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CNN IN THE MONEY
The Fight for Iraq's Future; Allegations of Wrongdoing Rock Corporate America; Native American Money Machine
Aired December 6, 2003 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty.
Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, the fight for the future of Iraq. The Shiites have the numbers and the savvy to possibly sway the country's politics. We'll see whether the fundamentalists can turn Iraq into the new Iran.
And keeping up with the boys. Allegations of wrongdoing have rocked corporate America, and women are catching the heat now just like the men. Find out whether gender counts when the indictments are handed out.
And the Native American money machine. See how a dying Indian tribe's heritage and its lawyers built a huge gambling empire in the Nutmeg State.
Joining me today, two of our regulars on IN THE MONEY, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer, and in for Susan Lisovicz, who's on vacation, Allen Wastler of money.com.
Jobs report, much anticipated on Friday, and it turned out, despite adding jobs, to be a major disappointment to Wall Street.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: But you know what's interesting, Jack? I mean, I think it shows how far we've come that it's disappointing that we've added less jobs...
CAFFERTY: That's a good point.
SERWER: ... instead of losing jobs. I mean, it really was a positive report. Unemployment rate falling and from 6.0 to 5.9, and, yes, we didn't add as many jobs as anticipated. But we still had some growth there.
ALLEN WASTLER, MANAGING EDITOR, MONEY.COM: I agree. I get so tired of Wall Street...
WASTLER: ... over ooh, the jobs -- it's going in the right direction. Mellow out.
CAFFERTY: Do they do that down there like that, like you just did?
WASTLER: Yes, they do.
SERWER: Just like that?
CAFFERTY: The other thing about the economic indicators are, the jobs are always the lagging indicator. And all of the economic numbers that are coming out these days are very, very strong. Things like productivity, and all of the rest of it. So if those numbers of accurate, it's a matter of time until the job situation picks up, right?
SERWER: Of course productivity is also a sign that less people will do more work.
CAFFERTY: That was not the best example. I'll grant you that.
SERWER: But no, it's true. The other thing, there are some -- you know, it's a mixed bag. And one bad thing is, 40 months in a row, Jack, factory jobs have been declining in this country. And that is, what, three years plus? I did the math on that. Right?
SERWER: Yes, not good.
CAFFERTY: Other topics today, Washington may not have money to burn, but it's burning the bucks anyway over there in Iraq, where this week, U.S. officials shot down an election plan put forward by the locals, the Iraqis. The "New York Times" reports the idea was a census, which would have paved the way for directly electing a new Iraqi government.
The Americans don't like that idea. They want to use indirect elections, using something called caucuses. Iraq Shiites have been pushing hard for direct elections, and with about 60 percent of the Iraqi population under Shiite control, they have a tight political structure.
They might be tough to beat. However, some of the Bush administration worry that if Shiite fundamentalists win, they could turn Iraq into another Iran. For more on all of this, and what misconceptions might be contained even in that introduction, we're joined now by Zachary Karabell, who's the author of "Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal."
Welcome to IN THE MONEY. Nice to you have with us.
ZACHARY KARABELL, AUTHOR: Thanks very much.
CAFFERTY: Is all of this hand wringing over the Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq a misplaced concern, in your opinion?
KARABELL: I think it's an exaggerated concern. CAFFERTY: OK.
KARABELL: It may not be completely misplaced.
CAFFERTY: In what way?
KARABELL: We've been down this road before -- in March of '91, right after the first Gulf War. One of the reason for not supporting the uprising against Saddam Hussein in the south in Basra, was the concern that if the Shias took control, they would overwhelm and link up with the wrong and create some sort of a fundamentalist Middle East. And there really isn't a lot of historical or even contemporary evidence that there's such close relations overall between Iraqi Shias and Iranian Shias. And I think it's just a much more complicated situation than we're making it out to be.
WASTLER: Zachary, speaking of complicated, I kind of wonder, the U.S. approach is to go for this caucus-type system, almost a regional sort of system, like we do in state caucuses, moving forward there. Very geographic. But I kind of wonder if it's wise to do in Iraq, where it seems like religious groups and tribal lines are more the natural barriers between different voting blocks?
KARABELL: Yes. I mean, this is an issue that other countries have had to deal with. It's not as if Iraq is the first time these questions have arisen. South Africa had to deal with, how do you combine different ethnic tribal religious groups. So there is some legacy of experience.
