Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tempus Mutationes

So, it's September. The leaves are going to start changing, school is starting, the summer clothes are going to start disappearing, the weather is going to...HOLY FUCK it's hot!
I know, I know...Folks living in many other parts of the country and/or world are thinking, "Dude, stop your bitching." Okay, maybe not "Dude".

Anyway, Shakespeare Orange County was fairly successful this year, and I'm proud of all the work I put into it.
Set for A Comedy of Errors, designed by Yours, Truly.

Next year, we're going to be doing some different things, including taking a show on the road to Prague! The show is a staged adaptation of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, and I was honored to be asked to be a part of it. First I'm thinking: sweet! And then I start thinking this:
"Adonic- noun: a verse line with a dactyl followed by a spondee or trochee; adjective: of or pertaining to Adonis, physically perfect." 
And then I look down and see that my stomach is neither a verse line nor physically perfect.
Don't get me wrong, working all summer doing what I do helps keep me in relatively good shape. But there is a whole lot of by-god-room for improvement.

So, last week started the official beginning of my Adonis workout regimen. I got 9 months of disciplined diet and fitness changes ahead of me, which feels a bit daunting and a lot of hard work. Until I think about the diet and physical changes pregnant women go through in 9 months, and I realize I could probably do this.
Wish me luck.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tempus Comitiorum

Let me just go ahead and say it so we can get it out of the way: Barack Obama is a worse president that George W. Bush.
Most Republicans, blindly (and naively) following the party line would agree with me. I'm not surprised; most of them are pretty stupid. I don't mean that as an insult, by the way. It's just that I can find no other rationale for devotion to a political party bent on the total destruction of the middle class based, in many cases almost solely, on social and/or religious conservatism. "A 'Christian' politician who is pro-life, anti-gay, pro-Creationism who wants to dismantle the total econo-political structure and rebuild it as a plutocracy? He must know what he's talking about because he believes like I do". Sorry, that's stupid.
Then there are the racists (who can't believe a black man should be president) and the birthers (who believe the same thing but try to hide it) who are also stupid. A lot of the Upper Class Republicans would probably agree with me, but only out of paying lip service. I'm fairly sure they like Obama just as much (if not more) as Bush, Jr.

Since they all agree with me, I guess the statement is more directed towards Democrats, who are more likely to disagree. Their party loyalty is nothing if not steadfast.
Here's why I think Obama is a worse president than Bush, Jr.: George W. Bush made no secret about who he was. His loyalties were obvious and his policies reflected that. Barack Obama energized millions of lower and middle class citizens to vote for him under the "audacity of hope" and then betrayed them all by appointing Wall St. cronies like Geithner and Bernanke to help determine economic policy. He betrayed them all by escalating troop presence in the Middle East (sure the numbers in Iraq are down, but that means nothing). He betrayed anyone too audacious to hope that he would stand up and be a voice against the systematic dismantling of the New Deal (the product of which was probably the strongest middle class in the history of the civilized world) that has been occurring over the past thirty years.
In compromise after compromise, Obama has taken the regressive policies enacted during the Bush Administration and expanded them. He's kowtowed to the banks, he's kowtowed to Wall St., and he's kowtowed to an insane ideological minority in Congress.

And in case you've been sleeping for four years, Wall Street and the Banks are the worst enemy this country has faced since World War II. They utterly demolished our economy in an attack of greed which absolutely dwarfed the effect on Americans the attack of a few terrorists had who flew a couple planes into buildings. We were ruthless (excessively so) in hunting down and exterminating (trying to anyway) the people responsible the the plane attacks. As for Wall Street and the Banks, we paid them more than $3 trillion dollars for the pleasure of their financial rape.

