Better Than Nothing..

John KnottUnlce Sam asks his allies France and Great Britain to repay the United States for helping them in World War I.

In the 1920’s to late 1930’s, the years following World War I, several European nations were indebted to the Unites States, causing prominent issues. In World War I, the United States joined forces with Great Britain, Belgium, Russia and France to form the Allies and work to defeat the Central Powers made up of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. The Allies were ultimately able to win the war and force Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which contained a war guilt clause. By signing this clause; Germany was accepting responsibility for all of the loss and damage that the war caused and agreeing to pay thirty two billion dollars in war reparations (Potter). War reparations are when a country makes amends for a transgression they have committed by paying money to the countries they wronged (Moulton and Pasvolsky). However, the years following the end of the war were difficult for the economies of Great Britain, France and Germany not only due to the devastation, but also the expenses that come with war, such as transportation, weapons, repairs etc. (“World War I Fast Facts”). Thus, the end of the war came with massive war reparations and war debts. These were no small sums; to put it into context, even in 2014 Great Britain was still making plans to pay back what they borrowed from the United States. (“First World War Debt to Be Paid off at Last”).

War debts refer to the money a country owes to another country for the resources that were borrowed to fight the war. After World War I, the United States asked for war reparations from Germany, as decided in the Treaty of Versailles, and for Great Britain and France to repay war debts. Considering much of the war took place on European soil, Germany, Great Britain, and France suffered a lot of destruction to their cities. This made it quite challenging for them to acquire the money they needed in order to fully repay the United States (Moulton and Pasvolsky).

The political cartoon by John Knott titled, “Better Than Nothing” published on December 30, 1931, in the Dallas Morning News, illustrates the United States asking to be repaid by their allies for help in the war. In the cartoon, it shows Uncle Sam representing the United States off the Coast of the Gulf of Mexico, asking Great Britain and France to pay the war debts they owe. Since France and Great Britain were unable to pay the war debts, you see Uncle Sam pointing to the land that is near him—the large colonial possessions of Great Britain and France in the West Indies, Guiana and Central America—while saying “I might take some real estate on account.” If Great Britain and France could not pay the money back, the United States did not want to go home empty-handed. While Uncle Sam is asking for the land, France and Great Britain are across the Atlantic Ocean looking quite unfazed as they are sharing a smoke together.

The title of Knott’s cartoon, “Better Than Nothing” coincides with an editorial that was published in the same Dallas Morning News issue; the editorial titled, “Reparations and War Debts,” announces that United States congress voted not to reduce or cancel the war debts. That meant that Great Britain and France were expected to pay back every cent of what they owed to the United States. The article also explains that Great Britain and France had their hands tied because they needed Germany to pay them reparations before they could even afford to repay the United States.The editor equated this situation to Great Britain and France essentially being “bankrupt” and stuck. Something was going to have to give or an alternative deal was going to have to be made in order to move forward.

Senator Capper, who was one of the Senators who had a hand in the ruling that no cancelations or reductions be made to the war debts, was quoted in an article in The New York Times as saying, “Uncle Sam has played Santa Claus long enough.” Senator Capper was worried that the amount of money the United States loaned to these countries was beginning to become “too much of a load.” At that point, not only had America paid for most of the war itself, but also the reconstruction that followed the war (“Capper Opposes Debt Revision; ‘Uncle Sam Santa Long Enough’”).

Another editorial that was featured alongside John Knott’s cartoon in the Dallas Morning News was entitled “Buy Them Out.” In the article, the editor explained how Representative McFadden of the United States Congress suggested an alternative deal that would help Great Britain and France repay the war debts they owed to the United States. Instead of forcing Great Britain and France to pay billions of dollars—that they did not have—McFadden proposed offering the countries a buyout deal where they would give up their colonial territories south of the United States as repayment of their debt. The article goes on to explain that if such an agreement were to be made, “Holland only would be left of European powers having control over United States territory south of Canada, excepting the Falkland Islands in South America.” Though this deal was fair in economic terms, it was most likely not going to be something on which Great Britain and France were eager to sign off.

The message Knott is getting across with his cartoon is that it is only fair for the United States to walk away with at least some sort of repayment for the debt that Great Britain and France owe, even if it is not in the form of cold hard cash. In the cartoon, Knott does not portray Great Britain and France as two men who are struggling and can barely get by; rather, Great Britain is drawn with a belly, portraying the state of being well-fed, and both Britain and France are smoking, which can be considered an act of luxury. This keeps the audience from empathizing with Britain and France and helps to show them that it is fair to expect the two countries to find a way to repay what they owe in some form or fashion.

When the United States Congress voted not to cancel or reduce the war debts owed by France and Great Britain, this demonstrated that the United States were demanding to be repaid no matter what. The question was not if, but how the United States was going to get repaid by these countries. John Knott illustrated a potential answer to this question through his cartoon. Works Cited
“Buy them out.” Dallas Morning News, December 30, 1931. Editorial.
http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=L56R4DMHMTUyNjMyNTM5NS4yODU2MDk6MToxMzoxMjguNjIuNzAuMTE5&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D2247C6907F01@2426706-104D22487677A470@12-104D224B65AA3163@Buy%20Them%20Out .

“Capper Opposes Debt Revision; ‘Uncle Sam Santa Long enough’.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Dec 27, 1931, pp. 1. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/99200163?accountid=7118.

“First World War Debt to Be Paid off at Last.” Evening Standard, 03 Dec. 2014, p. 45. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nfh&AN=99762662&site=ehost-live.

Knott, John. “Better Than Nothing.” Dallas Morning News, 30 Dec. 1931. Editorial.
http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=P5FT56BQMTUyNjMyODM4Ny4yNjg1MTU6MToxMjoxNDYuNi4xMTkuOTc&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D2247C6907F01@2426706-104D22487677A470@12.

Moulton, Harold G., and Leo Pasvolsky. World war debt settlements. The Macmillan company, 1926.

Potter, Edmund D. “World War I debts,” The 1930s in America, edited by Thomas Tandy Lewis, Salem, 2011. Salem Online.
http://te7fv6dm8k.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=bookitem&rft.title=The+Thirties+in+America&rft.au=Potter%2C+Edmund&rft.atitle=World+War+I+debts&rft.date=2011-01-01&rft.volume=3&rft.spage=1035&rft.epage=1036&rft.externalDocID=1916300673&paramdict=en-US.

“Reparations and War Debts.” Dallas Morning News, December 30, 1931. Editorial.
http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=P5FT56BQMTUyNjMyODM4Ny4yNjg1MTU6MToxMjoxNDYuNi4xMTkuOTc&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D2247C6907F01@2426706-104D22487677A470@12.

Equal Treatment for All Social Classes?

Emblematic of the problems of income and healthcare inequality, an upper-class man boasts that his wealth will increase if Obamacare is repealed.
Emblematic of the problems of income and healthcare inequality, an upper-class man boasts that his wealth will increase if Obamacare is repealed.

 

Discrepancies in the treatment of the rich and poor have long been a hot topic in the United States, and more recently, this issue has manifested itself in the realm of healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a “comprehensive health care reform law enacted in March 2010” during Barack Obama’s Presidency and is supported emphatically by the Democratic Party (“Affordable Care Act (ACA) – HealthCare.gov Glossary”). The ACA provides many millions of previously uninsured Americans access to affordable healthcare. As Nancy Pelosi, former US Speaker of the House, said upon passage of the law, “Today we have the opportunity to complete the great unfinished business of our society and pass health insurance reform for all Americans as a right, not a privilege” (Murray and Montgomery “House Passes Health-Care Reform Bill without Republican Votes”). For almost a decade, thereafter, the Republican Party has adamantly opposed this legislation, derisively referring to it as “Obamacare” or “socialized medicine.” Some of the most vociferous opposition has come from the populist Tea Party that “loves Medicare but hates ‘Obamacare’” (Gerard “Why the Tea Party Loves Medicare but Hates Obamacare”). Ironically, many Obamacare detractors oppose the health care reform that is in their best interests. As of July 2017, a report in Newsweek noted that there have been “at least 70 Republican-led attempts to repeal, modify or otherwise curb the Affordable Care Act” (Riotta “GOP Aims to Kill Obamacare Yet Again after Failing 70 Times”). Nevertheless, the ACA remains the law of the land. Even in the era of the Trump Presidency and the Republican-controlled House and Senate, majority of Americans have turned against efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare because doing so would provide significant tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans while removing healthcare coverage for millions of middle and lower-class citizens along with downstream detrimental effects (Alic “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). Monte Wolverton’s political cartoon, “Obamacare Repeal Good for the Rich,” takes a heavily sarcastic tone in addressing these disparities by utilizing an affluent appearing cartoon figure’s commentary to address the blatant inequities inherent in GOP efforts to do away with the ACA.

Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it was estimated that over 53 million Americans were living without healthcare coverage and millions more were underinsured due to the increasing price tag (Alic “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). In order to combat these alarming truths, the Affordable Care Act was passed on March 23, 2010, and under the law, more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans were granted healthcare coverage. ACA coverage is funded, in large part, through higher taxes on individuals making over $200,000 and couples making $250,00 in annual income such as the 3.8% investment income tax or .9% payroll tax (Horsley “GOP Health Care Bill Would Cut About $765 Billion In Taxes Over 10 Years”).

By contrast, Republicans, through their various repeal-and-replace bills, hoped to redistribute hundreds of billions of dollars by providing large tax cuts to the wealthy. The aforementioned taxes on the upper class that were required for establishment of the ACA would be targeted for repeal. It has been estimated that this would result in cutting around $247 billion collectively, and, by 2020, it would save those making over $1 million in income about $15.9 billion (Drucker. “Wealthy Would Get Billions in Tax Cuts Under Obamacare Repeal Plan”).

In addition to the proposed beneficial tax cuts for those in the upper annual grossing bracket, only approximately 20% of the American population, the repeal-and-replace effort was estimated to cause 23 million Americans to lose their healthcare coverage by 2026 because of impending increases in the cost of insurance rates. For example, people with incomes up to the 150% poverty level who currently pay a $255 a-per month deductible under the Affordable Care Act would face a new deductible price tag of more than $6,000 (Michael “How Many People Will Die from the Republicans’ Obamacare Repeal Bills? Tens of Thousands per Year”). This grossly immense disparity in healthcare payments for the majority of the population would directly result from removing taxes imposed on the affluent. This raises questions about the true aims of the GOP’s various plans to repeal-and-replace Obamacare.

Whereas the Democratic Party tends to “rely more heavily on government intervention to influence the economy’s direction and keep the profit motive of businesses more at bay,” the Republican Party traditionally organizes its economic agenda as a “business friendly” approach that limits government economic regulations and avoids “restrictions that might seek to dimunize the pursuit of profits in favor of… healthcare benefits” (Fuhrmann “Republican and Democratic Approaches to Regulating the Economy”). Thus, Republicans approached their repeal-and-replace proposals from the perspective that the tax cuts not only would directly help the rich but also find their way to the lower classes through what is known as the “Trickle-Down Effect.” “Trickle-Down Economics” is an economic theory that promises economic growth through the practice of providing large benefits and tax breaks to the wealthy in the hopes that the wealth will be distributed down the social class ladder through the creation of new jobs and economic stimulus. When the theory was applied in the early 1960’s and 1980’s, however, those most negatively affected were middle to lower-class workers and small business owners due to their inability to compete with ever-growing corporations that actually hindered money, jobs, and other purported benefits from trickling down. In fact, “Trickle-Down economics” policies only facilitated the increasing gap between the poor and the rich (Wilson “Trickle-Down Theory”).

Wolverton’s political cartoon, “Obamacare Repeal Good for the Rich,” takes the stance of opposing the desired Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s proposed replacement schemes. The artist’s choice of character, a well-dressed, distinctly wealthy man, represents the wealthiest American’s as a whole. With his champagne and pet, the affluent character has isolated himself on a desert island, a reflection of the separation of the upper and lower-classes in the Unites States. Drinking champagne, an extravagance, he toasts the Republican’s proposed plan to replace the ACA. Through the character’s dialogue, especially the reference to wealth “trickling-down” so that “maybe” other social classes can afford health insurance, Wolverton asserts his opinion that the GOP-led-repeal-and-replace propositions are unfair.

The cartoonist underscores this fundamental unfairness by bolding the “good news” that by “repealing Obamacare” the “tax break” for the “wealthiest Americans” will “trickle down” to the “rest” us so that “then” perhaps we can afford “insurance.” The asterisk mark in Wolverton’s illustration points readers to the evidence: a 2017 report authored by Brandon Debot and published by the Center on Budge and Policy Priorities. In his analysis of the unbalanced tax breaks proposed by the GOP through repeal-and-replace of Obamacare, Debot and the CBPP estimate that the “400 highest-income taxpayers — whose incomes average more than $300 million a year — would get average tax cuts of at least $15 million a year each,” while the benefits for working families are seldom noted; in fact, the likelihood of primarily adverse effects is anticipated (Debot “Trump Tax Plan Would Give 400 Highest-Income Americans More Than $15 Million a Year in Tax Cuts”).

Obamacare Repeal Good for the Rich” is reminiscent of the 1933 John Knott cartoon, “Regardless of Dress.” Both comics express concern about the unequal treatment of American citizens, especially inequities in their wealth and well-being, vis-à-vis the pressing economic issues of their respective times—i.e., the Great Recession and the Great Depression. In Wolverton’s case, he approaches the attempted repeal of “Obamacare” with a sarcastic tone. The artist juxtaposes the treatment of the rich and the poor, highlighting repeated attempts to, by, and for the wealthy to undermine ACA legislation aimed to directly assist poor individuals in gaining access to healthcare. Republican repeal-and-replace efforts, by contrast, would only indirectly aid the poor by “trickling down.” For the non-affluent, their access to healthcare would only occur if and when wealth generated from tax cuts for the rich gradually permeated down from the highest to the lowest classes. For his part, Knott also addressed the need for balanced and shared sacrifice as part of the New Deal. His illustration focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economy Act of 1933, which cut millions of federal dollars from some programs receiving an unbalanced amount of aid in order to more equitably reallocate those funds to other groups in need (Knott “Regardless of Dress”).

“Roosevelt at Chicago,” and editorial that accompanied Knott’s political cartoon in the Dallas Morning News, provided a more in-depth explanation of Knott’s visual commentary on Roosevelt’s legislative actions for equal treatment to all American citizens. A precursory discussion of extreme inequities in wealth allocation in America then and now, the 1933 editorial explained FDR’s call for cutting unequal funding from banks and veterans and redistributing the money to other constituencies in need—a call for fairness that Wolverton echoed decades later (The Dallas Morning News “Roosevelt at Chicago,” Knott “Regardless of Dress,” Wolverton “Obamacare Repeal Good for the Rich”).

Both Wolverton’s and Knott’s cartoons shed light on economic inequality during the most trying economic times of the current and previous centuries. The contemporary comic mocks the GOP’s Trickle-Down economic agenda and its restrictive impact on healthcare access for ordinary Americans while the Depression-era drawing depicts Roosevelt’s direct, bottom-up approach to combating economic suffering and inequality by reallocating monetary assistance and jobs to those most in need. Together, the two illustrations not only highlight how those in power conceptualize wealth and equity but also how legislative policies affect average citizens.

Wolverton’s cartoon evokes humor through the satirism of the GOP’s repeal-and-replace proposal and views of healthcare being voiced in America during 2017. Its importance rings with majority of US citizens due to their social standing and the effect that may have on their access to affordable healthcare in the near future.

 

Works Cited

“Affordable Care Act (ACA) – HealthCare.gov Glossary.” HealthCare.gov,   www.healthcare.gov/glossary/affordable-care-act/.

Alic, Margaret. “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. Vol. 6. 5th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2015.p3866-3870.

Debot, Brandon. “Trump Tax Plan Would Give 400 Highest-Income Americans More Than $15 Million a Year in Tax Cuts.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 11 Oct. 2017,             www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/trump-tax-plan-would-give-400-highest-income-  americans-more-than-15-million-a.

Drucker, Jesse. “Wealthy Would Get Billions in Tax Cuts Under Obamacare Repeal Plan.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/business/tax-cuts-affordable-care-act-repeal.html.

Fuhrmann, Ryan C. “Republican and Democratic Approaches to Regulating the Economy.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 18 May 2018,   www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/regulating-economy.asp.

Gerard, Leo. “Why the Tea Party Loves Medicare but Hates Obamacare.” Thousands of Garment Factory Workers Across Cambodia Are Fainting on the Job, inthesetimes.com/article/15732/the_tea_partys_misconception_of_medicare.

Hiltzik, Michael. “How Many People Will Die from the Republicans’ Obamacare Repeal Bills? Tens of Thousands per Year.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 26 June 2017,             www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-repeal-deaths-20170623-htmlstory.html.

Horsley, Scott. “GOP Health Care Bill Would Cut About $765 Billion In Taxes Over 10 Years.” NPR, NPR, 4 May 2017, www.npr.org/2017/05/04/526923181/gop-health-care-bill-would-cut-about-765-billion-in-taxes-over-10-years.

Knott, John. “Regardless of Dress” The Dallas Morning News, 4 Oct. 1933.

Murray, Shailagh, and Lori Montgomery. “House Passes Health-Care Reform Bill without    Republican Votes.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Mar. 2010,  www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032100943.html.

Riotta, Chris. “GOP Aims to Kill Obamacare Yet Again after Failing 70 Times.” Newsweek, 29 July 2017, www.newsweek.com/gop-health-care-bill-repeal-and-replace-70-failed-attempts-643832.

“Roosevelt at Chicago.” The Dallas Morning News, 4 Oct. 1933.