I guess I'm more concerned that the policies that are being discussed with Iraq are more driven by domestic American politics and wanting to resolve the situation quickly, than it being drive been what's really best for long-term democracy and stability in Iraq.
SERWER: Zachary, why don't you lay out for us exactly how the geographic and ethnic makeup and religious makeup of the country works.
KARABELL: Well, basically, you've got three major divisions in the country. You've got the Kurds, who are Sunnis, but they're also Turkish, or that's their tribal identification in the north. And you've got a Sunni middle that we hear about a lot. That's one of the major sources of uprisings and guerrilla attacks. And that's the area around Baghdad.
And then you've got a Shia south around Basra. Although there are also a lot of Shias in that Sunni middle.
But it's not just religious differences. It's also ethnic differences. And there are ethnic differences between the Shias or between urban Shias and suburban or rural, just as you have the same kind of differences in the United States between North-South, between rural-urban. So it cuts a lot of different ways.
CAFFERTY: Is it realistic to think about bringing democracy as we think of democracy to this country? Can it be done? KARABELL: I think absolutely it can be done. And there's a lot of wealth of evidence. Not only can it be done in a Muslim country, but, look, our belief in democracy is predicated on the belief that democracy, people having a say in their affairs, is essentially a human inclination. It's a matter of time, though.
This is a country that's been ruled by a brutal dictator for the better part of 20 years and has no real legacy of democratic elections or governance. And to think that you can just snap your fingers and have that be done a year after this war is ended is highly questionable, to say the least.
CAFFERTY: Which is closer to the idea of a pure democracy, having direct elections or doing this caucus idea that the United States favors?
KARABELL: I think there you could make a good argument either way. There are definitely countries -- and again, South Africa, representational democracy, rather than direct vote, has a strong legacy in a lot of countries. So as long as that position is being undertaken, because we believe that's what's going to lead to the most stable democracy, it's defensible. If it's the thing that we think we need to do so we can get out of there most quickly, then it's a real problem.
WASTLER: Zachary, the U.S.' big concern about direct elections seems to be, well, you've got a big Shiite majority there. It's going to become basically a mirror image of Iran. Is that the case, or are there enough differences between Shiites in Iran and Iraq, or amongst even the Iraq Shiites themselves to sort of break that up a little bit?
KARABELL: There are definitely enough differences to break that up. But if we think there are going to be any type of elections where a group of people who believe that the government should have a Muslim character are going to be excluded from power, that is clearly mistaken. They are part of the worth and wealth of Iraqi society, and they will part of a governing body in Iraq.
And there is going to have to be a balancing act in Iraq between those who want more religious government and less. That could be a vibrant part of a functional democracy. The concern, of course, is it's those who are most religiously oriented who are also the most organized.
SERWER: Zachary, let me ask you a radical question. And we don't have much time. What do you think the people in Iraq want?
KARABELL: You know, I think that's probably an impossible generalization. I think there are people who want religious government. I think there are people who want Coca-Cola and electronics and secular government. And they're going to have to work that out, just like any society.
CAFFERTY: All right. Zachary, appreciate you joining us. Thanks for coming on the program. KARABELL: Thanks for having me.
CAFFERTY: Zachary Karabell wrote the book "Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal."
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, as we continue, equal time. Prosecutors targeting women, right along with the men, as they choice down wrongdoing in corporate America. Stick around and we'll bust up a few stereotypes.
Plus, Boeing, Boeing, gone. Now there's a good line. As CEO Phil Condit quits, see what's next for a company whose products might be flying over your head right now. They make airplanes, you see, is what the writer is getting at there.
And ground support. We'll tell you about one woman's drive to show American troops that their country cares deeply about them.
We'll be back.
SERWER: In today's equal opportunity workplace, white collar crime isn't just a guy thing anymore. The old stereotype says girls want to place nice, but as more baby boom women move into top management, they're allegedly proving just as capable of crime as the men. That story appears in this month's issue of "More" magazine. And we're joined by the editor-in-chief, Susan Crandell.
SUSAN CRANDELL, EDITOR, "MORE" MAGAZINE: Thank you.
SERWER: Now, is it really true that women are more guilty of these crimes, or is it just that there are more women in the workplace?
CRANDELL: Well, I think it's really a case of opportunity. Our magazine is for women in their 40s an 50s, and we were noticing that, in the great corporate scandals of late, in Enron, in WorldCom, that women in our audience were playing bigger roles. And I think it's because they have the big jobs.