It's time Democrats stopped making excuses for Obama. He's not locked into some hopeless position by unmoving Republicans who steadfastly refuse to make concessions. Take a look at Dylan Ratigan's rant if you need a suggestion as to how Obama could've handled the debt ceiling deal (especially after the two-minute mark of the video). He threw himself under the steam roller on that one and now pleads with America to somehow accept that the concept of "shared sacrifice" doesn't involve and sharing on the part of the wealthy in America. What's especially sad is many wealthy citizens are actually asking for more sacrifice on their part (check out Warren Buffett's op piece in the NY Times).

The whole point of this post, however, is that election season is upon us, whether we believe it or not. Iowa had its ridiculous straw poll following a Republican Primary "debate" and Obama is going on a three state bus tour of Minnesota, Illinois, and (naturally) Iowa. If it seems like Christmas decorations are going up before Halloween, it's because they are.
What this means for Americans, unfortunately, is you are going to see a lot more promises out of Obama for when/if he's reelected. Bah. He's going on a three state tour to shore up support for his reelection. You know what would shore up support for reelection? Jobs. Ending Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. Adding a $1 million+ and $10 million federal income tax bracket. Pulling Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security off the chopping block of deficit reduction. Really, all he would need to do is start crafting policies that helped the 95% of American citizens who need the help. 95% beats 5% no matter how much money 5% has.
Instead you'll see Obama carefully craft his reelection campaign to gain or maintain support from Wall Street and the wealthy. If he wants to do that, I say fuck him. He doesn't get my vote anyway. But what's really important, is he shouldn't get any of yours either, you lower and middle class Democrats. He doesn't love you. He doesn't care.

Does that mean I'm advocating voting for a Republican for president? Nope.
Does it mean I've advocating not voting? Of course not.

People somehow got this idea that elections are a competition, and in a competition, everyone wants to be on the winning team. So they'll vote for the lesser of two evils (either Democrap or Republicunt) rather than vote for a candidate they truly admire (or write in "none of the above") because they don't want to take the risk that their vote could have been the one saving America from the opposing political candidate.
Grow a backbone, America! Stop this snivelling, spineless support for candidates you barely believe in and let politicians know that you reject their bought and paid for policies.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tu Bastarda

"Ooh, what did you make?"
"Arrogant Bastard Brownies."
"You could have just said brownies."

It wasn't as though I planned a conversation like that to happen, or was even expecting it. But I must admit I was a little disappointed when no one said anything.

"Ooh, brownies! What's in em?"
"Arrogant Bastard."
"What, did you cut your finger and bleed on them?"

Nope, no witty banter. It would have been absolutely crushing if I wasn't so damn proud of them.
I'd been wanting to make a good beer brownie for a while, but all of the recipes I found that used beer resulted in brownies that didn't have any beer taste. What's the point, then? It's like an extra ingredient conservative housewives add when they want to be a little naughty.

"Oh, Martha, these brownies are delicious!"
"Thanks." *Voice drops to a whisper* "I added Guinness to the recipe!"
"You are simply too evil."

There were plenty of Guinness brownie recipes, many saying they were a perfect dessert for St. Patrick's Day. Bah. Not if you can't taste the beer. Although adding a whisky caramel glaze might be appropriate.

"Wow! What did you do to these brownies?"
"I made an Irish whisky caramel glaze for the topping."
"Ooh, Catholic or Protestant whisky?"
"Does it matter?"
*Pulls out gun* "Of course it fucking matters!"

I also found some recipes for brownies that used Young's Double Chocolate Stout. My problem with that is that you're adding chocolate to chocolate, and while I'm sure it's tasty (Double Chocolate Stout is divine!) I don't like to go overboard on flavors. I prefer distinct flavors that you can separate in your mouth and let your taste buds dance around. So I abandoned the stouts, and for a bit I thought about grabbing a good dark porter ale (like Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter) but I ran out of time and had to do my shopping at a regular old supermarket, where specialty beers are in low to no supply. But they did have a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale, and I realized how perfect it would be.
Arrogant Bastard is a very hoppy beer, which I don't normally go in for. Pale ales and the like tend to feature the hops in their brew, and I find it tends to overpower the other flavors of the beer. Not my favorite. On the other hand, a good hoppy flavor would contrast nicely with the chocolate in the brownie, and Arrogant Bastard has got nothing but good hoppy flavor.

