Many Americans are aware of some of President Obama's professional pursuits prior to arriving in Washington – lawyer, state legislator, community organizer (which is like being the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska but without the crippling depression, paint huffing, and incest), and more. What you may not know is that Mr. Obama is also an accomplished architect, contractor, and home builder. The man can design your dream house from scratch, draw up the blueprints, and turn it into a three dimensional masterpiece in a matter of weeks. While his current responsibilities leave him with precious little spare time, our President still manages to sneak away from the White House to turn someone's dream home into reality on rare occasions. Imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to be one of his few customers. For posterity, I recorded the conversation (yes, with his consent).
BO: "Hello, Ed. Thanks again for meeting with me today. Before we get started I want to reiterate our uncompromising vision: that every American live in a good home, one that is affordable, comfortable, and environmentally responsible. At Obama General Contracting, Inc. we are committed to making this a reality for every American."
Ed: "Tell me a bit about how you achieve those goals."
BO: "Certainly. Well, for starters we use recycled lumber and brick. We design the layout of the home and its windows to minimize the need for artificial lighting and heating/cooling. On that note, we install geothermal heat pumps to regulate temperatures without fossil fuels or electricity. Then we triple-insulate the walls (including insulated windows) to minimize energy loss and install the most water- and power-efficient appliances on the market. Oh, and if our customers are OK with it, we also put auxiliary solar panels on the roof instead of tiles. It won't power the whole house, but it helps. We do this all within the budget of each individual."
Ed: "Hmm. Sounds impressive, but there are a few changes I'd like to see. Can you work with me to meet my unique needs?"
BO: "Of course! I value nothing more than a harmonious working relationship between builder and client."
Ed: "Super. OK. First of all, instead of the geothermal heat thingy I'd like an antiquated and preferably dangerous 19th century steam boiler system. I plan to power it by burning styrofoam cups, open buckets of used motor oil, and a sampling of endangered hardwoods from around the world. Second, I don't want any windows. For interior lighting I want dozens of whale blubber lamps throughout the house, but I also want one giant lightbulb installed on the roof so that I can continue to waste the same amount of electricity I'd use if I had electric lighting."
Ed: "Stick with me here. I'll also need an enormous chamber dug beneath the house so I can have giant pieces of glaciers trucked in during the summer for cooling. Oh, and no insulation. I've been reading a lot of Murray Rothbard and I've come to the conclusion that the unimpeded free market should decide how much it costs to heat and cool my home. History has shown that attempts at regulation are inevitably inefficient, not to mention statist."
BO: "I…um…I don't think I can build you this house. It's…not exactly what I'm comfortable doing."
Ed: "What? I didn't even get to the best parts yet – the toilets full of children's tears, the radium fireplace, the automated sentry gun that fires hundreds of hollow point bullets when the doorbell is pressed, the Holocaust-themed décor, the massive compressor that will allow me to periodically vent weaponized anthrax into the surrounding neighborhood…"
BO: "…Is this a joke? If you're serious about any of this, two words: no way."
Ed: "Well if you want to build a house you're gonna have to meet me halfway! It's not like you have any other clients at the moment. And besides, you love compromises, right? Working together? Forging agreement?"
BO: "I…I guess so. Let's, uh, see if we can compromise on a few of the more 'unusual' details."
Ed: "Here's what I'm thinking as a compromise: you build exactly what I asked for and leave out all that fruity shit you mentioned at the start. Remember, either you build me a house or you don't build one at all."
"Even if I agreed to do it, this monstrosity would cost millions of dollars. I don't think you can afford it, frankly. So doesn't it make sense to work on a few of these details?"
Ed: "Yeah, here's the thing: I'm not paying a penny over $100,000 for this house."
BO: "Are you nuts? The cost of materials alone will be in the millions."
Ed: "Not my problem. Raise the prices on all of your other lots to make up what you'll lose here. I'm your most important client."
(At this point the President sat lifelessly with his head in his hands for approximately 10 minutes in resigned silence.)
Ed: "OK what?"
BO: "OK I'll do everything you asked and I'll meet your price. I can't believe I'm doing this, but…(writes up details of the proposed transaction)…here you go. I need your signature here and here."
Ed: "…nah, I don't think so. You didn't really do enough to meet me halfway. But just wait until everyone sees this monstrosity you offered to build me. You really screwed up here, sir, and you deserve all of the criticism you're about to get."