, noncell phone sections.
LISOVICZ: They do in Amtrak.
SERWER: They might have to do -- they do it on trains, that's right.
CAFFERTY: Now you can have a section for morons who want to talk on their phones...
SERWER: Excuse me?
CAFFERTY: ...and the rest of the human race.
LISOVICZ: I was on a cell phone free car...
SERWER: What's he talking about?
LISOVICZ: ...on Amtrak once, coming from Washington in New York and someone made the mistake of talking on his cell phone, he didn't see the sign.
SERWER: And that is a moron.
LISOVICZ: And it was almost a mutiny. I swear. Physically...
LISOVICZ: ...he was accosted.
CAFFERTY: That's the way it should be. I mean, nobody cares about listening, Andy, to you and your cell phone conversations.
SERWER: I want the birthday cake three layers, not just two. LISOVICZ: Oh, as if you're really making those calls.
SERWER: No, I'm not. I'm talking to you on my cell phone.
CAFFERTY: Andy, the good news is it hasn't happened yet and the other good news is if it does, you will never ever see on a commercial airplane in this country again.
CAFFERTY: On other things -- on to other things. Yeah, a lot of people probably agree with you, Andy.
You wouldn't guess it by watching the evening news, but Iraq's elections are just seven weeks away, now. The clock's ticking, the insurgents continue attacking, President Bush keeps insists the votes should go on as planned. Leslie Gelb says that's a bad idea. He's president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and he joins us now on IN THE MONEY to talk a little bit about why thinks these elections should be postponed.
Late last week the Shia announced that have kind of agreed on a slate of candidates, some of the Sunni interests in Iraq are indicating that they may put some candidates on the ballot. The Kurds probably are going to wind up in joining a certain autonomy in the northern part of the country, regardless of whether the elections are held or not. So, why shouldn't these things go ahead?
LESLIE GELB, COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think if you hold the elections it's worse than not holding them. It's bad to postpone them, it's worse to have them and it's largely because it's just going to increase the chances of there being civil war in that country. If the elections turn out as we expect, there will be a huge showing of Shiite voters, and they're going to get 65, maybe even 70 percent of the seats in the new National Assembly.
CAFFERTY: But, they're 65 percent or 70 percent of the population.
GELB: It's got to have about 60 percent.
CAFFERTY: Yeah, so that -- I mean, that's as it should be, right?
GELB: Well no, that isn't as it should be, because, I think, you hold elections after you have a constitution to divvy up the power. It's in the divvying up of that power that you protect minority rights, otherwise the majorities are going to make demands on the minorities that, in this case, won't be followed.
The Sunni Arabs are not going to obey the Shiite Arab majority no matter how big it is, same with the Kurds. The Sunnis will find themselves marginalized and disenfranchised by this, even more so than they feel today and the Kurds are going to retreat into their shell.
All this shows, and it's the most serious part about going ahead with this election, is that we have no political strategy. You know, if you talk to a military commander, and ask him what this war is about, he'll say there is no military solution to the war. They've been telling us that for two years, but our political leadership thinks that the answer is democracy and holding elections. They didn't do it this way in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they built the constitution first, they divvied up the power and held a vote.
GELB: They have a chance of succeeding that way because the minorities know they'll be protected.
SERWER: Leslie, I think if I read you read right, you're advocating a sort of federation in Iraq. Can you expand upon that a little bit? And would that be something if, for instance, the Turks would truck with, given their resistance to any sort of autonomous Kurdish state?
SERWER: Right, it's a good question. What I'm talking about is, I think the only way to hold Iraq together is to make it as loose a government as possible, maybe a confederation, where essentially the three regions, the Kurds in the north, the Shiites in the south, the Sunnis in the center, more or less run their own affairs, with a relatively weak government in Baghdad. But there is one Iraqi government.
As long as there's an Iraqi government, and the Kurds don't set up an independent state, the Turks will be quiescent about it. But this country has never really been one country, except when the British took it over 80 years, and when Saddam ruled it by brute force from the center, in Baghdad. Otherwise it's really been three countries. The Ottomans ruled it as three different places for hundreds of years.
LISOVICZ: So Leslie, what you're saying is history is really against something happening very quickly. So realistically, what do you do? Our forces are already overextended there.