“Trickle-Down Theory” Historical Encyclopedia of American Business. Ed. Richard L. Wilson. Vol. 3. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2009.p872-873. Wolverton, Monte. “Obamacare Repeal Good for the Rich.” Cagle, 23 Jan. 2017, www.cagle.com/monte-            wolverton/2017/01/obamacare-repeal-good-for-the-rich.

LET’S EVEN OUT THE SCALES!

President Roosevelt points to a sign reading “EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO NONE,” while a banker and veteran look on in anticipation of more equitable cuts in federal spending.
President Roosevelt points to a sign reading “EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO NONE,” while a banker and veteran look on in anticipation of more equitable cuts in federal spending.

 

In 1933, as the United States sought to pull its struggling economy out of the Great Depression, the American people looked for guidance from newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR promised to reform the damaging actions brought on by his predecessor, President Herbert Hoover, and to improve the nation’s economic state. John Knott’s political cartoon, “Regardless of Dress,” addresses one of the many reforms enacted as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal: specifically, the Economy Act of 1933. This act reduced the amount of federal aid given to banking and veteran programs to equalize treatment of struggling American citizens. Evoking parallels to Andrew Jackson’s populist slogan, “equal rights to all, special privileges to none,” Knott’s illustration underscores the importance of Roosevelt’s impact on veterans and the banks through his New Deal economic recovery programs.

The Great Depression was the period from 1929-1939, during which time the American economy took an unprecedented downturn. After the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, the nation’s economic state began a precipitous decline, as consumer spending and investment plummeted. Job scarcity became such a widespread problem that by 1932, the nation’s unemployment rate had risen to 25% (Baughman “The 1930s: Government and Politics: Overview”). Hoover’s spending approach for aiding the effects of the Great Depression was an inclination to give “indirect aid to banks or local public works projects, but he refused to use federal money for direct aid to citizens” (Hoover “The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History”). During Hoover’s Presidency, America’s budget deficit ballooned from a $734 million surplus in 1929 to a $2.7 billion deficit in 1932 (Morgan “Deficit Spending”). To compare it to today’s standards, while the 2017 federal government’s deficit rose to $668 billion, an $82 billion increase, that remains only a 12% increase rather than the 663% rise during Hoover’s term (Niv “US Deficit Spending Reached $668 Billion in Fiscal 2017”). Roosevelt’s election in 1932 brought on a series of reforms aimed to counter Hoover’s tactics. In his approach to economic recovery, however, FDR adopted a populist approach for addressing the struggles of the common man.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1932, his actions immediately reflected the populist ideals of assisting ordinary American citizens, and his New Deal economic recovery plans were intended to directly help the American people. The First New Deal was a procession of economic reforms as well as a series of national aid and federal programs created with the purpose of bringing the United States out of the Great Depression; furthermore, these initiatives were promised to be implemented within Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office. Because an entire quarter of the US population was unemployed, these aid programs stretched across a swath of occupational categories and social classes (Baughman “The 1930s: Government and Politics: Overview”).

Programs such as the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), which provided $500 million in grants directly to states to “infuse relief agencies with the much-needed resources to help the nearly fifteen million unemployed,” were aimed at mitigating the subsidiary monetary channels that, in the past, had slowed progress of economic improvement (Lumen Learning “Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941”).

Given the nation’s poor economic state, however, Roosevelt also aimed to refrain from unnecessary excessive spending. Thus, he introduced the Economy Act of 1933 which cut around $400 million from federal payments to veterans and $100 million from the payroll of federal employees (Morgan “Economy Act of 1933, Special to The New York Times). Not only did this act recognize the unequal distribution of governmental monetary resources, it also helped equalize funding through redistribution to people via Roosevelt’s newly created programs.

Alluding to the spending cuts spurred by the Economy Act of 1933, Knotts’ cartoon highlighted the shared sacrifice that was required for economic recovery, legislated in FDR’s populist policies, and inspired by Jacksonian Democratic themes. The illustration featured three figures: a banker/civilian, a veteran, and FDR. Roosevelt points to a banner hanging above their heads. The sign, which reads, “EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO NONE,” points to the reasoning behind the Economy Act of 1933 and FDR’s populist policies. During the Great Depression most US citizens were in need during those difficult economic times, and while FDR recognized the nation’s responsibility to those who served their country, he also stressed their equality with other citizens (The Dallas Morning News “Roosevelt at Chicago”). Drawing on that ideology, Knott suggested Roosevelts’ similarity to another populist president, Andrew Jackson. The quote boldly displayed and pointed to by President Roosevelt reads, “EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO NONE.” It is a famous populist slogan widely attributed to Andrew Jackson.

Jacksonian Democrats not only believed in maintaining a strong Federal Union but also in following the conviction that “no one man has any more intrinsic right to official station than another,” as well as in maintaining the assurance that “the already wealthy and favored classes would not enrich themselves further by commandeering, enlarging, and then plundering public institutions” (History.com Staff “Jacksonian Democracy” and Gale “Andrew Jackson”). By cutting their previous federal funding allowances, the aid given to veterans and the banking system was equalized by FDR when compared to other assistance programs. His actions were based on his affirmation of equal treatment of citizens and are directly and were comparable to Jackson’s views. Because veterans and banks were receiving significantly more aid compared to other institutions and groups, Roosevelt cut their funding, opening more opportunities for other struggling parties to receive monetary assistance, thus equalizing government aid program fairness (Knott “Regardless of Dress”).

“Roosevelt in Chicago,” an editorial that accompanied Knott’s cartoon, spelled out the aforementioned policies regarding veterans and banks alike and described Roosevelt’s take on the need for equalizing aid (re)distribution. The editorial discussed FDR’s emphasis on “the plain duties of citizenship,” another reference to Roosevelt’s Jacksonian-inspired populist agenda for economic recovery. Roosevelt’s New Deal ushered in the dawn of a new American economic era in both its policies and reforms (The Dallas Morning News “Roosevelt at Chicago”).

The Great Depression was a devastating period of American history for all US citizens. As the economy struggled, Roosevelt was not only faced with how to bring prosperity to the nation but also how to treat all social classes under his altering reforms. His actions highlighted the repetition of history and the new takes future leaders are able to implement to adjust for the times.

 

Works Cited

“Andrew Jackson.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 8, Gale, 2004, pp. 168-   172. Gale Virtual Reference        Libraryhttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404703247/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&si    d=GVRL&xid=891df37f. Accessed 3 Apr. 2018.

Elis, Niv. “US Deficit Spending Reached $668 Billion in Fiscal 2017.” The Hill, 9 Oct. 2017, thehill.com/policy/finance/354542-us-deficit-spending-reached-668-billion-in-fiscal-2017.

History.com Staff. “Jacksonian Democracy.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2012, www.history.com/topics/jacksonian-democracy.

Hoover, Herbert. “The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.” Nat Turner’s Rebellion,1831 | Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, www.gilderlehrman.org/content/herbert-hoover-great-depression-and-new-deal-1931–1933.

Knott, John. “Regardless of Dress” The Dallas Morning News, 4 Oct. 1933.

Lumen Learning. “Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941.” Lumen, Open SUNY Textbooks, courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-ushistory2os2xmaster/chapter/the-first-new- deal/.

Morgan, Iwan. “Deficit Spending.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, edited by Robert S. McElvaine, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 226-228. Gale Virtual ReferenceLibraryhttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404500134/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&si=GVRL&xid=6476eefb. Accessed 3 Apr. 2018.

Morgan, Iwan. “Economy Act of 1933.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, edited by Robert S. McElvaine, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 268-269. Gale Virtual Reference        Libraryhttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404500154/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=b0474e7f. Accessed 3 Apr. 2018.

“Roosevelt at Chicago.” The Dallas Morning News, 4 Oct. 1933.

Special to The New York Times. (1932, Dec 08). Text of the president’s message calling on congress for a curb on spending. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from   http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/99804009?a         ccountid=7118

“The 1930s: Government and Politics: Overview.” American Decades, edited by Judith S. Baughman, et al., vol. 4: 1930-1939, Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference        Libraryhttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3468301167/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=87193b62. Accessed 3 Apr. 2018.

“Denuclearization”: The 21st Century’s Ongoing Disarmament Dilemma

An international symbol of peace, an olive branch- bearing white dove uses its wing to hold back the weight of nuclear arms
An international symbol of peace, an olive branch- bearing white dove uses its wing to hold back the weight of nuclear arms

Although many American citizens believe that the Korean War ended in 1953, armed conflict ceased merely by way of an armistice. This truce is one of the only things that “technically prevents North Korea and the U.S. – along with its ally South Korea—from resuming the war, as no peace treaty has ever been signed” (“The Korean War Armistice”). Since the Cold War, the conflict on the Korean Peninsula has been put on the back burner, but tensions still boil and the relationship with the United States still has friction (“The Korean War”). “Both sides regularly accuse the other of violating the agreement, but the accusations have become more frequent as tensions rise over North Korea’s nuclear program” (“The Korean War Armistice”). The diplomatic complexities of recent efforts to limit North Korea’s nuclear arms capabilities echo earlier attempts made in the 1930’s to attain disarmament.

