Return to Transcripts main page
CNN IN THE MONEY
What's the Real Price of Gas?; The New Face of Islam
Aired April 30, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, what oil really costs. From making nice to making war, the things America does for oil transform our country in many ways. See how the U.S. would change if we would simply cut back at the gas pump.
And the other side of Islam. If you think it's all about blowing things up and hating the West, you don't know the whole story. Find out how young moderates are changing the face of Islam.
And just relax. We'll hear about subliminal relaxation techniques and nine other things casinos don't tell you as they effort to separate you from your wallet.
Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz; "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer.
So after two months of barnstorming the country, trying to sell this private investment plan, President Bush's idea for reforming Social Security that way has gotten absolutely nowhere. The other night, in a nationally televised news conference, he bent a little and he took a political gamble by suggesting that they alter Social Security benefits, especially in the years going out for people who are more affluent.
The Democrats immediately characterized this as the president wants to cut Social Security. Some conservative Republicans are concerned that this may politically be a real liability for the president and could hurt the Republicans in the off-year elections next year.
ANDREW SERWER, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: And the great irony, of course, is that's exactly what the Democrats had previously suggested, but now they have to criticize it because the president's doing it. I think it's striking to see any president talking about reforming Social Security. I think it's striking to see a Republican president talking about reforming it so that the wealthy get less benefits.
I'm not sure we're going to get anywhere with this debate. I'm not sure that's not such a bad idea. Because if the problems down the road, maybe you should get a little closer to the problem so you solve it correctly. Just my take.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the timing is terrible. Let's face it, for private accounts, you have the Nasdaq down 12 1/2 percent this year. You have the Dow hovering right around 10,000 again. You have the worst month for the Dow industrials, perhaps in two years. It's a terrible time to start saying that this is where -- this is really going to help you out in the long term. This is one of my ideas. It's very tough.
CAFFERTY: And yet the president has made Social Security the hood ornament if you will, on his domestic agenda for the second term and it's going to be interesting to see if he can make any headway with this thing or not.
SERWER: And it's funny what Dennis Miller said "you have to be crazy not to want your own money back." I kind of think that's a good point.
CAFFERTY: All right. To be continued. America wants cheap oil so much and wants so much cheap oil that it's affecting everything from the deals we do to the company we keep. One example from this week, those pictures of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah holding hands with President Bush. Just imagine, for a minute, how American life and policy would be different if we didn't have such a big thing for oil.
Michael Klare is going to talk us through that scenario. He's the author of "Blood for Oil." He's a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and he's been with us before. Mike, nice to see you, welcome back.
MICHAEL KLARE, HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE: Pleasure to be with you again.
CAFFERTY: In October, you said the world runs out of oil in 30 to 40 years. There's an old Hank Snow tune called "90 Miles an Hour Down a Dead-End Street" and it seems to me that that song and our predicament, vis-a-vis, the world supply of crude oil, have a lot in common. Do you hold with that timetable and how urgent is it that we do something besides what we're doing here?
KLARE: Well, you know in 30 or 40 years, oil may be gone entirely and we have plenty of time to worry about that. But sooner than then, much sooner than then, oil is not going to be as available as it used to be in the past. And we're beginning to see that now, with the higher prices, the shortages of crude oil around the world. In other words, the hardships from declining oil are with us now and they're only going to get worse.
LISOVICZ: Professor Klare, we were just talking about the president's obstacles in trying to push his package on Social Security. There's also the energy initiatives he's proposed. Would you characterize any of them as proactive? In other words, are there incentives for Detroit to switch to hybrids, other sources of energy, like wind power, for instance?
KLARE: It's really a very small amount of effort in that bill. It's really not going to make a substantial difference until the president calls for significant increases in the fuel efficiency of American vehicles, mandatory increases in fuel efficiency. These other things are not going to make very much of a big difference, certainly not in the short term.
SERWER: Michael, as professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, I would suspect you're not an advocate of nuclear power. And yet, the French have done very well with nuclear power. And there is of course that famous line that no one has ever died of a nuclear power plant accident in this country. Shouldn't we revisit nukes?
