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CNN IN THE MONEY

America Buys Oil From Unfriendly Entities; A Plan for Untangling America's Welfare System; Dogs Are a Multi-Billion Dollar Business in America

Aired April 15, 2006 - 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: All that and more right after a quick check of the headlines.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now a look at our top stories. Two bodies found in a Milwaukee park lagoon last night are believed to be those of two boys. Eleven-year-old Purvis Parker and 12 year old Quadrevion Henning disappeared nearly a month ago while on their way to a park. Autopsies were being conducted today and police have scheduled a news conference for later on this afternoon.

Another missing child search also led to a grim discovery. Police in Purcell, Oklahoma say they found the body of ten-year-old Jamie Rosebowl and in the apartment of a neighbor. Authorities say they will seek murder charges against 26-year-old Kevin Ray Underwood.

In New York the world's biggest ocean liner docked at Brooklyn pier for the first time. The Queen Mary II steamed into New York Harbor through thick fog early this morning.

President Bush uses April 15th to talk taxes in his weekly radio address. The president again called on Congress to make the temporary tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. People in most states have until Monday to file their tax returns.

More news as it happens. "CNN Live Saturday" continues at 2:00 Eastern. IN THE MONEY begins right now.

CAFFERTY: Welcome to the program, I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up in today's edition of IN THE MONEY, service with a smile. Maybe you'd be happier at the pump if America didn't buy oil from companies that have given them a hard time. We'll check out the bottom line on doing energy deals with friends.

Also ahead, the do-it-yourself safety net. Listen to a guy with a plan for straightening out America's welfare state. Here's the deal, you take all the money away from Uncle Sam and give it to you.

And the fur coats free, the rest of it very expensive. Pets a $39 billion a year industry in the United States. We'll hear from one of its big spenders, gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, "Headline News" correspondent Jennifer Westhoven, "Fortune" Magazine editor at large Andy Serwer. So this Zacarias Moussaoui nonsense goes on and on. This last week they're releasing these tapes from Flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania. Heart-breaking stuff certainly for the families of the people who have died. Why are we wasting the taxpayers' time and money and attention on this piece of human garbage, for one of the better way to describe him?

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR AT LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, we're talking about the penalty phase here. Should he get the death penalty? I have mixed feelings about the death penalty, but I've got to tell you right here, Moussaoui I don't think should get the death penalty. Here's why. He obviously wasn't flying the planes. His crime was supposedly, he knew about the plot. But he's crazy and he's a liar, and why should we necessarily believe him? Why should we make him a martyr, and why should we give a gift to the terrorists? That's probably what they want. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but that's my take.

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, "HEADLINE NEWS" CORRESPONDENT: I agree. It's obvious that he's lying when he says he and Richard Reid were going to fly a plane. I think he's going for glory. Al Qaeda thought he was an idiot to involve itself with him and I don't think he deserves the martyr status.

CAFFERTY: Well there are all kinds of ways to give the death penalty, one way of them would be to sentence him to life in prison, turn him into the general population of the toughest federal joint, maybe the one John Gotti (ph) was in out in Colorado and let them take care of business in short order. Whatever it is, I just wish we'd get through with it because it's wearing me out.

You wouldn't buy your food or clothes from a store that called you names, but America continuously gets oil from places that do just that or threaten to do worse. The price of oil jumped again this past week after Iran started making more noises about its nuclear program. Oil is a big factor in what you pay for gasoline, now it is headed back toward $3 a gallon. The summer driving season's upon us, prices surging in the last couple of weeks. All that got us to wondering why this country, America, insists on buying so much of our crude oil from places that flat out don't like us.

Peter Beutel is going to talk a little bit more about how it might be easier to do business with friends. He is the president of Cameron Hanover Energy Risk Management Firm and author of "Surviving Energy Crises." Peter nice to see you again thanks for joining us.

PETER BEUTEL, PRESIDENT, CAMERON HANOVER: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: If the estimates I read are correct, between the oil shale in the Rocky Mountains and the oil tarnz and sands up in Canada, there is more crude oil in the western hemisphere than they ever dreamed of having in the Middle East. Why aren't we taking advantage of what we have here and severing our ties with these folks who have some fundamental differences with our way of life?

BEUTEL: Well, you bring up an outstanding point, and there's a very easy answer to that question. It's only recently has the price of oil been high enough for us to extract that oil from Alberta and from the Rocky Mountains. Believe me, we would have been doing this years ago if it had not been that prices were too low for us to extract the oil.