In order to understand the geopolitical chessboard, it is important to understand different stakeholders and their issues add to the boiling tensions throughout the region. Since the armistice, the creation of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) has separated the peninsula into two different nations: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK (a.k.a. North Korea) and the Republic of Korea or ROK (a.k.a. South Korea) (Tilelli et al). In the decades since the Korean conflict, the northern nation has become a “Hermit Kingdom” (Strand), while the southern nation flourished in the modern world.

Besides the two Koreas, there are complex alliances among regional stakeholders. China, North Korea’s closest ally, “condemns its neighbor’s nuclear developments” but has opposed “harsh international sanctions on North Korea in the hope of avoiding a regime collapse and a refugee influx” (Albert). Russia, a neighbor of North Korea, supports a halt on nuclear tests and calls for North Korea and the United States to cooperate and reduce tensions (“Russia ‘Welcomes’ North Korea’s Nuclear Declaration”). Japan, a United States ally, “has called the prospect of a nuclear-capable North Korea ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and said the security situation…is the severest since the Second World War” (McKirdy). Along with threats to North Korean allies and American allies, the Korean Peninsula has also threatened the United States itself (“North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts). “Despite the difficulty of the challenge, the danger posed by North Korea is sufficiently severe, and the costs of inaction and acquiescence so high, that the United States and its partners must continue to press for denuclearization” (Tilelli et al).

As of the writing of this blog, the world is holding its breath due to daily, sometimes hourly, developments in U.S. – North Korean relations. While always fraught, the relationship between the United States and North Korea has been especially complicated since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Using his unconventional (un)diplomatic tactics, he has made rude tweets and comments about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. For example, on September 22, 2017, upon agreement with South Korea to “increase economic and diplomatic pressure against North Korea, Trump provocatively called the North Korean dictator “Rocket Man” (Hamedy). North Korea, in turn, successfully tested an “intercontinental ballistic missile” that landed a mere 210 kilometers west of Japan (Hamedy). North Korea has even threatened that it has the technological capacity to “reach U.S. soil with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles” (“North Korean Nuclear Negotiations: A Brief History”).

Remarkably, however, there also have been positive developments in the U.S. – North Korea relationship. On March 8, 2018, after a meeting at the White House with the South Korean National Security Advisor, President Trump suddenly agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un if North Korea “pledged to refrain from further nuclear tests and move toward denuclearization” (Vitali). Six Short weeks later, the two Korean heads of state shook hands and together stepped across the DMZ as a gesture of peace on April 27, 2018 (CNBC). Recently, there has been preliminary talks among the U.S., ROK, and DPRK officials about a proposed peace summit scheduled to take place on June 12, 2018 in Singapore (Diamond). Progress towards the summit was advanced due, in part, to the release of three American hostages from North Korea (Holland). At a future summit, the United States will try to persuade North Korea to “abandon nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests” (Holland).

However, recent remarks by President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, have hurt the possibility for the summit. On May 16, 2018, Bolton suggested “that the White House was looking at Libya as an example of how it handled negotiations with North Korea to denuclearize” (Stracqualursi). North Korea took this remark as an “’awfully sinister move’” to imperil the Kim regime” (Stracqualursi). Thus, as of yesterday (May 17, 2018), plans for the proposed summit, seem to have completely fallen apart. Coinciding with Bolton’s remark, annual U.S.-South Korea military drills were used as an excuse by North Korea to suspend the peace summit (Cohen). Fortunately, there is still hope, as South Korea is “attempting to salvage peace talks with North Korea and play mediator for the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un” (Sampathkumar). From personal insults and threatening missile tests to diplomatic handshakes and proposed peace summits, diplomatic relations have been a wild ride. “Diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has gone through familiar cycles of long stagnation, followed by brief bursts of hope and then inevitable disappointment, typically after North Korea reneged” (Landler).

Global denuclearization is a critical issue of our time. The anonymously illustrated cartoon atop this blog (which originally appeared on “A Nuclear War Planner’s Guide to Resisting the Bomb- Infoshop News,” a blog by Robert Levering) depicts a white dove holding an olive branch in its mouth. Both the dove and the olive branch signify “peaceful intentions” (“Dove with Olive Branch as Symbol of Peace”). The dove in the cartoon represents efforts to fend off nuclear destruction. The weight of nuclear weapons, indicated by the “radiation warning symbol,” (Frame) bearing down on the achievement of peace.

With denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea, we must know what each party demands. The original definition of the term “denuclearization” is “to prohibit the deployment or construction of nuclear weapons” (“Denuclearize”). Unfortunately, this is not the working definition that either side, the United States or North Korea, is currently using. The United States, for one, wants North Korea to hand over its nuclear weapons and missile systems and allow international inspectors to check whether denuclearization is being upheld (Fifield). However, for North Korea denuclearization means mutual steps to eradicate nuclear weapons and requiring the United States to remove its nuclear umbrella (Fifield). The “nuclear umbrella” (Lewis) is a security arrangement in which participating nations consent to the possible use of nuclear weapons for their defense (“Nuclear Umbrellas and Umbrella States”). This is a danger towards the stakeholders for the United States, as the nuclear umbrella of the U.S. protects Japan and South Korea, however, there has been some other compromises on the table. For example, North Korea will relinquish weapons only if the United States ends its military alliance with South Korea. Unfortunately, the compromise of denuclearization seems far-fetched, especially since both nations have fundamental differences on the definition of what they are trying to achieve.

Each side of the conflict has fundamental differences on the definition of denuclearization. For its part, North Korea has declared a halt to nuclear testing but views its nuclear arsenal as an insurance policy for defending peace for future generations (Borger). The United States, on the other hand, has decided to sustain a policy of “maximum pressure” on North Korea until the demands of a completely denuclearized Korean Peninsula are met (Borger).

Jeffrey Lewis ponders the complexities of the term “denuclearization” in his opinion piece, “The Word That Could Help the World Avoid Nuclear War” (Lewis). Both “denuclearization” and “disarmament” are terms used in diplomatic negotiations to de-escalate tensions and prevent war. These issues are reminiscent of the early 1930’s when the victorious nations of World War I called for a discussion on arms reduction. Their attempts at international demilitarization, culminating in the Geneva Conference of 1932, were the subjects of an editorial – “Disarmament”—and an accompanying cartoon –“Sword is Needed”—published in the Dallas Morning News on October 29, 1932. The illustration, by John Knott, depicted the tax burden of maintain armaments to the common man and the difficulties or reaching widely agreed terms for disarmament. His cartoon illustrated the complexities of previous disarmament conferences and exemplified that the only way to solve the problem was with bold action to ensure peace. Both cartoons emphasize the burdens of armaments, the obstacles to global demilitarization, well as the fragility of peace.

Works Cited

Albert, Eleanor. “Understanding the China-North Korea Relationship.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 28 Mar. 2018, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/china-north-korea-relationship.

Borger, Julian. “US and North Korea Expectations over Denuclearization Appear to Collide.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 24 Apr. 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/23/us-and-north-korea-expectations-over-denuclearization-appear-to-collide.

CNBC. “Smiling and Holding Hands, Leaders of the Two Koreas Meet at a Historic Summit.” CNBC, CNBC, 27 Apr. 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/04/26/north-korea-and-south-korea-kim-jong-un-and-moon-jae-in-at-inter-korean-summit.html.

Cohen, Zachary. “North Korea Warn US as it Suspends South Korea Talks over Military Drills.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 May 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/05/15/politics/north-korea-suspends-south-korea-talks-us-military-drills/index.html.

Davenport, Kelsey. “Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy.” Arms Control Association, May 2018, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron.

“Denuclearize.” Dictorionary.com, Dicotionary.com www.dictionary.com/browse/denuclearize.

Diamond, Jeremy and Kevin Liptak. “Trump Announces North Korea Summit Will be in Singapore.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 May 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/05/10/politics/singapore-donald-trump-kim-jong-un/index/html.

“Disarmament Again.” Dallas Morning News, 29 Oct. 1932, p. 2. America’s Historical Newspaper, infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=P75K5CDYMTUyMjA4ODk3NS4zNDQ0OTg6MToxMzoxMjguNjIuMjUuMTgy&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483DD48E0961E6@2427010-10483DD50169304E@17.

“Dove with Olive Branch as Symbol of Peace.” Great Seal, greatseal.com/peace/dove.html.

Fifield, Anna. “North Korea’s Definition of ‘Denuclearization’ Is Very Different from Trump’s.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 9 Apr. 2018, www.washingtonpsot.com/world/asia_pacific/north-koreas-definition-ofdenuclearization-isvery-different-from-trumps/2018/04/09/55bf9c06-3bc8-11e8-912d-16c9e9b37800_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a3ce261fd107.

Frame, Paul. “Radiation Warning Symbol (Trefoil).” Radioactive Consumer Products, www.orau.org/PTP/articlesstories/radwarnsymbstory.htm.