KLARE: Well there are two problems here. First of all, our addiction to oil is mainly about transportation. We use 70 percent our petroleum for automobiles and truck and buses and planes and all of the rest. And more nuclear power is not going to solve that problem. That's where our addiction to petroleum is so great. So there's that problem. Secondly, we haven't solved the nuclear waste problem. And as you've probably know, information come from Nevada about the Yucca Mountain repository suggests it may not be as safe as was once said. So we have a problem with the waste and we have a problem with our addiction to oil for transportation that nuclear power won't solve.
CAFFERTY: The author of your - or the title of your book is "Blood and Oil." Talk to me for a moment about what you see unfolding in the next couple of decades perhaps, as the supply of crude oil continues to dwindle, the price continue to rise and the sources of this continue to be in some of the most volatile and troublesome and most hateful regions of the world when it come to the United States. We're talking about obviously the Middle East, but there are other places as well that are huge repositories of oil that don't exactly think we're the guys in the white hats.
KLARE: Everybody has to understand first of all that there's an historic shift taking place in where our oil is coming from. It used to be, you know, from North America, primarily. But because we've used up a lot of our domestic supplies and nearby supplies, more and more of our oil in the future will come from the Middle East, from Africa, from Venezuela, from places, as you say that are unstable. And the fact that we rely on those countries means that we get more deeply entwined in the politics of those countries. We're often closely allied with their leaders. And their leaders may not be so popular. We're very close to the Saudi royal family, as we were saying earlier this week Crown Prince Abdullah visiting President Bush in Crawford, Texas. There are a lot of people in Saudi Arabia who think that the Saudi royal family is corrupt, that they've strayed from Islam, that they're too closely aligned with the west. So by our alliance with these countries, we, in fact, are inviting opposition, inviting hostility that could take violent forms.
LISOVICZ: Professor, we also face problems with our allies. One of the reasons why we've been seeing these record prices with oil is because of the demand from China and India where their economies are growing much faster than the U.S. Could you envision down the road a real face-off, especially with China, over access to oil?
KLARE: Absolutely. China's the fastest growing economy in the world. Their oil needs are growing faster than anyone else. Now, they're not quite at the level that we are in this country, but they're gaining on us. And because they're late-comers to the energy and oil business, they're scurrying around the world to find whatever pockets of oil they can get their hands on. And this could lead to clashes with the United States. Because they're going to countries that we don't have very friendly relations with, like Iran, like Sudan and the Chinese are developing close ties with those countries, providing them with weapons. This could be the spark for conflict down the road.
SERWER: Michael, quick last question here. What do you think about this whole issue that our real problem is we don't have enough refineries in this country, something the president was talking about recently?
KLARE: Well, refineries are what we need to convert crude oil into gasoline. And it's certainly true that if we had more refinery capacity, that would ease the problem of refining -- of producing more gasoline and motor fuels. But if crude oil remains scarce and the price of crude oil remains high, which appears to be the case, more refinery capacity isn't going to bring gasoline prices down.
CAFFERTY: Interesting stuff. And my sense is Mike that we'll be talking with you again about this as we move through time. Professor Michael Klare, who is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, the author of "Blood and Oil." Thank you for being with us.
KLARE: My pleasure.
CAFFERTY: All right. When we come back, that's not a church, it's a suburb. We'll look at the rise of the mega-church and see how it's influencing politics in America and oh, is it ever.
Plus, the Islam you won't find in the newspapers. Stick around for an author who says Muslims are in the twilight of a reformation.
Plus, Steve Jobs as book critic. Find out why Apple has been purging one publisher's works at stores run by the computer company.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am mindful that people in political office should not say to somebody "you're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion." As I said, I think faith is a personal issue and I get great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAFFERTY: President Bush, addressing the role of faith in politics at a press conference on Thursday, just days after some members of the Republican Party said Democrats who oppose Bush's judicial nominations are not people of faith. Our next guest says too many conservatives in Washington are hijacking religion and using it to divide the nation, while liberals don't even know how to engage religious voters. Reverend Jim Wallis is the author of the new book "God's Politics." This may be the greatest title ever "Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It." He joins us now from Washington, D.C. Reverend Wallis, nice to have you with us.