LISOVICZ: It's clear realistically that no election, in the reasonable future, is going to be perfect. What do you say to the argument that, let's get something done to at least transfer some power to the Iraqis?
GELB: I say something in this case is worse than nothing. Look, I really feel for our troops there, who are doing a great job and they're being courageous, and they're fighting being underarmed, as we finally began to learn in the last few days, and I think that the insurgents are monsters. I wish the worst on them. But the question is, what is realistic for us? What are our interests? Do our interests require that we turn Iraq into a free market democracy? Is that at all possible? Can you hold elections and bring stability? I think elections now, without a constituent assembly first to arrange a power sharing agreement, would make the situation worse for us; increase the chances of a civil war. CAFFERTY: How much worse, though, can it get? I mean...
CAFFERTY: We've got a lot of violence there, right now. The American military, to the degree that it's possible, is keeping a lid on things, to an extent. The Sunnis have agreed to field some candidates for these elections. Is that not some sort of a sign that maybe they want to get in the game here instead of sit on the sidelines and continue to pout and kill people?
GELB: Some Sunnis do want to get in the game, but there'll be a very low Sunni turnout, and the way these elections are set up, it's by party, by proportional representation, and the Sunnis are going to get less than half the seats that they would get by the share of the population they represent, 20 percent, and they may get 10 percent of the seats in the National Assembly.
Look, Mr. Cafferty, in every country where they worked things out peacefully, they worked them out beforehand with a power sharing deal. That's the way we did it in the United States. We didn't give the central government in Washington all the power, most of the power remained with the states until they got use to dealing with each other, and they were prepared to live with that and fight for it, but if you try to thrust power into the hands of a majority that is not going to be obeyed by the other parts of the country, we're just asking for an explosion.
CAFFERTY: I got no time, but some of the things that I'm listening to you say make a certain amount of sense. Given that, what do you think the chances are the administration might be listening to what you say and concluding that it makes a certain amount of sense and maybe push these things back and rethink this whole process? Is that going to happen?
GELB: Yeah, you know, I don't know. I don't want to be a wise- guy or know-it-all. I don't feel that way. The situation there is just so hard, so difficult.
GELB: We've got so much at stake, including the lives of all of those people fighting there for us, and the administration has gone very far down the line with a policy that just doesn't fit the realities out there. Now, every once in a while they say something that gives me heart. When President Bush went to the U.N., six weeks ago or so, he talked about a federal Iraq. But then you got to -- you have to lay the foundations for that by allowing the leadership of these different groups to get together and work out a constitution, a power sharing deal, and then base the elections on that.
Do I think that it's likely the elections are going to be postponed? No, I don't, but my main concern is to try to get the administration finally focused on a common sense political strategy, because this is an insurgency, and there is no military solution alone to it. You need to work out a political solution to underpin it, to give the Iraqis, who want to have some decent life there, something to fight and die for.
CAFFERTY: There you go, good stuff. Leslie Gelb, president emeritus at the Council of Foreign Relations. Thank you, sir, very much. Good to have you on the program.
GELB: Good to be here.
CAFFERTY: Much more ahead on IN THE MONEY as we continue:
Fact checking the first Noel: The story of Christmas being put under the annual microscope. Find out if Americans are enlightened or enraged by the nit-picking.
Plus, diaries gone digital: We'll talk to a tech entrepreneur who's built a business on the blog boom. And I do hope to find out what that is.
And still not ready to brave the malls? You're in good company. We'll look at what that means for retailers and e-tailers. I do know what they are.
CAFFERTY: It's about as predictable as that giant blowup snowman on your neighbor's lawn. Every year newspapers, magazines, and network television all try to shed new light on the story of the birth of Christ. This week "Time" and "Newsweek" magazines made it their cover stories, picking apart everything from the Immaculate Conception to the voyage of the three kings. So, did they find out anything new, 2,000 plus years later and what do Christians make of all of the annual fuss?
James Fisher is co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholics Studies at Fordham University. And he was kind enough to join us to take a look at this.
It's kind of an annual rite of Christmas. Welcome our program. Nice to have you with us.
JAMES FISHER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me.