So I browsed around and combined a few recipes, added my own little twists to em,  and here's what I got:

  • 12 ounces of beer (you Arrogant Bastard!)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with aluminum foil, letting foil extend 2 inches beyond each short side of pan.
2. In large bowl, whisk together stout and cocoa powder until blended and smooth. Add sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and eggs - one at a time. Blend well.
3. Add flour and salt and whisk until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread mixture in prepared pan, leveling surface with a spatula. Bake 42 to 45 minutes  until top is shiny and dry, and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
4. Lift out brownie from pan by foil ends and transfer to a cutting board. Cut lengthwise into four strips and crosswise into eight, making 32 brownies. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.
These brownies turned out seriously good. The wheat flour probably made them a little more cake-ish then if I'd used all-purpose flour, so maybe next time I'd do a cup of each. It's not really my thing to post recipes (especially on a blog where I rant about politics), but I had to share. Try it. You'll love them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cupiditas Fossor

Well, debt ceiling talks collapsed once again. It seems that, more than ever, Democraps and Republicunts just can't seem to agree to the extent of how much they should screw over Americans. And in the meantime, they're treating the public to the most amazing revisionist history I've seen since Orwell's 1984.

Friday, Speaker of the House John Boehner ('cunt from Ohio) sent out a letter to other House members and staff. In the very first paragraph, Boehner writes,
"Dear Colleague, Our economy is not creating enough jobs, and the policies coming out of Washington are a big reason why. Because of Washington, we have a tax code that is stifling job creation. Because of Washington, we have a debt crisis that is sowing uncertainty and sapping the confidence of small businesses. Because of Washington, our children are financing a government spending binge that is jeopardizing their future."(excerpted from
I gotta say, the 'cunts in Congress have mighty big balls! Everything that Boehner said is true, but what he left out was that the policies, tax code, and debt crisis coming out of Washington originated in Prezzy Bush Jr's time in the Oval Office. Boehner's trying to paint Obama and the other 'craps as the ones causing all the trouble, and rather than blast his fantasy to pieces with a couple of archived stories, mainstream media sell the fantasy as New History.
The 'craps in Congress have done nothing to point this out.  They're a bunch of timid little sheep, waiting for the Obama Fairy to wave his cigarette wand and make it all better. And in the meantime, the fucking fools legitimize the 'cunt fantasy by negotiating budget deals based on the premise that the fantasy might be true.  So they lay lower- and middle-class life preservers on the chopping block and try to get the 'cunts to promise not to chop off too much.

At this point, the 'craps have two choices to save face and help the country recover from madness the 'cunts will inflict on this country when Congress either caves in to their demands, or refuses and the country defaults on its debt:
1. Hari Kari. They should admit their failure to the American people and fall on their swords. Honorable suicide would be better than the simpering self-strangulation they are inflicting themselves at this point.
2. Deny the Fantasy and actually fix the History. The 'craps need to present, in complete unison and agreement, an accurate timeline of how America got into this financial mess and then reverse the bad decisions that created the problems.

The "debt crisis" Boehner wrote of stems from the unprecedented number of armed conflicts by America with nations primarily in the Middle East and the Bush Era tax cuts. The bank bailouts by the Obama Administration contributed to the debt crisis, but they were a reaction the "policies" Boehner mentioned.
Those policies consisted of a systematic weakening of laws and regulations for banks that allowed them to consolidate wealth and sketchy investment practices stretching back to the Reagan years. The recession didn't happen because a Democrap was elected president. THE RECESSION DIDN'T HAPPEN BECAUSE A DEMOCRAP WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT. We're talking 30 years of bad policy where a democrap was in charge for less than half the time.
The "tax code" that Boehner mentions is also the product of 30 years of gradual favoring of the wealthy and/or powerful.