WESTHOVEN: Where do you think oil prices are going in say the next five years? I mean, it's supposed to be, this is a boom and bust business, but nobody's even thinking bust anymore, right? The forecasts are for $100 a barrel.

BEUTEL: Well, I think all of the forecasts are for between now and say the end of the year, but if we look at what's happened historically, every single price, every single time that oil prices have tripled, we have had a major recession within 15 to 24 months, so if you're going to ask me where we're going to be five years out, I'm going to tell you, we are going to be shockingly, stunningly, surprisingly, unbelievably lower than we are right now. Nobody will come up with a number today as to how low we will go five years from now.

SERWER: But that would suggest that there's no reason to wean ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, doesn't it? And is that a bad thing necessarily? Everybody says we need to get away from Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, et cetera. Should we? Is it realistic? Doesn't sound like it's going to happen.

BEUTEL: I think it goes back to Jack's point. If you just want to look five years out, you can say fine, everything's going to be hunky dory in five years, but the next question is where are we in 12 years? Where are we in 25 years? And we've gone through this cycle. This is already the third time we've done. It let me throw some very quick numbers at you. In 1980 in March, crude oil, $39.80. 1986, April, $9.75.

CAFFERTY: Wow.

BEUTEL: October 1990, $41.15.

SERWER: Look at that.

BEUTEL: December 1998, $10.35. Today, just under $70. So, I mean, I've been pushing for energy independence since I was a teenager, and I think Jack brings up an outstanding point. We need to get somebody, though who thinks longer than just the five years out where prices are going to go lower. We need to have somebody who's going to think ahead a whole generation.

CAFFERTY: Hypothetical question, Peter. If you walked down a street in New York and said would you be willing to pay $3.50 a gallon of gasoline if we never had to import another drop of Middle Eastern oil and if we could disentangle ourselves from the political and social problems that come along with all of those imports that flow out of the Persian Gulf, my bet is 90 percent of the people you asked would say you bet and how soon can we do it? Is it a practical idea of subsidizing a high enough price to make it feasible to start developing domestic and Canadian resources? BEUTEL: Well, and also to go into some of the other technologies, like solar, wind, et cetera. We already are paying 3 1/2 -- we're probably paying closer to $6 or $7 a gallon if we count the political cost. I mean, it would be great if we could say to some of those people who disagree with us so vie mentally, you've got oil, you've got sand, make glass, maybe we'll buy some.

CAFFERTY: Boy that's a dream.

WESTHOVEN: All right. Can we also talk a little bit about how most people see oil prices, which is at the gas pump? What are you forecasting for the summer? Some say $2.62 and a lot of places are already higher than that.

BEUTEL: We'll see $3.00 in every state in the union. We have this thing called zone pricing, which protects the neighborhoods that are not so well healed. So here in Connecticut, for example, we'll see New Kaman, Darren, all above $3. Danbury may be touch-and-go; it may not quite get there. You can do that in any state in the union, take the places where you know they're in the highest prices. They're going to see $3. Some of the places where you see your lowest prices, Route 46 in New Jersey is an example, you might not see it there. But really, what we're worried about right now is we have this extraordinary, strong, seasonal tendency to rise from early March to mid-May. We're in the middle of this period now.

And then we have a secondary movement that goes from Independence Day to Columbus Day. So you know, if you were to ask me, are we going to see $3 at the pump almost everywhere by Columbus Day? I'd say yes, I think probably. And then in probably some cases at the more expensive places, you'll be looking at $3.49.

CAFFERTY: We're going to have to leave it there. Come back and talk to us again.

BEUTEL: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: Interesting stuff. Peter Beutel president of Cameron Hanover Energy Risk Management Firm.

When we come back, how to shred your Social Security card. We're going to hear about a plan for untangling America's welfare system. Step one: Washington gives you a big wad of cash. Plus, the one time you don't want to get treated like a millionaire. The alternative minimum tax does that, and it's driving taxpayers crazy. Find out why Washington hasn't wiped it out yet and may not, in fact.

And that's not a dog, that's a cash cow. The pet business, billions every year in America. We'll meet one celebrity; see if she can justify treating her dogs like rich, spoiled children. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WESTHOVEN: Plenty of people in Washington want to fix big entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, but our next guest thinks welfare programs like that are too sick to be saved. He says they should be scrapped altogether, killed. Instead, he'd let you build your own safety net, and he'd start by giving you $10,000 every year to do it. Got your attention with that? Stick around and listen to the guy who dreamed it up.

Charles Murray is the WH Brady Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute; he is also the author of "In Our Hands," a plan to replace the welfare state. Thank you for joining us, welcome. Can you lay this plan out there? We get $10,000 a year? It doesn't seem real.

