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YOUR MONEY

Recession Talk: What Does it Mean?; The "Do Nothing" Congress and How It's Costing Taxpayers; Airline Improvements Could Cost You; Americans Leaning Too Much on the Plastic?

Aired September 15, 2007 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Some are calling it vigilante justice in reverse. A look at our top stories in just a moment. YOUR MONEY is next. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Thanks.

Coming up on YOUR MONEY, see whether you want to get worked up over all those recession talk that you are hearing. What does it mean to you?

Plus, our in house curmudgeon Jack Cafferty is back on what he calls the do nothing Congress and how much it's costing you, the taxpayer.

Also, how could you wind up paying because the airlines are making what they call "improvements" to handle all those delays.

All that and more after a quick check of the headlines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Now in the news, O.J. Simpson back in the legal spotlight, again. He's under investigation in an alleged armed robbery at a Las Vegas casino hotel. Simpson says he visited a hotel room hoping to recover sports items he believes were stolen from him. He says despite reports, no guns were involved in the incident. Police say no arrests have been made so far.

A legal victory for a teenaged defendant in the so called Jena 6 case. A Louisiana Appeals Court has thrown out Mychal Bell's second degree battery conviction. The court ruled Bell shouldn't be tried as an adult. The case still could go to juvenile court. Bell one of six black teenagers accused in the beating of a white school mate.

In Norfolk, Virginia five civilian contractors injured in a fire aboard a navy cruiser. Authorities are calling the blaze aboard the U.S. Lady Gulf minor. They say it appears to have been an accident. And there are no indications of terrorism.

An update of the top stories at the bottom of the hour. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. YOUR MONEY is next.

VELSHI: Welcome to YOUR MONEY where we look at how the news of the week affects your wallet.

I'm Ali Velhsi.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: And I'm Christine Romans.

Coming up on today's program, Jack Cafferty on why your tax dollar isn't buying better leadership in Washington.

VELSHI: Plus, your shrinking safety net as home equity loans get scarce and credit card debt rises.

ROMANS: And later, flying off the handle will bring you an air traveler's bill of rights. The way the airlines work today.

VELSHI: Well a UCLA forecast says the U.S. economy will be so sluggish in 2008 that a single piece of bad news could tip it into a recession. In a Reuter's poll it says nearly one-third of economists say there's chance of recession next year, and things are starting to look a little bit dicey.

ROMANS: The stock market still hasn't found its footing. The U.S. dollar fell to a new low against the Euro this week. Oil closed above $80 a barrel for the first time in history. John Rutledge, chairman of Rutledge Capital is going to tell us how scared we should be on how we are going to weather all this, hi, John.

JOHN RUTLEDGE, CHAIRMAN, RUTLEDGE CAPITAL: How are you doing? Good morning.

ROMANS: Lots of headlines piling up this week. People whispering about the risk of a recession, talking about oil above $80. All these things we just laid our. What is the individual investor to make of all of this?

RUTLEDGE: Well, it doesn't make sense to go around screaming like Pee-Wee Herman. It's a pretty good world out there. I was just at a meeting in Asia. The world economy right now this year is growing more than 5 percent. It's grown more than 4 percent the last six years. That's the highest growth in the history of the world.

Lately we've got some problems in the U.S. The mortgage problem is definitely one of them. Our biggest problem, of course, is Congress, but, it is not a slam dunk that we will see a high growth here, but I think the chances of recession are really pretty slim next year.

ROMANS: Two quick follow-ups I want to ask you John. If I'm here on Main Street, I frankly don't know how it matters to me how the rest of the world is doing. If I'm worried about my own interest rate and credit situation. Tell me about why the rest of the world is good for me and then tell me why Congress is the problem.

RUTLEDGE: Two reasons, the rest of the world, number one is that half of the profits of the S&P 500 come from outside the U.S. So when you see those big profits numbers every quarter, the growth of the world is why they are happening. That's why the stock market is over 13,000 today. The other reason is because exports are the fastest growing part of the U.S. economy. So if you work in a manufacturing company, it means more orders for you. And, of course, the growth in Asia also is helping to keep U.S. prices down because the costs are so low there.

And you are right the mortgage availability, the mortgage market is shut down right now. It's not a time you want to be a buyer of a house.

VELSHI: John, let's talk about this week coming up. The Ben Berneke and his team meet on Tuesday; most people think they are going to drop interest rates by one-quarter of a percent. Some people think a half a percent. What are they going to do and what's it going to mean to me?