You want to balance the budget? Here's how:
1. End the armed conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, et al.
1a. You could also close the hundreds of Cold War era military bases established in Germany, Japan, and surrounding Russia.
2. Repeal or revise the Bush era tax cuts. This could (and should) include adding a tax bracket or two for the insanely wealthy.
3. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 and break up the banks. There is a reason that combining investment banks with savings and loan banks contributed to both the Great Depression and Great Recession.
4. You want to mess with Medicare and Medicaid? Fine. Raise the FICA cap to above $105,000 for starters. Then start crafting policies to lower the cost of health care in America. The reason we spend so much on Medicare in America is because health care in America is so expensive. Rather than cut the program that (literally) keeps many Americans alive, work on cutting the costs the program is paying for. Duh.
5. There is no need to touch Social Security.

When Bush Jr. took office in 2000, America had a budget surplus, remember? It took only nine months to turn that into the largest deficit in American history up until that point. When Bush Jr. took office in 2000, the economy was booming, remember? If the regulatory agencies had only done the job they get paid to do, they would have noticed and fixed the bubble inflations that so wrecked the economy.
This is not to say that all the blame should be layed at the feet of the 'cunts. 'Craps definitely contributed their fair share of bad decisions to the problem.
But the ideological posturing of Boehner, Cantor, Bachmann, McConnell, and all the other 'cunts is revolting and hypocritical.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Retreat 3

Huh, whoops. I meant to post the third writer's exercise a long time ago and totally spaced on that. Busy busy...
So the third exercise was just like the second. Pull a word and you have 45 minutes to come up with a short story. I like what came out, but I feel like there's more story to tell in this version; it's not a complete entity in and of itself. Still, I told myself I'd post 'as is' with no editing. So here ya go. The word I pulled was 'sanctuary'.


Jareth ran.
His breath burned like fire with every inhale and ice with each exhale. His muscles were knives stabbing into his bones with every stride. Sweat stung his eyes. But he did not stop running.
He could hear the footsteps of many men behind him, the clomp of their boots echoing on the paved streets so much it sounded like the gallop of hooves. He couldn't be sure, but it sounded like they were further away than before. He wasn't going to stop to check.
Jareth turned suddenly down an alley, his momentum causing him to bounce a shoulder off one brick wall before he could fully adjust to the change in direction.
The ladder was still there.
He skidded to a halt in front of the ladder. He grabbed the sides of the ladder and shook it once to make sure it was still stable, then he began to climb.
Jareth was moving on pure adrenalin now, but even with the burst of energy that only terror can bring, by the time he scaled the last rung of the ladder to heave himself onto the roof it felt like he was dragging boulders up the wall. He turned and started pulling the ladder up to the roof behind him, groaning with the effort.
The ladder had only just clattered to the roof when he felt the ice-cool blade of a knife at his throat. He tried to speak but his mouth was bone dry.
“Is it done?” a voice whispered in his ear harshly.
“Yeah,” Jareth gasped out. The knife pulled away from his throat and he collapsed to the roof, his adrenalin finally unable to support him any longer.
A water bag dropped next to him. Jareth grabbed the bag and raised the nozzle to his lips, drinking gratefully. He watched the figure move quietly to the edge of the roof and look down. If I pushed, he thought, I'd be a hero.
Jareth knew he was only kidding himself. He'd done the right thing – the necessary thing – but he knew he'd forever be cast as a villain on the pages of history, no matter what he did now. He wondered how she'd be portrayed.
Sabine turned back from the edge of the roof and moved back to Jareth. “How are you doing?” she asked quietly.
“Better,” Jareth whispered. The fire in his breath had died down, though his limbs still felt like there were lead weights attached to them. He rubbed a spot on his throat where the knife had nicked him. “Did you have to use a knife?”
Sabine looked at him stone-faced. “If you had come back without doing it, I'd have killed you.” Her features softened then into the face he'd fallen in love with. “I'm very glad I didn't have to.”
Jareth nodded. “Me too.” He pulled himself wearily to his feet. The steps of the soldiers were further away now, the clomp of their boots merging now more closely with other sounds of night. He turned to her. “We've got to get out of the Capitol. There's no place we can be safe here.”
Sabine kissed him then. It was short – and mostly chaste – but he could feel her gratitude in it. She pulled back and nodded. “I know. We should leave now while we still have the cover of night.”
Jared reached down to grab the water bag with a groan. His muscles were still begging for a break. If we survive the night, I won't be able to move for a week. “I know a place. It'll take most of the night, but if we get there we'll be safe.”
Sabine was already shaking her head. “No. Not after this. There's no shelter we could find on land where we'd ever truly be safe.” She turned to look at the mountains. “Any place that took us in would know who were are, and what we did. Eventually, that knowledge would betray us.” She turned back to him. “The only way we'll ever be safe is to be forgotten.”
Then where can we go?” His voice was trembling. “If there's truly no place we can go...”
On land,” she said. “But we don't have to stay on land.”
The sea,” he realized. “That's your idea? We drift with currents for the rest of our lives, belonging to nowhere?”
Sabine cocked her hip and tilted her head at him. “Would that really be so bad? Spend the rest of your life free, reborn in the ocean.” She moved closer to him. “With me?”
Jareth nodded. He'd never be able to resist her, he knew. But he also knew she'd always take care of him. And they'd both be safe. Forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Retreat 2