REV. JIM WALLIS, AUTHOR, "GOD'S POLITICS": Great to be here.
CAFFERTY: That justice (ph) Sunday thing that happened here a week or so ago with the majority leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, address addressing the congregation of one of these mega-churches, prompted some angry e-mail that I received on the other program I appear on, AMERICAN MORNING here, suggesting that this just simply crossed the line concerning the separation of church and state. If politicians are going to come down from Washington and preach on Sunday in the churches, then the churches maybe shouldn't be tax exempt among other things.
WALLIS: There's nothing wrong with bringing your faith into politics. I do it all the time. Martin King did that, James Dobson does it. That's fine, that's good. But when you say those who disagree with your position on a judicial nominee or a filibuster are not people of faith, then you are crossing some important lines. And that shouldn't be done.
LISOVICZ: It shouldn't be done, but it is being done, I think.
WALLIS: It is being done, correct.
LISOVICZ: -- in the views of many. And while everybody should be focusing on Darfur, for instance, what happens is there's so much name calling, there's so much divisiveness. Are you trying to reach out now with this book, to be more of a compromise -- to compromise --
WALLIS: A bridge.
LISOVICZ: A bridge, yes.
WALLIS: I think religion ought to be a bridge that brings us together across hostile dividing lines, even red and blue state dividing line and not a wedge, a partisan wedge or an ideological weapon, to divide us. It should bring us together on issues like Darfur, for example.
SERWER: Reverend, let me talk to you a little bit about these mega-churches because we hear so much about them, justice Sunday and all of that. What's going on here? Is this a growing phenomenon? Are these hotbeds of fundamentalism involved in the political process?
WALLIS: I think the problem is not just mega-churches. Some of them are becoming very involved in issues like Darfur, poverty, the environment. It's the religious right crusade. The religious right was a creation of the political right, almost a political seduction of religion. When religion is put in the pocket of one party, becomes, in fact, at the service of one agenda, something goes wrong with both religion and politics. Lincoln had it right. You don't claim God to be on your side. You worry and prayer earnestly we are on God's side. So let's have a good conversation about how faith and politics -- how faith should shape a moral compass that should shape politics. I'd like to see a dialogue. I think the good news is the monologue of the religious right may finally be over and a new dialogue has just begun. The president was right last night in saying that we shouldn't question somebody's faith because they disagree with us on a partisan political issue.
CAFFERTY: The second half of the title of your book is "The Left Doesn't Get It." Address that. Tell me what it means. It would seem to the casual observer, one of which might be me, is they're missing a golden opportunity. I mean, you talk about being able to score a touchdown here. They're on the one yard line and they've got 12 downs to get it over the goal line and they can't even figure out how to get out of the huddle here. What's going on?
WALLIS: That's a good way to put it. It's almost like one side claims to own religion, even own God. The other side can't say the "G" word out loud. The Democrats, they've somehow forgotten that they were linked to a vital civil rights movement led by black churches just decades ago. Where we would be if the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had kept his faith to himself? I believe in the separation of church and state. That doesn't mean the segregation of moral values from public life or even the use of religious language in our public discourse, as long as that is democratic, pluralistic. Religion must be disciplined by democracy. You don't win because you're religious. You have to make an argument on behalf of the common good. What's best for all of us, not just religious people.
LISOVICZ: Is there one issue, though, for instance, that you just cannot escape, that your faith is just totally wrapped up in it?
WALLIS: I think there are a number of issues. I find 3,000 verses in the bible on the issue of poverty. So fighting poverty is a moral values issue, too, protecting the environment, otherwise known as God's creation. That's a moral value's issue, too. The ethics of war, when you go to war, how you go to war. Whether you tell the truth about going to war, these are also religious matters.
