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American Income Gap Widening; Democrats And Republicans Have Different View On Economy; Lessons Learned From Enron; Steve Jobs' Role In Disney; Young People Living At Home Longer; Are American Cars As Bad As We Think?; Shopping For A Big Screen TV; WB And UPN Combine

Aired January 28, 2006 - 13:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: New video has surfaced of four Christian aid workers held hostage in Iraq. CNN cannot confirm when the footage was made, though it is dated a week ago. A spokesman for the group Christian Peacemakers Team says they are encouraged that the four men apparently are still alive.
In Gaza and the West Bank Fatah militants refuse to give up power quietly. Hundreds of armed members of Fatah have been protesting the Palestinian elections that catapulted Hamas to a major majority victory in parliament. Many of the armed protesters are security forces loyal to the former Fatah leadership.

And in Florida, June Scobee Rogers widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee laid a wreathe this morning to mark the 20th anniversary of the shuttle disaster. Christa McAuliffe's family recalls the tragedy tonight on "CNN Presents." "Christa McAuliffe Reaching for the Stars" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And coming up 2:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen exposes the risky practice of sharing breast milk among an underground network of nursing moms. And why health officials are sounding the alarm.

Those are the headlines. More news as it happens. IN THE MONEY begins right now.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to a program. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY red states, blue ...

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

MALVEAUX: And this just in. Getting pictures from Reuter's television. We've been talking about that roof collapse that happened in Southern Poland. The information coming to us at CNN here so far is that there were several hundred people that were inside an exhibition center in southern Poland when this roof collapsed.

There was a great deal of snow on top of the roof and police spokesman telling CNN that they believe that from that roof collapse at least 30 people were injured and taken to local hospitals. It was not clear whether or not the others inside the hall were trapped or if they were taken to safety.

But so far what we can tell you is that that roof collapsed taking place at an exposition hall. In southern Poland, several hundred people were inside of the building at the time. About 30 that we know so far have been injured and taken to local hospital.

And now back to IN THE MONEY.

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: The rich and the poor, which is different from other nations.

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, CNN NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CORRESPONDENT: Now do they talk about it at all the tax cuts that we have seen recently because you know they have so heavenly favored the rich?

SERWER: Right, there are a lot of reasons why the desperately tax cuts be won -- no minimum wage increase for a few years, outsourcing of jobs. You can see it all in front of you. The question is, Jack, is this going to have any kind of implications for the political process?

CAFFERTY: And even the social economic process. As the rich get richer the prices of the things the rich enjoy like their cars and their homes in particular get higher. And as home prices go up, they come farther and farther out of the reach of the people in the middle and bottom end of the incomes.

SERWER: Right. And if this stuff really is true and the conservatives haven't responded to these numbers. You start to see things that aren't so great in this country. Like more and more and more gated communities, for instance. Even though we all might live in one some day.

WESTHOVEN: Well we still don't have any -- I mean crime hasn't gone anywhere that we really need those communities.

CAFFERTY: If I ever lived in a gated community it will be one designed to keep the inmates in.

All right, if you want to know how the economy is doing take a look at the numbers. But here's a warning. What you see may depend on how you vote. A poll out this week found that Republicans and Democrats are split drastically split on the state of the nation's economy. That word comes ahead of the president's State of the Union address coming up on Tuesday. We are going to try to figure out now how one country can look at one economy and reach two very different conclusions.

And to do that we are going to talk with Andrew Kohut who is the president of the Pew Research Center, which conducted this poll. Andy nice to see you thanks for being with us.


CAFFERTY: As widely divided as this country is on almost every other issue is it really any great surprise that Democrats and Republicans have a totally different view of the economy as well? KOHUT: Well it sure surprised me because we've been asking these questions and the Gallup Organization has been asking them for decades. And we never saw Republicans, Democrats and independence having widely different views on the economic reality of the country. And that now has been the case for the past two or three years.

And the current poll, 56 percent of the Republicans said economies excellent or good. Only 23 percent of the Democrats said that. And the scary thing for the GOP is that the independence who are the swing voters of course were more likely to agree with the Democrats. Only 28 percent of them thought the economy was in great shape.

I mean they are all looking at the same thing. They are reading the same numbers. Seeing the same headlines. But they are coming away with a completely different take and this is different.