WASTLER: Susan, let me ask you this, in a lot cases people say, well, they're getting picked on because it's a woman, you're picking on the woman. And the case in point they raise is Martha Stewart, who did at most a $200,000 crime, versus someone like Dennis Kozlowski, who is, you know, on the beg for $600 million.
Kind of a big discrepancy there. But on the other hand, Martha Stewart's in people's faces more. So is that a really valid complaint?
CRANDELL: Well, I think you pointed out the issue precisely. Martha Stewart's kind of facing a double whammy. On the one hand, she a woman, and there is kind of a head-snapping, wow factor that this used to be a man's game. Now it's a woman's.
And the other thing is that she has made herself very much a public figure, and people have considered her to be kind of an icon of perfection. And you know we do love to toss people off pedestals.
CAFFERTY: Well isn't some of that Martha Stewart's own doing? When the allegations were first raised, it's my understanding that had she agreed to be a little more cooperative in discussing some of her behavior, she might not be facing the kind of criminal trial that she is? But she absolutely put her foot down and said, I'm not going to anything, and I didn't do anything wrong. And as a result, probably enhanced the dedication with which the prosecutors are going to look forward to putting her on trial.
CRANDELL: Yes. I guess no one's made friends here at all.
CAFFERTY: What's really news about the fact that women who are put in a position of power and money will succumb to some of the same temptations that humanity has succumbed to since time in memoriam? I mean, so what's new? So some people like to take advantage of their situation?
CRANDELL: Yes. Well, with women, the traditional model for white collar crime was the woman who was doing what the so-called altruistic crime, that she was engaging in money laundering or embezzlement or whatever, in order to help her family, to help a lover, even to help her boss. And that she was rather a pawn in this whole thing.
And what we're now seeing I think is women in enough positions of authority that they are the ringleaders. You know, not the pawns.
SERWER: Susan, but I'm confused here for a minute. I mean, there was all of this big to-do, I think it was last year, with the women in these scandals being the whistle-blowers. Wasn't that the "TIME" magazine cover both in Enron and having to do with the 9/11 situation? There was an FBI woman who was a woman? So there's that point.
And what I really want to the ask you is, are men and women in the workplace any different?
CRANDELL: Well, I think men and women are becoming more alike in many, many ways. I mean, you can look at men, the old cliche of the sensitive man. The new cliche of the feminized man as the metro sexual. And I think you can look at women in the workplace who were first thought to be, oh, this humanizing force in the workplace, who are now acting more like men.
I think all of these motivations that have traditionally been attributed to women or men can be held by the other gender whether it's greed or humanity.
WASTLER: Susan, I know I do a lot of corporate stuff from time to time, and I look around, and women are still definitely in the minority in most meeting settings and group efforts. If you're in a room full of creepy guys, and you're a woman, is there sort of an impetus to, hey, go along? Yes, we're doing something that isn't actually right, but you've got to go with the pack? Is that a factor here?
CRANDELL: I think that can be a factor for both men and women, that kind of go along thing. And often your job is on the line and your livelihood. And I think that's probably an equal opportunity temptation.
CAFFERTY: To what degree does the corporate environment itself and the capitalism that we practice in this country tend to level the playing field for anybody who's involved in trying to run large, multinational publicly-traded corporations? The temptations suddenly are there. The responsibilities certainly are there, and the system kind of tends to even things out, doesn't it?
CRANDELL: Yes. And I think, as I said, with women being in more senior positions, they have an opportunity to not just participate in, but to be the director of whatever criminal activity is going on.
CAFFERTY: What effect does this have, if any, on the so-called glass ceiling and the progress that women in general are making in climbing the corporate ladder?
CRANDELL: Well, I guess we'll have to see. I hope that it won't hinder the people who are out there doing good work, and getting promoted. We haven't seen any of that yet, but this is really the beginning of this trend.
And I think it's interesting, as you pointed out, that in some of these cases, there are women both on the good, if you will, and the bad side. You know, in Enron, there's Sharon Watkins, as a whistle- blower, and Leah Fasnow (ph) as an accused wrongdoer.
CAFFERTY: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Susan Crandell, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
CRANDELL: Thank you very much.
CAFFERTY: She's the editor-in-chief of "More" magazine.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, as we continue, tainted love. Enron was big stuff in Houston, Texas, until scandal hit that company. We'll tell you what the headquarters just sold for.