Yesterday, I shared the flash fiction I wrote at the writer's retreat I went to. On our second day there, we each drew another slip of paper out of the bag and had 45 minutes to write a short story concerning the word. The word I drew was "anal-beads". For an exercise where I had 45 minutes to pull a short story out of my ass, I think I did okay with the word...


“Hail, Mary, full of –hrk!” his breath caught on the last word.
She smiled. “You have to relax.”

The way a rosary works is absurdly simple, so it comes as a surprise to hear how tedious some people make it. Each bead is a prayer.

His mouth formed a small 'o' as he exhaled. His abdominal muscles slowly loosened, and then the rest of the muscles gradually unclenched. Nodding in encouragement, she gave a gentle push, and then it was done.
“Blessed art thou among women,” he said. His voice was not quite a whisper, but the breathy comment was full of gratitude and relief.
The woman shrugged. “I know.”

The larger prayer beads represent the “Our Father who art in heaven” prayers. The five large beads are separated by ten smaller beads. Each smaller bead represents a “Hail, Mary” prayer. When a priest gives a portion – or even all – of a rosary as penance, the idea is that the person praying is able to find absolution in the repetitive nature of the prayer.

She began again, and so did he.
“Hail, Mary, full of graccccccccce.” The last word came out as a hiss, the exhalation helping him keep his muscles relaxed.
She smirked this time, but there was no meanness to it. “Blessed art thou among women?” she asked helpfully.
He nodded slowly. “That's right.”

The rosary actually has its origin in pagan ritual. Druids and magicians often used a staff or wand as a way of focusing power. They would repeat their magical chant over and over, narrowing their energy and focus down to the simple piece of wood, and when they achieved harmony with themselves, and their surroundings, and their wooden catalyst they were able to perform miracles. The rosary works in the same way.

She raised hand to begin again, then paused. “You know,” she said, “this is a little different from what I'm used to.”
He didn't answer. He continued to look up at the ceiling, breathing slowly and evenly. It was almost as though he could see through the ceiling and up into the sky beyond.
Her hand touched his thigh gently, then curled lightly around his erection.
“No,” he said immediately. “Just the...” He paused, searching for the right words.
She released him and nodded, though he couldn't see. “Okay,” she said. Then she pushed.
A small smile curled across his lips. “Hail, Mary...” he started the prayer again.