RUTLEDGE: Well, they are going to do a rate cut somewhere between those two numbers. They are going to do, of course, a lot of open mouth operations, which is how we have recently been doing monetary policy. The Feds only really has one drum to beat, it's whether they buy or don't buy Treasury Bills.

VELSHI: That's how they move interest rates up and down.

RUTLEDGE: The interest rate is really just a trigger. When the rate goes up, that's a trigger for them to buy more Treasury Bills. The fact is the Fed's not been producing enough reserves for the last year or two, and so the economy is stalling a little bit because of that. I'd like to see the Feds ease more, but I'd also like to make sure this mortgage market problem does not spread into the business loan market for small companies. That's where all the jobs are in America.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about a couple of other reports we saw this week. We saw from the Kaiser Family Foundation that wages are not going up as quickly as health care premiums, and the companies, even while they are going to be paying more for the health insurance of their workers this year, their employees are going to be paying more as well. We've got one after another of these signs that maybe the middle class worker is getting hit. How concerned are you about that?

RUTLEDGE: Christina, I think that is the reason the Democrats are so strong, both in the congressional elections and in the upcoming presidential elections because, just like those profits of investing capital abroad are especially high, when you take capital away from Louisville, Kentucky, where there's a worker using a wrench on another man's capital, that man is left without a job, so there are some workers who have been disadvantaged by global trade, and those people are a powerful political force. That's why the biggest risk to that world growth we are talking about today is protectionism. The second biggest risk is Congress raising taxes in hopes to appease the people who are angry.

VELSHI: John, talk to me here, we've got -- the average consumer, the average American has a couple of concerns, their retirement, 401(K), how the stock market is doing, their interest rates, what they are paying on their mortgage, their job, which is what they need before any of that stuff. What does all of this mean? $80 a barrel oil, a Fed with interest rate, a stock market still under 13,000 on the Dow, what am I supposed to do now with all this knowledge that you have, what should I do?

RUTLEDGE: Well, I think the thing you should do is go to work, earn your paycheck, and then save as much of it as possible. And really what you should do is make sure that your children are trained for the kind of jobs that this global economy is producing because there's no way Congress or anyone else is going to stop globalization. What that means is service jobs are driving the economy, and where we've got people that are being unemployed by globalization, there are other jobs being formed elsewhere.

You know, we are up 50 million jobs in American in the last 20 years. So it isn't total jobs that's the issue. It's the fact that people have to move. When everything changes too fast in the world, people get frightened. When they get frightened, they call on their politicians to please stop the music and politicians think they can do that.

ROMANS: John recap for me. All these have lines we've seen. What does it mean to the individual investor in the very near term for their house and their money?

RUTLEDGE: For your house, it's a terrible time to sell a house because the mortgage market is closed for practical purposes, so you need to hang on. Don't buy one now. Buy one in a year or year and a half. This is a bad time to be a transactor in the housing market right now.

On your stock market, the best thing would do to buy stocks in 2003 when they were 7500, in which case you'd be playing on the house's money now. If you are, hang in there. The market is still -- the companies are still very healthy. The costs are low. The productivity is growing. The prices are growing. Interest rates are 4.5 percent for ten-year money. So the stock market I think is undervalued, but it's going to be very volatile, so don't pay too much attention to the prices every day. Watch CNN very carefully, but don't look at the stock prices.

VELSHI: Good to see you, John. Thanks for being with us.

RUTLEDGE: Thank you very much.

VELSHI: John Rutledge talking about what you should be doing right now. Interesting because some people say this is an opportunity to buy if you've got money whether it's stocks or homes so take all this advice to heart and you can make some decisions.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And up next on YOUR MONEY the fight on Capital Hill over who is to blame for the toy safety mess.

Plus, our Jack Cafferty weighs in on the gap between power and results in Washington. I'll go one on one with Jack Cafferty next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Testimony on Capitol Hill this week outlines cat skating failures in product safety with plenty of blame to go around. Senators demanding answers and change from toy makers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, retailers and China.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice over): Over the course of three hours on Capitol Hill, a litany of safety failures. It is not illegal to sell recalled toys. Fines are too small to be a deterrent. The acting chair woman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission couldn't say what percentage of imported toys is even inspected. She tangled with Senators over whether her agency has been aggressive enough.

NANCY NORD, ACTING CHMN. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMM: Our very tiny agency has been trying to work aggressively within our statutory constraints and within our resource constraints.

ROMANS: And there are concerns that safety promises have not been kept.

THOMAS MOORE, COMMISSIONER CPSC: In August of '98, the toy manufacturers of America pledged to eliminate led from their products. Yes, here we are nearly ten years later facing the same problems.

