Time for an adult conversation

November 28, 2010

 “Let’s cut deficits!”

“Let’s cut taxes!”

“Let’s pay off the debt!”

“Let’s cut spending programs and entitlements!”

“Let’s stop big government!”

The statements above reflect fundamental tenets of the new ‘Tea Party’ movement sweeping into Congress come January 2011. However, none of these things will do much to spur economic activity and help aid unemployment—the major problem facing our society.

If you give money back to the uber-rich, you will not increase economic output. Policy analyst Andrew Fieldhouse questions why we would give tax cuts to “a group whose incomes have seen the strongest growth over recent decades and who will put relatively little of it back into the economy.” As he notes, there are better ways to spend this money.

If you cut deficits and debts, in the short-term, you will severely limit the government’s ability to step in and act as a “consumer of last resort.” You think if the government didn’t pump in bailout and stimulus funds, we would be better off now? We fought off a crisis of a catastrophic magnitude with an intensity and creativity of which many of us will never fully understand or appreciate.

If you cut spending and entitlements, you will put people already on the bottom of America’s socioeconomic ladder, into poverty and sickness. There are some among us who believe that many workers are jobless because they are lazy and riding on the backs of other hard-working wage earners.

In reality, most people are unemployed not because of a lack of skill or initiative, but because of a simple lack of jobs. In fact, a Rutgers University survey of workers who were unemployed in August 2009 showed that a staggering 80% of them were still without jobs six months later.

Unemployment benefits are actually good policy. Why? Because EVERY dollar paid out is usually spent immediately on food and other necessities. Compare that to the dynamic of handing out $100,000 checks to America’s wealthiest versus the weekly unemployment check for $300. What do you think would get spent faster? If you really do not believe people are hurting, check out this time-lapsed welfare map that shows the 60% increase in food stamp usage since 2007.

And regarding big government? Imagine if the Obama administration failed to jump in and save General Motors. According to an analysis by International Economist Robert Scott, the U.S. investment in GM prevented the failure of a major American auto maker, which could have resulted in one million to three million lost jobs. As the Economic Policy Institute noted, “considering the impact on government budgets of such a massive shutdown and such widespread unemployment, Scott wrote that the federal government made a savvy investment. He calculated that the investment saved federal, state, and local governments between $94 billion and $515 billion.”

So then, I ask, how do we fix unemployment? The answer is, most likely to the cringe of the GOP: green technology.

We’ve seen from tragic oil spills and mine explosions that there is a serious cost of using fossil fuels—to human lives and our environment. Green technology offers America an industry with tremendous growth potential and with great possibilities of fundamentally changing the way we live for the better.

The US government must step in and invest in this new industry with tax incentives, capital investments, and rigorous policy initiatives to help get the ball rolling. If we can lead the world in green technology, we will be at the helm of the next major economic powerhouse.

The folks most affected by the recession have been working class people – in construction (previously home and office builders) or manufacturing. These jobs have either been out-sourced or destroyed by the loss of consumer demand and the difficulty in getting credit to fund capital investments. Less consumers/capital investments = less things sold = less things made = less workers employed to make them.

According to a recent letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, “[C]onstruction employment declined nearly 25% from the start of the recession through the end of 2009 . . .[s]imilar to past recessions, job losses have been concentrated in cyclically sensitive sectors such as construction and manufacturing.”

Futhermore, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for construction workers “has been hovering around 20% in recent months” compared “with a more typical rate from 2003 to 2006 of about 7 to 8%.” This represents about 1.25 million more unemployed construction workers, and while many “of these workers are likely to be employable in other sectors as the economy improves…a large share may not be.”

But when the economy isn’t improving, how do we put these 1.25 million construction workers back to work? Currently, the economy is only growing at about 2% a year. In order to affect the near 10% unemployment number, we would need a growth rate of at least 5%. Construction – both residential and commercial – is dead. Banks aren’t loaning money to companies and individuals, which is slowing down the rate of recovery. And don’t expect it to change any time soon. With so many bad assets on their balance sheets related to the housing bubble and mortgage mess, it will probably takes years for banks to resume normal leading.