WESTHOVEN: I don't mean to ask what might be an obvious question. But some people might argue that if Republicans tend to be richer, and richer people are doing better. That they might have to have a more positive view of the economy. How does that square? Does that get balanced out ...

KOHUT: Well, the first thing we did was see whether that was responsible for this. And regardless of income whether you are middle income, low income, or high income. If you are Republican you have a more positive view. If you a Democrat you have a more negative view. So it's not just income. I think what it may have to do with more is that there are lots of mixed signals in this economy.

If you look at inflation rates or you look at interest rates, you think things are going pretty well. You can focus on that. On the other hand, if you look at jobs or you look at spiraling energy costs in recent -- over the past year. You'd say things aren't going to well. So I think that the two sides and the independents are focusing on different aspects of this economy.

SERWER: So just to reiterate again a little bit here. That means rich Democrats think the economy's not doing well. Someone like say Governor Corzine of New Jersey. A very wealthy and very liberal person. would say that gee the economy's really doing badly. Even though their brokerage statement might be going up and they are getting raises at their jobs if they are in the private sector, right?

KOHUT: That's very often the case. At the opposite end of the spectrum less affluent Republicans are more likely to think the glass is half full. The Democratic counterparts in poor neighborhoods would say you are full of baloney. Things are not too good.

The interesting anomaly here is that when we ask people not about the economy, but their own personal finances, we don't have this gap. Republicans and Democrats all judged their finances about the same way. And it isn't very much correlated with their income. But this perception of where the country is going is now all of a sudden driven by the way you think politically. And that's new. CAFFERTY: A couple of the big factors in where this country is going or may be going economically had to do with the outsourcing of jobs. We've lost a lot of manufacturing jobs overseas. And another thing that I was reading a day or two ago about the jobs that have been created in this country since the last recession, since 2003.

On average the new jobs being created in the United States pay about $9,000 a year less than the jobs that were being created before the last recession.

So if you are out there looking for work, one, and you may not be able to find it. Two, if you do, it might be in the service sector. And it's likely to pay a lot less than a similar job that maybe your dad or mother had.

KOHUT: Well, we've tested that and you're right. Half of our sample we said is how easy is it to get a job in your community? And we got 56 percent saying it's difficult. When we changed the wording on the other sample and said a good job, it went up to 68 percent difficult. There's real concern not only about the availability of jobs per say. But wages and jobs that can afford Americans to come to terms they think they are entitled to.

WESTHOVEN: Well we talk about this kind of erosion when it comes to jobs, is that an area that's long been a bastion for Democrats. Could that help explain it? Are there people who are losing union jobs and their power goes down and that might be part of this?

KOHUT: Again, there are correlations by income. But those perceptions of the economy and national conditions are all of a sudden very much colored by your political point of view. Some of that may have to do with the fact that for this president, there's a just a much greater suspicion on the part of Democrats. Or more accolades on the part of Republicans. It's typically true for presidents. He is a very partisan president. Republicans love him. The Democrats are deeply suspicious of him.

CAFFERTY: All right. We are going to have to leave it on that note. Andrew Kohut the president of the Pew Research Center. Nice to have you on the program. Thank you.

KOHUT: Happy to be with you.

CAFFERTY: All right. When we come back on IN THE MONEY. Tighter rules for your money's playground.

The guys formally in charge of Enron at long last and I'm so happy to report this is set to go on trial. Let's hope we can see them in those orange jump suits being led off to some place that has iron bars on the windows soon.

See a few regulations change the way Corporate America does business. Would that qualify as prejudicial pre-trial if you are listening?

Plus, born to lose. Young people are taking on heavy debt in order to pay for college. We'll hear from an author who says the system is keeping kids poor.

And see how your debt measures up to the statistics. American cars have been getting a bad rap of late. Find out if it's justified as looks into the numbers. Back in a flash.


CAFFERTY: Hard to believe, but it's been four years since the fall of Enron. It's even harder to believe that the former chairman Ken Lay -- Kenny boy as he is known inside the beltway -- and former CEO Jeff Skilling have yet to stand trial. But they are going to soon.

Kurt Eichenwald joins us now with a look ahead of the trial and look back at the real lessons of Enron and what we may in corporate America have learned from that. He's an investigative reporter for the "New York Times" and author of "Conspiracy of Fools" which happens to be a great title. Kurt, nice to have you with us.