ROMANS: Even the world's largest toy maker with a reputation for safety admits it couldn't control its Chinese supply Chain.

ROBERT ECKERT, CEO, MATTEL: Our systems were circumvented and our standards were violated. We were let down, and we let you down.

ROMANS: Mattel says 65 percent of its toys are made in China. Toys"R" Us CEO says 75 to 80 percent of the dolls and action figures it sell are made in China. Both companies laid out strategies for protecting consumers. But Senator Sam Brownbeck said manufacturers are asking for trouble by concentrating so much production in China, a developing economy with lower standards.

SENATOR SAM BROWNBECK: We impose our standards regardless of what someone else does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't work well.

BROWNBECK: In the case of if you're speaking specifically to lead paint testing, yes, we didn't test sufficiently to catch that product.

ROMANS: Still, the industry strongly defended its record and its Chinese suppliers.

CARTER KEITHLEY, PRES. TOY INDUSTRY ASSN: Toys related industries in the U.S. are extremely rare. Our proposals are not specific to toys made in any particular area of the world.

ROMANS: Yet hundreds of millions of dollars in toys have been recalled, just in the past few months. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Finger pointing and congressional hearings are no rarity on Capital Hill. Our next guest says what is a rarity is progress. In his new book "It's Getting Ugly out There," Jack Cafferty goes after what he calls the do nothing Congress and other people in power who let American's down.

Jack, welcome.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to be with you.

ROMANS: Who are the liars and losers who are hurting America?

CAFFERTY: Well start off with the 535 clowns that occupy the Senate and House of Representatives they have an 18 percent approval rating according to the latest Gallop Poll. More than 80 percent of Americans don't like the job they are doing. Gee, I wonder why.

ROMANS: We look at the product and food safety scare. Who's at fault there? Is it a do nothing Congress? Is industry who has too much power and to much connection to Congress? Is it a lack of regulatory oversight?

CAFFERTY: Here's my theory. The corporate ownership of this country, and they not only own the corporations, they own the Congress. They own that house and senate. These are the people who wanted to manufacture things overseas because the labor costs are probably 5 to 10 percent what they are in the United States. So that's what we've got. We have got American products going overseas and being sent back into this country that aren't subject to the same rules and regulations that exists for stuff that's made here. That's part of the problem.

Here's another thing that Congress is doing, and I learned this just this week. Remember when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis and there was a great hand wringing about infrastructure, maintenance and repair in this country? Apparently there was some pending legislation down there to address this issue that so far has $8 billion worth of pork attached to it. So these self-serving slime that purport to care about the general welfare of this country are busy attaching their own little goodies to infrastructure legislation, which, of course, we need because the budgets have been raided and raped for that very thing for years in this country which is why you get bridge collapses.

ROMANS: What do you make of the control and the power of lobbyists? When I was starting in business reporting, I was taught over and over again by the people that I interviewed that you have got to give a free hand to industry because they innovate, they create jobs, and they are the ones who are really growing American cities and American families. Now there's some real questions about whether industry has been given too free of a hand and their lobbyists are writing our laws and that's not good for American families and cities.

CAFFERTY: Well, everything reaches its logical point of inefficiency. I think the role of lobbyists in this country has been way more than it should be for a very long time. The system is now corrupted to the point where I think it can no longer withstand the stuff that's going on. The lobbyists, like the legislation, the lobbyists handle the campaign contributions; they control the political action committees. They represent the corporations who have the kind of money which is necessary to run these expensive campaigns. What do you suppose by the time this presidential election is over will have been spent on gaining the highest office in the land? $500 million? $1 billion?

ROMANS: I have no idea.

CAFFERTY: You and I don't have the kind of money that's necessary to support a campaign like that. But you know who does? It's the corporate --

ROMANS: Is it election or is it a marathon? It really is incredible how long it is. Other countries have limits on how long you can be campaigning. There's a lot at stake and there's a lot of money at stake for whoever can win.

CAFFERTY: I guess there is. Look at that little experiment going on in Iraq; $600 billion has been poured into that deal so far. Where do you think all that money went?

ROMANS: You've been a local news anchor, local news reporter. You've done business news. What made you write this book?

CAFFERTY: Somebody came and asked me to. You want the honest answer; I was approached to do it. It's true.

ROMANS: But you don't give ...

CAFFERTY: I have no great calling to go try to write the great American book.

ROMANS: You don't give the media a free pass either. The media is powerful and you are just apt to criticize our sort of coverage of stories or, I don't know, when we get real excited or worked up about something that isn't that important.