If we sit back and do nothing, employment may not come back till 2013 or even later, some say 2018. In previous recessions, the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates and spur economic activity by making loans cheaper for companies and individuals. However, short-term interest rates are near zero and have been near zero since the fall of 2008. So the Fed’s back up plan? Money Voodoo. Right now, the Federal Reserve is planning a second round of “quantitative easing.” Basically, the Federal Reserve will print $900 billion dollars and use it to buy treasury bonds. Who sells treasury bonds? The US government. So, the “bank of the government,” is going to print money and then use it to buy bonds, which are basically “I-owe-you’s.” They are doing this because they can’t cut interest rates. This is monetary policy geared to helping supply more money to the markets.

However, the US government is not the only owner of treasury bonds. Banks, financial institutions, insurance firms, foreign governments, and even individuals own T-Bonds. By buying these bonds, the Federal Reserve will pump money into the system, onto bank and company balance sheets, making them able to have money to do stuff. But the catch is they might not do anything.

For example, if you are JP Morgan Chase & Co and you have $176 billion dollars in bad mortgages and the Federal Reserve buys treasury bonds from you, giving you say $100 billion in “cash,” what do you think you would do? Do you loan that money out or do you hold on to it to make sure you survive your credit losses?

To me that doesn’t sound like the best investment. Wouldn’t it be better for the federal government to invest that $600 billion dollars into building a new economic powerhouse to drive the economy for the next 5-10-15 years? Or to take the money pegged for tax cuts for the wealthiest and invest it in green technology? This is the type of infrastructure we need to be building. For all of the unemployed construction and manufacturing workers to help build the factories, the plants, the roads to the offices, etc. There’s a multiplier effect that would take place: more people working = more tax revenue for the government and more people buying things = better economy overall. And we’re investing in the future! This is a long-term solution to MANY of our problems.

In a recent blog post about the sunken position of newly minted college graduates (a must read), the article notes a recent paper on long-term investments in rebuilding a green energy base by Robert Pollin and Dean Baker. According to the report, if “the military and fossil fuel industries accounted for roughly $1.2 trillion in total U.S. spending in 2008, this means that taking, say, 25 percent of their total and distributing it proportionally to traditional infrastructure and clean energy investments would generate a net increase of roughly 2.5 million jobs—enough to reduce U.S. unemployment, as of 2008, by more than 1.5 percentage points.”

Sounds like a plan that could be crazy enough to work. To put Americans back to work. To strengthen the economy, create a better world, and put America back at the forefront of innovation.

So the question I have for the newly elected Congress: do you care? What will you be fighting for in 2011? Will it be repealing the healthcare law, cutting taxes for the top 1-2%? Will it be making sure Barack Obama is a one-term president? Will you allow unemployment benefits to lapse so that people can’t feed their families? Will you change the American landscape, will you fight for a better future for these people you represent?

My advice to you is beware of logical fallacies and intellectual dishonesty. You can’t cut taxes for the wealthiest AND cut deficits and debt. You can’t cut entitlements and spending programs AND help Americans do better economically. You can’t lead by obstructing or fight for the working class by protecting big business.

We are ready for the “adult” conversation, but only if you are too. Let’s take our government back, yes. But let’s be sure to do it’s for the American people and not the corporate elite. After all, these unemployed construction and manufacturing workers are the ones behind this Tea Party rage, behind the anger at big government and bailouts. These are the people who elected you. Please help them.

Happy Cherpumple Pie Day!

November 25, 2010

Gobble Gobble. I’m elbow deep in the world’s most disgusting dessert. Remember to be thankful for being a quarterlifer and for the wealth of viral videos on the internets.

Clinton in “The Hangover 2”?

November 18, 2010

I am going to pre-review a movie I have never seen and is not actually in
the cinematic film can yet. That is the “bizness” chatter for filming has
not wrapped up on the production set.