CHARLES MURRAY, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It is not in $100 bills at the first of January. You get a deposit every month, electronically into a bank account. You've got to be a citizen. And you use this to pay for all the things that right now we pay for through the entire welfare state, which includes Medicare, Medicaid and all the rest of them. We replace all that. We put the money in your hands.

CAFFERTY: At first blush, that's such a radical idea as to almost not be taken seriously. What reaction are you getting? And what about the monumental number, in the hundreds of thousands of government employees that wouldn't have a job if we dismantled Medicare and Social Security and all of these other welfare agencies that have budgets that should choke a small country?

MURRAY: They'd all be released for productive work.

CAFFERTY: Uh huh.

MURRAY: The first reaction is, it's too good to be true. Actually, when you start to think about it, it does work. The fact is that we have a few basic needs for early retirement. We've got Medical care to cover for; we've got hard times, unemployment or whatever. So we want to lay something away, and you get the new check every month. There are lots of ways to talk about this, which make a great deal of sense.

SERWER: Your known as the author of "The Bell Curve." Charles I mean, you're someone who likes to stir the pot, I know that, but this book, this plan is really so pie in the sky that, you know, you know as well as I do, it's never going to fly. It's never going to be enacted, so what are you really trying to do here? What's the point?

MURRAY: When I published "Losing Ground" in 1984 and said gee, we should get rid of the AFDC, I really didn't think there would be a welfare reform act in 1996, nor did anybody else. Here's the basic statement, we are spending so much money, more than a trillion and a half dollars in transfers every year that it is absurd that we have any problem with poverty, that we have any problem with medical coverage and the rest of it. We are spending the money badly, and my audience is not politicians, my audience is other Americans where I say just look at it for a minute. There has got to be a better way.

WESTHOVEN: One of my favorite things you bring up, so thought- provoking, I thought, this is not just about saving money, this is about transforming relationships and the way that we all work with one another and taking control for yourself. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

MURRAY: Sure. Suppose we take the case of somebody who fritters away his money, whether gambles it away or drinks it away or whatever. Under the plan, he can't go to the food stamp office anymore, but he's getting a check every month and he's surrounded by people who know he's going to get another check every month. So they say to him OK, Joe, we'll get you through the next couple of weeks, but it's about time for you to start making better decisions. Multiply that conversation by hundreds of conversations month after month, and you're talking about dealing with problems by the people around us, which is actually the only way they ever get solved anyway.

CAFFERTY: What are you going to do about overcoming the entrenched welfare mentality that we've created in this country? We have a welfare civilization, a whole portion of this society that operates as a welfare state. What are you going do about the mentality of that?

MURRAY: You start to talk about it. And that's what I'm really doing. I'm saying look, suppose that we'd save all the things, take all the things that have been put in the hands of beaurocracies downtown that don't know how to handle them, the stuff of life is the way I think of it, and suppose we put that back out to families and communities again. Wouldn't that be a richer life?

Wouldn't that be a life that has more meaning? Wouldn't that be a better life than the one we have created for ourselves as a welfare state? And it's going to take some talking about, but I think there may be an urge there to recover some of this stuff.

SERWER: Charles, do you think that the welfare apparatus actually exacerbates poverty? There are some people who make that claim. And have you actually gone out onto the street and seen various agencies working with poor people? Do you think that sort of thing is effective or not?

MURRAY: Oh, I wish that people would walk through agencies that are supposed to be dealing with complex human problems. Except for a few medical clinics, you do not find people coping with folks in need day in and day out. You find offices with people sitting around, and I will say that any agency you want in the welfare system, just go watch it day after day, as I used to do when I worked in this area in the 1970s. There's not much going on. The waste is incredible.

CAFFERTY: Charles Murray, the scholar of the American Enterprise Institute with some radical ideas on how to dismantle America's welfare state and put people in charge of their own lives. What a cool concept. Charles, nice to have you with us. Thank you.

All right, time now for this week's "Look Ahead." Monday the deadline for filing your 2005 income tax return, unless you're in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, or Washington D.C. and then you can wait until Tuesday because of something called Patriot's Day.

The consumer price index report comes out for March on Wednesday. We'll find out how much prices are really going up. It's a widely used measure of inflation. And Saturday marks Earth Day. Rallies, festivals planned in cities and towns all over the world to promote environmental awareness.

Coming up on IN THE MONEY after the break, power surge. AMD punishing Intel on Wall Street. We'll have the numbers on the chip world's big showdown. Kind of a pie moon situation.