CAFFERTY: I am desperately hoping that they not only convict Skilling and Lay but they send them to prison for a very long time. However you say that might not be as easy as it looks on the surface. They turned the financial officer Richard Causey and everybody said well they got the inside numbers guy to cooperate with the prosecution. This will be a slam dunk. You don't think so. Why not?

EICHENWALD: For example, Rick Causey isn't going to be a witness in this case. He is not on the government's witness list. The reality of Enron is that a lot of things that people think are blatantly illegal in fact are right on the line. There are a number of things that they've been charged with where the evidence cuts both ways.

I've had the opportunity to review witness statements, to review grand jury testimony. A lot of this is incorporated into the book. And the end point here is the reason this case took so long is that it's not easy. It's not a simple case. And we are going to have the details trotted out in probably agonizing detail over the next few months.

SERWER: Kurt, Andy Serwer here. Don't Skilling and Lay kind of have the Richard Nixon problem, if you will? That either they were complicit in this giant fraud and therefore guilty. Or they were ignorant of it. And as CEO and chairman therefore irresponsible in their jobs and their functions.

EICHENWALD: There is no doubt. I mean one of the things that we have problems with in this country is understanding the difference between criminal liability and responsibility. There is no doubt that these two men are responsible for the monstrosity that Enron became.

Whether or not they had specific knowledge as to illegal acts that took place within the company is something that requires some very precise evidence. And so you know that is what the government says they have. But what's interesting in this case when you are going forward is that the government appears to be heading in a path that I think is very smart.

That they are not really going to engage the defendants on whether or not the accounting is correct. They'll do it a little bit. But it seems like they are going much more into when they made public statements about Enron's performance. Were they telling the truth? That allows you not to worry so much about is the accounting correct?

But instead, is what you are saying a reflection of the economic reality of Enron? And the truth is that Enron's accounting whether or not it followed the rules or not did not present an accurate picture of the financial chaos within that company. So I think that's a much stronger approach in terms of the possibility of a conviction.

WESTHOVEN: Now that has to do a lot with the statements made by Ken Lay where he was talking about how well the company has been doing. What do you say or how do you feel, how do you think it might play in the trial? There are a lot of people acting as though lying is a smart strategy if you are a Wall Street CEO. That you should be out there cheerleading even if it doesn't necessarily match the bottom line.

EICHENWALD: Well I wouldn't call it lying. In terms of where you have a distinction. Jeff Skilling's comments, because Skilling is also now being held accountable for statements he made to investors and analyst conferences. And the statements he made are being described as flat out lies.

Ken Lay's statements all pertain to things he said in the final 12 weeks of the company's existence. Some of them are things on the line of our liquidity is as strong as it's ever been. Then the government has to show that the liquidity was not as strong as it had ever been. But that Ken Lay knew that the liquidity wasn't stronger than it had ever been.

There's a statement that Lay made we are not hiding anything. That is charged as a felony. They have to prove that not only were they hiding things but also that Ken Lay knew they were hiding things when he made that statement.

CAFFERTY: You characterized Enron as a monstrosity at the height of this scheme they were running out there. They had the rolling black outs in California. They had those notorious tapes where they were sitting around in the trading room laughing and giggling about the stuff they were making happen. You have the damage to the people who work there.

You have the damage to the stockholders. If I'm on that jury, I might be inclined to say you know, do what you want to do, these two guys are going down. Juries tend to behave that way sometimes. I'll bet you they have trouble finding five people in this country who have sympathy for these two clowns.

EICHENWALD: Again, that is a little disturbing to me. Because the issue is not sympathy. The issue is not do you feel bad for them? Ultimately both of these guys are probably going to be bankrupt and deserve it. The question is, is there going to be sufficient proof to demonstrate that they knowingly engaged in a fraud.

If there is, convict them and lock them up. If there isn't, let them go. We are not here -- our system of justice is not designed for taking vengeance on people who we can't prove committed a crime. Now I'm not saying that we are tot going to prove. That the government isn't going to prove that they committed a crime. What I'm saying is we can't substitute anger for evidence.

SERWER: And the Enron trial begins next week and that is some great analysis from Kurt Eichenwald author of "Conspiracy of Fools" a true story. Investigative reporter for "The New York Times."