Hamedy, Saba. “All the Times Trump Has Insulted North Korea.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Mar. 2018, www.cnn.com/2017/09/22/politics/donald-trump-north-korea-insults-timelines/index.html.

Holland, Steve. “Trump Seeks ‘Very Meaningful Summit in Singapore with North Korea.” Reuters, Thomason Reuters, 11 May 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa/trump-seeks-very-meaninful-summit-in-singpaore-with-north-korea-idUSKBN1IB240.

Huang, Jing, and Xiaoting Li. “Pyongyang’s Nuclear Ambitions: China Must Act as a “Responsible Stakeholder’”.” Brookings, Brookings, 28 July 2016, www.brookings.edu/opinions/pyongyangs-nuclear-ambitions-china-must-act-as-a-responsible-stakeholder/.

“The Korean War.” Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-us-history/period-8/apush-1950s-america/a/the-korean-war.

“The Korean War Armistice.” BBC News, BBC, 5 Mar. 2015, www.bbc.com/news/10165796.

Landler, Mark. “With U.S. and North Korea, a Repeated History of Hope and Disappointment.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Mar. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/us/politics/north-korea-us-history-negotiations.html.

Levering, Robert. “A Nuclear War Planner’s Guide to Resisting the Bomb- Infoshop News.” Infoshop News, 25 Feb. 2018, news.infoshop.org/anti-war/a-nuclear-war-planners-guide-to-resisting-the-bomb/.

Lewis, Jeffrey. “The Word That Could Help the World Avoid Nuclear War.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/opinion.avoid-nuclear-war-denuclearization.html.

McKirdy, Euan. “PM Abe Says Nuclear North Korea Greatest Threat to Japan since WWII.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Jan. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/01/04/asia/abe-north-korea-comments/index/html.

“North Korea.” Nuclear Threat Initiative – Ten Years of Building a Safer World, Apr. 2018, www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/.

“North Korean Nuclear Negotiations: A Brief History.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/timeline/north-korean-nuclear-negotiations.

“North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Apr. 2018, www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-timeline–fast-facts/index.html.

“Nuclear Umbrellas and Umbrella States.” ILPI Weapons of Mass Destruction Project, 22 Apr. 2016, nwp.ilpi.org/?p=1221.

“Russia ‘Welcomes’ North Korea’s Nuclear Declaration.” Channel NewsAsia, 21 Apr. 2018, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/russia-welcomes-north-korea-s-nuclear-declaration-10161832.

Sampathkumar, Mythili. “South Korea Attempts to Salvage North Korea Peace Talks and Play Mediator for Trump-Kim Summit.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 17 May 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/trump-kim-jong-n-north-summit-south-korea-nuclear-weapons-a8356361.html.

Sang-hun, Choe. “North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/world/asia/north-korea-south-kim-jong-un.html.

Stracqualursi, Veronica. “White House Walks Back Bolton Comments after North Korea Outcry.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 May 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/05/16/poltics /north-korea-john-bolton-libya-comments/index.html.

Strand, Wilson. “Opening the Hermit Kingdom.” History Today, Jan. 2004, www.historytoday.com/wilson-strand/opening-hermit-kingdom.

Tilelli, John H, et al. “U.S. Policy Towards the Korean Peninsula.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, June 2010, www.cfr.org/report/us-policy-toward-korean-peninsula.

Vitali, Ali. “President Trump Agrees to Meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.” NBCNews.com NBCUniversal News Group, 8 Mar. 2018, wwwnbcnew.com/politics/white-house/south-koreans-deliver-letter-trump-kim-jong-un-n855051.

foodconserv

Milk The Taxpayers

From 1929, when the Agricultural Marketing Act  was enacted by President Hoover, through 2008, there was consistent need for agricultural relief. The industry was still receiving massive subsidies from the Federal Government, and the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 was similar in purpose and scope to its predecessor around 80 years earlier. The striking similarity between the two was the rampant subsidy abuse that farmers exploited and took advantage of on the brink of economic collapse in the United States.

In this Jimmy Marguiles cartoon, which appeared in New York Newsdayin 2008, there is a farmer awaking and yawning who says “5am…time to feed the chickens, slop the hogs, and milk the taxpayers”. Given the date of the cartoon, it must relate to the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 – known colloquially as “The 2008 Farm Bill”.

According to the National Agricultural Law Center, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 was the sixteenth law in the United States that was referred to as a “farm bill” (Hyder). The 2008 bill, similar in intent to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, was intended to subsidize farmers. The 2008 farm bill had an allocated amount of around $300 billion to cover agricultural related costs. This bill also was specific in that it covered a wide range of fruits and vegetables that had not been covered in previous versions of “Farm Bills” (Hyder).

The Farm Act of 2008 was also instrumental in creating the “Average Crop Revenue Election” program – also known as ACRE. This program provided better protection to farmers than previous programs. It gave the farmers more breathing room with subsidies as it paid out to farmers when they had a loss of revenue that could be directly attributed to crop failure, price fluctuations or other specific causes (Hyder).

Within the ACRE program, farmers may elect to receive revenue-based paments instead of price-based countercyclical payments. One of the other main benefits for those enrolled in ACRE – they had a 20% decrease in direct payments and a 30% decrease in marketing assistance loan rates (Cooper).

The bill had a big snafu in Congress. The bill had passed both houses of the Senate and was sent to President Bush to sign. Bush went ahead and vetoed the bill. However, the bill that Bush had vetoed was missing 30 pages from the Congressional version. As such, Congress had to revote on their bill which, again, passed. When the proper version of the bill reached President Bush’s desk, it was again vetoed. Bush’s veto was to the dismay of environmental and agricultural groups. Hundreds of groups sent formal requests to congress to override the veto, despite their own acknowledgement that the bill itself wasn’t “perfect”. The groups stated that the bill was a “carefully balanced and compromise of policy priorities that has broad support among organizations representing the nation’s agriculture, conservation, and nutrition interests” (Hyder). Eventually, Congress overrode Bush’s veto and the Farm Act of 2008 became law.

Since this bill, just like the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, subsided farmers, there were no shortage of critics. The European Union, for example, cited that the subsidies in the 2008 Farm Bill were a sign of growing American protectionism. They were seemingly in fear of a trade war after the 2007 food price crisis. Likewise, high tariff’s on imports such as sugar can-derived ethanol from Brazil was upsetting to trade partners who were being taxed heavily (Hyder).

The Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum released a report about the 2008 Farm Bill. They specifically note the emergency nature of farm bills from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s to the current farm bills which are “monolithic legislation” of the current versions, including the 2008 Farm Bill. One of the issues that they cite with the 2008 Farm Bill is that it focused more on helping urban farmers for the local economy in those urban areas, especially the rust belt areas, rather than the rural farmers (Mersol-Barg 300).

Because the Farm Bill of 2008 did more to help urban farming, high operational costs in those areas can be considered part of the bills issues. Feasibility studies have shown that a 4.4-acre urban farm with $112,000 in revenue would still result in a loss (Mersol-Barg 287). That is where the government would step in – subsidizing the loss to result in the profit. This would benefit, mainly, only the local economy and not the U.S. economy.

Just as an economic disaster followed the 1929 Agricultural Marketing Act, one did with the  2008 Farm Bill as well. The Great Recession of 2008 occurred largely in part to subprime lending and bank failures. The Great Depression and “Black Tuesday” occurred within six months of the 1929 law being passed. The 2008 Farm Bill was passed just four months before the Lehman Brothers and other large banks begin to fall. Though both occurred just months before economic disasters, they were far from the main factor as to why the economy failed.
While a John Knott cartoon “And the Echo Answers: Where!” from 1930 had touched on the need for farm relief that had yet to arrive, this Marguiles cartoon touches on similar problems.

In the Knott cartoon, we see a drowning farmer with wheat and cotton being shown “flooded” by low prices. It is raining heavily, signaling the prices will seemingly decrease and the product demand will suffer even more. The farmer is asking where the relief for farms is because then-President Hoover, Congress and the Farm Board were largely unable to help them. In the 2008 cartoon, perhaps Bush helped them too much to the point of extreme comfort.

At the time that the Knott cartoon was published, the loophole in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 had yet to be fully exploited. That loophole allowed farmers to grow as much as they wanted since the Government would purchase any of the excess crops.

In this 2008 Marguiles cartoon, it is obvious that the farmer subsidies were fully being exploited and therefore agricultural relief was still struggling because of the abuse. The humor in the Marguiles cartoon details the way that the farmers had grown comfortable with the bill. The cap for payment: $750,000. Any farmer making $749,999 or less was eligible to subsidy assistance. So, farmers found loopholes in the law that would allow them to still make a considerable amount of money even if they didn’t really need the money. So, by showing a farmer cozy in bed, it is the same as the farmer being cozy with government existence. They still made money off of their crops and the government stepped in to help fill the “void” in payment.

While nearly 80 years had passed between both laws, neither had worked out for very long. The two cartoons also show a similar pattern: Farm Relief has no easy solution. Throughout the 16 Farm Bills between 1929-2008, there is always need for a new bill to replace the old. The one constant theme, however, is that farmers are taking advantage of Government subsidies to build their wealth while not entirely delivering their end of the deal, though sometimes through no fault of their own.