I just read that a former President of the United States has a cameo in a
R-rated comedy. I guess it was an easy inevitable leap that you can go
from talk shows, or a VP & Senator hosting Saturday Night Live or guess
voicing episodes of Futurama. It’s all good these days. I suppose by the
2020 Presidential race, all candidates will need to have a self promoted
porno on their political resumes to even compete with Senator-elect

So it is Clinton…none too surprising. I had heard he was to voice a
character in the upcoming Disney animated prequel of the piggy movie,
Babe. But, he had to settle for the most money making comedy of all time
and its sequel.

The first installment of this soon to be franchise, 2009’s Hangover, was
in the truest fashion all that appeals to a generation who grew up on
Johnny Knoxville, Clinton and Oral (I mean Oval) Office cigars & American
Pie flicks. Is it the later segments of Gen X? Certainly it is quarter
lifers of Gen Y and all of the Y2Kers. And they, us, the stars should be

I can appreciate the satirical, double comedy of Shakespeare’s Taming of
the Shrew to whacky Airplane‘s, “Don‘t call me Shirley“, Grocho Marx’s
mirror gag, Animal House Togo parties, Dumb and Dumber’s shameless Jim
Carey promotion to all things Seth McFarlane cartoonish. But, the
Hangover? It’s sequel?

All 90 minute flicks have the same story line:

Plan of action.
Finally, self discovery.

Road trip movies with bachelor party themes not withstanding…especially in
Vegas. Hangover played to all of these without really ever engaging the
audience to care about anyone except the goofiness of Zach Galifianakis.
No one really gave a rat’s ass about the baby. Bradley Cooper only cared
about his hairdo. I get the tooth gag and its apparent appeal to an
audience absorbed with a drunken history of Sharpie marker abuse at the
expense of a inebriated passed out friend.

When I was in the audience of a good mix of youthful male and female
demographics, I practically was sensory overwhelmed by the twittering,
busy fingers texting and whispered buzzing…“Oh this reminds me of us. My
group of friends is just like this. I remember Spring Break.” It was like
going to Sex and the City, but there were actually straight dudes there,
not threatened with a sexual embargo if not taken to the movie.

Pièce de résistance, the insertion of convicted rapist Mike Tyson just
shows you how far a movie can go into the moral toilet. And you know
what…if you want to produce a sinker in the commode at least provide a
once in the while floater laugh. Again, the only worthy moment was Zach’s
wolf speech.

I should have seen this coming after the shove the script down the crapper
and hire all comedy stars in 2003’s “Old School” and the announcement of
its sequel. The only thing missing from the Hangover was the obligatory
cameo of Will Ferrell. So I guess now that he is too expensive, go with
President Clinton. After all he only charges $200,000 for a thirty minute
speech. I hear the cameo is 45 seconds, so that works out as a bargain in
Hollywood prices.

So Hangover II will be filmed all over the world, tripling its budget on
actor salaries and guaranteed to exceed the $467 million foreign and
domestic gross of the original.

In the end…no matter what…I am just ranting. I bitch because I did not
have the peaches to submit my road trip stories, my drunken debauchery, my
time partying with the Bush girls here in Austin, my one time stint
filling in for a Vegas Elvis illegal marriage…and thus make a cool $100
million. Day late, dollar short. But I have those wonderful quarter life

Oh…and if the couple out there reads this and remembers the blonde spiky
haired Elvis who “married” you. I am not licensed and thus you are living
in sin. FYI…

Zombie Invasion

November 18, 2010

Seems everywhere I turn these days zombies are the in-thing. And with the new television series “The Walking Dead” it is uber fashionable. That show is sort of like the writers of “Mad Men” got together with the Spiderman trilogy director and creator of Xena, Sam Raimi and B-actor Bruce Campbell…and drank way too much to much tequila.

This sort of all makes sense seeing that existence in 2010 is kind of like being among the walking dead. Hey Quarter Life has its up and down days…and sometimes zombie weeks or decades. I have spent a greater portion of my twenties do just that.

About 4 million people do it every Tuesday and Saturday night when watching Glee or SNL respectively.