Also ahead, sly rollers. Find out how to start an Indian casino when you're short on Indians.
And faking out the boss. Time is money. We'll show you how American workers are wasting both. Back after this.
SERWER: Let's look at the top stories this week in our "Money Minute." Roy Disney's feud with Disney CEO Michael Eisner just keeps getting nastier. Mr. Disney quit the company board in protest of Eisner's leadership. And fellow board member, Stanley Gold, quite along with him. It didn't stop there, though.
Two days after quitting, Roy Disney sent an e-mail to 200 company executives, accusing Eisner of "stifling creative energy" at Disney. Wow.
Enron headquarters in downtown Houston has been sold at auction for $55.5 million. A group led by a local heart doctor made the buy. It's a far cry from the $285 million J.P. Morgan Chase paid for the building before leasing it back to Enron in the late 1990s.
And if you work at a big corporation, you're much more likely to be satisfied with your benefits package. That's according to a survey sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and CNNFN. The poll shows employees rated benefit packages as second most important after job security for overall job satisfaction.
Phil Condit stepped down at CEO of Boeing this week, and most reports about his announcements focused on the scandals now swirling around the jet maker. But investors might want to look a little harder at Condit's seven-year record at the helm.
When he took the job, Boeing was the world's number one airline company. And now it's a definite number two. And those investors are probably not too happy about Boeing's stock price either these days. It's trading at about half the value is was in early 2001.
But Condit's tenure wasn't all about failure, by any means, especially when you consider how the company has increased its business as a defense contractor and Boeing, therefore, is our stock of the week.
Airbus is the number one airplane maker now. It's not Boeing. But he did move the company into defense, which has obviously been a growing business lately.
CAFFERTY: Those defense contracts are at the heart at some of those high-profile resignations that preceded Phil Condit's. I wonder if the timing of him deciding to leave the company would risk painting his legacy, perhaps, as being a little under the shadow of these questionable relationships with some of the Pentagon brass who were offered jobs, they were consultants on contracts. What about the timing of his decision to walk away?
WASTLER: Oh, definitely. I mean, he's trying to fall on his sword and save the image both of the company and his legacy after all of this.
This will blow over. I mean, this is, you know -- scandals like this in government, oh, government guys and civilian guys doing hanky panky. There's a news flash. I mean, Boeing's too big to fail. It's always going to have government...
CAFFERTY: Then why would he leave?
SERWER: Yes. I think it was some sort of kind of face-saving thing. It reminds me of sort of a Japanese thing. That it was just a scandal that made him look bad.
There's probably a lot more to it than that. But you've got to figure that his move into defense was good one, because the commercial business has been terrible, especially since 9/11.
There's an aircraft graveyard out West, you guys. They're in Roswell, New Mexico; Mohave, California; Tucson. I checked it out.
There are 805 commercial aircraft parked out there in the desert that have been growing like crazy over the past couple years. So not a good business. Airbus, you know, he's sort of letting them have the business, which is not a good one, I guess.
WASTLER: And of course Boeing did stumble on a few of the new business it was going into. I mean, digital cinema that would be piped all around, well, they had to sort of give that up. And so far, a lot their satellite business hasn't really gone great guns. But some of them seem to be working.
SERWER: Any time they get away from those core businesses, you've got to watch out. The guy who's running the place, Harry Stonecipher, now he's an old McDonald Douglas guy. Lou Platt, he comes from Hewlett-Packard.
And actually, the stock, you know we were badmouthing it. Over the past five years, I looked at it and it's actually done better than the market. I mean, it's up a little bit.
So, you know, it is a mixed bag for this guy. And he was a giant in the airline business. It will be interesting to see.
CAFFERTY: The stock is well off the highs. The question is, do you buy the shares now at the discounted price from the highs with the uncertainty of about where the company's going without Condit?
SERWER: I think that's a tough question, Jack, because...
CAFFERTY: That's what we try to do. We try to ask the tough questions here. That's our job.
SERWER: Yes, well, thank you.
WASTLER: But you know what? I was looking at that same trend thing, and the Boeing stock sort of tracks the regular Dow. It seems to be more of a reflection of the market. The company's fortunes just seem right to go with the market...
CAFFERTY: Yes, we don't let guests get away without answering the question. Do you buy the stock or not?
SERWER: No, I wouldn't buy it.