 

Works Cited

Cooper, Joseph C. “Average Crop Revenue Election: A Revenue-Based Alternative to Price-Based Commodity Payment Programs.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. 92, no. 4, 2010, pp. 1214–1228. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40931076.

Marguiles , Jimmy. “Farming the Government .” Newsday, 2008.

Mersol-Barg, Amy E. “Urban Agriculture & the Modern Farm Bill: Cultivating Prosperity in America’s Rust Belt,” Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum vol. 24, no. 1 (Fall 2013): p. 279-314.

Hyder, Joseph P. “Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.” Food: In Context, edited by Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner, vol. 1, Gale, 2011, pp. 316-318. In Context Series. Science In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX1918600101/SCIC?u=txshracd2598&sid=SCIC&xid=380563ce. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.

david

“And the Echo Answers: Where!”

The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 proved to be detrimental to the American agricultural industry. While the bill began with good intentions to help farmers, abuse soon became rampant and the U.S. Federal Government, specifically the Federal Farm Board, couldn’t keep up with increasing crop production. The 1929 law soon proved to be too much for the Government to handle when it came to subsidizing farmers across the United States.

This cartoon, titled “And Echo Answers: ‘Where!’”, by cartoonist John Knott, first appeared in the Dallas Morning Newson June 26, 1930. The cartoon, which was published during the early months of the infamous Great Depression, was in response to the Federal Farm Board. The Board, which was within the Herbert Hoover administration, was unable to rectify the declining markets for cotton and wheat. The two crops had fallen to a 7-year low just one year after enacting the Farm Bill. When Black Tuesday hit in 1929, the falling stock in cotton and wheat excelled at a rapid pace.

In the cartoon, we see a drowning farmer with “wheat” and “cotton” being “flooded” by low prices. It is raining heavily, signaling that the prices will seemingly decrease and the product demand will suffer even more. The farmer is asking where the relief for farms is because President Hoover, Congress and the Farm Board were largely unable to help them.

That is not to say, however, that President Hoover and Washington DC didn’t try. Several months before the market crashed, Hoover signed the “Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929.” The law was meant to address falling prices by allowing the Federal Government to purchase, sell and store excess crops from farmers and lend money to farmers in need. The revolving money allocated, approximately $150,000,000 , was intended to be loaned to farmers for buying seed, food and livestock to help maintain their livelihood should they fall on hard times (Joy).

Hoover didn’t necessarily intend to lend the money to farmers directly as he feared this would create dependence on the government. Instead, the Federal Farm Board lent money to co-operatives. Co-Operatives were established to be groups of farmers who pooled their resources together (Sibley 453).

The law, however, had a large loophole. When stocks were being dumped at alarming rates at the end of 1929 and beginning of 1930, the Federal Farm Board was unable to keep up with production (Sibley 454). Farmers were aware that the law never put in place a stipulation on how much the government would be forced to buy from them. Therefore, with no production limit, farmers overproduced to ensure that they would be paid. Farmers across the country, who still needed to provide for themselves, knew if they couldn’t see their crops privately, the government would still cut them a check. The law was designed specifically for a prosperous economy, not a failing one (Sibley 456).

Foreign trade was also declining across the globe due to the effects of the 1929 Stock Market crash. The government had to deal with the excess production issue domestically. While the government did have the right to sell the crops that they had bought, consumer spending in the United States was also in a steep decline. As well, wheat likely suffered due to Prohibition, the ban on manufacturing and sale of recreational alcohol. Eventually, the Farm Board ran out of money and the program had to be abolished.

One of the other contributing factors to economic decline was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, enacted in 1930. The legislation put forward was an attempt to keep American farmers afloat and decrease foreign trade competitors during the agricultural issues during the end of the 1920’s (Riggs 1219). This tariff raised import taxes by approximately 20 percent and spiraled into an international trade war. This trade war was considered to be one of the leading factors that spiraled America into the Great Depression, all while decreasing trade by 66 percent within a five year period of its enactment (Riggs 1219).

Along with a declining import market, this also lead to declining export from the US agricultural industry. When Smoot-Hawley was actually signed into law, Great Britain, Canada and France – among others – immediately reduced exports. This subsequently negated anticipated gains, sales, revenues and in the end, profits (Beaudreau 300).

The Dust Bowl, which occurred during the mid-late 1930s, was also a problem that came later. It is believed to have been caused by years of low rainfall and unusually high temperatures (Schubert 1856). The combination of the poor farm conditions prior to the Agricultural Marketing Act, the onset of the great depression and the lack of trade caused by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act led to an unimaginable crisis. Farmers likely didn’t expect agricultural economy to get worse than it was in 1929, but it did within less than a decade (Schubert 1856).

The humor element in Knott’s cartoon is evoked using “Where’s farm relief?” which is asked by the farmer who is drowning. As well, the title draws attention for its use of an “echo answer.” An echo answer is when the verb in a question is restated, or echoed, in the response. The Depression era farmers were consistently asking “Where is farm relief?”. For most, there were no answer and the farmers echoed their anger as if to say “Yeah! WHERE is farm relief?”

While farmers were aware of the passage of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, they were seemingly unaware at the massive failure occurring. As recently as 2008, agriculture continues to be a flaw in Government regulation due to overproduction and falling trade. The 16 farm bills that have been passed between 1929 and 2008 are a continued cyclical of an ongoing agricultural problem.

By: David Rubin

Works Cited

Beaudreau, B.C. Int Adv Econ Res (2017) 23: 295. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11294-017-9642-z

Joy, Mark S. “Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929.” The 1920s in America, edited by Carl Rollyson, Salem, 2012. Salem Online.

Knott, John. “And Echo Answers: ‘Where!”.” Dallas Morning News, 29 June 1930.

McElvaine, Robert S. Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2004. Gale Virtual Reference Library. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=100381&site=ehost-live.

Schubert, Siegfried D., et al. “On the Cause of the 1930s Dust Bowl.” Science, vol. 303, no. 5665, 2004, pp. 1855–1859. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3836515.

Sibley, Katherine A. S. “The Worsening of the Great Depression.” John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Hoboken, NJ, 2014.

“Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (1930).” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2015, p. 1219. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3611000828/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=117ab699. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

Disarmament: Knott’s Knot

A "Sincere Desire to Disarm" is the sword that could cut the metaphoric "Gordian Knot" binding exhausted taxpayers to the economic burdens of world armaments.
A “Sincere Desire to Disarm” is the sword that could cut the metaphoric “Gordian Knot” binding exhausted taxpayers to the economic burdens of world armaments.

At the end of World War I, a large portion of the globe was in shambles. The United States as well as other victors of the war gained immense power and enjoyed economic growth, that was very short lived. In the late 1920’s, the stock market crashed causing the United States and the world to fall into the longest economic crisis, the Great Depression (“The Great Depression”). The cartoon by John Knott, “Sword is Needed,” was published in the Dallas Morning News on October 29, 1932 to raise awareness about the political and economic problems that arose as different nations strived for a compromise on the specific terms for world disarmament as well as the high price that taxpayers paid in order to maintain national arsenals.  Accompanying the cartoon was an editorial, “Disarmament Again,” that discussed the obstacles to reaching a compromise on arms limitations at the upcoming Geneva Conference in November of 1932.

After World War I, “a general disarmament conference had first been proposed for 1925, but it did not actually meet until 1932 due to a lack of enthusiasm,” (“Disarmament”). The Geneva Conference of 1932 was about the limitation of arms, which ironically aroused diplomatic tensions across the globe. While non-attendance was one issue, once at the meeting many nations could not agree on the details requirements of arms limitations. No country would act, unless a different nation agreed to specific terms.

For example, the French Premier had prepared a plan that opposed the amount of drastic reductions on arms limitation that would be presented during the convention, while the United States and United Kingdom had held confidential negotiations on naval limitations (“Disarmament Again”). Although the United States and United Kingdom were the main superpowers to call for disarmament, the US threatened to build up the maximum amount of weaponry as a precaution because the UK was the strongest naval power. Italy had announced its willingness to cooperate on the limitations; Russia, on the other hand, had offered plans for complete disarmament (“Disarmament Again”). Meanwhile, Japan had declared itself to be compliant – but still demanded the necessity of naval defenses in order to protect its home waters against problems in the Far East. Germany, however, denounced limitations and demanded release from any limitations on arms. In short, so many different rivalries and points of friction, no one was willing to compromise, and there was no easy way to reach an agreement.

Understood against this historical backdrop, in Kott’s cartoon the large tank – labelled “World’s Armaments”—is a significant object—a point also emphasized in the editorial. The weight of the tank symbolizes the burden of armaments on each nation involved in the Geneva Conference. The utter size of the looming tank, even in the background, represents the scale and difficulties of reaching widely agreed terms for disarmament. Its massiveness represents the complex problems of national armaments and military budgets funded by the average taxpaying citizen.