CAFFERTY: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead?

ROMANS: Oh, Jack, I think she is. But did you do any coverage of her or did you try to stay clear of it?

CAFFERTY: No. But I asked Wolf on the air, on "THE SITUATION ROOM," which is the other place that I labor around here. The day that that peroxide never was bought the farm apparently from some drug overdose, we spent, I don't remember, two hours, maybe, with no commercial interruption following the story of this, you know -- there are words that I can't use on your program to describe her.

So when I finally got on the air, I said on the air, hey, Wolf, is Anna Nicole Smith still dead? And that caused some reverberation, as they say. ROMANS: Did people think you were like a piecey guy and that one of the things that's I think so great about you as an anchor, is that you say what other people are too afraid to say or the obvious.

CAFFERTY: Well, I don't know how else to do it. The instincts you have are the instincts you have, and when you're your BS detectives go off, and in this business they do sometimes, then I think you've got to say, you know what, I mean, come on, Lindsay Lohan, who cares about these people? We have real problems in this country and I think sometimes the media collectively, not CNN. CNN does probably a better job than most, but the media collectively gets fixated on tabloid because it sells newspapers and it gets eyeballs to the TV screen. They want to know about Britney Spears. Why, I don't know. I have absolutely no interest in the young woman.

ROMANS: Just recently the inspector general, the GAL, the government accountability office sort of outlined what he thought are the reasons why the United States was the fall of Rome was. I mean these are some serious issues. Trade deficits, immigration issues, you go down the line and we are fixated on some of those things as well.

CAFFERTY: Well, I'm a lot older than you. I have four daughters, they are all grown now, and I have four grandkids. For the first time in this nation's history, I think, we are heading toward a decline in the standard of living for our people, and there is no earthly reason for this to happen except for the gross mismanagement that's happened to the government and to the economy at the hands of these politicians. And I'm concerned. I'm concerned about what kind of a life my grandchildren are going to have 50, 75 years down the road, and the way things are looking right now, there's reason to be worried.

ROMANS: Bringing it back to this program, what does it mean for my money and your money?

CAFFERTY: Well, save your money. I mean, you know, look at what's happened to the dollar. You talk about money. Look at the decline in the dollar. The dollar used to be the safest haven in times of stress for every economy in the world. The dollar now is, what it, 1.38 euros to the dollar is. And as recently as four or five years ago, it was .86. So there's, a precipitous decline in the value of the dollar. It's about deficits and it is about all those things going on with China and places like that.

ROMANS: Pay attention. It matters. All right. Jack Cafferty, thanks.

CAFFERTY: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: The book is "The Frauds, Bunglers, Liars and Losers who are Hurting America. It's Getting Ugly Out There." Jack Cafferty, thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Always good to see you.

ROMANS: Coming up after the break, the safety net they call the home equity loan and whether it's right for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: The Fed announced this week that as of July the U.S. consumers have run up more than $907 billion in credit and charge card debt. That's a lot for a person.

ROMANS: And there's concern that Americans are going to lean on their plastic even harder now that the mortgage crises is making home equity loans harder to get.

VELSHI: You could take out that money. Now you have to use your card.

ROMANS: Tamara Draut is going to help us understand what the situation means for you. She is the director of Economic Opportunity Program Demos. Thank you for joining us.

TAMARA DRAUT, ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY PROGRAMS DEMOS: Good to be with you.

ROMANS: So we know that we are relying on the charge card. Some would say that's because we charge more things than we used to. Others would say we have a lot of people who are making the paycheck stretch by using the credit card for the little things and the big things in life.

DRAUT: That's right. Well, middle income families essentially have taken a pretty big hit and they have lost a major safety valve now that home values aren't rising, interest rates are starting to pick up again. A lot of middle case homeowners already cashed out equity in their homes to try to deal with the fact that their incomes were in no way keeping up with their costs. Now their options are a little bit more limited, now they are going to be looking at those credit cards again and already we are seeing credit card debt is on the rise.

ROMANS: Are these irresponsible people who are just charging, charging, or are these people who are working hard who until now have followed all the rules on their personal finances?

DRAUT: It's hard to know. It's a good mix. We have done research that shows that middle class households are using credit cards for a safety net. They are dealing with things like when the car breaks down, if the kids need braces, if there's a major medical expense. We all know that health care costs are rising. We all know that housing costs have sky rocketed. So the question is how are households coping? And they are coping by taking on more and more debt.

VELSHI: You have other options. If you compare the middle class family today to five years ago, you didn't have the gas prices that we have got now. You thought your house was going to keep on going up in value.