Coming up after the break. Hot ink as Disney buys Pixar. We will see if that is getting a boost to shares of the house of mouse.

Also ahead, the Motown low down. Word on the street is that Detroit doesn't build competitive cars anymore. Find out if the numbers back that up.

Plus, and then there was one. Allen Wastler of looks at the birth of a new network out of two old ones UPN and the WB.


SERWER: It's peace in our time. Disney's deal to buy Pixar Animations ends what had been one of the stormiest relationships in Hollywood. And that is really saying something. But now there are so many new questions to be answered. One of them is just what rolls will Steve Jobs play now that he is Disney's largest shareholder?

Disney shares have spent the last year locked in a virtual freeze. Never rising much higher than $30 a share and never falling much below $23 a share. That would make Disney our "Stock of the Week." A lot of people were complaining this is an expensive deal for Disney. But what price is it worth to have Steve Jobs and his DNA in your company? Pretty valuable stuff.

WESTHOVEN: A lot of people might think he might be the next person to take over.

SERWER: It's interesting. They need a chairman at the company but apparently he's not going to be the man.

CAFFERTY: Disney and Pixar this is like milk and cookies, this is like salt and pepper. And yet Michael Eisner all by himself kept these two away from the alter alone. What does that say about the contempt in which this man was held by some of the parties that were involved in this frequent and this recent merger? They must have hated him a lot.

SERWER: I think they did. Steve Jobs is no easy apple himself, by the way. But it is true. When you have to do a deal with someone like this. Steve Jobs had all the leverage. The animation business that Disney had gone down the tubes.

They let Jeffrey Katzenberg go years ago. I mean they invented this "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty," and then "Lion King." But they've done nothing since because the business shifted all over to the computer-animated business.

WESTHOVEN: Now you know this big question. That came out in some documents this morning is whether or not they can keep all those brains from Pixar at Disney. Many of them don't want to stay if it's a big company like this. So there's going to be a big wooing going on to try and make all of those smart animators stick around.

CAFFERTY: Where are they going to go?

WESTHOVEN: There are plenty of places to go. Fox.

SERWER: And they are all rich too. I mean one of them John Lasseter who is the real genius behind Pixar apparently spent some time at his vineyard. I think he's doing OK. But he is the man. They have him now as the chief creative officer. I love those titles. You are the chief creative officer. I want to be him.

CAFFERTY: You are.

SERWER: I don't know about that. But this guy Lasseter is going to do great and you know it is interesting Steve Jobs is the only guy who has figured out how to distribute copyrighted material in the digital world. That's it.

CAFFERTY: Except for me.

SERWER: Well you know how to do that, and you're doing it right here. Time Warner would love to have that. Comcast would love to have it. Viacom would love to have that and he has figured it out. And I'd like to think about whether Apple and Disney get together at some point down the road. But that's another story. We will be watching that one.

All right, coming up on IN THE MONEY. Out of school and in the hole. Find out if young people today really do have it worse than boomers.

Plus, if you buy it, it will come. You can practically have the Super Bowl in your living room for Pete's sake with some of the new home theaters out there. We'll look at the options for almost keeping it real.

And, nervous -- we'll show you a trailer for "Sleepless in Seattle" that turns the comedy into something, well, creepier. Stick around for our "Fun site of the Week."


MALVEAUX: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Here's a quick look at what's happening now in the news. In southern Poland a massive rescue effort is under way after the roof of an exposition hall collapsed with as many as 500 people inside. Police say heavy snow on the roof likely caused the collapse. So far about 30 people have been hospitalized.

In the U.S., a somber ceremony today marks the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. All seven people aboard the shuttle were killed when it exploded shortly after the dock from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Among them, Christa McAuliffe the first teacher chosen to be sent to space. For the first time her family speaks out about the impact of her death. That's tonight on a special "CNN Presents" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

I will have all the day's news at the top of the hour. Now back to IN THE MONEY here on CNN.

WESTHOVEN: I live with my parents has never been a cool thing to say. But it's become pretty common among 20 somethings. Our next guest says young adults are stuck living a at home longer because of broader economic issues facing the country.

Tamara Draut has a new book out on the matter "Strapped, Why America's 20 and 30 Somethings Can't get Ahead." She is also the director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos a national think tank. Thanks for joining us.