CAFFERTY: Is there anything new in this year's revelations?
FISHER: Not really so much new, but what's new is the length of these articles. These are very, very serious articles that are really engaging a body of scholarship that's been emerging for the last 15 or 20 years and what it suggests is that there's a tremendous market out there, an audience, for people who really want to read, not just superficial stories, but really in-depth treatments of -- you know, very serious scholarly accounts of the birth of Christ.
LISOVICZ: Yeah, and James, we saw a lot of pop culture contribute to that hunger, right everything from Mel Gibson with "The Passion," to the phenomenal success of "The da Vinci Code," and so that sort of really encourages people to search for answers. FISHER: Absolutely. I love the line of reverent Jersey director, Kevin Smith, was asked about the response to Mel Gibson's film, "The passion of the Christ," in terms of the controversy. He said that's not a controversy, that's a hit. I mean there's a -- hundreds of millions of dollars. I mean everybody on the train is still reading "The da Vinci Code," including on my way in today, it's an amazing phenomena. And of course, these are two very different kinds of stories. But what they do is both blend a kind of sense of religious mystery with a historical account and a narrative that people really respond to.
SERWER: James, is there also room for dissent here, of the most outrageous kind? I'm looking at a story about a new play in Scotland about a gay Jesus and there's been a lot of criticism. A critic says here, "Jesus Christ is being portrayed as a foul mouthed drunken, promiscuous homosexual, and that's an insult to my faith." The show's director said, he is not portrayed as a drunken foul mouth, "he doesn't say one bad word throughout the play." Presumably he's still a promiscuous homosexual in the play. That's very offensive to a lot of people, but this kind of debate goes on. What's your take on it?
FISHER: Well, that's in the -- both of the articles, "Time" and "Newsweek" covers some of the controversies, some scholars have suggested, questions about Jesus' illegitimacy and all those kinds of things, but both pieces made clear, on the one hand it's a question of faith. People clearly believe, but there's also this underlying sense of, not exactly skepticism, but questioning and doubt. And that's, of course, many would argue, an important part of the formation of people's faith, is the openness to the possibility of doubt, which needs to be tested and of course, what these articles are showing, though, on the bottom line, 84 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christians. So, you know, the tremendous foundation of faith is there in this culture.
CAFFERTY: What practical purposes serve them by attempting to discredit the lore that surrounds this faith, the stories in the bible and the scriptures that are the foundation of this faith, what practical purpose is served by picking at those and saying well this passage may not be true and that may not be an accurate quote and maybe he didn't really say this. What's the point?
FISHER: I don't know if it's so much -- yeah, I don't know if it's undermine it, but the interesting thing that, again, the articles make clear is, unlike the testimonies of Jesus' miracles or the work he did as an adult, his birth, I mean, there really aren't eyewitness accounts and the documentary, or factual material, for the birth of Christ are virtually nonexistent, and therefore, everybody has to acknowledge that the authors of the gospels had to piece together a narrative from all kinds of sources, including cultural traditions and things of that kind and they are clearly, in some ways, in conflict with each other. So, it just heightens the mystery of this particular event. And let's face it, if you could go back to one event in the history of the world, I think a lot of people would say -- you know, we'd love to be there to witness firsthand the birth of Christ. I mean, it's obviously one of the foundational events in our civilization. LISOVICZ: But, in the church there's so many traditions that have been incorporated that really have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus and the church itself incorporates it. The Christmas tree, for instance, I mean that had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, and it's not the highlight of the Christian year, it's the resurrection. So, how does the church come to terms with that, all of those things that really have nothing to do with being a -- with being a Christian, and showing your faith?
FISHER: Because religious faith is grounded in tradition. I mean, all of us, you know, whatever our religious traditions are, it's about an evolving, growing tradition, and that simply means even the way we understand such a central event, like the birth of Christ, that too, becomes part of the tradition and we're always in a kind of a dialogue with it. And I think these articles are very astute and sophisticated in acknowledging that, you know, this is an evolving process. I mean, obviously, Jesus was born once, but the story, the way it's told, the way it's understood, that's going to continue to be reshaped and I think that's the key thing to this question of the marketplace of religion.