In the foreground, a small man is tethered to the big tank. He is dragging the heavy burden of the “world’s armaments.” This beleaguered man represented taxpayers. As previously mentioned, this cartoon was drawn during the Great Depression. People in the United States, as well as abroad, were suffering from the stock market crash and barely had enough money to get by. The lone man representing exhausted taxpayers worldwide, slavishly drags the tank. He has no control over how his money will be spent, for arms rather than a prosperous economic future.

While dragging his burden, the taxpayer walks over an array of failed attempts at disarmament. The volume of scattered papers represents the many previous failures at compromise on numerous aspects of arms limitations (e.g., “Plan for Disarmament,” “Conference for Armament,” “Plan for Arms Limitation”).  This complex issue had been long discussed with little or no result. In Knott’s cartoon, the difficulties of previous disarmament conferences are captured in the paper titled, “Plan for Untying the Gordian Knot.”

Disarmament deals are like a metaphorical knot with different ends being pulled in different directions. This metaphor is very important to the cartoon. In the middle of the illustration, there is a giant, complex knot—a Gordian Knot—that binds the taxpayers to the tank. “Gordian Knot,” a proverbial term used to describe a complex problem that is solved through bold action (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). The origin of the term is traced back to Alexander the Great’s march through Anatolia to the city of Gordium (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). In order to conquer Asia, Alexander the Great had to untie the complicated knot. Unlike his predecessors who had failed, with a swift move of his sword, Alexander cut the knot. John Knott’s cartoon implies that similarly bold action was required to achieve disarmament at the Geneva Conference. The complicated puzzle, or knot, of trying to please every nation and honor their preferences for arms limitations could only be achieved if every country attending the conference had the “sincere desire to disarm.”

 

Works Cited

“Disarmament.” Europe since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction, edited by John Merriam and Jay Winter, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 854-863. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3447000280/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GRVL&xid=e4c44852. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018

“Disarmament Again.” Dallas Morning News, 29 Oct. 1932, p. 2. America’s Historical Newspaper, infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=P75K5CDYMTUyMjA4ODk3NS4zNDQ0OTg6MToxMzoxMjguNjIuMjUuMTgy&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483DD48E0961E6@2427010-10483DD50169304E@17.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Gordian Knot.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2 Jan. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Gordian-knot

“The Great Depression.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, www.ushistory.org/us/48.asp

Knott, John. “Sword Is Needed.” Dallas Morning News, 29th ed., 29 Oct.1932, p.2.

Patch, Buel W. “World Disarmament Conference of 1932.” Editorial Research Reports 1932, vol. I, CQ Press, 1932, pp.1-20. CQ Researcher, 28 Mar. 2018 library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1932010500.

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Dump Everything

Ohio born political cartoonist Tony Auth is best known for his pieces with The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for over 40 years.  It was during this period that he won a Pulitzer Prize for his publications (Tony Auth Wikipedia).  A political cartoonist’s work is tricky, they must attempt to create a piece which is often supposed to provoke a positive reaction from the reader, but at the same time make a strong political statement.  Auth’s Tea Party Cartoon, posted on April 10, 2010, in The Philadelphia Inquirer, caught my attention not only for attacking the far right-wing Tea Party, but also drawing a parallel back to the Revolutionary War.  Tony Auth depicts the modern-day Tea Party members’ lack of support for balanced taxation and their complete disregard for the defining benefits of being a citizen of a first world country by ironically comparing their beliefs to the principles held by the original participants of the Boston Tea Party, their party’s namesake.

The Tea Party holds extreme views on several topics.  In March of 2010, President Obama’s push for his version of government sponsored health care, the Affordable Care Act, was passed by Congress, but would not fully take effect until 2014 (Affordable Care Act Wikipedia).  This established a government-run health insurance agency that could be funded through taxation, so people who previously were not able to afford health insurance through a private insurer were able to receive basic health coverage.  It primarily taxed the wealthiest 1% of the country and provided healthcare benefits for approximately the bottom 40% (Affordable Care Act Wikipedia). The members of the Tea Party were worried that the United States was headed too far into what they refer to as “socialized medicine”.  The Tea Party has employed the term socialized medicine to scare people into thinking that it is a socialist program, when, in actuality, it is not so different than many other welfare programs already offered by the United States government. Supporters of this health care system often refer to it as national, single payer, or public option healthcare. While the different names do not change the function of the agency, they provide a more accurate description of the Affordable Care Act.  Overall the Tea Party did not favor the version of health care the United States was approaching in April of 2010, their obvious disgust for this type of health reform is visualized by the Tea Party members throwing crates labeled as Medicare and health reform over the side of a ship (Montopoli).

Another one of the largest programs funded by federal taxes is social security.  While the Tea Party is not as cohesively decisive on this topic, they are shown throwing social security overboard in the cartoon.  This is because they seem to have no solution to the issue we currently face with a large increase in the population of elderly people who rely on social security.  The Tea Party does not want to raise taxes, but they also want to avoid deficit spending (Vernon). Ideally, everyone would want social security to exist so long as they did not have to pay for it, and that contradiction is what Auth displays in his cartoon.  He shows members of the Tea Party in 2010 throwing Social Security overboard, almost as if they are proud. Although many Tea Party members believe in the benefits of social security, their stance against taxation contradicts this belief, as taxes are needed to support the Social Security program (Vernon).  In the background, instead of a historically correct sign reading “ no taxation without representation,” theirs simply says “no taxation,” highlighting the Tea Party’s lack of cohesion.

The Tea Party is not looking to reform the public education system, instead they encourage parents to take an active role in making sure their child is getting the best education possible (Tea Party Patriots).  Many people strongly disagree with this belief of the Tea Party. They worry that this will erode away at America’s capitalist foundation. The Tea Party’s belief against helping establish better school systems for impoverished areas stems from their reluctance to give money in the form of taxes to help the poor, as well as their belief in devolution in government (Tea Party Patriots).

When the cartoon is compared to John Knott’s “Arousing the Countryside” cartoon, from the Dallas Morning News on January 29, 1932, many similarities become apparent.  Both Knott and Auth use Revolutionary War time references to spark patriotism in their readers; however, they prove separate points, Auth’s cartoon bashes what it represents, the Tea Party, while Knott’s cartoon appears to support its subject, the State Taxpayers Association of Texas.  Patriotism is a powerful tool when persuading readers because generally people want to be proud of the country they live in.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I personally believe that statement.  Both the “Arousing the Countryside” and the Tea Party political cartoons are able to tell a story through past beliefs and maintain an argument for or against modern day beliefs.  It is seen through the cartoons that taxation has been a topic of debate for centuries, and will continue to be so.

 

Works Cited

Auth, Tony.  Cartoon. The Philadelphia Inquirer. 15 April. 2010: Print.

“Education.” Tea Party Patriots, www.teapartypatriots.org/education/.

Knott, John. “Arousing the Countryside.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News, 29 January. 1932: Section 2, page 2.

Montopoli, Brian. “Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe.” CBS News, CBS. Interactive, 14 Dec. 2012, www.cbsnews.com/news/tea-party-supporters-who-they-are-and-what-they-believe/.

“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act.

“Tony Auth.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Auth.

Vernon, Steve. “Do Tea Partyers Support Social Security and Medicare?” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 8 Nov. 2011, www.cbsnews.com/news/do-tea-partyers-support-social-security-and-medicare/.

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Texas Taxpayers Unite

John Knott was a cartoonist from Austria-Hungary, famous for his work illustrating American political cartoons.  For decades his works were published in the Dallas Morning News (John Knott Wikipedia).  In his 1932 piece, “Arousing the Countryside,” a man is depicted riding horseback, trying to spread the word for a cause he supports.  The man symbolizes the members of the State Taxpayers Association of Texas, an organization against income taxation that only consisted of 600 members (Taxpayers Complain).  The Association’s main goals at the time were to “exempt from taxation homesteads up to a certain assessed valuation” and to shift “the tax burden from… real estate to other forms of wealth through a State income tax (The Taxpayers Meet).”  Though many citizens of Texas favored a removal or lowering of the property tax, the Association struggled in rounding up support for the idea. In his illustration, John Knott used intense patriotism, through powerful imagery and strong wording, to display the State Taxpayers Association of Texas’s disgust for their state government’s spending of the people’s taxes, in order to encourage reform and try to save the worsening economic status of the poor.

The editorial, “Taxpayers Complain,” published in the Dallas Morning News on January 29, 1932, that goes along with the cartoon, seemed to have a bias toward the cause, discussed the Association’s recent rally in Fort Worth, Texas. A day earlier an editorial titled “Drive to Slash Levies Begun By Taxpayers,” went into more detail about the rally in Fort Worth and cited the President of the Association, D.M. Jones, saying that the rally was a success and that thousands of Texas citizens were exposed to the Associations demands. The Association was mostly composed of real estate owners who looked for relief from the heavy real estate tax that existed at the time (Taxpayers Complain).  According to Jones the members of his organization were considered “economic pioneers” of their time (Drive to Slash Levies Begun By Taxpayers). This helped open the minds of people who were willing to sacrifice their time and efforts to step forward and gain momentum for their movement. The State Taxpayers Association of Texas viewed Lone Star State spending as too lavish and not focused on what its citizens needed. Even though the poor tried to vote the burden of their taxes onto the rich, because the rich had all the power at the time, they ended up evading many of the taxation responsibilities they should have born (Taxpayers Complain).  