I do think the issue of abortion, the sacredness of life, the sanctity of life, these issues are my concerns too. Family values, my concerns too. I'm a teeball coach tonight for my 6-year-old. But, you know, we can't make this into a partisan, bitter battleground. How faith can help shape our moral campus again and how that can shape our politics from Darfur to what's happening to low-income families here, to 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day, to a silent tsunami that takes the lives of 30,000 children, every day, because of hunger and lack of clean drinking water, these are profoundly religious issues.
SERWER: All right, we're going to have to leave it at that. Interesting stuff, Reverend Jim Wallis, who is the author of "God's Politics, Why the Right Gets It Wrong and Left Doesn't Get It." Somewhere in the middle, maybe the answer lies. Thanks for coming. Coming up after the break, no bull, see how one of Dick Grasso's old pals is talking down a deal by the New York Stock Exchange. Plus, if you play low, then they pay low. We'll get the word on that and other things casinos never tell you.
And, an animated defense. Hear how Michael Jackson might make his own case on our fun site of the week.
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "money minute." The nation's economy is still growing but not as fast as most economists expected. The gross domestic product from January through March was 3.1 percent, the slowest growth rate in two years. Many blame the relative slowdown on soaring gas prices and rising interest rates.
Congress has given its stamp of approval to President Bush's $2.6 trillion budget for 2006. The resolution passed in the House and the Senate late Thursday calls for $70 billion in tax cuts and $35 billion in spending cuts over the next five years. Most of the spending cuts would come from the Medicaid health care program.
And instant photo pioneer Polaroid created an instant outrage for the bankrupt company's 4,000 retirees. The Minnesota-based group Peteras (ph) Group bought the company for $426 million and as part of the deal, the retirees will get checks for a whopping $47 each. That's right, $47. Meanwhile, the two top executives who joined Polaroid after it declared bankruptcy will get more than $21 million combined from their sale of company stock options.
SERWER: Call it the revenge of Dick Grasso. Just when the NYSE thought it had made a deal to merge with electronic trader Archipelago, one of Grasso's old friends came along to throw a little bit of a wrench into the deal. That friend is Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, who is openly questioning many aspects of the deal. Now Langone is making a counter bid to buy the NYSE. But the question is, could Langone be making a serious business move or is he just trying to get back at the NYSE for ousting his buddy Grasso at the end of 2003?
That makes the proposed NYSE and Archipelago combined our stock of the week. A little bit different here. Oh, how the big boys on Wall Street love to play. And, you know, Langone is kind of transparent here. I mean, he wants to help his buddy out. And that's why his support on Wall Street has been sort of lukewarm. People looking at the deal, but not really sure they want to join forces.
LISOVICZ: It's all about money, ego and politics and one thing you realize is how cozy and small Wall Street really is. Mr. Langone is the co-founder of Home Depot. And if he were to do this deal successfully with a lot of big heavy-hitter from Wall Street like John Mack and Jamie (ph) Diamond, it would have to get approved by Eliot Spitzer, right?
CAFFERTY: Of course. LISOVICZ: And guess what, Eliot Spitzer is suing Frank Langone and Dick Grasso.
CAFFERTY: One of the things that got Langone's attention, the way I read it, was the fact that Goldman Sachs was doing banking fees on both sides of the deal. They were making money from the NYSE and they were making money from Archipelago and whether you like Langone or not, he said, he wait a second. That stinks, and he's right.
SERWER: And it goes deeper than that. I think you hit a really good point Jack, because they're representing Archipelago. They're representing the New York Stock Exchange. They took Archipelago public. They own 15 percent of Archipelago. Their ex COO John Thain is the CEO of the NYSE and their current CEO Hank Paulson (ph) helped oust the previous CEO Dick Grasso. So this is Goldman, Goldman, Goldman, stop the Goldman, I want to get off. It's unbelievable.
LISOVICZ: Not sure that if Merrill Lynch was on both sides of the deal that perhaps Merrill would be complaining. It's that kind of thing.