First, I know there are a lot of issues out here, there is tuition, there is debt, and there is the fact that housing is big. Before we get to those structural issues I just feel like there's a question here. Are kids spending more? Are they wasting more money on things like iPods and commuters than older people?

TAMARA DRAUT, AUTHOR, "STRAPPED:" Well this is one of the things I talk about in the book. And I think when we look at what's happening to young people and why they are really struggling financially. That has been sort of the obvious starting point. And what I try to do in the book, and actually uncovered. Is I think young people have gotten a really unfair rap about their spending habits.

The truth of the matter is, is that compared to buying childcare or paying for college tuition, electronics are really cheap and that's not where young people are actually spending the bulk of their money. They are just trying to get through obstacle course of paying for tuition and paying rent which has skyrocketed.

And then when they get a little bit older dealing with the challenges of raising a small child in a country that doesn't provide much support in the way of child care assistance or paid family leave.

SERWER: But Tamara, I mean what's really going on here in terms of cost? I mean what you are really looking at I think is what things are more expensive today than they were say 30 or 40 years ago. What's outpaced inflation? So what would that be? Is it really rent or is it other things?

DRAUT: That's exactly right. And if we look, we have this fundamental mismatch. And it's happening to the young people and it is happening to their parents. But if we look at what's happened to young people as they try and make the transition from being in school to being a full-fledged adult.

We've seen a break down in the public structures that made it a little easier for a generation ago to work or educate their way into the middle class. So things that have outpaced inflation, housing absolutely. If you look at all the major metropolitan areas. Rent skyrocketed well beyond inflation.

The cost of college, again, is leaving many young people with five-figure student loan debt when they hit the labor market. And then we have new costs, things like childcare. Today it takes two parents to put food on the table, to buy a house in a neighborhood with a decent school district. And our public policies just haven't really caught up with that new reality.

CAFFERTY: Um, let me just flip the coin over a little bit, here. I've got four daughters. The youngest one is now a junior in college. What about the sense of entitlement? And I'm not talking about my own kids. I'm just talking about young people in general. The sense of entitlement that a lot of young people grow up with in this country. That they are entitled to a college education.

They are entitled to a good job when they get through. But along the way they are entitled to wear designer cloths and they are entitled to drive a new car. They are entitled to be able to go out two or three nights a week. They are entitled to have credit cards and they are entitled to use the credit cards to run up unreasonable debts. In self-indulgent things besides electronics, clothes, entertainment, travel, et cetera, isn't that part of the problem as well? I mean they are not all just victims, are they?

DRAUT: No, and I certainly don't make that case in my book. What I do try and do though is shift the conversation. Because I think we've been stuck in this young adults are just irresponsible. They are overspending on cloths and flat screen TVs.

And I think that there's a real gap here between reality and perception. I've talked to hundreds of young people across the country. And the reality is all of them or most of them are living by the basic rules of society. They are trying to work hard to get ahead. They've been told that you have to go to college after high school.

And now three quarters of them are trying to do just that. The thing that's really keeping young people back is that we've created a bunch of new hurdles in our society. We've disinvested in higher education; we've switched colleges now less affordable. But we've pulled the rug out from under young people in terms of providing financial aid.

Then they hit the labor market and this is where young people without college degrees are just being hammered. You talked a little bit in an earlier thing about rising in inequality. And I think the shows that our political priorities have really changed. And we are seeing this that in how much more difficult it is for young people to get ahead today. WESTHOVEN: All right. Thank you so much, Tamara. Obviously an entire generation of people in so much debt and not so great for the economy as we head into the future. There is lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY.

Up next, king of the road. The conventional wisdom says Detroit's cars aren't as solid as they used to be. Find out if the conventional wisdom is right.

And deep socks. See how one woman took the long dive into retirement on our "Life After Work" segment.


SERWER: Back in the 1980s Detroit turned patriotism into a sales tool. It encouraged us to buy American. But an article in the "Chicago Tribune" this week points out that you'd have trouble buying anything American today. Car brands and their factories aren't necessarily in this country. And with Detroit's reputation taking a beating a lot of U.S. shoppers would be happy going elsewhere. staff writer Peter Valdes-Dapena has been looking into whether American cars are really as bad as you might think. Peter, thank you for coming to the program. So is what is the story. Is the quality good or bad is and why are people confused?