We're a nation of seekers, and people are looking for ways in which their faith can be shaped in some ways to respond to their own experience and their own concerns. And some critics say, well that's not right, because faith is supposed to be not about you, what about the transcendent about god. But, there's a way in which this culture, in a -- you know, it's a free, we have religious freedom and religious freedom exists in a free marketplace of ideas, and the fact is, people are showing more interest in religion, not less, as time goes by, but their interesting thing in stories that appeal to them for their fascination and their intrinsic interest.
SERWER: I'm sorry to interrupt you. Let me just ask one quick question. When I was growing up there was this notion this country has becoming increasingly secular. And we're almost out of time here, that doesn't seem to be happening at all any more.
FISHER: No it does not.
FISHER: I'll tell you, a lot of the scholars have had their hearts broken by that one.
FISHER: Lots of things. There's a -- you know, I couldn't -- but, let's face it, 9/11 has completely reshaped the way this nation understands itself and it's revived a lot of older ideas about a nation with particular kind of mission, that could be understood as a religious one ,and I think a sense of reverence and national purpose and destiny. Ronald Reagan was very successful, of course, in revving those, but in more recent years in this more terrible, tragic context, the same thing is happening.
LISOVICZ: James Fisher, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. FISHER: Thanks, you, too.
LISOVICZ: Good to see you again.
FISHER: Happy holidays to everybody of all traditions.
LISOVICZ: Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.
LISOVICZ: At Fordham University.
Coming up after the break: Logging off: IBM is pulling out of the PC business. Find out what that means to investors and consumers.
Plus, here's a little extra for your trouble: America is quick to tip good and not so good service. We'll take a look at how this whole thing got started.
And the mighty mouse: Online shopping is soaring this holiday season. Find out which e-tailers are really flying high.
ANNOUNCER: He's energizing 120 countries. Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz starting selling Red Bull energy drinks in his homeland 17 years ago. Today, more than 1.6 billion cans are consumed annually. Mateschitz's unique marketing strategy led to Red Bull's global stampede as the top selling energy drink. Consumers heard the company sponsored extreme sporting events, such as Flugtag, where contestants build homemade flying machines and launch into water, befitting Red Bull's slogan, "It gives you winds."
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at thee week's top stories in our "Money Minute." Washington insiders all said he was a goner, but President Bush asked treasury secretary, John Snow, to stay on. Snow could be the president's point man for changing Social Security and reforming tax laws, but those same Washington insiders don't expect Snow to play a major role there.
Colgate-Palmolive is cutting about 12 percent, or about 4,400 jobs. The company is closing about one-third of its 78 factories worldwide. Colgate-Palmolive's news not unique as American companies cut more jobs from September through November than during any three- month period in two-and-a-half years.
And Elliott Spitzer is at it again. Now the New York state attorney general is looking into whether the insurance companies, not the lawyers, are most responsible for the rising cost of malpractice insurance. The probe could be Spitzer's last crusade in his office because he also announced he's a candidate in New York's 2006 governor's race. SERWER: IBM sold its signature PC business to China's Lenovo for $1.25 billion this week. Big Blue says the deal will allow it to focus on his more profitable software and business consulting divisions, but there's already some worries about the deal because some computer analysts say Lenovo is known for being cheap. And then there's the emotional effect of seeing the world's first big personal computer company basically getting out of the personal computing business.
IBM shares have been on a pretty steady climb since November, getting closer to their one-year high. IBM is our "Stock of the Week."
And you know, they sold this business for $1.25 billion. It makes $10 billion in revenues, not very profitable at all. ThinkPad used to be a big brand about three years ago. I haven't really heard of anyone buying a ThinkPad lately. Dell is the only big major computer company that making money in the United States anymore, making PCs.
LISOVICZ: And you know, a clear concession to Dell, even though, I guess it is sad, that IBM was a pioneer in the business, but it's just making a whole lot more money...
She's getting emotional about it.
SERWER: She's getting emotional about it.
CAFFERTY: She might shed a tear.
LISOVICZ: Well, to a Chinese company, no less. I mean, that's really interesting.
CAFFERTY: They're going to be insourcing some jobs, though. I read that the company that's buying the PC business from IBM is going to actually move its headquarters here to New York City and they may, in fact, list the company on either the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, at some point, the deal won't close until next year, maybe the year after.