ROMANS: Some people thought it was a piggy bank, their house. VELSHI: You could get loans against it. Now we've got an issue with job growth not being as strong. Now, all of this should psychologically cause the American consumer to say maybe I should pull back on the spending. We haven't seen that enough yet.

DRAUT: I think we will maybe see a contraction in spending. Also keep in mind, there is some spending decisions that can't be delayed like sending the kid to college, like paying your health care premiums, paying the monthly mortgage cost which by the way has increased for new homeowner, young families especially who have just been walloped by the rise in home values and the mortgage payments have taken a much bigger chunk out of their paychecks. So yeah, you can contract some.

You can stop going to restaurants. I'm sure restaurant revenue growth is probably going to go down but you have to pay the health care and you have to pay the education bills. So there's only so much that you are your typical middle class family is going to be able to scale back on.

ROMANS: When I get worried about money, I tend to go to a restaurant and think I've got to think about this over a nice steak dinner, but let me ask you about individual advice. People who think they might need to tap into a home equity loan. Is this now a right time, under what circumstances to be getting money out of your house?

DRAUT: These are a couple of things to consider. First, consider if there's any reason coming down the line that you might need to tap into that equity, especially if it's the only sort of emergency fund that you have. Could there be a job loss? Is it conceivable you may have a major medical expense? Are you on the cusp of retirement? If any of those things are the case, now does not the time to take on an equity loan to pay off the credit card debt or help remodel your kitchen or buy a new car.

ROMANS: The rainy day may be right ahead of you when you really need to tap into that money.

VELSHI: Do you wait if you think that these house prices are going go down further, do you say maybe I can get some money out of my house now before it gets worse or do you wait until you really need it?

DRAUT: That's a tough question. I know it's going to depend for every homeowner and what, if you're in desperate straits now may not be the best time to put your home up as collateral.

ROMANS: What about college? You've got to pay for college. Your kid's out there and unfortunately didn't get the full ride to scholarship that you thought he would. What do you do?

DRAUT: Well you know there are other options other than putting up your house as collateral. You can actually borrow through the Federal Financial Aid System the same way that a student can. Parents can take out loans through the Federal Financial Aid to make up the difference between what the student gets in scholarship, grant aid, student loan aid, they can make up that difference and not put their home up.

VELSHI: That is a good to consider. Tamara thanks for being with us.

DRAUT: Sure.

VELSHI: Tamara Draut is the director of the director of Economic Opportunity Program at Demos.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, find out what the airlines are doing for you when it comes to all those delays you face. And hear from one traveler who has found his own form of revenge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Now in the news. Investigators look for the cause of a fire on board a guided missile cruiser at Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia. Five civilian contractors were hurt. Officials say there are no signs of terrorism.

A legal victory for a teenaged defendant in the so called Jena 6 case. A Louisiana Appeals Court has thrown out Mychal Bell's second degree battery conviction. The court ruled Bell should not have been tried as an adult. The case could still go to juvenile court. Bell one of six black teenagers accused in the beating of a white school mate.

O.J. Simpson under investigation again. This time in an alleged theft of sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel. Police say he is cooperating in the investigation. Simpson tells CNN he just wanted to get his stuff back.

I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Now back to YOUR MONEY.

ROMANS: Outgoing FAA loss Marilyn Blakey says airline schedules are, in her words, out of line with reality.

VELSHI: She's right.

ROMANS: In her last official speech on the job, she warned if the carriers don't do something about it, the government will.

VELSHI: Earlier this month, U.S. Airlines said that they will change their schedules and keep more seats free in order to ease the impact of delays. For a look at whether that's going to work and what it might do to your ticket costs because they are now going to be flying empty seats, let's talk to Tom Parsons. He's the publisher of Bestfairs.com.

Are there even any best fares left?

TOM PARSONS, PUBLISHER, BESTFAIRS.COM: I think so. We are in the fall months, this is bargain basement time. This is when the airlines are begging for us to get back on those crowded airplanes. I guess if you are looking for the Caribbean or Mexico across the USA, I think there are deals in the $200 range right now. ROMANS: Is $200 -- I'd pay three times that not to deal with some of the things I deal with every time I go to an airport.

PARSONS: You know the thing is it seems like the airlines should be getting smarter. Yes, they are putting out this hype that as we go into Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year's seasons, we are going to get better and we are going to be smarter. They can become smarter. Right now the technology is out there. One of the biggest problem is when you miss your flights, which there were many missed this year, like there was almost 90,000 flights canceled, just canceled.