CAFFERTY: OK. What about you?
SERWER: Oh, all right. We'll check back two years later.
CAFFERTY: The ultimate payoff. We'll have the inside story of how one Indian tribe, starting with just one Indian, went from losers to big-time winners by betting big on gambling in Connecticut.
And a one-woman support system in the war on terror. We'll introduce you to a California mom who's made it her duty to provide emotional cover to U.S. troops in Iraq. This after she tried to enlist herself.
CAFFERTY: In just a few decades, Connecticut's Pequot Indian tribe has gone from practically off the map to most definitely in the money. A little play on the show's title there. Did you get that?
CAFFERTY: The story of how it happened begins in colonial America and runs right up to the present day with a casino in Connecticut grossing over a billion, with a "B" dollars per year. Here to tell us about that is Brett Fromson. He's a financial journalist and the author of "Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian tribe in History."
Welcome to the program. Nice to have you with us.
BRETT FROMSON, AUTHOR, "HITTING THE JACKPOT": Thanks, Jack.
CAFFERTY: When this whole thing began, there was only one Pequot Indian, right? And his heritage could have been considered marginal?
FROMSON: Well, yes. There was an older lady who lived alone on this 200-acre reservation that was not federally recognized. She died. And then her descendants essentially re-invented a tribe.
CAFFERTY: And then went on to build this billion-dollar-a-year gambling empire. You refer to the Pequots as a Monty Python tribe. What does that mean, exactly?
FROMSON: Well, you remember the old Monty Python skit about the dead parrot?
FROMSON: And the guy goes in and he's -- the shopkeepers say -- he sold him a stuffed parrot and he says, "It's not dead, it's just sleeping." Well, the Pequots are a dead parrot, but they somehow convinced basically the people in Connecticut -- and this is the late '70s, early '80s, when gambling wasn't on the map, no one really cared. It was completely -- you know, people consumed with historical guilt.
No one wanted to check their bona fides, no due diligence. And so they basically got it on -- they just got it off the radar screen. They got federal recognition, and then were off to the races.
SERWER: All right. Well, you're critical of these guys, Brett, and I understand that. I mean, these guys obviously got themselves recognized as a tribe and got one of the greatest windfalls of American history. On the other hand, what's wrong with this picture, though?
We're talking about a transfer of wealth to a bunch of people who have been in serious poverty for hundreds of years. And this is true with Indians all across the country. So what's wrong with that?
FROMSON: Well, the problem of the Pequots is that they were not an Indian tribe. You see, you have to be a tribe in order...
CAFFERTY: That's a problem.
FROMSON: ... to get this particular...
SERWER: But then how did they become a tribe? How did they get themselves recognized as a tribe?
FROMSON: Well, basically, what happened was they had very skilled and talented lawyers who came down from Maine, and they basically convinced the state of Connecticut, not in a public way, but in a quiet way, through a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) suit. They sued some landowners.
Some landowners basically went to the state and said, oh, my god, we're being sued for our land. Then say it's their land. Help us.
The State said, no way. Forget it. We're not helping you.
But then this guy from Maine, who was their lawyer, said, well, I have a solution. We'll go to Congress, we'll go to Capitol Hill. They'll get some money to pay off the tribe that wants it, but give the trial federal recognition.
The landowners will get their money. The State, you won't have a problem anymore. And it will be done and it will all go away.
SERWER: But these people have some Indian blood in them, don't they?
FROMSON: Well, I figure typical Pequot -- and this is assuming they are who they say there are -- and there's a lot of question within this tribe and outside the tribe as to the authenticity. Your typical Pequot today is between 1/64 and 1/128 max.
WASTLER: Now, nevertheless, though, they were able to take advantage of a lot of -- you know, from want of a better term, middle white class liberal guilt.
FROMSON: Yes. I mean, basically, you know, I grew up in Connecticut, and I'll tell you, people in Connecticut no more could identify an Indian tribe than -- they wouldn't know a tribe if they tripped over it.
CAFFERTY: Isn't there a certain irony to the fact that this thing is in the state of Connecticut? I mean, to me, there's something very rich there.
FROMSON: The land of steady habits?
CAFFERTY: I mean, they tend to be a bit Victorian, if you know what I mean. Well, you said you're from there.
FROMSON: Yes, I'm from -- I mean, the whole idea that this -- when I was a kid in Connecticut, we had blue laws.