CAFFERTY: Throw all this other stuff out though, the politics aside, this conceivably is not a bad marriage. The old-fashioned NYSE who has the longest listing of anybody in the world and electronic exchange Archipelago, which gives them technology they haven't put in use yet. The question is, if the deal goes together, do you buy the stock? Is this something that would be a good investment, do you think?
SERWER: I think Archipelago is the shape of things to come. It has competition, like Instinet, which is by the way, merging with Nasdaq.
SERWER: So I think, it's one of those things, if you're going to be the middle man on Wall Street, you're always going to make out. Archipelago is the middle man, ultimate middle man so I think they will make out.
LISOVICZ: The stock was flying though, so you might be late getting into it.
CAFFERTY: But it came back down once Langone said he might make a counteroffer. That knocked some of the steam out of the...
LISOVICZ: Right and of course a lot of the traders are saying the NYSE is not getting enough out of the deal. So more to come, for sure.
SERWER: Interesting stuff, I think. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, a new Islam for a new generation. What you don't know about some moderate Muslims who want to go mainstream.
Plus, not so fast, casinos like the new Wynn Las Vegas may offer you a good time, but there's more to the business than meets the eye, says "Smart Money" magazine. We've got 10 things your casino won't tell you.
And banning books in the house of the power book. Allen Wastler will tell us why Apple's got an ax to grind with a tech publisher.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN center in Atlanta. Now in the news, a missing Georgia woman found safe in New Mexico. Police say overnight Jennifer Wilbanks told them she had been abducted last Tuesday in Georgia. Then, under pressure, she admitted it was a lie, that she took a bus from Atlanta to Las Vegas and then on to Albuquerque. Those who know her say they had no idea she had such reservations about her planned wedding tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. ALAN JONES, PEACHTREE CORNERS BAPTIST CHURCH: Jennifer had no idea what was going on in the media. From what we understand, the buses that she was on, the bus station, that she was in, had no TVs and probably had no clue how it had been blown out of proportion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Apparently Jennifer Wilbanks got cold feet. New Mexico police say they don't plan to file any charges. I'll have all the day's news at the top of the hour. Now back to more of IN THE MONEY.
ANDREW SERWER, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Our next guest says if you think Islam is an ancient religion out of touch with the modern world, you're a bit out of touch yourself. He says that Muslims are in the twilight of a reformation and that many are ready to create an Islamic democracy. Reza Aslan is the author of "No God But God." He joins us from New Orleans. Welcome to the program. I think that will be news to many people that Islam is ready for democracy and is reforming itself. Please explain.
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "NO GOD BUT GOD": Well, I mean, I understand why it would be news to some people. But I think that it's a pretty well established and fairly common notion that the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims readily accept the principles of democracy, popular sovereignty, constitutionals and rule of law. I mean, these are things that are, in many ways, sort of endemic throughout the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. It's just an opportunity to actually put that into practice and to do is in an indigenous and an Islamic way.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Why aren't we hearing this from Islam? They have allowed the terrorists who knocked down the World Trade Center to co-op their identity at least in this country and in many other parts of the world. And if there's such an overwhelming feeling within the Islam community that they want to be democratic and they want to be moderate, why aren't they saying more about that to us? We're not hearing it from them. ASLAN: Well, they are saying it. They're saying it quite loudly and quite prominently throughout the Middle East in Iran, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Morocco, in Jordan. Part of the problem of course is that that voice, as overwhelming and as large as it may be, is being drowned out by this louder voice of militantism and extremism, primarily because they are -- these small groups, these small factions of terrorists are taking part in these spectacular displays of violence and are getting all of the attention and all of the news coverage, precisely because of the fact they are taking part in these actions, but --
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You talk about news coverage. Sorry to interrupt you Reza. A lot of the news coverage obviously here in the United States has focused on Iraq. Now that there is an interim government in Iraq, do you think that this will help to accelerate the reformation that you see coming?