VELSHI: You're stuck. The problem is in the old days, you missed a flight, and theoretically you get on the next one. Now they just cancel ones. Web sites like yours and others like it are fantastic. They empower the consumers in terms of getting good fares and better planning. None of which helps when you are on a delayed or canceled flight and you can be stuck in a city overnight that your weren't planning to be in.

PARSONS: Again, what they need to do is look at that technology. It's going to let them be able to figure out where to put those passengers, they can automatically rebook them. I love the little kiosks. I don't want to talk to a human when I'm traveling. I don't want to talk to this person or that person. Give me my paper ticket and let me get on.

The problem is because of the TSA and the new security and we can't go forwards or backwards, they need to put some of those what we call ATM machines in the back. If I missed a flight, I've got to get there, instead of getting me in a long line to go get my new boarding ticket and boarding pass, let me swipe my card, give me my new boarding pass and if I don't like what I've got, then I'll go argue with somebody.

ROMANS: Give me some tips I guess to empower myself the next time that I go through this. I travel with my husband and a baby, I can't even talk about the security lines, and I get so angry. There's nothing more sinister than a four-ounce can of mashed peas. How can I help myself the next time I'm going somewhere?

PARSONS: I don't know. I think right now I like to print out my boarding pass before I leave the house. That helps one line. I don't ever check my bags. I've checked them twice this year and they have both gotten lost for a day. I try not to check a bag. Number two is try to take the morning flights. Remember, when your domino effect starts, if you take a morning flight, then there's a good chance your flight's going to be there at the gate waiting for you. And then as the day goes on, bad weather sets in later usually in the afternoon, that's when we see the most misconnects and all those other delays.

So I think if you can go earlier or midday, you will be much better off. Don't ever try that last flight of the evening because those are the ones that are probably going to but you into oversell or you just aren't going to get there.

ROMANS: Especially on a weekend with the last flight of the day on the Sunday.

VELSHI: What we were just talking about before you came on, maybe you can help with us or sites like yours can help us with it. I'd like a truth meter with these airlines. Christina was talking about flights to Chicago. If you go to book, you know it gives you the flight times on the Web site and it's something outrageous like 3 1/2 hours. Everybody who goes to Chicago from New York knows that flight is up and down in less than two hours. These airlines are all padding out their allowable time so they don't look like they are late. That's frustrating. I'd like to have them tell me the truth.

ROMANS: Their real on time arrivals number must be terrible.

PARSONS: Well, you know, I was going to tell you to use an alternate airport like in Chicago. Chicago Midway is always about ten to 15 minutes better. If you are going to Oakland. This is the last seven month has been much better than Chicago. It's been -- as a matter of fact; it was the number one of all the major airports. I was trying to come up for one with you up there in New York City, but Newark, JFK and LaGuardia, there's a 40 percent on time for arrival was worse than the whole country. Maybe New Haven. But your airports are better. Just stay home.

ROMANS: Stay home. Tom Parsons, Bestfares.com. Thanks Tom.

PARSONS: Thank you.

VELSHI: I still want somebody to be able to tell me how much these airlines are cheating on their on-time performance.

ROMANS: I still wonder if we are just going to have to pay more to go places. Maybe it's just not right to pay $125 and go someplace halfway across the country.

VELSHI: We will stay on this topic because we really enjoy it.

Up ahead on YOUR MONEY, find out how one airline passenger is fighting back for your travel rights. You want to hear this. It's coming back on YOUR MONEY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: All right. We're about to discuss your rights as an airline passenger these days. Thanks for being with us. We will be back in a moment.

ROMANS: You do have rights. If you can't beat the system, the least you can do is make fun of it. Our next guest is a senior executive in a major corporation. But he writes a column about work place issues for "Fortune" Magazine under the name Stanley Bing.

VELSHI: So the two wheel column is also the author of "Crazy Bosses." He's written his own passenger bill of rite on his blog because you have to travel a great deal.

STANLEY BING, COLUMNIST, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I do. I travel a lot, mostly every week; I spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes. It occurred to me that we do have a lot of rights if we kind of assert what we actually have to live through as our rights.

VELSHI: These are not the rights you think that we should have; these are the rights ...

BING: These are the rights that we have been granted and they should be codified right now because we are living in a very special moment of time.

ROMANS: All right. This special moment, number one, the five passenger rights we have got to tell you you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do while imprisoned within the air travel system can and will be completely ineffective.

BING: Correct. You have the right to be very quiet. People who raise their voices if anything goes wrong, have a way of ending up in a small room. I'd rather not do that. I think the first right is a good one.