Brains! Brains! Brains!

And this passion for the genre has been growing exponentially every year. We have zombie 5k lurches for Prostrate Cancer research (you would think a more cerebral cause might have been a better choice) to 10-12 zombie related movies per year pumped out by the Hollywood crap factory. Still a few good ones out there. My personal favs are still Shaun of the Dead and Zombie Land. Oh…and I am Legend. Will Smith might be lonely. But all of NYC to yourself? Guns, fast cars, chilling with your dog, golf chip shots off an air craft carrier. We should all be so lucky if the world ends tomorrow!

And on the subject of watching scary zombie related material. Never, ever do the following while viewing zombie related material.

10. When your fiancé asks you what you would do if she caught the cliché “virus” and she turns into the undead. Never, ever respond you would “ice” her for the betterment of mankind by keeping the pandemic in check. You may now insert the appropriate, totally over the top emotional, tears and the late night argument about how I do not love her enough to no join her in the whole undead thing. Oh, and then after the apopylysce is over, will I start dating that quit blonde in the cubicle next to me?

9. Never ask yourself if personality type A translates over at all into the zombie world. Why are they always so dirty? Would probably break the cinematic forth wall if we suddenly cut to a scene where one walking corpse is busily scrubbing his clothes, “Oh these darn blood stains are so hard to get out. Does anyone have a Shout It Out stick?”

8. Do zombies poop? If they eat the brains, where do they go after that?

7. Never watch one zombie movie from 1974 then one from 2009. Make up is worse, but you will like the older one better and they are so hard to find on DVD.

6. Never, ever look around the room and even for a moment entertain the idea who you would eat first if you became an extra in a “Thriller” video. And do not let above-mentioned fiancé realize it will not be her…and your choice would be your cousin’s sweet college girlfriend. But not her brains. Hey! I am dead…I do WHAT I WANT. WHEN I WANTS IT!

5. Not a good idea to eat Mexican trailer food off of Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas before sitting down to a zombie movie fest. You will wish to be dead, smell like the dead and the bathroom will be for the undead until the EPA removes the plastic tent two weeks later.

4. Never ponder during beer five (the prime buzz time before you sober up or plunge in for more), why do even the hot chicks in zombie movies go un-hot suddenly when zombiefied? And all the clothes? Personally if I am undead, the rules are off. I am dining and dying in the buff!

3. If you are a hypochondriac or have even the tiniest nugget of OCD about government conspiracies to enslave humanity with experiments which go horribly wrong. Do not rent, AMC, STARZ view any zombie flick from 1996 to the present. (Oh…on the low down, hush-hush, the vapor trails left by high flying jets are how they spray the chemicals on us.)

2. Again, never scan the room, spy your college bud who has gained a few extra lbs and say…“hmmm, he looks like there might be some good marbling there. 350 degrees, fifteen minutes per pound, garlic, a nice rosemary, red peppercorn glaze…”

1. Never get into a group discussion about either the moral complications of killing human life or who was the best zombie of all time. I lost some good friends that night. My personal favorite is a QL classic. South Park’s Kenny when he comes back from the dead in the first season because he embalmed with Worchester sauce at the morgue.

And that is my daily QL rant on today’s entertainment and my apparent need to work on relationships in this life and the next. At least my ramblings were not about the uber popular girly tween-teen and wishful could fit into their skinny jeans helicopter moms, screaming about gay virgin vampires and shirtless werewolves. I keep my fictional monsters on the cool side. And I keep my real life ones very hot. I am looking at you blondie.

Book Review: The Magus by John Fowles

November 18, 2010

This summer, I was perusing the bookshelf at the cottage and pulled down a copy of John Fowles’ The Magus. The title didn’t particularly appeal to me, but it was a book I’d seen move from bookshelf to bookshelf around my house for most of my life, and I was curious enough to read the back at the very least. My random selection was destined, as I soon found out that I was named for one of the book’s main characters. How could I have turned it down after that? This book changed everything.