Some Eastern religions have something similar. They use a phrase or sound while they meditate, repeating it over and over as a focus while they clear their mind. The phrase loses all meaning relatively quickly, but it provides a tether for their focus and prevents them from drifting.
If a man were to say, “do not think of elephants,” it naturally is the first thing to pop into the mind. So how do you empty your thoughts to nothing without also thinking of everything?

“Hail, Mary, full of grace,” he said. It was getting easier, except now he had to deal with a feeling of fullness. He smiled. It was almost like a feeling of completion. He went on, “Blessed art thou among women.”
She watched all these emotions chase across his face. She was confused. For some reason, and she knew she'd never be able to explain it, she felt aroused. She reached for the last one. And pushed.

The quest for Nirvana. The magical connection to nature and all living things. A search for absolution. It seems strange that they all revolve around the repetitive nature of a word, sound, or phrase. A vibration of the vocal chords escaping the lips on an exhalation of breath from within. Could it be that power does not exist out in the universe at all? That, in the end, the power comes from within?

She pulled, and a groan of relief escaped from his mouth, against his will. Every sin, every regret, every mistake he carried with him drained away as each prayer was pulled from his body.
Afterward, he lay on the table, cleansed and whole. He was crying.
She stood and tossed his sins aside. She looked down at him, her breasts heaving. She was more aroused than she'd ever been in her life, but as she looked at him, she knew she could never consummate this relationship. She had seen. She felt him touch God in that one pull of the string.
He reached up and grasped her hand reverently. “Thank you.”
She pulled away from him and picked up her robe. She slipped her arms through the sleeves and cinched the belt tight around her waste. Not looking at him, she said, “After you get dressed, leave the money on the table.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Retreat 1

Last weekend I went on a writer's retreat with 3 other guys with the idea that we'd lock ourselves in a cabin for three days and come out the other side with a book written. I consider the venture successful!
Additionally, we did a writing exercise each morning to warm up our brains. James Ninness is being super cool by posting all the results on his blog, and you should go check out what he and Joe Pezzula and Marcel Losada came up with. I'll be posting what I wrote here.

For the first day, we each wrote down four words on slips of paper and placed them in a bag. Then we each drew a word (it couldn't be one we wrote down) and had to write a piece of flash fiction about the word or using the word as inspiration. Flash fiction is essentially a lightning bolt of creative writing composed of exactly 55 words, no more or less. The word I drew was "Snowman".

It's like waiting for the firing squad to kill you. Dawn breaks over the mountains, and the slow crawl towards death begins. It's not quite murder, nor justice, nor even suicide. Just accepting inevitability; thin stick arms stretched wide for an embrace and a sad charcoal smile for a greeting. It is a good death.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Solvo Venalicium Est Non Solvo

Last Tuesday (Jan. 18th), President Obama put out an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal detailing a new executive order he signed. The piece was accompanied by this picture:
The piece essentially signified his surrender to Wall Street and big business. He writes:
"...throughout our history, one of the reasons the free market has worked is that we have sought the proper balance. We have preserved freedom of commerce while applying those rules and regulations necessary to protect the public against threats to our health and safety and to safeguard people and businesses from abuse...Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs."

What kind of history book is he reading? Excessive regulation stifles small business, yes. But the larger the business, the firmer the hand government must place to ensure that profit-seeking does not endanger the lives of American citizens.

Let's be crystal clear here. When a company fires its workers and moves its production off-shore (such as Evergreen Solar, which closed its factory in Massachusetts to move to China), it hurts Americans. Poverty is a health and safety threat against citizens. Jobs boost the economy, but it's production jobs that stabilize it. I'm no economist and my grasp of all the economic theory mumbo jumbo is is pretty basic, but I'll try to explain what I mean.

