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Politics of Poverty: From Washington to the World; Looking Down the Barrel; The Business of Being Mark Wahlberg

Aired January 18, 2014 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: The top 1 percent of households have taken home 95 percent of the income gains during the recovery. So, what's left for everyone else?

I'm Christine Romans. This is YOUR MONEY.

With the perspective from Washington to the world, Christiane Amanpour and Candy Crowley and I sat down to figure out what' being done to solve a basic problem: Americans are walking up from the American dream to find out that when it comes to your economic status, where you are born is still where you will stay.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People like myself or other immigrants to take advantage of the American dream, it is still alive. For Americans born here, what we are seeing is that dream is petering out.

For the first time, a majority of Americans do not believe they will have a better life than their parents. Their parents don't believe their children will have a better life. That is the fundamental building block for the American Dream.

You know, the great distinguished economist Joseph Steven said, this is the most unequal of the major industrialized societies, not just in income, but in opportunity. If you're born rich, you pretty much stay rich. If you're born poor, you pretty much stay poor. That's the general parameter today.

ROMANS: And we know that income equality is the signature issue now of this president for this year. About 70 percent of Americans born into lower income households, never make it to the middle or upper middle class. Of those who do, it's about 4 percent, of those who do, they have some things in common. More than half of them finished college, half came from dual income families, and about one-third never experienced unemployment growing up.

It's really difficult --


ROMANS: Well, yes.

CROWLEY: A lot of that. ROMANS: Yes.

CROWLEY: There's a lot of that, like the home you are born into is what is your norm up until the age of 16 or 18 or whenever you get out of the house. We know education.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely. I was going to say, boy, oh, boy, does that play a fundamental role?

Every time you do a report, I'm sure, Christine, when you talk about the number of jobless, and then you say, wow, there are actually millions of jobs available. Guess what? This is true in Europe right now. Children, students are not being educated for these new jobs in innovation and technology.

And there are terribly depressing statistics about, you know, the number of high school students who are ill-prepared for college. And as we all know, a college degree and further education guarantees you more jobs and more income. But the United States is the only country of our industrialized democracies that puts more money into healthy school districts and less into the struggling ones that need it.

CROWLEY: Well, partly because they are tied to property tax.

AMANPOUR: Well, whatever.

CROWLEY: So, they need -- states are rethinking how they are funding schools, clearly.

ROMANS: Let me ask you about poverty. Recently, 50 years after the war poverty, the LBJ war on poverty, and I saw Republicans trying to kind of own this conversation, which I found new, I think. I mean, usually that is something that Democrats really rally their base up on in an election year.

What's happening there?

CROWLEY: Who cares about people. I mean, it goes back to there. Again, you have to say it is an image problem. We don't hate poor people, we don't hate hungry babies. This is ridiculous.

And they realized that not only they have to sell their message in a different way.

ROMANS: Those message and policies.


ROMANS: Sometimes, you know, you can have a great message and terrible policies, and vice versa.

CROWLEY: Right, absolutely. But if you look at the minimum wage debate or you look at the unemployment -- long term unemployment debate, which is sort of the place where they are arguing income inequity now. How do the Republicans approach it? They have to say what are you for? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The vast majority of Americans today live lives much better than their parents. And yet, we are rightfully troubled, because many of our people are still caught in what seems to be a pervasive, unending financial struggle.


CROWLEY: Rubio coming out and saying, we need to do something about this. Poverty programs, they clearly haven't worked. What about if we give the moneys and programs to the states? So, they know they have to come to this table.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our moment. This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids.


ROMANS: Are those who five years ago, elected this president on hope and change, are they disappointed in the Obama economy?

CROWLEY: Sure. Of course they are. If it is not the economy, they are disappointed he did not act quickly on the immigration or --

ROMANS: NSA surveillance.

CROWLEY: NSA surveillance. They thought he was the guy to say this is no good.

So, yes -- but, honestly, I have to tell you, I have never seen a president so defined by other people's hopes. So, they were able to take this man who, you know, promised just by his very being there of changing America and then when they started to see what that actually meant and how hard that was, it becomes a disappointment.