Also ahead go more green for less green, find out about a car that's easier on the planet and your wallet. Our "Brainstorm" segment is ahead.

Ad nice work "Money" Magazine just picked college professor as one of this country's ten best jobs. Allen Wastler is along to tell us about the other nine as IN THE MONEY rolls forward.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SERWER: Chipmaker Advance Micro Devices or AMD has always been known as something of a poor man's Intel, but that may be changing. Over the past year, AMD shares have more than doubled. Intel's have fallen 16 percent in that same time, but some analysts now say AMD may become a victim of higher expectations. AMD is our stock of the week, a little controversy here.

Basically, this is a David and Goliath. You know, Intel was the big guy, the Goliath, always dominated this business. AMD always said we're going to get there, we're going to do some stuff here. They had a wild, flamboyant CEO, Jerry Sanders, who was all hat and no cattle, quite frankly, I thought, but finally, they've come through here. The stock has been on a tear and the bottom line is they're getting market share, and Intel is feeling the heat.

WESTHOVEN: OK. I read, and I'm just saying I read it, that was my favorite quote. Wall Street's fling with AMD is over, that they think that Intel is coming up with better chips now, that Intel is going to cut prices, that Intel's going to buckle down and that it's snapping at their heels. AMD may be smaller but they are known for better quality, but Intel could be coming up hard.

CAFFERTY: How did Intel sit there and let these guys catch up on them like that?

SERWER: Well you know, I think it is one of these issues where you have a company that gets a little bit entrenched, and you know they had this dynamic leader Andy Grove, who was an amazing guy and they have had people coming a subsequent to him Craig Barrett and Paul Otillini, who are leaders as well, but you know eventually at some point the small guy is going to make inroads. They have got great chips in the server area right now, and I know what they're saying on Wall Street. I mean, AMD has let down people before, but the stocks gone from 3 to 30 since 2002, so it has really performed.

CAFFERTY: Wow.

SERWER: And here's another thing, the value of Intel's $114 billion, AMD's only $15 billion. So Intel used to be this core holding, you had to own Intel. I don't really know if that's true anymore. AMD might be the kind of thing where you can take a fling and it will keep chipping away at the big guy.

So anyway, that's it from the chip biz.

Coming up on IN THE MONEY, the tax that gives the middle class the millionaire treatment. See why Congress hasn't yanked the AMT, the alternative minimum tax, off the books.

Plus, pet projects. Americans spend billions on their animal pals each year. We'll hear about a dog's life in the household of gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

And making the Easter bunny jealous. Our "Fun Site of the Week" will get you paying attention to some other rabbits. Watch them cut "Star Wars" down to size.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Here is a check of the stories making news right now.

Police believe they have found the bodies of two missing boys in Milwaukee. Autopsies are planned today on the decomposed bodies found in a park lagoon. The boys disappeared last month.

An Oklahoma man is expected to be charged with murder Monday in the death of a missing 10-year-old girl. Kevin Ray Underwood was arrested after the girl's body was found in his apartment yesterday. The prosecutor says he'll seek the death penalty.

Parts of the central Plains might see severe weather this Easter weekend. Good Friday brought a punishing round of hail and wind to Indiana. This hailstorm was in Indianapolis. Several counties reported damage from suspected tornadoes.

Severe weather threatening the Midwest again today. We'll have your forecast at the top of the hour. Now back to more of IN THE MONEY.

CAFFERTY: Three letters you never want to hear come out of your accountant's mouth are AMT that would be alternative minimum tax. If you didn't get hit this year, be patient, your number could come up next year because this thing escalates along with inflation. Costing taxpayers billions of dollars, originally designed just to tax rich people. It's not working the way it was designed and guess what? Our Congress is not doing a damn thing about it.

Our good friend political economist Greg Valliere joins us now to talk about why. He's with Stanford Washington Research Group. Greg, it's always nice to have you on the program. The Congress, along with having done virtually nothing about any other issue that matters to the American people, continues to ignore the alternative minimum tax, and that tax continues to hurt the middle class American taxpayer. How come? GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST: Well, I tell you, jack, just when you think these guys couldn't get any more dysfunctional, they get dysfunctional on an issue where both parties agree you've got to make a fix. There's an indexing provision not to get too arcane, but something they should have done around Christmas time that would have keeping 16 million families out of the AMT. They would have been indexed into, everybody agrees it has to be down, and they failed to do it before they went out on this two-week spring break.

All sorts of amendments that weigh down any bill that people want to get enacted. There are two other big amendments that are very important for Wall Street and investors. One would extend for a couple more years the 15 percent dividend tax. The other would extend the 15 percent capital gains rate.