FROMSON: Liquor stores were called package stores. The whole bit. Basically, this was basically a really smug little place, and no one had a clue.
CAFFERTY: They really are.
FROMSON: And the key thing here is that, the reinvention takes place because none of the political leaders in the state wanted to look too carefully. They just wanted to sort of sign off on this and move on.
And so, you know, you have guys in the story like Wechler (ph) and Dodd and Lieberman comes into play. And basically, everyone wanted to be a nice guy. And they thought, if we're a nice guy, it would all go away. And it's a classic story of unintended consequences. And so now they're the richest tribe and, in my view, they're a tribe in name only.
SERWER: What are the national implications, though? I mean, this is not just a Connecticut issue. It's a nationwide issue.
FROMSON: Oh, it's wild. You know, the thing about the Pequots is that they're in a really bizarre way. The sort of progenitor for what a lot of other Indian tribes want to become, which is to say, incredibly rich.
You know, it's a $1.2 billion revenue. They're probably taking in somewhere in the range of $200, $250 million a year. There are about 600 of these people, men, women and children. So they're really rich.
So a lot other tribes that are legit tribes want in. And what's happened is that we've seen this across the country in Connecticut, with, you know, Governor Arnold now -- I mean, he's now in this big battle with the tribes to try to get some money. The issue is, with about 200 tribes into gambling and about 300- plus Indian casinos, the problem has to do with the gambling aspect of it. People don't begrudge the Indians making more money, but gambling is basically a grubby business with a lot of side effects. Because suddenly, in these small towns they're finding they've hookers on the street, they've got traffic up the wazu (ph), pollution.
Suddenly, they've got 20,000, 30,000 people a day visiting their town who they don't know. The cops are overwhelmed. The schools have suddenly all these temporary workers who are dumping their kids into public schools and people are going nuts. And they're going, OK, well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my life is turned upside down, and...
CAFFERTY: Right. Tax revenues.
FROMSON: And it's becoming -- and I think, at the end of the day, this is undercutting -- significantly for real Indian tribes, this whole gambling thing is combustible. Because these tribes rely on large-scale national, political support for their continued existence.
SERWER: Well, I think you put it best when you said "unintended consequences." And obviously, it's a very controversial subject. And I hope we can revisit it with you.
Brett Fromson, great to see you. My former colleague at "Fortune" magazine and author of "Hitting the Jackpot: The Inside Story of the Richest Indian Tribe in History." Thank you.
FROMSON: Andy, thanks.
SERWER: Just ahead: support troops. What started as one woman's mission to bolster the spirit of American soldiers overseas is gathering steam. We'll have the details.
And you use the Internet at work only for important job-related research. Yes, right. We'll check in with our Web master, Allen Wastler, who has the scoop of goofing on online.
CAFFERTY: 'Tis the season, you know? And as the season of giving kicks into gear, U.S. troops overseas are doing some receiving, thanks to one very determined woman from Los Angeles, California.
Carolyn Blashek wanted to sign up for military service herself after the September 11 attacks on America. It turned out she was over the age limit, so she found her own way to support America's servicemen and women. She calls it Operation Gratitude, and she joins us on IN THE MONEY from Los Angeles now.
Carolyn Blashek, nice to have you with us. Tell us a little about your program, what you're doing, how's it growing. This sounds like a wonderful idea.
CAROLYN BLASHEK, OPERATION GRATITUDE: Well, thank you. And thank you for having me on.
I founded Operation Gratitude for two reasons. The first was to bring a smile to every service member's face who we could find and who we could send something to and let them know that I personally, and we as a community, appreciate the sacrifices that they're making to protect our freedom.
And then, secondly, I wanted to provide the American people a means of expressing their gratitude. So by doing collection drives to provide items for the packages, by doing letter-writing campaigns, and by contributing to the cost of postage, Americans all over the country could be a part of this.
SERWER: All right. Carolyn, tell us a little bit more specifically about what you do. Are there gift packages you send? You mentioned that. And tell us the scope of your project, please.
BLASHEK: OK. Well up through -- from March through October, I was operating entirely out of my home, and sent out 650 care packages to individually-named troops. And the packages contained items ranging from snack foods to toiletries to entertainment items.
And then several months ago, I realized over the holidays so many people were going to be away from their loved ones, and I teamed up with the Army National Guard, 746th Quartermaster Battalion here in Los Angeles, and we organized a "Support the Troops" rally for the weekend of November 8 and 9, at which over 200 volunteers came in and helped us package up over 3,000 packages.