VELSHI: Right number two, we all think we have agreements and contracts and things like that. Right number two is you have the right to consider your reservation absolutely conditional on certain criteria that will remain unclear to you.

BING: Yes. It's all very mysterious. I love the moment where you say, "but I was seated in seat 15b and now I'm in 36e here are the peanuts and what happened?" And you get the look like, sort of what it is. It's basically not really a contract. It's just sort of an indication of the way it could go.

ROMANS: And if you fly more than one million miles per year, you have a right to a special person whose job it is to apologize to you for the fact that nothing can be done.

BING: Yeah. I like these guys. I feel sorry for them because their job for a frequent flier is to come up and go Mr. Bing? Yes, well, its seven hours delayed, and we don't know if there's a plane at all, and so is there anything I can do for you?

VELSHI: The difference is if you're one of these high fliers, they call you Mr. Bing. If you are not, it's like, sir, step down.

ROMANS: Go to the kiosk.

BING: We don't get that guy. He's a customer service person where you are the customer and there really is no service. So it's their job.

VELSHI: Number four, all travelers will have access to a space on the floor of any airport in which they are in turn.

BING: Well, I think it's generous. They don't move you along as they used to. Now you can get a socket on the wall, a space on the floor.

ROMANS: And somebody vacuumed it probably within the last few days.

BING: Although that's another issue we could talk about at great length.

ROMANS: I'm sure. And my favorite, you have the right to stay home.

BING: Yeah.

ROMANS: I don't know. For 150 bucks, what do you think? Do we get what we pay for?

BING: I don't think so. And I'm being facetious obviously all the way through, but I don't think we have the right to stay home, which is one of the reasons why whenever I bring up a peeve or a weird thing that happened to me on an airplane or the things that I see, I get, you know, like dozens and dozens of people writing into me. It's a hot button right now. We are in kind of a weird time period where people are going, yeah, I understand the occasional delay. I understand when things aren't quite right. What the heck -- what's going on?

ROMANS: There are tens of thousands of planes haven't even taken off this year and then the connecting flights that are missed and the delays, it has really been horrific.

BING: One person wrote in that they missed their wedding. Then they missed their honeymoon. But on the bright side, someone else wrote in that they got to see a number of different airports instead of just the one they thought they were going to get to because their plane --

VELSHI: Yes, seen the world.

ROMANS: An unintentional world travel.

VELSHI: The man known as Stanley Bing. Thank you for joining us.

BING: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up next on YOUR MONEY, oil hit a record high this week. Find out what that's going to mean to your bottom line.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: So when I first started covering markets, I remember oil at $12 a barrel.

VELSHI: And that wasn't decades ago. That is in the mid '90s.

ROMANS: What are you saying?

VELSHI: Sounds like we're talking about ancient history. Sounds like a long time ago because oil today is a whole lot more than that. Jennifer Westhoven is in Atlanta this week; she joins us with the story of soaring oil prices. Jennifer.

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Oil prices over $80 a barrel for the first time in history this week. Thankfully for drivers, there's no sign yet that record is translating into higher gas prices yet. AA right now pegs pump prices at about $2.80, but it's a big concern. Hurricane Humberto turned into a big headache and fear by, there was fear that that would slow down refining operations off the Texas coast.

And even though our economy growth might grow, other countries India and China they are growing and their buying more and more oil. Still see a lot of demand on that side. There is fear that normally if our economy is slowing down you might see oil prices drop. Not quite so this time.

VELSHI: The other thing that we think about in America, we see our auto industry slow down so much over the last few years where we have seen other auto industries based out of other countries growing, we are back to those union negotiations it Detroit.

WESTHOVEN: Detroit, tens of thousands of auto workers waiting at the edge of their seats this weekend as we've got round the clock negotiations under way between United Auto Workers Union and then Ford, GM and Chrysler. The UAW has signaled it might be open to this new idea. A huge union run health care trust fund that's just for retirees. The union has also tagged GM as a strike target maybe as part of that. It's not clear right now, though, if this is just the normal last minute posturing that we always see in these kinds of negotiations or if something serious is going on here.

But Ali you have actually got this great fax coming up that really snapshot this. It used to be that for ten people working on the assembly line there was one retiree back in the hay day of the automakers. Now it's turned on its head and for every one person working, there are 4 1/2 retirees they are supporting.

VELSHI: That's the nub of this problem. The auto companies want to get out from under their commitments to have to fund the health care and benefits of these retirees. So it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. We have not had an auto strike in this country since 1976.