Both of those also have support, but not quite enough in the Senate. And because of that, a couple of other reasons, the whole deal fell apart. I think they'll put it back together again in late April, but with this Congress, you can't make any certain bets.

WESTHOVEN: Greg, before we get to those two other things you were talking about, capital gains, the AMT, though, I got socked with this twice now. Is there any hope for me by next year? I hate this thing!

VALLIERE: No, no, there's no hope. We're doomed! No, it's just, to really fix the AMT costs over $600 billion. That's a lot of money, even by Washington's standards. You talk to a lot of Republicans, and off the record, they'd never say this in public, but off the record, many of them say it's a blue state issue. It's an issue in states that carry one, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California. Ain't a lot of people in Mississippi paying the AMT. So many Republicans in private will say let Hilary take care of this in '09, we're not in that big a hurry and it's helping bring down the deficit.

CAFFERTY: What about the overall debate about whether making tax cuts permanent is a good idea, looking at the size of the deficits that President Bush is running up. He's spending money like the Democrats never dreamed was possible.

VALLIERE: You're right, Jack, he's spending money, but the other part of the story that never gets any publicity is receipt growth. Receipt growth is off the charts. It grew by 14 1/2 percent last year, it's up by over 10 percent this year because all of us are paying the AMT, for other reasons, but I think because receipt growth is so strong, people will realize that certain cuts like the dividend cut, like the cap gains cut, actually help to generate revenues.

SERWER: Hey, Greg, let's take a step back. Can you give us an AMT 101, who's at risk and why?

VALLIERE: Well, more and more middle class people, down to incomes of $50,000, $60,000, if they have certain breaks, tuition breaks, mortgage breaks, state and local tax breaks. A lot of these breaks kick you into the AMT, and as Jack said, this was never intended. It was only intended for super, super wealthy millionaires, and now that it's not indexed every year, people get pushed into that level. This is what the fix is all about. We'll get the fix, but fundamental, structural reform is nowhere to be seen.

WESTHOVEN: Why do you think that is? There doesn't seem to be that much of an outcry in terms of the deficit. Jack was just talking about, you were talking about well it does mean tax receipts are up, that's great, but what about the deficit problem? At what point will there be any political muscle to address that?

VALLIERE: I don't see it, for this basic reason. The average American has met the enemy. The enemy is us. We love big government. We love government programs, we love low taxes. Conceptually, we would like to do something, but when it comes to making choices of cutting favorite programs, they're raising taxes, everyone backs away.

CAFFERTY: You know the approval rating for the current Congress is the only one lower is if you asked about Charles Manson. I mean, this is the Congress that has done the least since back when Harry Truman was sad with what he called the do nothing Congress. These guys make that Congress look like Pikers. Handicap the up-coming midterms. What's the mood? Do these guys sense that they're in trouble? And if they don't, they should, and why don't they?

VALLIERE: Well, the Republicans, yes, realize they could be in trouble in the house. The Senate is a pretty safe call, based on who's up. The Senate's going to stay Republican, but the house is in play. The one thing the Republicans have going for them, the only thing they have going for them, is that the Democrats inexplicably have not gotten their act together. There aren't all that many persuasive spokespeople for the Democrats. The Democrats still don't have a prescription that makes a lot of sense. If the Democrats ever got their act together, then it would be a different story, but I don't see that quite yet.

WESTHOVEN: Greg, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck --

VALLIERE: My pleasure.

WESTHOVEN: Also, please come back to the program again. I hope by next year I will not be paying that AMT.

VALLIERE: You will.

WESTHOVEN: Thanks.

All right, there's a lot more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, give in to the bark side. Gossip columnist Cindy Adams treats her terriers like people, and she's not sorry about it. We'll ask her about her part in America's $34 billion pet business.

A from top dogs to the downward-facing dog. Hear from a yoga teacher who might make you think a little more flexibly about your retirement. "Life after Work" is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SERWER: If you want proof of America's growing love affair with pets, then look no further than the bookstore. The shelves are full of books about pets, even some supposedly by pets. Joining us now to talk about that is the author of a new book about her dogs and what they've taught her, "New York Post" columnist Cindy Adams is author of "Living a Dog's Life: Jazzy, Juicy and Me," and she can attest that her pooches offered no bribes in returning for this flattering look, just to be somewhat topical, Cindy.

Welcome to the program. Thanks for coming on. You know, dogs used to sort of live outside, they'd live in the doghouse, and you'd toss them a bone and forget about them. Now it's very much an inside for Fido. What's going on here?