But I'm just thinking, there's a lot of folks over there in China might one of these days want to buy them an old PC, if that stock ever got listed, might be worth a second look-see.
SERWER: Well, that's right. Lenovo, which used to be called Legend -- and I don't like that, I mean, I know what a legend is, I don't know what a lenovo -- What is a lenovo?
LISOVICZ: It doesn't sound very Chinese.
SERWER: Yeah. No, it doesn't. I don't know what it is. IBM's going to own 20 percent of this company and you know, it's sort of like we're getting out of the business and we're sort of not. IBM itself is going to be using a lot of these machines. And as far as what it's going to do for IBM overall, I mean, this stock has been an average performer, at best, over the past five years, two years, one year. So, you know, they're looking for ways to, you know, get ahead for an angle. The consulting business is very big for them and services. But, you know, making hardware is not where it's at in this company unless -- in this country unless you're like Dell, which has just a very different way of doing business.
LISOVICZ: It has a lock on it, right now. That's for sure.
SERWER: Yeah, I think that's right.
All right, coming up on IN THE MONEY:
Good service, great tip: If you think you're getting extra out of the kindness of your heart, well think again. We'll tell you the real reason why you tip so well.
Plus, cashing in on the blog boom: The popular web commentaries could end up at a newsstand near you. We'll explain.
And pounding the pavement -- or pounding your head? You might be taking this job search thing a little too seriously. We'll show you one man who isn't in our "Fun Site of the Week." Stay tuned.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: I'm Erica Hill in Atlanta. We'll have more IN THE MONEY in the moment. But first a look at stories now in the news.
Sean O'Keefe administrator of NASA will leave his job. CNN has learned he will make the announcement tomorrow. O'Keefe, former secretary of the navy for the first President Bush will take over the chancellor's job at Louisiana State University.
Bad weather is hampering crews' efforts to clean up an oil spill off Alaska. A freighter grounded in the Allusion Islands last week. The search for six missing crew members has been suspended. They were lost when a Coast Guard helicopter crashed during rescue operations.
The United Arab Emirates has agreed to take part in a U.S. customs and border protection program. The UAE will target and prescreen all cargo headed for the United States through the Port of Dubai, it is the first middle eastern country to take part in the program.
It's back to the campaign trail for Viktor Yushchenko the Ukrainian opposition leader left a hospital in Vienna there. Doctors there say he was suffering from dioxin poisoning which left him in intense pain and facial scars. Yushchenko says he's returning to the Ukraine to continue campaigning before a second presidential runoff there December 26th.
And we will bring you more news at the top of the hour. Right now IN THE MONEY continues on CNN. SUSAN LISCOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Tis the season for giving. That means a little extra for everyone from your hairdresser to your mail carrier to your garbage collector. But do all these people really deserve a holiday tip or are you just worried about getting a bad dye job, late mail pickup and garbage on your front lawn? Michael Lynn has the answer. He's is from Cornell School of Hotel Administrations, he is an associate professor of consumer behavior and marketing. Welcome, just in the nick of time. Michael, can you hear me?
MICHAEL LYNN, CORNELL SCHOOL OF HOTEL ADMINISTRATION: Yes sure.
LISCOVICZ: OK I don't know my mail carrier. I don't know my garbage collector. Do I have to give them tips?
LYNN: Of course you don't have to. And your mail carrier presumably because he's a federal employee, is prohibited from accepting monetary payments. Many people, though, could give them a gift, a gift rather than a monetary tip.
LISCOVICZ: And but what kind of gift would be appropriate for something like that?
LYNN: You know, I am not an expert on etiquette, but I suppose if I were going to give my mail carrier something, I would give him a bottle of wine, a bottle of Jack Daniels or something like that.
ANDY SERWER: Hey Mike, be careful because he might go postal. Michael, let me ask you a question here. When did this whole cultural thing happen where every single retailer allows their employees to put a little cup next to the cash register, every single store you walk into has a little cup.
LISCOVICZ: You're just bitter.