ROMANS: That's amazing. Jennifer is going to stick with us for a moment. We want to switch gears quickly. Many Americans can't wait to get to the work week so they can go and have a beer.

VELSHI: We can't even finish talking to Jennifer because we have to tell you this story. Imagine leaving your job altogether and making beer your life's work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI (voice over): For Steve Hindy, happy hour begins the moment he arrives at work. He's a co-founder and president of Brooklyn Brewery, a microbrewery in New York City, but his story starts a continent away. STEVE HINDY, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN BREWERY: I used to be a journalist in my past life. For 15 years I worked for newspapers, and eventually Associated Press. And I covered the Iranian Revolution, the hostage crises. I moved to Chiro and I was sitting behind President Shedake (ph) was assassinated in 1981. So it is a very exciting 5 1/2 years.

VELSHI: While Hindy was overseas, he learned to brew homemade beer. And after moving back to New York, he and a partner launched their own brewery in 1987.

HINDY: I sometimes tell people that working in the Middle East for six years was good training for starting a brewery in Brooklyn. I have been robbed at gunpoint. We have had a run-in with sort of mafia- connected people at one point when we were building the brewery.

VELSHI: They survived those experiences, and business started pouring in.

HINDY: The first month we sold 1768 cases of beer. And we were very proud of it. This past year we sold about 800,000 cases of beer, 25 years ago I was sitting in the office in Beirut trying to figure out how to cover a story and stay alive. It's been a great experience, a great adventure, and at least as exciting in a little different way than covering wars in the Middle East.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: See, we have a future.

VELSHI: If this doesn't work out, we can go and make beer or wine or something like that. We are going to take a break. When we come back on YOUR MONEY Jennifer is going to come back to us with a story you've got to hear before you leave to get money out of the cash machine. Stay with us. YOUR MONEY is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Pardon us, we were just having an argument.

ROMANS: Ali takes about $40 at a time at an ATM machine.

VELSHI: It controls my spending.

ROMANS: It controls your spending, but if you're paying $2 or $3 for an ATM fee, it's stupid. Because you are paying $43.00 at a time, twice a week that's $86, you're only getting $80 ...

VELSHI: Which is a bad investment is what you are saying.

ROMANS: It's not a good investment, Ali.

VELSHI: Jennifer Westhoven is back with some news for people like me.

ROMANS: You're killing me. You're like Tony Snow with no 401-K. WESTHOVEN: Are you a Bank of America holder?

VELSHI: I'm not but I use their bank machines a lot.

WESTHOVEN: Well, stop. Especially for everybody who is watching us. If you don't have an account there, this is a good idea to maybe steer clear of some of them because they are going to charge you $3 to get your money instead of $2. That would be the highest nationwide ATM fee for a major bank. Right now we are talking about supermarkets and Bank of America branches. We are not necessarily talking about the machines at the malls.

But still, watch out because other banks may follow Bank of America's lead here. And it's not just the Bank of America fee. You know when you go to another bank's cash machine they charge you and most likely your own bank charges you too. Come on, that's like a six- person attachment.

VELSHI: This is one of those stupid things that I do that you don't think about it because it's transparent, right? You take your money out. I've got my 60 bucks, but it's really $62 or $63 that's been withdrawn and my bank dings me for another couple bucks.

ROMANS: I found a bank that they don't charge me for this or on either end. There is some banks to get your business say listen, if you use somebody else's ATM fee, we will reimburse you.

WESTHOVEN: Don't you have a virtual bank?

ROMANS: No.

ROMANS: Christine managed to find the right bank. If you are going to be a guy like me who is not prepared to walk the extra block to find your bank, then get a deal with a bank like Christina has.

ROMANS: There is no reason to pay to get your money. I mean there is just no reason and if you have to walk a little father or drive a little farther or find a bank that is not going to charge for using other peoples ATM machine. Come everybody be smart. We did the math here; one of our producers did the math, if you go twice a week for a year to get money out of say a Bank of America ATM machine and you don't bank at Bank of America that is $300 a year. That is a lot of money. Suppose Bank of America wants you to become a Bank of America customer.

VELSHI: That is one way to solve the problem.

WESTHOVEN: I think they invented the ATM machine Bank of America so they should know how they make the most money.

ROMANS: They are literally a money machine. All right. Jennifer Westhoven thanks.

VELSHI: Jennifer thank you for being with us and thank all of you for being with us for this edition of YOUR MONEY.

You can catch Christine later today at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "Lou Dobbs This Week."

ROMANS: And you can see Ali every week day morning on "American Morning." We'll see you back here next week.

VELSHI: Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. See you then.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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