CINDY ADAMS, AUTHOR, "LIVING A DOG'S LIFE": Well, dogs are now a $39 billion, with a "b," a year industry, and I think because we're cocooning more. Some of us live alone, work in a one-cell apartment, face only Internets, faxes, beepers, and cell phones. We have nothing warm, cuddly, living to be with. And so dogs have exploded into a huge industry.

CAFFERTY: How did you come up with the name Juicy?

ADAMS: Awe. She was so delicious. I mean, she's 3 1/2 pounds of pure selfish, and --

CAFFERTY: Pure selfish! I read in your book you spent $900 to get the dog's teeth cleaned. Do you have any idea what your total outlay, not for dog food, but for other stuff, veterinarian care, little booties, sweaters, whatever you do, how much money do you spend a year on these two clowns -- ah, dogs?

ADAMS: A lot more than you're paying me to be on this show, $900. I wanted them to be ready for their close up, and so their teeth were done. They've got four teeth each, maybe the size of a sequin. They gave me a 15 percent discount, and this vet sent me a bill for $900. Did you know that my husband, in his declining years, didn't cost me this much?

CAFFERTY: We should mention that you were married to one of the great comics on the east coast, Joey Adams, for a lot of years. We lost him a couple years back, but I knew your husband as well as you. Jennifer?

WESTHOVEN: Cindy, one of the things I read was you said that Jazzy really helped you with your husband passing. I wanted to ask, you know, does that kind of fill the void? Do you recommend that for people who have lost someone?

ADAMS: Look, shoring of all the humor, I was alone. I had no brothers or sisters, no children. My mother and my husband were the same age. They were the only two people I ever had in my life and I lost them both within three months. All of a sudden, I had this witty, bitchy, smart ass gossip column, but actually, I was all alone, I had nothing, and a friend thought I needed something and sent me in this little dog who filled my life, and Jazzy was the only male to share my bed, and I loved him. Loved him truly.

SERWER: Cindy, on a somewhat serious topic here, where do you come off on the strays versus purebred controversy? Are those pooches' pure breads?

ADAMS: Mine? You watch your mouth! Of course they are, just as I am myself, honey. We're talking high-class --

SERWER: Sorry for the question.

ADAMS: Watch your mouth! These were very expensive. These were $3,000 apiece with $400 for each mouth to be done and an extra $100 for the vet. And they dine off porcelain. They have Lakrirqu catered food. They are reopening and I've already put in my order. The other day it was raining and I had an appointment. I forget where I was going, and we have the car and driver, and they had the car and driver. I had to walk.

CAFFERTY: I've had dogs and cats and critters my whole life. I've never fed them anything from La Cirque, they've never ridden in a limousine and I don't put coats and booties on them. What's the psychology? I mean I'm very close to the dog. My great friend, we walk every day, but I don't do that old stuff and I don't know why, I just don't.

ADAMS: Possibly, you're cheap.

SERWER: Nail in the head, Cindy! Nail in the head!

CAFFERTY: That could be part of it, but what is that makes people want to attach human ornaments to animals?

ADAMS: Look, Jack, you know what I think it is? I think it's a little bit of guilt. I think it's a little bit of the fact that we have nobody else. We don't have children, we don't have husbands. It's all we have to love, and you want to foist it on something. We have nothing else. And that's what it really is. It makes us feel better. You know, if you look at it, some of the toughest ladies or supposedly tough, Elizabeth Taylor, Hilton Wilding, Todd Fisher, and Warner has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Has a little more teased sugar. Leona Helmsly has a little dog, Judge Judy has a Shiatsu. We all have tiny dogs and I think maybe it's to allow us to show our vulnerability?

CAFFERTY: There you go.

WESTHOVEN: Cindy, before we let you go, we want to ask you a little about the Paul stern business.

ADAMS: Oh I never thought you'd bring that up, never.

WESTHOVEN: What is going on over there? Is that trouble for the gossip business?

ADAMS: It doesn't help, but that's a one-off. It was an aberration, it is not indemic to the entire system. I think he made a mistake and we will all suffer for it, but some of us are really nice people. We're writers that are what we are. We're just capable of doing pop culture. That's all we are. CAFFERTY: And page 6, for those of you watching around the country, is probably the most widely read gossip page in the "New York Post." Everybody reads it. Some of us over the years have been unfortunate enough to be mentioned in it, and that's what we're referring to for those who might be watching in Seattle or someplace and not be familiar with it.

WESTHOVEN: Thanks a lot. We're sorry we didn't get to see the dogs.