SERWER: Just for giving me change at the drugstore I'm supposed to tip them? It ticks me off. I'll tell you something else that ticks me off. I bet these employers are counting on us giving them money and they're holding wages down. They're saying, we don't have to pay you as much because you get $20 bucks divided by five guys in the tip cup every day what's going on here?
LYNN: I think that started happening in the 1990s. It irritates me as well. Most Americans, 70 percent of Americans say in surveys that they dislike having these tip cups out there. We're not alone in being upset. I'm not so sure that the employers are benefiting that much directly from this, though. Federal law still mandates minimum wages to retail employees.
So they're not really getting a break on employee wages. I think that what's going on is that there's a labor shortage essentially, special for the low-level positions. And in order to attract more people, they've had to start allowing those employees to collect tips. And it's just a way of keeping their employees happy, keeping them there on the job, so they have a labor force.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: You know, when I was a younger guy, which granted was a long time ago, tipping was something you did because the person who was serving you or waiting on you did an extraordinarily good job. It was a reward for an effort made on your behalf. It has become, now that I'm much older, a form of extortion almost.
It's expected. It's not quite demanded but the implication is as was alluded to in the lean-in, you don't give me a tip, maybe we don't pick up your garbage next week. By the way, I leave a little cash in the mailbox for the mailman. I have never gotten it back on the 26th of December. So at least one guy in the postal service is not averse to taking cash. How did the psychology of this all change?
LYNN: Certainly in restaurants it's true that tips today are obligatory and they are not very strongly related to service. I would have guessed that tipping in other occupations, less traditionally tipped occupations that still the tips reflect at least in part, some gratitude for the services received. But much of the holiday giving whether you're tipping your doorman or your son's teacher, a lot of that has to do with just not wanting to appear cheap. You don't know what other people are giving, but if they're giving something and you're not, obviously you're going to look bad in comparison.
LISCOVICZ: Michael Lynn, associate professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Thanks for your advice.
LYNN: You're welcome.
LISCOVICZ: Lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY.
Up next, blah, blah blog. They're the hottest things to hit the Web since the chat room. We'll talk to one tech entrepreneur who wants to cash in on the craze.
Plus you're not the only one shopping in your pj's this weekend. We'll look at how point, click and shop is reaching new audiences this holiday season and what that means for e-tailers.
SERWER: So you set up your own Web page and a Web cam to go with it and now you think you're a techie. Well get with the program that was so 1999. You're not hip to the Internet these days unless you have your own blog. Tony Perkins has built an entire business on blogs. He's editor and chief of "Always On." He joins us now with a look at this new phenomenon. Tony, welcome to you.
TONY PERKINS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "ALWAYS ON:" Good to be here.
SERWER: Hey listen I thought this whole Web thing ran counter to a magazine. I mean, magazines are so old school. Webs are new school. How can you put them together?
PERKINS: Well, the real interesting thing is that, you know, I think we should step up about 30,000 feet here.
PERKINS: Web blogging became popular because they're now free, very easy to use Web publishing applications where you can set up your own blog site, literally in five minutes. So what we've seen over the last couple of years is there are now 5 million blog sites out there, now watching all sorts of activities. We have bloggers on the streets of Baghdad, we have bloggers watching presidential elections, offering expert opinion, breaking news. We saw the first pictures coming out of the bombing in Jakarta back in September coming on a blog site.
This is a new alternative media format and what I've done is take the tech business community and allowed them to come under "Always On's" Web site and in essence, guest blog and interact with the members of a global community. And then we're spinning out some of the most popular posts and some of those best member comments that are coming in to a magazine. So in essence, the whole beauty of blogging is it allows people, every day people, to become commentators and really editors and influence what kind of editorial we're publishing on always on.
LISCOVICZ: What you're saying, Tony, it's really a very old- fashion term. You're editing. Because blogging is so indulgent, who has the time to go through all these blogs. You're going for the best, the most provocative, the most popular. Who do you have, for instance? Who do you have and what are some of your regular features?
PERKINS: Well again, to be a consistent blogger takes a lot of work, as you noted. So what we've done is created a group blog environment where FCC Chairman Michael Powell as an example comes in every couple of weeks, posts some blogs and dialogues with the global Silicon Valley community that we serve. We have venture capitalist Tim Draper out hustling for business plans on our site.