PETER VALDES-DAPENA, MONEY.COM: Well, you have to remember. Toyota spent a long time companies like Toyota and Honda spent a long time with this country cementing a relationship for really solid quality. Companies like General Motors and Ford spent a long time in this country cementing a reputation for not really caring much about quality.

And people just got used to the idea that when you buy one of these cars they break down and they learned over time that when you buy Toyota it doesn't break down. However, in recent years, we are seeing a real shift where the American brands -- if you look at the actual statistics and the surveys where they ask people not do you like your car or not. Is it a good it a good car or not? Does your car break?

Does it run properly? And after a few years, at worst, American brands like Lincoln and Chevrolet are about average. And in some cases above average in terms of reliability. Certainly it is no longer a real problem for them. But clearly, and this is judging from e-mails that I have gotten from readers after I wrote about this, people really still see it as a major problem. They don't care what the statistics say. They are having trouble believing it.

WESTHOVEN: Peter do you think this is the kind of thing. You are saying American cars, they are doing better. But doing better is average or above average. They need to start winning some awards. I know every time I do this car award story. Toyota, Toyota, Toyota.

VALDES-DAPENA: Yes and sometimes they do win some awards here and there. Particularly in the area of likeability. I mean certainly a lot of people have said that they like for example, the Pontiac G6 won an award for that. So they do get some awards here and there. And yes, it's tough. Part of the problem is the bar has been raised really, really high for durability and reliability.

And it's tough to break through on that. But it's not everything. They need to do other things to in terms of style to attract people into the show rooms to even give these cars a try. So they can see you know what this car doesn't feel as badly put together as GM's I may have tested in years past.

CAFFERTY: So if Ford Motor Company, for example, could come up with another Mustang. Which arguably is one of the great cars ever created in the world period since the internal combustion engine? Would that turn this company around or is it the perception that the American automobiles like quality are too deeply entrenched now to be overcome?

VALDES-DAPENA: I think that's going to be an important part of it. I think getting a few hot cars like the Mustang. Chrysler has the 300, usually Chrysler reliability isn't nearly as good, by the way, as GM and Fords overall when you look at the study. But they've come back really strongly, with some really strong designs like the 300.

What cars like the Mustang and the Pontiac Solstice and cars like that are going to do is get people to go in and actually try some cars out. And then learn that hey, these cars might be a little bit better than I've seen before. And then maybe moving forward changing that perception by getting people into the dealerships. But GM is also on a strong issue right now to get some much more flashy, hot, interesting designs on their cars than you've seen before. We'll be seeing some of that rolling out in the future.

SERWER: Yes, but Peter can they really do it? I mean I've always seen the Detroit auto show rolling out these concept cars and I'm like that's bad. And then they never appear. I don't know what the problem is. The 300 Chrysler is cool. It's great to have a car called a baby Bentley. I mean, is GM capable of making a cool car?

VALDES-DAPENA: Actually, if you look at what GM offers in Europe, they actually offer some really interesting cars. And some of those European cars you are going to start seeing in this country as Saturn's. The Saturn or a sedan is a car that actually is sold currently in Europe under a different brand name. So you are going the start seeing that as a basis. And yet, believe it or not, from what I'm hearing in the next couple of years too.

For example, the Chevy Malibu is going to get redesigned. People I've talked to both inside and outside GM have seen that. Saying that's going to be a really hot car. It's going to be really cool looking and it is going to show you what the design of Chevrolet is going to look like in the future.

So they are paying attention to that and they are capable of it. What they haven't been able the do yet in my opinion with any of the cars. With the Chevy HR or the Pontiac Solstice sports car is bring together a really good quality interior package that feels good and looks good with a design that's really hot. If they are doing that I think they'll have something.

WESTHOVEN: Do you get the impression that the leadership at GM is getting this? I asked this because we've seen Jim Wagner talk about cutting costs, keeping -- getting the company back together. Not so much inspirational talk about building great cars that people love. And so far it seems like what GM is banking on is still SUVs.

VALDES-DAPENA: Yes, that's going to be a problem for them. I mean clearly they make a lot of money on SUVs. Nothing wrong with redesigning those. But they really have to get back into the car market. And as I was talking to somebody today comparing GM to Toyota, which is a company that is just as big as GM around the world.