Since that time, we've sent an additional 1,200 packages. So altogether, we've sent close to 5,000 packages to the troops overseas. And we will be sending at least another 2,000 over the next few weeks.
WASTLER: Carolyn, how do you identify who gets the packages here? I mean, how do you get the names?
BLASHEK: Well, it started out with really networking through the Internet. And mostly, just every person I met I would ask, "Do you have a loved one overseas that I can send a package to?"
And then in every package, I would include a letter from Operation Gratitude explaining what this was for and who I was, and to let them know that if they knew anyone else who would like to receive something, to have them get touch with me through my Web site or through e-mail.
And then once the Web site was online, friends, family members and the troops themselves could actually sign up through a secure form on the Internet -- well, on my Web site -- and provide information. Now I also work with several senior personnel in the field.
CAFFERTY: Where does the stuff that goes into the packages come from? Is that donated by businesses, by individuals? I mean, can I get involved if I wanted to donate something? Tell me how that works.
BLASHEK: Oh, Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. CAFFERTY: OK.
BLASHEK: It's a combination of both. Individuals and organizations of either civic organizations or schools or groups of employees at a business can get together and do collection drives, and pull together all the items that we use in the packages, and ship them to us.
In addition, for the holiday drive, since I knew we were going to be sending so many thousands of packages and we would need really large quantities of items, I did contact many companies throughout the country, and was just overwhelmed with the positive response and the generosity of many businesses that provided their products.
CAFFERTY: If I want to get involved, do you have a Web site I can go to? Tell me how to get in touch with you.
BLASHEK: I sure do. The Web site is www.opgratitude.com. And there's a whole section on how you can help for individuals or organizations or businesses.
SERWER: Carolyn, let me ask you, did you run into any problems with red tape with the military? I mean, how much can private citizens do in terms of supporting the troops and helping out?
BLASHEK: Well, I didn't run into red tape in the sense of anyone stopping me. And I think I've developed a good trust with military members knowing that I personally inspect every item that goes into the packages and I read every letter that goes in.
After 9/11, the postal regulations changed in terms of not being able to send packages addressed to any soldier. One needs to have an actual -- specific name and address of a service member. And that was why I started the networking, to develop those names. So a civilian who does not otherwise have the name and address of a soldier, their best bet is to work through Operation Gratitude to get a package overseas.
CAFFERTY: I'm sure you hear back from these soldiers. I'm just curious, give me a memorable response that you got back from one of the troops over there.
BLASHEK: Well, I received one just yesterday that I just thought was adorable. It was from a woman who had sent me names from everyone in her unit. And they -- all the packages had just arrived, and she wrote back saying how thrilled everyone was, that it was like Christmas time. And that even the commanding officer had a smile on his face because he received a package, too, and he had never received anything ever before.
CAFFERTY: Even the boss got one.
BLASHEK: Even the boss, yes.
SERWER: All right. Carolyn, well that's certainly great. And it's great to hear that kind of story this time of year. Thank you very much. Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude.
BLASHEK: Thank you.
SERWER: Still ahead on IN THE MONEY: the great escape. You can't get out of work, but you can get into wasting some time there. We've got some Web sites that will help.
CAFFERTY: Oh, good.
SERWER: And here's another way to get busy. Write and tell us what's on your mind. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAFFERTY: Worker productivity is way up according to the latest government reports. A lot of experts say that computer technology deserves most of the credit for making us work smarter and more efficiently.
However, not so fast. Our Web master, Allen Wastler, has the other side of the story. He's got the goods on how we all use our computers to goof off and waste time on the job. All of us, except, of course, those of us who work on IN THE MONEY.
WASTLER: Oh, very hard. Very hard.
Got some numbers from Nielsen MetroMedia (ph). They track this stuff. OK.
During a month, on average at home, your Internet surfing is about 27 hours. OK? At work, per month, it's 80.
SERWER: Work is more boring. That's why.
WASTLER: So you're talking 20 a week. And if you work a five- day workweek, that's four hours a day that you're on the net.
SERWER: Every single...
WASTLER: Now, look at this. This is -- my boss will get mad at me. But this is our Web site traffic. OK?
See the down part? That's midnight. See the up part? That's lunch hour. OK?
That will tell you when the people are coming in to our site. All right?