We've had Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google talk about education and some of the ideas that are important to him beyond his business at Google. So it allows them to come in, dialogue with the community, the whole world that comes in and views it gets the benefit by being able to view this dialogue. Our rules as editors are really just picking who we think are the most interesting people that can come in and guest blog for us.
CAFFERTY: Tony, Jack Cafferty. I was actually contacted by someone a couple weeks ago who suggested that I might be interested in setting up one of these blog sites. You said there are five millions bloggers in the country. I will admit to a certain ignorance. I told this guy, I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, I told this guy well I'm really too busy, I don't have time for this. Because I was ashamed to tell him I have no idea what the hell what you're talking about. So for me and that one other person that ain't hip when it comes to the Internet, what is these sites? If I set one up what would I do with it, tell me how it works. Because I really want to learn about it.
PERKINS: Well I don't want to you feel too bad. Webster just reported that the number one word looked up on their Internet dictionary was the word blog. A lot of people like you out there trying to figure out what this means. In essence it is like, think of it as talk radio. A guy like Howard Stern or a Rush Limbaugh starts out in a small market, starts dialoguing with their listener. Most of us go in and listen to that dialogue but aren't actually actively participating.
So it's a text version of that. You would wake up in the morning drink your cup of coffee and read the newspaper maybe and talk about things that you feel like you're an expert in.
CAFFERTY: I see.
PERKINS: And over time, people will come to you and say this guy knows a lot about this particular subject. I'm going to check into his Web site every once in a while and you'll attract other people that are interested in that subject and they'll post comments to your original post. That's the value proposition of blogging.
CAFFERTY: And as you get this group of people together, presumably it gets larger, there becomes a commercial application if you want to take it in that direction, correct?
PERKINS: Well exactly. The culture of blogging is to link to each other's blog sites. It's this organic community that self- supports each other. What I've done is taken the low-cost platform, blogging platform, built it out and asked people such as yourself. You're welcome to be a contributor.
LISCOVICZ: He'd be a natural.
PERKINS: Exactly. Because you don't have the time to do it every day, so you can come in to always on, guest blog for a while, go back to work, do whatever you have to do to make a living. What's neat for me is --
SERWER: I guess that means no.
CAFFERTY: Notice how he didn't answer that question.
PERKINS: You pay me for this, I pay you for that. But that's the way it works. But the bottom line is, it is a great way to create a lot of Web traffic and we have supporters such as IBM, Sun, Accenture, KPMG.
SERWER: Tony --
PERKINS: Advertising and sponsoring for us because they like our audience.
SERWER: Let me jump in. I think Jack would be a natural. Really a blog is just a rant where people respond.
PERKINS: That's what it is.
SERWER: Where does the word come from and can't you come up with a better name? It's an ugly word. What does the word mean? PERKINS: Well it's memorable. It's an abbreviation for Web log a diary or log, when you log your thoughts. That's where it comes from. I'll tell you, this is the greatest breakthrough in media since CNN and the birth of cable news, because what you guys did, is strap cameras on people, let them be free to go out into wars or whatever. And start reporting in real-time. That's what's happening in the blog sphere. For instance, Dan Rather was hurt by the blog sphere because they produced this these documents that the bloggers said these are not authentic documents and were taken down by the blog stream.
LISCOVICZ: Here to say, I would think you would make the argument. Tony Perkins, it's good to see you. A lot of folks people remember you from Red Herring. You're back with a good name, "Always On" magazine founder and editor in chief. Thanks for joining us.
PERKINS: Thank you.
LISCOVICZ: Coming up, selling yourself online has never been so amusing or pathetic. We'll let you be the judge when we unveil the fun site of the week.
And put our producers to the test with your e-mail insights. And drop us a line at INTHEMONEY@cnn.com.
CAFFERTY: Major retailers have seen increased online sales year and after year at Christmas time. Now the boutiques on Main Street are also getting into the act. Web master Allen Wastler has that story and a possibly innovative or maybe just pathetic fun site of the week. Good afternoon.
ALLEN WASTLER, CNNMONEY.CON: Good afternoon. We're seeing some fun stuff in the online sector this year. If you look at all the figures from Comscore and usual folks that sort of keep the little tabulations of what is going on, they figure there will be about 25 percent pop this year in Christmas spending on the net.