ASLAN: I think so. I think that political reform in the region goes hand-in-hand with religious reform. So what you're seeing, this move toward Islamic democracy, in Iraq and in other places throughout the Middle East in the Muslim world is going to, without question, accelerate that movement for reform throughout the region. If, again, if this is an indigenous movement, it's an indigenous Islamic democracy that is built by Iraqis for Iraqis, then that's what's going to spread throughout the region.
SERWER: Reza, one thing that I think you've said here is that 9/11 was the last gasp of radical fundamentalism. Gee, that sounds terrific. I'm not sure I buy that, though. Can you explain to me why I might be wrong?
ASLAN: Well, I think from the perspective of the west, it's perfectly natural to think of September 11th as having initiated some kind of clash of civilizations between the west and the Muslim world. But if you broaden your perspective, you'll see that what is really taking place is an internal battle within Islam, this internal battle that we're referring to as the Islamic reformation. And that these event like September 11th, like the Madrid bombing, these are, in essence, an opportunity for these small groups of Islamists and militants to drag the rest of the world into this -- into this battle, and doing so precisely to galvanize support for themselves.
I mean, whatever we think about the murderous and immoral actions of al Qaeda on September 11th, this is not a stupid group. They very much anticipated this exaggerated response from the United States and very adeptly used that response in order to gather support, in order to paint this war on terrorism as a war against Islam, as a war against Muslim values and so bring people to their cause. So I think that --
CAFFERTY: Let me go back to something I asked you a minute ago. If that's the case and they have succeeded arguably beyond their wildest expectations, where is the organized voice of the moderate Muslim in the Middle East saying these people do not represent us. This is not what we stand for. Here is what we do stand for. Here is how we would like to, you know, change our image, change our ways, engage the west in whatever ways they choose to engage us, or not? I mean, I'm not hearing anything from the organized moderate voice of Islam in the Middle East. Why not?
ASLAN: Well, I hate to say this, but you're not listening hard enough. I mean this is a movement that is just enormous and overwhelming, unfortunately, for some reason, we are not that cognizant of it here in the United States. Perhaps that may be because it's just not sexy enough for the media. But I can tell you from traveling throughout the Middle East and I think anyone who has in depth knowledge of the people and the cultures of the Middle East will tell you the same thing.
CAFFERTY: But doesn't the message have to be heard here? Don't they have to get the message listened to here?
ASLAN: Yes, and that's precisely what the responsibility for those of us who are first and second generation Muslim immigrants in North America and Europe, that's the responsibility that we have because we ourselves, in our very nature, in our very identity as Muslim Americans have the opportunity to reflect the reconciliation of our values and traditions, of the values and traditions of our homeland. So in other words, it's our job to give them the voice that they lacked here in the west, but to say that that voice is not there is simply not correct.
LISOVICZ: Reza Aslan is the author of "No God But God." Thank you for joining us.
ASLAN: It was my pleasure, thank you.
LISOVICZ: There's plenty more to come here on the IN THE MONEY. Up next, what casino owners know and you don't. We'll run down the 10 things nobody talks about when you put your money down.
And there's order (ph) in the court. Find out how Michael Jackson might sing his defense on our fun site of the week.
LISOVICZ: The house always wins. Counting cards is legal. The less you play, the lower we pay. Odds are you won't hear a pit boss or casino hostess utter those words next time you belly up to the blackjack table. But according to my next guest, they are little known casino truths. This issue of "Smart Money" magazine take a look at 10 things your casino won't tell you. Senior writer Russell Pearlman join us now to clue us in. Welcome.
RUSSELL PEARLMAN, "SMART MONEY" MAGAZINE: Hi there.
LISOVICZ: You couldn't escape all the hype, all the glitz and glamour going on in Vegas over the next few days over that billion- dollar complex known as Wynn Las Vegas. The fact is we're losing more than ever, whether it's Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or else where.
PEARLMAN: That's right, billion-dollar hotel, it's a $2.7 billion hotel for Wynn Las Vegas. Yes, people are gambling more than ever and they're losing more than ever. Back in 1993, people gambled and lost about $11 billion and in 2003, the last time figures were available, they gambled and lost $27 billion. So more people are visiting casinos and, frankly, they are losing more at casinos.