Since the 1990s, America has seen a drastic decline in production jobs (the "goods" part of "goods and services"). Some of that is due to technology innovations, and some due to off-shoring and H1-B work visas. Where American job growth has increased is in service jobs (most significantly in health care services).
For example*: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase of 103,000 non-farm payroll employment in December 2010, and "Employment rose in leisure and hospitality and in health care but changed little in other major industries."

Service industry jobs, for the most part, move money around (and thus stimulate the economy). You take your 20 dollars to a restaurant for a meal, and that restaurant sends that money to the people that grew the vegetables and raised the meat, but only after skimming off the top to pay their employees and cover their operating costs. Those employees take their portion of your money and spend it somewhere else. And so money moves around and the economy is stimulated. But stimulation is the foreplay.
Production jobs are the foundation of the economy, a place where money essentially stops moving and turns into something else- a product. Why is this so important? Because money doesn't really exist anymore. Banks don't carry the total amount of money of their customers in their vaults; they don't need to. Most of it moves digitally, and a huge portion of that movement comes from a figment of imagination called credit.
Credit is where a person (or business) spends money they don't have under the condition that they pay the money they do have to somebody else in smaller increments over time. So a credit company (bank) stimulates the economy by providing consumers money to increase their purchase power. Credit stimulation is like phone sex. It works, but only as long as everybody agrees that it works and nothing goes wrong to prove otherwise. The United States is propped up (almost entirely) by credit stimulation; it's called a debt economy.

A major problem with credit stimulation is that it artificially makes things more expensive than they really are. A car costs $15,000, but after the loan's been paid, it really cost $20,000 (on a loan with a great rate). The trouble is the car is only worth $15,000. What is especially troubling is everyone pretends that $15,000 is how much they are paying. That extra $5,000 that no one talks about is dangerous. I'm not sure why it's called interest if no one pays attention to it (heh). Don't get me wrong, credit is an incredibly useful tool. But we've gone way beyond that.

Here's why that interest is dangerous. That extra $5,000 basically became an invisible third facet to the economy. It can no longer be called "goods and services"; now it's "goods and services and debt". It's a facet of the economy because a person, company, or bank can make a living on it. You can even package debt into a hedge fund and trade it on Wall Street.

Okay, so what does all this have to do with President Obama's op-ed?

For some reason, government economists think that the value of Wall Street and a consumer's purchasing power determine the strength of the economy. The trouble is that both of them are bubbles, inflated with debt. Somehow, economists maintain a fantasy that a consumer doesn't buy anything with money they don't actually have, despite the overwhelming profits of the credit industry proving otherwise. The other fantasy they live in is the idea that people use the stock market to invest (ie. believing in the value of a company enough to buy a piece of it), despite the overwhelming evidence that people use the stock market to make money and not to help companies grow. Wall Street has become a casino: a few people still go because they love a good card game, but most people like the slot machines.

What government regulation does is help close exploits in the marketplace. A "free market" like what Obama says America is about means there is no economic intervention or regulation by the state. The trouble is that a free market in America does not exist. It can't. Not when "too big to fail" really means "too big for the government to allow to fail". Not when the government buys major shares in General Motors to prevent its bankruptcy. A free market means that taxpayers don't have to pay for companies that blow it.

But, of course, that's not what Obama means. His executive order "requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive".

That is why I mentioned "goods and services". Job creation does not make our economy more competitive, not when the only growth is happening in services. America needs to make stuff. But to do that, we need more economic intervention and regulation, not less. We need to provide reasons to keep production in America, and unfortunately we just can't blame China for being cheaper.

Where the free market works best is in small business and the middle class. Unfortunately small business can't compete with the corporation and the middle class is collateral damage in the class war of wealth distribution.

Obama's executive order, just like the picture of the businessman gleefully cutting through all the red table, is designed to increase the profits of people already making profit. Maybe he's too caught up in the fantasy economy to see it.