All posts by robertr

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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.