Well, even if my name hadn’t popped off the page and into my pregnant mother’s brain, I’m glad I got to read such an incredible, complex and intense work of fiction. If you want to see what REAL literature is all about, get a hold of this.
It’ll keep you busy. And if you want to see what a REAL quarter-life crisis is like, this will put things in perspective!

The Magus tells the post-war story of Nicholas Urfe, a fairly cocky, commitmentphobe-ahead-of-his-time Brit, who’s feeling lost and lazy as a recent graduate in London. He is well-read and well-educated but can’t seem to find work – or he can’t seem to commit to anything resembling a settled life. When he accepts a teaching position in Greece, I felt relieved because his life was pretty dull to me, too. He’d met a modern girl, Alison, who might have been the only one willing to love him for who he was, so naturally Nicholas confirmed his travel plans and they went their separate ways. I was interested in the book at this point, but not in an unnatural way. But speaking of unnatural…(cue mysterious music, preferably via theremin.)

I won’t reveal too much of the plot, but I’ll tell you that Nicholas gets himself involved with a Ben-Kingsley-as-Ghandi-looking guy who is pointed out to him from afar as a millionaire who was questionably involved with the Nazis during the occupation in Greece. Incredibly bored and curious, Nick enters the man’s property and winds up becoming a regular guest at his summer house. We learn that the generous host, Conchis, is and isn’t who he seems to be, triggering an incredible dichotomy of confusion and obsession in Nick. When Conchis reveals that he is hosting another guest – one who is possibly deceased – Nick begins to question Conchis’ intentions, but his insatiable curiosity embroils him in a major, life-changing summer, to put it lightly.

The Magus is an artistic, dense and bewildering novel. I’ve got no idea how Fowles could have come up with such a plot, but it is incredibly unique and for that I remain a humble admirer of the author’s abilities. He manages to confront the psychology of life and death, theatre, classic literature, the distortions of a young man’s perspective, and of course blonde, twin actress/temptresses who may or may not be dead. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface.

If I had to complain, I would say that Fowles knows he is writing a story above and beyond any reader who isn’t privy to the inner workings of his brain. If I couldn’t read in French, I would have found a few untranslated passages fairly frustrating, though the reader is often so churned up inside the story herself that missing a detail here and there wouldn’t really make a difference. I was left surprised, satisfied, confused, curious, and amazed. And you will be too.

The Magus falls under the rare category of books that really become a part of your life. Like Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much is True,” or anything by Anne-Marie MacDonald, there were times when I could not stop reading. Literally. And there were times when I had better things to do but remained in bed all morning reading and reading and reading. Like Nick, I needed to get to the end of the story because once I was involved, there was no backing out. The strange, wary love I have for this book is one of inconvenience – the inconvenience of reading a tome that was impossible to remove myself from at times, that had me completely, entirely mind-boggled. And in many ways it still has me. Sometimes that’s the only way to tell that you’ve had a real, unforgettable experience, and if you’re up for it, I recommend this literary trip.

Less is More in the ¼ Life

November 12, 2010

That’s what I keep hearing…

No Innuendos Please.

Let’s face it. You are getting less bang for your buck. And your needs
were as ever great as any poor widow on Tottem Court Road off of
Piccadilly Square. (Wait. That is Elisa Doolittle from My Fair Lady)

Where are my notes? Here they are.

QLs. We have appetites for food, health, wealth, X-treme everything, our
parent’s salaries and pensions, health benefits, sex, Pottery Barn
lifestyles and to pull off that local community college center class on
red wine appreciation…has to offer.

But, it ain’t gonna happen. First time since the fall of Rome me says.
Where the current generation’s grandparent’s look forward and know they
had it better then their own grand and g-grand kids will. We are gonna get
less of the pie than those before us. Portion control my ass! Again,
despite my previous articles…no sexual innuendos. Please. I am slightly,
ever so trying to be serious.

Less if more.

But hey…they say less clutter the better. So Quarter Lifers. Let us cram
what we don’t need in the recycle bin, and demand more from the latest CDC
statistics that our parents life expectancy rate of 78.5 years will be
only 76.4 years for us…



Are you sure? Yes? Okay…Well, that is not good news.