I don't think it's not necessarily that I think he's failed, but they wanted him to do something quicker and bigger.

AMANPOUR: Candy talks about immigration, massively important, all the real experts say a proper immigration policy would expand and contribute to the U.S. economy. Germany has been incredibly good about its immigration and as you see, it is a major economic powerhouse.

And there is links between how you integrate and use your population, you know, in order, to help your economy.

ROMANS: America's place in the world as a beacon of light, what is the world hoping for, for the United States.

AMANPOUR: Look, you always hope for everything and you never get everything it wants. But, you know, leadership and to see is the economy, you know, move the rest of the world. And to that point, there are some very important European business people who are now looking at the United States and this potential or existing new boom in shale and energy and who can foresee that America might very soon once again become the real, real dominant powerhouse in the economy.

ROMANS: That will have such amazing national security implications. We'll talk about at another time.

Ladies, thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.


ROMANS: The war on poverty continues here in the U.S. Today, 57 percent of Americans are working age between 18 and 64. The number has jumped from 42 percent in 1959.

Coming up, do these guns look a little, you know, feminine to you? Why the gun industry is now targeting women, next.


ROMANS: By the looks of the headlines, it was another week of gun violence in America. In Florida, a man gunned down over texting in a movie theater. In New Mexico, police say a 12-year-old boy opened fire in the middle school seriously wounding two students before a teacher convinces him to put down the weapon. And in Indiana, two women murdered by a gunman in a grocery store.

Yet, almost daily episodes of gun violence like these do little need to quench an insatiable American thirst for firearms. Right after the Newtown school shooting, there is a rush to buy guns. Manufacturers and retailers couldn't keep up. That rush, we're told, only leveling off now, a year later.

I want to bring in CNN Money's Aaron Smith who just returned from the industry's big trade show in Las Vegas

And, Aaron, business is still very good, isn't it?

AARON SMITH, CNN MONEY: Yes, it certainly is. Sales are up, although they might be leveling off a little bit. Basically, I went to Las Vegas for the gun industry's trade show. This is sponsored by the national shooting sports foundation. They're actually based in Newtown, Connecticut.

And only business people are allowed to attend this conference. You have 1,600 exhibitors. You have more than 60,000 people attending the conference hall the size of ten football fields.

ROMANS: This is about technology and the new market. The new markets for very old product, the very established product. You've actually got to shoot some machine guns. SMITH: Yes.

ROMANS: I'm told there is a way for regular people to actually get their hands on these.

SMITH: Yes, it's called machine gun tourism. It is thriving in Las Vegas.

There's been several, at least five business, gun ranges, have opened up over the last year. Newer guns like the ones currently being used by our soldiers in Afghanistan can only be purchased by people in the business -- people who own gun stores and ranges, for the purpose of demonstrating them for law enforcement and military. Once they get that initial demonstration out of the way, they are free to rent them out to people like you and me.

ROMANS: On the range.

SMITH: Absolutely.

ROMANS: Not to take home?

SMITH: Not to take home.

ROMANS: A big theme this year also, guns for women. This is a market that is one of the fastest growing areas of gun purchasers, new gun purchasers, women.

SMITH: Yes. There are a number of gun companies that cater specifically to women. One company called EAA in particular. You will notice they have small semiautomatic handguns that tend to be pink and purple. It's a style thing. They tend to be smaller framed and user friendly than some of the firearms that you see are marketed, well, not just to men, but to everyone I suppose.

They also have AR-15 style guns that are pink. This appears a style choice. They also EAA makes purses with a concealed carry holster.

ROMANS: Interesting. I know experts have told me it is a fast growing part of the industry.

Aaron, really nice to see you. Thanks for bringing your video by to show us.

SMITH: Thank you.

ROMANS: The business of guns is booming, but so is the movie business. Domestic ticket sales topped $10 billion last year and action movies -- movies about guns are often the biggest hits. "Lone Survivor" is on track to make a surprising $100 million. This film tells the story of the Navy SEAL who survived a deadly battle against all odds.

Star and producer Mark Wahlberg has the story, story worth its Hollywood script quite frankly.