SERWER: Russell, I'm sure you read that book "Bringing Down the House" by those MIT students who were card counters and tried to beat Las Vegas at its own game. Isn't it true that gamblers are getting more sophisticated? Often than doesn't matter because there's nothing you can do about house odds, except in black jack so they're getting more sophisticated. The house is getting more sophisticated too, right?
PEARLMAN: That's right. Anywhere in the United States card counting is legal as long as you do it in your head. There's nothing that the casino can stop you from using what God gave you. Casinos can make it a little bit more difficult for you. They use multiple decks in casinos, which sometimes makes it more difficult to count. Even Wynn Las Vegas, I've discovered, they are using RFID chips, radio frequency ID chips, in the casino chips now so they can track how you're betting. So if they suspect you're card counting, card counters will modify their bets when they suspect they'll have more face cards coming out in a black jack game. So if they see that you are making a lot of bigger bets during certain hands, they might ask you to not play at that particular table. They might ask you to leave the casino. That's pretty much all they can do legally. Other folks have told me they will -- other casinos will surreptitiously spill drinks on you, change dealers on you, make your experience a little less pleasant.
CAFFERTY: The vast majority of people who walk into a casino are not nearly sophisticated enough to engage in things like card counting. Most of us go there to blow a few bucks, have a few laughs. But there are some very subtle and very gentle ways that the joints can separate you from your bankroll. You'll never see a clock inside. There are no windows inside. Time stands still in a casino. Bet a few dollars, lose a few hand, the cocktail waitress is at your elbow just like that and the drinks are on the house. What are some of the other ways subtly that we are set up from the minute we walk in the door?
PEARLMAN: There's always been rumors that casinos pump oxygen into their casinos, so people stay awake more. Whether that has been true or not is irrelevant at this point because casinos are actually pumping essentially aroma therapy in the casino floors and hotels. They're subliminally relaxing you with various smells. They've taken a cue from the retail world, place like Victoria's Secret where they pump vanilla, the scent of vanilla through stores to make it a more pleasant experience. You're finding casinos that do the same thing.
This all started back in 1991 when the Mirage opened in Las Vegas. They have a tropical feel so they tried to put in the scent of coconut butter and suntan lotion oil to give the sense that, you know you're in a tropical experience. And casinos saw that hey, that worked, people like the smell. Now you see a lot of different casinos all around the country do the same thing. The Mohican sun casino in Connecticut is the largest scented building in the world. The Venetian Casino in Las Vegas uses a combination of herbs and woods and citrus scents and also a little bit of lavender. Now none of this has any harmful side effects. Particularly, lavender has been clinically proven to relax you --
LISOVICZ: It's all very relaxing. That's what I have during my occasional massage, I always have the lavender oil. But you're not relaxed when you're losing money. That was too much information I know.
PEARLMAN: It all gives the sense that you want to stay in the casino. You want to stay in a place that makes you feel good. Odd are if you stay in a place that makes you feel good, you'll spend more money.
LISOVICZ: Right, but then you have to go get more money, so you go to the ATM in the casino and what happens?
PEARLMAN: That's right. ATMs in casinos, they're the real one- armed bandits because they will charge -- the average most casinos will charge a $3 fee just to get from your checking account. That's double what the average is if you are not a customer of the bank and try to use their ATM machine. So that's not bad enough. Try using a credit card to get your money out and usually there's a flat fee on top of whatever interest charge your credit card will pay you. So let's say you want to take $500 out. You'll be charged a $29 fee, plus the interest on your credit card. That's almost a 6 percent tax on your own -- on the credit card advance.
SERWER: Russell, just quickly here, what are the odds in the various games? And are they fixed -- regulated or do they just compete with each other? How does that work real quick?
PEARLMAN: At least in black jack, the odds are pretty close. What a casino will do these days is add more decks, pay out on a natural black jack. Instead of being 3-2 will be 6-5. There will be little subtle things that individual casino player might not notice but over 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, it adds up to millions and millions of dollars more profit for the house.