SERWER: That's big.
WASTLER: That is big.
SERWER: That's huge.
WASTLER: But think about it, in previous years that was 30 plus, 35 plus. You're seeing a little slowing down. That could be the law of large numbers, of course. As it gets bigger, it's harder to get the gains or some people say it could be a sign of maturing of the sector. Either way we're seeing that leveling off coming in.
Second thing to look for, you're seeing more and more of the bricks and mortar folks getting into the game now. If you look at the figures that came back from the black Friday weekend, of course eBay and Amazon are at the top. You're seeing the Wal-Mart.coms, the Target.coms, all those places that have stores began to creep into the equation. SERWER: And Wal-Mart is rolling it out very slowly, they're just watching it, not spending too much money. Moving slowly. I've talked to them about it a little bit.
WASTLER: Sooner or later, it will come and it's theirs. Here's the trick. Usually when you see the market share question come out, think about the search technology that's started. Contextual Links, for a little bit of money, the tiny boutique can get their name out there into the search engines. You'll see the little players out there become more and more the factor in this.
So I think by the end of the season when we are finished counting it all up, you will see the big cahoonas out there with their usual take, but you are going to see a lot more of it go to small business as a whole. And we're already beginning to see that.
LISCOVICZ: And that is because partly people are getting more comfortable with buying on the net.
WASTLER: And if you're a merchant, it's very easy now to set it up with the credit card people, hey I want to have a Web site, I want to do this, I want to take the payment.
SERWER: Are you buying my present online?
SERWER: Not yet.
LISCOVICZ: There is no present.
WASTLER: Lump of coal.
SERWER: How about a tip? How about a tip? What about just a tip?
LISCOVICZ: Don't play the horses.
WASTLER: More innovative things about the net, OK, we founded this one person who decided to distribute his resume in a bit of a different way. Part of it that's different is he's French, too. Let's take a look.
SERWER: Oh, Jacques.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would sooner shoot myself than work with someone like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WASTLER: He goes on and on, goes through his qualifications.
LISCOVICZ: That's for real.
WASTLER: That's for real. And at the end he gives a way to get in contact with him.
LISCOVICZ: Is he still unemployed?
SERWER: I would leave. I would move to North Korea.
CAFFERTY: That's right.
WASTLER: Anyway --
CAFFERTY: You have to watch the whole thing.
SERWER: If he did it in not an obnoxious and pathetic way --
LISCOVICZ: Other than that, you loved it.
CAFFERTY: This is a tough room in case you didn't notice. Coming up next on IN THE MONEY it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. We'll do that.
And you can send us an e-mail right now as we're talking about it, we are at INTHEMONEY@cnn.com. Write to us.
CAFFERTY: It's time now to read some of your answers to our question last week about whether you can survive a big increase in interest rates.
Jeff in Florida wrote this, "There is no way most Americans could survive. Too many of us have bought homes only thinking about whether we could afford the payments, not whether it was overpriced and could sustain a drop in the market value. Massive personal bankruptcies are in our future if the rates skyrocket like they did in the 70's."
Janice wrote, "Rising interest rates would help me because I needed the added income fromCD's. But my kids would be screwed and wouldn't be able to pay a house or car off or their credit card bills if interest rates go up."
And Don wrote to us, "It depends on which interest rates you're talking about. Higher bank rates would be OK. But if I know I couldn't survive if my interest rate in the opposite sex rises any higher, I'm in trouble. I've emptied most of my wallet trying to impress women."
I think we may have found the guy who came up with the resume on Allen's fun site of the week. Next weeks e-mail question of the week is as follows. Do you think Washington should make any major changed to Social Security?
Send you comments to INTHEMONEY@cnn.com. Do not animate then or set them to music. You should also visit our show page at Money.com/inthemoney, that is where you'll find the address of our fun site of the week. The verdict is in, it's truly pathetic this week.
Well thank you for being with us on this edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer, Money.com managing editor Allen Wastler. Join us next week, Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00 or you can catch Andy and me all week long on "American Morning" which begins each morning at 7:00 Eastern Time.
Thanks again and enjoy the rest of the week.
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