Take a look at the business of being Mark Wahlberg.


ROMANS: "Lone Survivor" brought home more than $38 million in its opening weekend, the second biggest January debut nationwide. Mark Wahlberg produces and stars in the incredible true story of a Navy SEAL team's fight for survival in Afghanistan.

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR: I've never been more proud to be a part of the project.

ROMANS: Before he was a Navy SEAL, he was Marky Mark.

He grew up in a poor Boston neighborhood, struggled with drug addiction, even did jail time.

WAHLBERG: It was pretty scary.

ROMANS: But rap music became Wahlberg's way out and Marky Mark and the funky bunch was born.

"Good Vibrations" made it to number one in 1991. From music to modeling, Marky Mark stripped down to his Calvin Klein underwear for a reported $100,000.

Marky was soon replaced by the Hollywood marquee and a breakout performance in "Boogie Nights".

Wahlberg has since starred in hits like "The Perfect Storm," "The Italian Job," "The Departed," "The Fighter," and "Ted." Made on a $50 million budget, it earned 11 times that at the box office.

All together, his movies have made more than $3 billion at the global box office.

He also works behind the scenes at the executive producer for hit shows like "Entourage" "Boardwalk Empire".

Off-screen, Wahlberg teamed up with Sean Combs to launch energy drink Aqua Hydrate. He has restaurants and his own line of sports nutrition products.

WAHLBERG: I was always a hustler.

ROMANS: Wahlberg found a time to graduate high school last year. And he started the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation to help inner city kids like him.

WAHLBERG: I could not forget about where I came from and find myself in this position without helping and giving back.

ROMANS: So, what's next for the superstar? He is getting his own reality TV show later this month. "The Wahlburgers" features the Boston burger joint he owns with his brothers. He's also starring in the next "Transformers" movie "Age of Extinction".

From rapper to model to Hollywood business mogul, when it comes to the business of being Mark Wahlberg, there is not much else to say.

WAHLBERG: Yo, the video's over.


ROMANS: It's not an action movie. Self driving cars are here.


REPORTER: It's possible to even catch some Z's in this Audi prototype.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call it piloted driving. And that means there is a driver, but you can concentrate on something else if he doesn't want to actively drive.


ROMANS: Wow, you can't get the kids to soccer practice and catch Z's just yet. But we'll tell you what you can expect right after the break.


ROMANS: Welcome to the future. The self-driving car sounds like science fiction but the technology is real.

CNN's Dan Simon had the guts to get on the road with no one at the controls.

Dan, how close are we to seeing these things at the dealership?


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, the technology that makes driverless cars possible is getting so advanced that you could soon be seeing them on California roads but there's a caveat. This is for testing purposes only. But the state Department of Motor Vehicles is coming up with the rules to make it possible.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Access USR mainframe.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Connecting --

SIMON (voice-over): Actor Will Smith in a scene from "iRobot". It was 2004 and it felt like pure science fiction.

But now, nearly 10 years later, self-driving cars have moved well beyond Hollywood fantasy.

BJORN GIESLER, AUDIO: You can just say, hey, I don't want to drive right now, just take over and if I want to be back in the driver's seat, I'll just grasp the wheel and go.

SIMON: At the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas last week, a demonstration showing it's possible to even catch some Z's in this Audi prototype.

GIESLER: We call it piloted driving. And that means there is a driver but he can concentrate on something else if he doesn't want to actively drive.

SIMON: And it's coming much sooner than you think. The state of California is taking aggressive steps to get driverless cars on the streets as early as this spring for testing.

BERNARD SORIANO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DMV: We're developing the regulations to allow for these automated vehicles to be tested on our roadways as well as being operated on our roadways.

SIMON: So, on Tuesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles held a public hearing to discuss the rules of the road for autonomous cars. For some carmakers like Volkswagen, there's concern that some regulations might be too strict.

(on camera): For instance, the proposed rules require that a driver must be seated in the driver's seat in case they need to take over. That only seems to make common sense. But perhaps giving us a glimpse into the future, a Volkswagen official says that might be too limited.