LISOVICZ: I always say just go buy a pair of really nice shoes and you'll come out -- at least you'll come out with something nice. But that's my take on it. Senior writer Russell Pearlman of "Smart Money" magazine, 10 things your casino won't tell you and they are all easily available in your article. Thanks for joining us.
PEARLMAN: Thanks for having me.
LISOVICZ: Come up after the break, something's missing from your local Apple store. Allen Wastler explains what got pulled from the shelves. And drop us a line. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAFFERTY: It looks as though the folks over at Apple don't like publicity unless its pre-approved by their own people. Maybe they do. Web matter Allen Wastler join us now with a contrarian's view of that story, as well as a musical fun site of the week. How you doing?
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: How you doing Jack? Did you hear -- John Wily and son, the publisher, they're coming out with a new biography of Steve Jobs. Well, apparently Apple got a gander at the new biography of Steve Jobs and says, we don't like it, you shouldn't publish it and to teach you a lesson, we're going to pull all your books from all 104 of our Apple stores. Now, Wily put out the Mac for dummies series. He does a lot of computer manuals and stuff, a lot of people -- you know, the whole Apple geek community is another example of Apple just being way too arrogant in all this.
But I'm sort of thinking, do you rush to the Apple store to buy a book? No. It's convenient that they're there, but that's not their big thing. Even the geeks, they got amazon.com, you can get it at discount and everything. We're not talking a big bit of business here. I went and look a little bit. From their entire tech sector serving, they only get about 20 percent of the revenue from that. If you look at your retail channel, it's less than 15 percent through specialty stores. Wily's not taking a big hit. Two, the title of this terrible biography is "Icon Steve Jobs, the greatest second act in the history of business." That doesn't sound like a rip job to me.
LISOVICZ: Did he write it?
WASTLER: One wonders, OK?
SERWER: He did write a book before this that was kind of negative and they've been clashing as he's been reporting this book. But still --
WASTLER: Still, some people have seen it, said, OK, you're not taking a big -- if you make this big to-do, you're not taking a big financial hit. And in fact by making this big to-do, you probably increase sales for the book, a book which is --
SERWER: More publicity.
WASTLER: Kind of complimentary to Steve Jobs in a backhanded way. So it's a win-win for both and all you have to do is create a little buzz from saying we're going to pull your books from all 104 of our stores, 104 stores.
LISOVICZ: But either way they look bad.
CAFFERTY: Then you wind up having people like us sit on national television and sell the book for the author.
WASTLER: It's number 66 now on Amazon's --
CAFFERTY: Sometimes big corporations just don't get it, do they? What about the fun site of the week?
WASTLER: Got a sneak peek for you of Michael Jackson's defense testimony. Let's check it out.
CAFFERTY: Thanks Allen. 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 and you can send us an e-mail right now. We're at email@example.com. Back in a flash.
CAFFERTY: It's time now to read your answers to our question of the week, about what stories you think the news media is not covering enough. One viewer wrote "we need more coverage of how huge corporations are now stronger than most governments and can even make large countries kneel to their economic will. This is a story getting much more coverage in Europe. Eileen wrote this -- "you're not doing enough to report on the wars and genocide in countries like Sudan, Congo and many other parts of Africa. Silence is the best ally of atrocity."
John wrote, "the biggest story is the way the news is being covered. When did all of you just stop reading the wire copy and stop investigative reporting? Anything that requires work seems to be shied away from on TV news these days."
Now for our e-mail question of the week for next week, with the U.S. prison population at an all-time high, should some drug offenses be legalized? Andy thinks so. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and you should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney which is where you'll find the address of our fun site of the week.
On that note, we'll thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at larger Andy Serwer and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler. Join me tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern. We're going to talk about the stories the media covers and the ones we ignore. We'll take a look at the continuing war and genocide, for example in Sudan and talk about why U.S. news isn't giving that story very much attention. That's tomorrow at 3:00. Hope to see you then.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com