In this week's "Life after Work" Howard and Marika Stone are spending their retirement years working. They run a Website "Too Young to Retire," wrote a book on the same thing and they also started new careers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WESTHOVEN (voice over): A former public relations account executive, Marika Stone now practices yoga on the beach, and when she's not practicing yoga on the beach, she's teaching it in the classroom.

MARIKA STONE, 2YOUNG2RETIRE.COM: Great, hi, how are you?

I'm teaching a class to people who have been working all day, and they come in and their faces are just so tight, and their bodies too. And by the end of the class, it's just sort of ah. One of the things that really surprised me was that I could learn something brand new, you know, in my 50s, and there's a nice balance between family life and professional life, which, to be honest, I really didn't have before.

Thanks for being here today.

WESTHOVEN: Meet Marika's husband and business partner, Howard Stone.

HOWARD STONE, 2YOUNG2RETIRE: I was in an airplane coming back from Hong Kong and I was realizing how tired I felt, and I knew that we were going to have grandkids real soon, and I said you know, am I going to be doing this for the rest of my life?

WESTHOVEN: Not one to retire or even use the word. He calls these his bonus years, Howard hung up a career in international ad sales and publishing and works as a life coach. He and Marika wrote a book and run a Website"2Young2Retire.com here's their message.

H. STONE: The time of life that used to be thought of as decline and disappearance is the time of life to have the most growth, the most possibilities, and take some chances and kick some butt. You know? Rock the house instead of the rocking chair. This is what it's about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WESTHOVEN: Coming up, the hybrid car without the hybrid price tag. We'll tell you about it on "Brainstorm."

And if you want to rant about what you're paying at the pump or anything else we're covering this week, send us an email to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com . (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SERWER: As gas prices continue to rise, hybrid cars are getting more attention, but one problem with hybrid cars is that they often cost more. At this year's New York auto show, Saturn debuts a new hybrid SUV that's less expensive than other hybrids because it uses more simple technology.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VALDEZ, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Hi, I'm Peter Valdez with CNNMONEY.com, and I'm speaking with Bob Roiter (ph) who is chief engineer for a number of vehicles at General Motors. Among them is this Saturn View Greenline hybrid SUV behind me coming out this summer. Bob what can you tell me about what's different from other SUV's with this SUV?

BOB ROITER (ph): I'd say the main thing, Peter, is this Greenline Saturn View really hits a sweet spot on the market. It's really a value-laden proposal, $23,000 for this hybrid SUVA. That's the lowest priced hybrid SUV in the market that is only $2,000 more than the standard Saturn View. What we've been able to do is create a hybrid that creates great value, excellent fuel economy, but at a low price, and the reason why we can do that is it's a simpler system than other approaches that have been used.

Let me take you through the key components. Start first with the battery. Why is this a simpler system? Well, it's lower voltage system; lower voltage means smaller parts, less mass, which all leads to better value for the customer, more efficiency with less money. This is one of the really only three main components in the system. You've got the battery and you've also got the components that are under the hood, if you'd like to take a look.

VALDEZ: Yes.

ROITER (ph): Under hood there's two main components. You've got the power electronics, which convert the voltage from 36 to 12, and you've got the motor generator unit, in the same general location as an alternator on a conventional vehicle. So again, you put this all together, you've got a low-priced system, a low-massed system, and you get 20 percent fuel economy, and what's really significant here is this vehicle will have the highest highway fuel economy of any SUV on the market, hybrid or not, 32 miles per gallon on the highway will be the highest in the market. That's a full 20 percent over what the Saturn View is today.

VALDEZ: And other than this hybrid component, the electronics, the transmission's exactly the same. It's a 4-speed transmission, and the engines actually a little bit bigger.

ROITER (ph) : Well what we've done again is try to create more value. So with the natural efficiency of the hybrid system, we've been able to increase the size of the engine, still get better fuel economy and we're a second faster 0 to 60, so we're covering all the bases for the customer in terms of the things that are important, faster, better fuel economy, low price.

VALDEZ: All right. Thank you very much! It looks like an interesting vehicle. We'll see how it drives a little more later on. Thanks a lot.

ROITER (ph): My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERWER: The New York International Auto Show runs from April 14th to the 23rd at the Jacob Javitz Center.

Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, wear a white coat without paying for years of med school. Allen Wastler will tell us why a pharmacist is one of "Money" Magazine's top ten best jobs.