WASTLER: I see this stuff every day. I make sure we have all the juicy news up there right at about 8:00, 9:00 when people are showing up to work. Oh yes. People (UNINTELLIGIBLE), now, naturally, they have to come to CNN money to do their job. SERWER: Well, the computer is the greatest goof off machine in the history of mankind. I mean, before, you just had a newspaper and the water cooler. I mean, that didn't take up enough time. Now the computer is endless, right? You just spend as much time as you want.
WASTLER: You can go on there. And more and more companies are employing the tracking technology and we're going to block certain sites.
SERWER: Oh, I hate that.
WASTLER: But they found out that that actually will impede some types of productivity, if, say, there's a big news event the company has to react to and they've got to go to it.
WASTLER: Now, here's a place you don't have to. This is a ishouldbeworking.com, one of my favorites. It comes equipped with a panic button. You can put up a spreadsheet that will come up if your boss...
CAFFERTY: Oh, OK.
WASTLER: All right? This is some of the back pages of it.
And now we've got, amIboardatwork.com, another good one. Lots of selections. Some amiboardatwork.com has some dirty words on it. So you might want to be careful going there.
Another one I like is, iworkwithfools.com, where you can just write in your complaints about different people. And just post them there for everyone to read.
Now, if you really want to fool around, there's places like gophergas (ph), where we can watch a little -- mock animals playing. Mr. Potato Head. This is a great one.
SERWER: Oh, I could spend a lot of time there.
WASTLER: Ooh, is that my boss? No, not quite.
Of course, there's lots of games you can do, too. I found a nice arcade spot where you can play Asteroids -- well, this is Sub Hunter. Remember Sub Hunter? One of my favorites.
CAFFERTY: I started playing something called Snewd (ph). One of my daughters at home got Snewd (ph) up on the computer.
SERWER: I have a report due this afternoon. Maybe I'll do a little Snewd (ph).
(CROSSTALK) CAFFERTY: It must cost a lot of money, though. I mean, we sit here and kid around about it, but this kind of stuff costs billions of dollars a year, right?
WASTLER: It does. And think about it. Four hours on the Internet at work, most of us don't have jobs that require surfing that much. I do, of course.
CAFFERTY: Yes, sure.
WASTLER: But most people, you don't need to do that. So you've got to wonder.
CAFFERTY: That's why they call him the Web master.
SERWER: How do you get that job? I want to be a Web master.
CAFFERTY: I don't know. What about the people who work for you. Since you know all about this stuff, are you the pain in the tuchis about what other people are doing?
WASTLER: I cast my eye on things from time to time and see what they're doing. But generally we're having fun.
CAFFERTY: All right. Allen Wastler, the Web master.
Coming up next, we'll read some of your responses to our e-mail question about whether or not if someone in your family was gay and got married, if you'd attend the wedding ceremony.
And if you can't help tell us about what you think about the show and about the topics we cover, by then all means, Virginia, unburden yourself. Drop us a line at IN THE MONEY at cnn.com. We have a guy on the staff whose job it is to read this stuff and respond to each and every letter. They let him out three hours a day to do this.
CAFFERTY: Welcome back. Time now to get responses to our question about gay marriage. We asked whether you'd go to a family member's wedding, even if it were a same-sex wedding.
Most of you said you would, including Jonathan, who said this: "I'd go to the wedding even though I wouldn't feel very comfortable being there. Family is still family, and that bond goes beyond my beliefs."
Gail wrote: "The real problem is we're mixing a religious institution with legal and financial laws. It's time to get government out of the religious institution of marriage completely. Let's replace civil marriage with civil unions. Then religious organizations can marry any one they want."
Jeff in Massachusetts said this: "Sure, I would attend a same-sex wedding, but only if I didn't have to go to the bachelor party, bring a date, or kiss the bride." Now for our e-mail question of this week: Do you use the Internet more to waste time or save time while you're at work? And please try to be honest. Send your answers to email@example.com. You should also visit our show Web page.
This is a good way to waste time while working: money.com/inthemoney. Not really. Everything there is pertinent and most worthwhile.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. I appreciate having you with us. My thanks to "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer, and in for Susan Lisovicz this week, ably handling the chore is money.com managing editor Allen Wastler.
Join us tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern Time, when we go behind the wire at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We'll have the inside story of what life is really like in one of the world's most secure prisons. That's tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern.
Until then, thanks again. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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