Less is More!

Less salary is less of a purse which is less leather or less of a
faux-pleather Gucci bag you have full of other crap you do not need. Plus
I so hear those bags were made in a sex-slave trade factory in Calcutta,
where AIDS was born. Down with slave wages and Ceylon!…or is it disease?!
Well, anyway. Just carry your ID, a Franklin dollar bill, your health
benefits card when you go out clubbing. Those giganto bags the
Kardissshhhh sisters wear are how they smuggle in their own sweat shop

Less of a carbon footprint is less of a guilt trip about just drinking out
of a water bottle given to you at some 5K walk-a-thon you did for a
friend, on a bet, for a way “out of fashion” wrist bracelet for a cause
that has received billions, but United Way got most the funds. I am
looking at you Lance and Mrs. K.

Less is more in the Quarter Life when it comes to calories. Not because
you are cutting back, but because a 10 oz. Lean Cuisine is now 9.4 oz and
jacked up another 30 cents. Blame out-sourcing…not like we needed to eat
that crap anyway.

Less love is less life…like so many disposable things in this life,
divorce is up, marriage is down, we argue about what it means to be
married while forgetting we need to love more and hate less. Can I get an
ahhhhhhhhhh from the ladies in the house. No…not you Cecil. You are not a
lady…and though flattered, I am straight.
Less exercise is still more pounds, but hell…it will soon be a deduction
on your Hover-Round or 1040 EZ tax form. And QL dudes. I just remembered I
don’t have to sign up for Selective Service anymore. It stops at 29. What?
You never did? Do you know what I am even talking about? The Draft dude.
Seriously? Well, it does not matter…you are fat and so the “less exercise
less combat” thing applies. America’s next generation of cyber warriors
and it seems gay people are dying to get and stay in the Armed Forces.
Never you mind…just sit back, lick your Chet stained fingers and dream of
Madden ‘11.

Less is more. That’s what the Dems, GOP, Tea-Party types…well anyone in
political office is telling me. Napoleon once said the best way to start a
revolution was to first start with killing all the lawyers. Course he
ended up conquering a continent, ushering in a new era, but was exiled to
a island rock in the South Atlantic without a trial by law. And I bet the
same will be said of the X-Y Gens. Just less poetically so and with more
texting verbiage. 8-DOO( – 😉 Viv la Revolution…
(Classic joke insert: What do you call 10,000 dead lawyers on the bottom
of the ocean? A GOOD START!)

Less…really Les (or Leslie) was the name of a chick buddy I had back
during my sophomore year in college. Yea. It sounded like dude’s name, but
back then I could actually meet her and not worry about some fat, cat
fetish, Hep-C card carrying pedo bear fooling me over the internet. I met
her at the student center…get this f-ing fact…FACE to FACE, like a human.
But, again Les, then became a real Leslie…like she got a “package” of her
own Leslie. I like to figure I drove her, him, it…whatever to such a
decision. Who wouldn’t want to be more like me and less of a man?

Where is Daniel Tosh when I need him? Course I could not stop from kidding
her incessantly about her name. Les, lez, lezbo, Lesbo…and so on…oh…good
times. I think Les walked on a house loan when the Vegas housing market
plummeted and now works the strip. Huh?

Less again…less hate, but more tolerance for a gentle joke would be best
for any and all groups who have a current law suit against me for having
an opinion. I am aware restraining orders are a real hassle for everyone.
The guy in the Burger King costume notwithstanding.

Less is the new more. That’s what I am rolling out for the Obama campaign
in 2012. Let me try this…old Jedi mind trick. “You will believe less is
more. These are not the droids or way of life you were looking for. Your
college loans are not controlled by the Feds. And you like the new Droid

Did you see it? Did you catch the double droid? In the biz…that’s what we
call good writing.

Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.

It is gonna have to be. Because I am done for the night. Time for me to
hit Sonic for my Route 44 Lime-Aid, well deserved Cartoon Network Adult
Swim and an Ambien. Good night.