And people love Toyota and one thing Toyota does as these folks were saying, I was talking to a guy from a company called Interbrand and a company called Brand Dimensions that study brand perceptive, they say Toyota looks at their customers and builds cars to suit what those customers need now and in the future.

GM, they said, looks too much at their supplier chain. Too much at their factories and too much at the back end. And lets other companies lead the way in terms of product. And that's something that has to change and for their sake I hope they can change it.

WESTHOVEN: OK, and thank you. Of course his name is Rick Wagner. I was getting a little upset there. Thank you so much for joining us. I can't figure out why people don't get more upset at the GM management. Thank you so much.

OK. In this week's "Life after Work" segment" a fresh start. Not too many people are willing to make a career change after putting in 25 years at one job. But one Florida grandmother decided to quit her long time post and literally take the plunge.


WESTHOVEN (voice-over): Pam Silagyi was well into her 40s when her first scuba diving trip changed her life.

PAM SILAGYI, SCUBA INSTRUCTOR: I was a manufacture's rep for 25 years with my husband. And to say you know what? I want to do something totally unique, totally different. Work in a scuba shop. I didn't look at it as a career change; I didn't look at it as semi- retirement. I looked at it as an objective I wanted to reach.

WESTHOVEN: Hooked from her first dive. Silagyi went home to Sarasota, Florida. Trading in her day job to become a scuba instructor.

SILAGYI: I love it because I can take somebody who at any age. Whether they are 12 years old or whether my oldest student being 80 years old. And offer them something they've never seen before in their entire life, a totally new experience.

WESTHOVEN: Silagyi remembers the first time she breathed under water.

SILAGYI: Terrifying. When I took my lesson right at this very pool, and I had to put my face in the water and breathe, I thought that was the end of the world.

WESTHOVEN: But her confidence grew. And Silagyi says her early fears help her calm students when he takes them under water for the first time. Now 58, Silagyi wants to share her passion.

SILAGYI: I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old grandson. I hope I get the privilege of teaching them how to scuba dive. And then maybe doing adventures with them. Now even though we're older, there's a whole world out there for us.


WESTHOVEN: There's more ahead on IN THE MONEY. Coming up, building the best seat in the house. See how high tech home theaters can bring the Super Bowl a whole lot closer. That's in our "Brainstorm" segment.

And whether you are buying a TV or yelling at one. Let us know what's on your mind. Drop us a line. The address


SERWER: In this week's "Brainstorm," going high tech for the big game. The Super Bowl is next weekend and that doesn't leave you much time to stock up on party must-haves. Like beer, like chips and pizza and oh yeah, the big screen TV. So we enlisted the help of CNN's David Katzmaier for some tips on shopping for a new set.


DAVID KATZMAIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you are going to buy a TV to watch sports. Probably the most important thing is high definition capability. High definition brings a lot of detail to the picture.

You can see details like the mesh in the jersey of a football player or the grass on the field really well. There are a lot of different types of televisions out there on the market now. Different shapes, different sizes, different technology. One key thing to remember is that all the technologies are capable of being high definition.

Plasma is probably the most recognizable out there among the new TV technologies. The things they remember is that it's big, 37 inches or larger is and it's flat. So it's about three to four to five inches deep. So you can hang it on a wall. I do like the Panasonic plasmas recently for a couple of reasons. They are definitely leading in terms of price for a name brand.

The TH-42 PX50U is a good 42-inch model. It's actually come down in price. LCDs are the other type of flat panel TV. There's a new one from Sony that they called the Bravia, it's the 40-inch KDL- V40SBR1. And it's really nice and it is a high-resolution picture. It also has pretty nice external styling.

And if you are looking for a bargain in LCD flat panels. One of the ones that we reviewed this year that we really liked was the Westinghouse LVM37W1, it's a 37-inch flat panel TV it has actually got the very high resolution again. And it performed pretty well for an off brand TV. If you want to get larger than the 50-inch models I'd say you have to get a rear projection TV.

In terms of the rear projection TVs that I'd recommend. One of the best TVs we've reviewed this year was the Sony KDSR60XBR1. And that's 60-inch rear protection HDTV by Sony. They are top of the line model. And you are going to get an HD TV it's worth it to get a new surround sound system as well.