And we'll read some of your emails from the past week, or you can send us an email right now at INTHEMONEY@CNN.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAFFERTY: Remember how we all had fun back in high school at the expense of the computer geek? Well, the joke's on us. Guess who's getting the last laugh? The Web master Allen Wastler here now it tell us why software engineers have the very best jobs in America. He also has a look at the "Fun Site of the Week."

ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: This is the annual survey that comes out from "Money" Magazine and Salary.com and they look at what they think are the top jobs. This isn't just based on pay. They add in the flexibility, the level of stress, the creativity, the environment, and they decided software engineer is the number one job in the United States.

CAFFERTY: What kind of money are we talking about?

WASTLER: We are talking average salary of $80,000.

CAFFERTY: Good shape!

WASTLER: Within each category, they pick out the number one classification there, the number one job, which would be a release engineer.

WESTHOVEN: Could be making video games?

WASTLER: Well, release engineer is you're doing stuff. You're sort of checking out games, you are checking out whatever software.

SERWER: Just play games all day.

WASTLER: So the top 5 percent will make in excess of $147,000 dollars.

SERWER: OK I'm in.

WASTLER: What surprised me though is number two, college professor.

CAFFERTY: They never work! They have the students do all the work and they do nothing.

WASTLER: Actually, average salary there is $81,000, OK? But the thing is, it's a low starting point, but the up side, if you get to be like dean or get the tenure and get the consulting contract, apparently, you can get way up there, like in excess of a half a million dollars. The environment is great.

So. And number three, near and dear to our heart, financial advisor. The average is $122,000, but the upside is in excess of $200,000. So while you start high, you stay in that range. You have to deal with irate clients if you manage that portfolio wrong. Number four, HR manager, which I don't know --

SERWER: Oh, that's a layoff person.

CAFFERTY: Those are the ones that come around and say you're going to be escorted out of the building.

SERWER: Can I see you for a minute?

WASTLER: He's your boss. So they do have a little stress level there. Physician's assistant and actually, when we put this up on the site, we got a lot of email about it, they look physician assistant. They say ownership society has ended, but apparently, the hours are flexible there.

Market research analyst, now that's not like the stock market types. That's the type of do you like this Coke or so you like this Pepsi? They do stuff like that. And the upside here, the it analysts, the geeks coming in again, real estate appraisers, which not a lot of salary range, but they're finishing out with pharmacists and psychologists.

SERWER: Psychologist. Pharmacist, yeah, that's good down there. Thank you, jack.

WASTLER: It's a fun list. You can go to CNNMONEY.com. We have the top 50 there to check out. Number 19, Web editor, baby! There you go! It's me.

CAFFERTY: There you go! What is the "Fun Site of the Week," web editor?

WASTLER: Easter, right? Bunny rabbits and everything. Well, of course we have to see the bunnies and see how they do "Star Wars" in 30 seconds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doomed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are the plants?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hit the plants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to learn about the force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says you need a ride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This station's the ultimate power in the universe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a bad feeling about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet again everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not in this for your revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Use the force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lose them!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: This is the whole movie in 30 seconds?

SERWER: It's done. You just did it.

WESTHOVEN: I like the wookie!

SERWER: You save yourself like 2 1/2 hours, Jack. All right, I assume there are other movies --

WASTLER: Plenty other movies. One of my favorite personal favorites is "Reservoir Dogs".

SERWER: Bring it on.

CAFFERTY: Sick guy. Time now to read your answers to our question about whether the would enjoy an economic boom if more states provided mandatory healthcare coverage like the state of Massachusetts is doing.

Marion in Washington D.C. wrote this, "It's a start, but we must make sure that giving people insurance coverage on paper translates to real coverage in the doctor's office. If people with state provided insurance get hit with lots of extra charges, the economy will be hurt much more."

Jim wrote, "You bet it would. Switzerland has the same type of plan as Massachusetts wants to implement and they have more doctors per cap that than the United States and overall costs are lower and the Swiss economy is as rich as their chocolate."

David wrote this, "No, the result of more state-sponsored health insurance would be an explosion of medical costs as the healthcare industry would soak the government. It's not the employers the government needs to regulate, it's the insurance companies."

Here's next week's email question of the week, "How should the United States deal with a possible nuclear threat from Iran?" Send your thoughts on that to INTHEMONEY@CNN.com and you should also visit our show page, CNN.com/inthemoney, where you'll find the address of our "Fun Site of the Week," all the bunny rabbits.

Thank you for joining us for this week's edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to "Headline News" correspondent Jennifer Westhoven, "Fortune" Magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and Money.com managing editor Allen Wastler.

Hope to see you back here again next week Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00 Eastern. Join us if you can. Until then enjoy the rest of your weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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