Halloween versus Porn…Who ya got?

November 12, 2010

What is a ghost’s favorite pet or snack food?

…a Halloweenie.

In honor of the reason for the season I thought to put together a ¼ life
perspective on my favorite time and holiday of the year.

The childish nature of the above joke and the reference to hot dogs,
dachshunds, snack time and weenies will all become very apparent…so stay
with me on this.

Oh, nothing like sweet childhood memories of tricks and treats on a cool
autumn evening. As the sun went down, the wind gently swept a gathering of
fall leaves around my aluminum foil covered box robot costume. Jack ‘o
lanterns and their hues of glowing orange lit my way from house to house.

Then over the next decade or two…maybe I just gave up toilet papering old
man Johnson’s house last year…but imperceptibly Halloween lost all of its
sweet innocence of dress up, pop corn balls, bobbing for apples feel.

So I ask. What the freaking hell? I have been to sinful play at Mardi
Gras, in Rio, Chelsea Clinton’s bachelorette party and when the LSD and
non disclosure agreements wear off I can tell you about my tour in Iraq.
But, Halloween has turned into the Sodom of the holidays. Skimpy costumes,
made to gothic up those coeds and that one girl who had four changes of
outfits, FOUR, count them four different Disney princesses…oh and the
hussy with the over 18 adult Hermione Hogwart’s school skirt…hmmhmmm.

Shameful. Shameful.

And the most angry part about this travesty of lost childhoods, I have
already graduated from college!
It practically begs for me to put some sort of tag line about a witch,
black Sabbath and a ride on a broom stick here.

Oh, Great Pumpkin! Why do you tempt me so with things that my Quarter Life
has passed me by? As Sally said in the above mentioned, beloved cartoon
Peanuts TV special, “Where is my time? Where are my treats? I demand

The following demands I make on the holiday, Wicca, Hallmark and society
in general for ruining my holiday and/or to make up that I cannot have as
much fun as the kids today are.

1. One invitation to the Playboy Mansion’s Halloween Ball. Just ONE
invitation please. What? Someone has to stay and hand out candy…might as
well be the fiancé. Wink, wink…nudge, nudge…say no more.

2. No more pumpkin carving kits. When my QL ass was a kid, I had
newspaper, a pencil and a paring knife…and imagination.

3. No X-ray machines. There was like one incident back in 1974 and it is
wallowed in urban legend ever since. No one puts razor blades in candy. If
people in your neighborhood do, that’s because you live in a Federal

4. Laws that stop the purchase of toilet paper and eggs 48 hours before
Halloween should be repealed. And what if I had some QL GI track tummy
ache issues or needed to bake a wedding cake…huh? Huh? How else am I
supposed to follow the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes without eggs?

5. Two-day Halloween national holiday. The day of and the day after. And
while on the subject of holidays…throw in Monday after the Super Bowl. Oh,
and people who work at banks have to show up for their jobs. Stick it to
the MAN!

6. Bring back candy cigarettes. How else am I suppose to look cool?

7. All costumes must be homemade. Sheets, garbage bags, construction
paper, tape, etc. Except for the aforementioned college parties. Ladies?
Knock yourselves out. Boys? Break out the Jell-O shots. I’m bringing my
1999 party mix CD and we are tearing up the dorm.

8. Trick or treating must continue til after 10:00 PM. Man…you could not
pull me into the house with anything but a tazor. I had the streets all
worked out, plan of action, maps…these days, kids are all hustled away
into their homes to watch the I-Carly special before the sun goes down.

9. No Christmas crap in the stores til November 1. Let’s not mess with
extremes here people. Some hard line Kansas evangelicals don’t like mixing
the two, and personally I do not like to be pushed around by Target.

10. The Simpson’s Haunted Tree House of Horrors television special can
only be aired in October. I am tired of Fox pulling its BS of a first
weekend in November after the NFL game wrap up.

That’s my rant. That’s my list of demands. That’s my QL prayer to the
Great Pumpkin.