John Knott implemented many artistic devices into his cartoon to foster awareness among his readers.  He added powerful words like “war, waste, and extravagance” to display how important the issues were to people at the time.  These words serve as an example of soft propaganda that the State Taxpayers Association of Texas used to rally support for their cause.  The words produced emotions in readers, in order rally them to the cause.

In Knott’s cartoon a man is depicted on a strong horse, pointing ahead and shouting.  He represents the members of the Taxpayers Association and their hope for a future with better tax reform.  The Paul Revere-esque image of the man is designed to spark patriotism in the reader. He is depicted riding down the street spreading the word of the organization, similar to Revere’s ride around Boston warning of Britain’s attack at the start of The Revolutionary War.

Knott’s depiction of angry looking citizens further advances the cause of the Association, and demonstrates how they were practically ready to run into battle to support their beliefs.  The cartoon was intended to imbue the readers of the Dallas Morning News with a sense of patriotism by drawing a parallel between the ragtag militia and the Revolutionary War, when the citizens demanded a change.  Knott also added more concerned looking citizens peering down on the scene from a second story window. These people represent the many citizens who were unfairly taxed, but not yet apart of the cause.  The Association is self-described as militant, and were referred to as a powerful front that was not afraid to be vocal about their beliefs.

At the time of the cartoon’s publication, the rich thought that the only way the poor should escape their poverty was through hard work, common sense, and saving.  The poor, on the other hand, looked for relief through tax reform. The State Taxpayers Association of Texas existed to help combat the upper class’s ability to avoid as much taxation as possible (Taxpayers Complain).  The Association believed the correct way to go about this was to get rid of the high real estate taxes, and instead to pay income taxes which would target the rich.

The State Taxpayers Association of Texas was determined to help bridge dramatic differences in income between the rich and the poor that existed in 1932; however, the Association was unsuccessful because of the Great Depression.  Ironically a stronger support for the cause of tax reform could have lessened the effects of the Great Depression.

 

Works Cited

“Drive to Slash Levies Begun By Taxpayers.” Dallas Morning News, 28 January. 1932.  Editorial. Section 1, page 1.

“John F. Knott.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Knott.

Knott, John. “Arousing the Countryside.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News, 29 January. 1932: Section 2, page 2.

“The Taxpayers Meet.” Dallas Morning News, 28 April. 1932. Editorial. Section 2, page 2.

“Taxpayers Complain.” Dallas Morning News, 29 January. 1932. Editorial. Section 2, page 2.

 

Tariffs Weaken more than Trade

Right in the Middle of his Speech

In this cartoon titled Right in the Middle of His Speech (Knott) we see a man identified as President Herbert Hoover falling through a stage labeled “G.O.P. Platform”. One of the planks, titled “Tariff Plank” has given snapped in two. Hoover is holding a sheaf of papers titled “Blessings of High Tariff”. From the title of the cartoon it is evident that Hoover was delivering his speech from these papers. At the bottom of the panel a sketched crowd of people are sitting on the ground, smiling at his plight. The cartoon is dated October 15, 1932 and the associated editorial is titled Tariffs Come Home to Roost (“Tariffs Come Home to Roost” 2). The unnamed author of the editorial lists the ways that the “Blessings of High Tariff” harmed the economy of the United States and Hoover’s chances of reelection.

Although the tariffs are not named anywhere in the comic or the editorial, there is only one tariff that was infamous enough to be the tariff on everyone’s mind: the Tariff Act of 1930, commonly known as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff or Smoot-Hawley. It was passed into law over two years before this cartoon was published, but the tariff was still very much on the minds of citizens and voters.

In 1932 people were blaming President Hoover for the Great Depression. Even today economists debate whether the Smoot-Hawley Tariff turned what might have been a global economic downturn into The Great Depression (“Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act”). At the time of its inception, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was protested by bankers, economists, and editorial writers across the nation. Over a thousand economists signed a petition to protest the Smoot-Hawley Tariff (“The Battle of Smoot-Hawley”). In 1930 the tariff on dutiable imports was 6% on average. However, at the time Knott published this cartoon in 1932 the forces of deflation raised the effective rate of tariff costs on dutiable imports by 59.1%. (“The Battle of Smoot-Hawley”).

Before Smoot-Hawley was signed into law the stock market had seen some notable recovery from its infamous 1929 crash, but the market took another nosedive as soon as it became clear that Smoot-Hawley would pass. Other nations responded quickly with tariffs of their own. For example, the editorial Tariffs Come Home to Roost mentions the Ottawa tariff, in which Canada raised the duties on American goods and lowered the duties on British goods. The results of this trade war was a significant decrease in trade globally and the movement of factories from the United States to Canada (Tariffs Come Home to Roost).

In 1932 Hoover was running for re-election. He was an extremely unpopular candidate as many people blamed him personally for the Great Depression. Despite this, the Republican party was continuing to run on a platform of economic protectionism and supported the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. The Democrats countered with a platform of lowering tariffs and “…[the Democrat’s] candidate, Franklin D Roosevelt, hammered Hoover during the campaign for signing the Smoot-Hawley bill” (Gordon).

This topic of election platforms moves directly into an analysis of Knott’s cartoon.  A political platform is the set of goals and policies for a political party. Individual portions of the platform are often called “planks”. Knott uses these terms to form a visual pun. The GOP platform here is literally unable to support Hoover as he tries to woo voters. Notably the plank that is the weakest and responsible for this disaster is called the “tariff plank”.  The implication is that it does not matter how solid the rest of the platform is, this one issue is enough to bring Hoover down.

Hoover’s literal downfall is not a private disaster either. There is a crowd gathered around, and the disaster is very apparent to the people who are watching it. The gathered crowd is dressed in casual clothing and sitting on the ground; they are not peers of the suit-wearing Herbert Hoover. The people are smiling as they watch Hoover fall. They seem amused that Hoover is finally seen suffering repercussions for the tariff that impacted them. On the stage there is a microphone, perhaps representing the rest of the country who might listen to such a speech over the radio. The entire nation is aware of what is happening.

Interestingly, it is not Hoover himself who is the cause of the failure. This is perhaps reflective of the fact that although he signed Smoot-Hawley into law, he objected to what it became after special interest groups and Congress finished drafting it. He went so far as to denounce the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, and only signed it into law under pressure from his party (Gordon). In the comic, Hoover is not failing the G.O.P. Platform of economic protectionism, the platform is failing his reelection efforts. The author of the editorial suggests that if Hoover were to “…confess in open meeting that he committed a great sin when he signed the tariff act against his better judgement” (“Tariffs Come Home to Roost” 2) it would be very successful with voters.

The wrong tariff at the wrong time can result in a trade war with global repercussions. The “Blessings of High Tariff” in the cartoon were enumerated in the accompanying editorial as “…poor business, low wages, and great unemployment” (“Tariffs Come Home to Roost” 2). Tariffs were and are a powerful tool for improving a national economy, but their deployment must be judicious. Knott chose to focus this particular cartoon on the personal, political repercussions of the tariff.

 

Works Cited

“The Battle of Smoot-Hawley.” The Economist, 18 Dec. 2008, www.economist.com/node/12798595. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.

Gordon, John Steele. “Smoot-Hawley Tariff: A Bad Law, Badly Timed.” Barrons, 21 Apr. 2017, www.barrons.com/articles/smoot-hawley-tariff-a-bad-law-badly-timed-1492833567. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

“Herbert Clark Hoover.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 7, Gale, 2004, pp. 483-485. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404703059/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=71e4ab99. Accessed 22 Feb. 2018.

Knott, John Francis. Right in the Middle of his Speech. 15 Oct. 1932. America’s Historical Newspapers, infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=L63Q49PFMTUyMjMzMzk1Mi42MTE4MzI6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_action=doc&s_lastnonissuequeryname=4&d_viewref=search&p_queryname=4&p_docnum=1&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483D9233E8A080@2426996-10483D92A9E93CD3@17-10483D94E2A30003@.

“Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk, vol. 2, Gale, 2000, p. 933. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3406400866/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=370b678b. Accessed 22 Feb. 2018.

“Tariffs Come Home to Roost.” Dallas Morning News, 15 Oct. 1932, p. 2. America’s Historical Newspapers, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=T58A4FEJMTUyNjM1MTgwMy42MjQ1MjI6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_action=doc&d_viewref=search&s_lastnonissuequeryname=9&p_queryname=9&p_docnum=1&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483D9233E8A080@2426996-10483D92A9E93CD3@17-10483D94EA6FB419@Tariffs%20Come%20Home%20to%20Roost