NICOLE BARRANCO, VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA: And we contemplate an occasion where, with redundant controls and what is referred to or known as the passenger seat, we like to call it the co-driver's seat.

SIMON (voice-over): The most well known autonomous car comes from Google which shows off how the vehicle could some day help the blind. The tech company is fighting a proposed requirement that it should report any time an actual driver needs to override the computer, saying a lack of context could give the wrong impression about safety.

RON MEDFORD, DIRECTOR OF SAFETY, GOOGLE: Maybe this published information would mislead people into not understanding what it really meant.

SIMON: Other issues like who's responsible if the car crashes, the carmaker or the driver, are also part of the discussion. Michigan, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia have also passed laws allowing for driverless cars and are grappling with some of the same issues.

We may not have flying cars yet, but the dream of a George Jetson self-driving vehicle is surely on its way.

(on camera): Researchers say these cars will be safer than human- driven cars because it will eliminate human mistakes like distracted or drunken driving. That will lead to fewer accidents and lower insurance rates. But we're still talking about seven to ten years before the cars will be available to the public -- Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Dan Simon -- thanks, Dan. Your home, your car, your phone, even your eyes -- Google is taking over your digital future. The company even has an entire division dedicated to what it calls moon shots. Wild ideas to change the way we live.

Well, guess what? So do we. In a week where Google made moves to capture the future, we've got one for 'em, and a little market research, to boot.

So what would you pay for a phone that lets you see five minutes into the future?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only five minutes in the future? $1,500.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. I wouldn't want to see five minutes in the future. The unknown is better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much would I pay? Whatever I have, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The electronic brain's memory will do the rest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five minutes into the future? I don't want to know.

All I have that is absolutely unknown to me is the future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. I can barely afford an iPhone. I don't know what I would pay for that. I guess $300, $400.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. I like surprises.


ROMANS: All right. Your future includes the surprising answer to this CNN Money morning quiz. Only one of these brands is actually American-owned. Can you guess which one? The answer, next.


ROMANS: All right. The answer to our quiz before the break, C, Heinz Ketchup is American-owned. Budweiser and Holiday Inn, they are owned by foreign companies. And now, Jim Beam whiskey bought by a Japanese company Suntory, joining the list.

More on this and other stories that matter to your money. Give me 60 seconds on the clock. It's "Money Time".


ROMANS (voice-over): Coffee, check. Gas, check.

No, it's not your morning to-do list. Gas and coffee, two essentials you will pay less for in 2014. Also add gold, used cars and electric cars to the list.

Problems with plastics, the government received thousands of consumer complaints about credit card companies in the past few years. The biggest offenders, Capital One and G.E. Capital.

Pizza Hut and Domino's both selling single slices in some locations. The two chains along with Papa John's sell about a third of the nation's pizza, and the buy the slice option could help them compete even more with smaller pizza places.

American whiskey owned by Japan. Will something be lost in translation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make it Suntory time.

ROMANS: Japanese beverage company Suntory Holdings acquiring American spirits maker Beam for $16 billion. Its brands include Jim Beam bourbon, Maker's Mark whiskey and Courvoisier cognac.

Smartphone, how about a smart home? Google is buying connected device maker Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The company develops smart home appliances like thermostat and smoke detectors.


ROMANS: And now, house money. The worst of the foreclosure crisis is officially behind us. The final numbers are in now. Foreclosures hit a six-year low last year, just under 1.4 million properties in some stage of foreclosure. That's about one in every 96 homes.

The wave has crested but lots of you are still underwater. RealtyTrac found one in five homeowners owes at least 25 percent more on the mortgage than the house is now worth. The healing is slow but there is healing.

Thank you for starting your Saturdays smart with us. We're back at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Corporations are rolling in record amounts of cash, so why is that money not trickling down to Americans looking for better jobs or just looking for a livable wage? I'll go one-on-one with Newt Gingrich.

But coming up right now on "CNN NEWSROOM", "SNL" gearing up for a brand new show tonight and a brand new face. Sasheer Zamata will be making her debut as the fifth black female cast member ever on the show. Some famous female comedians weigh in with their advice.

"CNN NEWSROOM" starts right now.