The Campaigner-in-Chief goes down & the economy moving forward

November 4, 2010

Are you sick of seeing President Obama on TV? I certainly am. Well, now that the campaigning is over, maybe he can actually govern?

The man spent so much time campaigning over the past month that Tuesday’s election results are a real blow – evident in his tone and manner during Wednesday’s press conference.

It’s not only a direct repudiation of the President, but also a clear statement that the American people are not happy with the Democratic leadership. It’s not too surprising; the party in power usually does poorly during an economic downfall.

The Democrats’ problem was one of policy. Their focus should have been on rebuilding the economy by creating jobs. Instead they focused on two massively complicated issues: banking & financial regulation and healthcare. These two things are vitally important to the future of our country, but not so significant in the short-term. If you do not have money to eat, you might not care if the banks can trade derivatives or not. If you haven’t worked in a year, you might not care about government subsidized healthcare in 2014.

The administration’s main tool to repair the economy was a massive stimulus bill that probably saved us from a depression. But two problems are evident within its architecture: 1) it was probably not large enough and 2) it could not be “released” fast enough. As the President recently said, there are few “shovel-ready” projects.

The government’s main focus moving forward must be creating jobs. Over 15 million people lost their jobs over the past two years. The economy, based so much on consumer driven demand, can not do better unless there are consumers to buy things. More buying = more products needed = more people hired to make them. And then the dominoes begin to fall.

Most of those job losses were in manufacturing and construction. Many of these manufacturing jobs may be gone forever; outsourced to places that provide cheap, efficient labor. The folks who were heavily involved with building houses and office buildings, have sat out of work for months and even years.

The housing market will continue to see pressure to the downside. People are walking away from their mortgages, even if they can pay them. Why? Because it is illogical to pay a mortgage on a house that you paid $700K for, that is now worth $400K. There is definitely more room to go down; one estimate noted 11 million homes, or 1 in 5, will enter foreclosure. A very scary proposition to anyone who owns a home, as a glut of supply added to the market, along with marginal demand, will push home prices even lower.

Moving forward, we have to invest in infrastructure. Build roads, bridges, tunnels, trains, subways, factories, etc. We need to take care of a system in tremendous disrepair. This will help hire many of the people affected by the recession, provide them a means to earn a living, which will also fuel economic output.

Governor Christie of NJ – I’m looking in your direction. He cancelled an infrastructure project; a $9.8 billion Hudson River rail tunnel, he said taxpayers couldn’t afford. In the short-term (like growing deficit spending), it is definitely a tough proposition. However, in the long run, it will cost NY and NJ about 44,000 jobs and $4 billion in additional income that would have come through economic activity, according to a NJ Transit study.

The government should also get a real grasp on what jobs openings are actually available. And then train people  to do them by investing in programs and institutions that assist in such training.

Congress must work together with private industry and the banking sector, to set up programs that help provide loans and credit to small business owners, as they are the ones that actually hire people. Over the past two years, credit markets have been so tight, that even businesses with good credit can not get the financing they desperately need. Whether it be to build factories, or hire workers.

We must do something about the housing slump. We need serious and creative policies that help keep people in their homes and prevent houses from going into foreclosure. The moral hazard here is high. If bankers can get a bailout, families on main street need to receive some type of relief, be it reduced interest rates, longer payment term periods, or ‘debt-forgiveness.’ We need action and need action now.

In the short-term, it may also be a good idea to extend the Bush tax cuts for a period of two years. Although the rich are now richer than they’ve ever been, if they start to feel “less rich,” they will spend less and that will not be good for the economy.

The government must act quickly and decisively. We will be in this ‘funk,’ for years, but the length of misery will be up to the government’s ability to address these issues. If they fail, 10% unemployment will be the new normal for the next 5-10 years.

If they can begin to invest in America, in a major way, similar to the New Deal of FDR, we can start to experience relief within the next 2 years. And if the economy does better, Barack Obama will be in a position to campaign again. And if we are not doing better, I can assure you of a one-term legacy.