The way that sound changes a sporting event. It's a really nice edition. Because a lot of the sporting events now are filmed with 5.1 channel surround sound. So for example, if you are at a football game and you have the surround sound system and you are watching it you can actually hear the crowd behind you and all around you. The roar coming out of the speakers really helps add to the experience.


SERWER: And if you want to check out some more of CNN's picks for the Super Bowl logon to our Web page

Coming up next on IN THE MONEY. Hearts and can flowers for blood and guts. We'll show you a trailer that'll make you look at "Sleepless in Seattle" in a whole new way. If I can get it out.

And it's time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. And you can send us some right now too we are at


CAFFERTY: It seems like more and more channels keep popping up on the airwaves. But the entertainment industry got some surprising news this past week when two networks actually merged. That consolidation is the focus of Allen Wastler's "Inside Out" for this week. If I understand this they are going to take two small loser networks and combine them into one large loser network.

ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: And call it CW and the joke is it stands for could work. But essentially you have over saturation of the markets. You have to many broadcast networks out there. These two, you have UPN from CBS and WB from Time Warner. All hail to the mother network.

CAFFERTY: I probably shouldn't have said that.

WASTLER: But they've been fighting it out for fifth place. The idea is if you combine them you might be able to jack up your ad rates a bit.

WESTHOVEN: But what if you ditch the bad shows. They have a lot of hit shows.

WASTLER: That is part of the thinking here is that if you make it of all their winners you could have a pretty great network. The thing is they have a number of other shows too which are kind of developing audiences. Not big ones that play in primetime but good audiences. Here's the inside out on this. This could backfire and send more people to cable or video on demand where people want to watch this show they want to watch and not follow some other big network.

SERWER: But they are going to get in fifth place now.

WASTLER: Yes, they are ...

CAFFERTY: They have that locked.

WASTLER: Think about it. You have a lot of affiliates out there. And a lot of towns have a WB affiliate and a UPN affiliate. So one's going to win and the other one's going to say what are we going to do to fill up content? So some people are speculating maybe some hot shots will start another network to try to fill the void. Who knows, maybe a business channel?

CAFFERTY: What's the "Fun Site of the Week?"

WASTLER: All right. "Sleepless in Seattle." It is a wonderful feel good movie. Well, maybe not. Let's check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come here after they die?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tells them. I need a new wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What possessed you to give them our address?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They called and asked for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of desperate women out there looking for love.


WESTHOVEN: Meg Ryan the killer?

WASTLER: She certainly looks like one to me.

CAFFERTY: Jennifer was asking earlier if Tom Hanks dies in this version because she hates Tom Hanks.

SERWER: Jennifer.

CAFFERTY: Why do you hate Tom Hanks? "Saving Private Ryan" how can you hate Tom Hanks? WASTLER: Planes and everything.

WESTHOVEN: He plays the same to me. Plane -- straight guy in every movie.

SERWER: We should have jobs like that. Act like yourself and get paid $5 million.

CAFFERTY: The highlight of his career was that movie where he spent 2 1/2 hours on a desert island talking to volleyball.

SERWER: That was good.

CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question about whether you think entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security will eventually bankrupt the U.S. government?

Jaycie wrote, "We spend trillions on our military and we're going to blame Medicare for putting us in the poor house? Eisenhower warned us about all of this when he left office in 1960. At some point we'll have to choose quality of life over an extravagant military."

Randy wrote, "I don't think that will happen for two reasons. One, we are in the midst of enormous productivity gains in this country and this is helping to grow the economy, and allow people to stay on the job longer. Second, as government programs fail, church groups will pick up the slack."

And Jean wrote, "If we go broke, it won't really be because of Medicare or Social Security. It will be because Americans continued to be apathetic about our corrupt leaders in Washington. I am 61 and I have decided not to even talk politics with someone who doesn't bother to vote."

Here is next weeks email question of the week, "Do you think Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling will be convicted in the Enron trial, and why?" Send your answers to You should also visit our show page at, which is where you'll find the address of our "Fun Site of the Week."

Thank you in the meantime for joining us for this edition of our tasty little program. My thanks to "Headline News" correspondent Jennifer Westhoven, "Fortune" Magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and managing editor Allen Wastler. Hope to see you back here next week Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00 Eastern. Until the next time enjoy the rest of your weekend.



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