Category Archives: Contemporary Cartoons

Posts about contemporary cartoons, created during Fall 2017

A Crumb for Workers Rights

The State of New York's legislature is characterized as throwing "crumbs" to the minimum wage work force.
The State of New York’s legislature is characterized as throwing “crumbs” to the minimum wage work force.

As Samuel Gompers, a key 20th Century labor union leader once said, “The man who has millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day,” (Gompers 59). Corporate greed was a contentious issue of the 20th century that continues to bleed into the 21st aswell. The United States’ (US) economy shifted from an industrial economy during the era of World War II to a services economy in the contemporary era of the Internet and globalization. But the United States has not experienced a major shift in the advancement of workers rights. There was however a detrimental state-sponsored shift in labor union influence, which ultimately left millions of Americans in the working class without union representation and vulnerable to the negligence of federal legislatures.

An infamous example would be President Ronald Reagan’s “War on Labor.” He encouraged rapid de-unionization across the United States because of his direct mass-firing 13,000 air traffic controllers and “appointment of three management representatives to the five-member National Labor Relations Board (McCartin).” This decision was executed to demonstrate how tough Regan could be, which ultimately impressed the Soviets. He neglected to advance workers rights at the expense of gaining respect from Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, so that US could pressure the Soviets into resolving the Cold War (McCartin). Reagan set the precedent for future presidents. Prior to his administration, “Republican presidents never had much regard for unions…no GOP president had dared to challenge [labor unions’] firm legal standing, [which was] gained through Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid-1930s (Mesiter Par.2)” President Ronald Reagan’s administration halted the progression of workers right up to the 2008 Great Recession and election of President Barack Obama. During the Obama era,  there were some initiatives for workers rights, particularly on a state level in the context of the minimum wage. However, the ineffectiveness of these attempts represent the inefficiency of American labor law.

There is still an utter disregard for the progression of workers rights. Today, over 7.3 million people are reliant upon on a minimum wage occupation as their primary source of income (Everyday Finance 280). This number is consistent with the combined population of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota and Alaska (US Census, 2010). Also, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, the initial mandated minimum wage of $0.25 in 1938 is equivalent to $4.38 in modern dollars, which is only $2.87 less than today’s mandated minimum wage of $7.25. While the cost of living has risen dramatically, the income for millions of Americans has not grown. Hence the debate on increasing the minimum wage: Millions of Americans are trying to provide for themselves and their families on a virtually unchanged amount of income in over 80 years. In response, many are putting pressure on their state legislatures to provide more egalitarian standards for labor.

The state of New York enacted a  progressive initiative in the advancement of workers rights in March 2016. This came as a response to a nation-wide protest that began in New York City, the so-called “fight for $15” (Nagourney 4). This was a multi-city strike lead by tens of thousands of workers that marched for a $15 national minimum wage mandate, as well as other progressive workers rights, such as fair pay for women and minorities. The state of New York mandated a $15 minimum wage in New York City by the end of 2018, and the same increase for surrounding counties by 2021 (McKinley Par. 2). Governor Andrew Cuomo, the current Governor of New York, also proposed the wage mandate because it was a feature campaign promise. The bill, nicknamed “The Cuomo Promise,” was named in reverence for his father, Mario Cuomo, who was a former New York Governor and highly praised as a “liberal beacon” (Nagourney 3).

Governor Andrew Cuomo is up for reelection in 2018, and the minimum wage increase mandate helps secure more votes, specifically from Democrats and the working class. All though historically Republicans have been opposed to raising the minimum wage, this policy proposal was met with surprising bipartisan support from New York Republicans. In an era of intense partisan divisiveness, this unprecedented consensus exists primarily because the bill allows New York to become a national “economic leader,” as a laboratory state, which is a state that pioneers a policy in order to examine the implications of leading-edge legislature both politically and economically (McKinley par. 17). Also, New York Republicans’ constituents largely consist of the working-class who are directly affected by the minimum wage increase.

The minimum wage increase also came as a

Although the Cuomo Promise was met with much bipartisan praise, some, like political cartoonist Jeffrey Boyer, met the bill with skepticism. The cartoon above, titled “Crumbs,” depicts a man seated on a bench feeding the surrounding pigeons. The man, or bird feeder, is wearing a pin that titles him as “New York Legislature,” and the pigeons are titled “Minimum wage workers.”

Boyer takes an apparent negative stance against the mandate. This is made clear by the way he portrays a simple power dynamic between the bird feeder, New York Legislation, and the birds, minimum wage workers. The cartoon characterizes the pay increase mandate as a ‘handout,’ by representing it as tossed crumbs to pigeons. The negative framing is also apparent in the characterization of the “minimum wage workers,” as pigeons, who are the receivers of the ‘handed out’ benefits. This is damagingly stigmatizing, by linking the typically unfavorable ideology behind minimum wage workers, to the commonly attributed symbolism of pigeons, such as them being bottom feeders, unintelligent, and dependent. The bird-feeder seems to be reluctant to give the pigeons food, considering the bag he is holding, titled ‘Salary Increase,’ is a large paper sack which likely contains his meal. This could indicate that the bird-feeder intended to feed himself rather than the pigeons. But, after the birds gathered around him in large quantities, he must have caved into their demands. This is an implicit metaphor for Boyer’s viewpoint of New York Legislatures, that their progressive actions were taken not in moral self interest, but from the growing coercion for the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama and their constituents. The “crumbs” are thus a metaphor for the inadequacy of the ‘handed-out’ minimum wage increase because in comparison to a full meal, crumbs are temporary and ultimately unsatisfying.

New York’s minimum wage mandate also functions as a contemporary parallel to the proactive and persistent travail of steel workers in the revolutionary Little Steel Strike of 1937. For decades, steel workers were exploited by firms nicknamed “Little Steel Corporations,” which were steel companies in the 1930s that were comparatively smaller than the leading manufacturer, U.S. Steel. “Little Steel Corporations” were able to coerce their employees into inequitable 100-hour work weeks with unreasonable low wages, because labor unions at the time lacked significant political capital to lobby to Congress. However, the National Labor Relations Board capitalized on the economic urgency for resources created by World War II to coerce steel firms into honoring the ultimatums of their employees. The Steel Corporations agreed upon a 40 hour pay week, a pay increase, and the right to collectively bargain.

The resolution, made famous by John Knott’s depiction of the resolution in a biblical allegory, was largely attributed to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal, because it allowed the United States government more direct political power over corporate entities. FDR’s political presence in the battle for progressive workers rights became a critical catalyst that to this day provokes immediate political activism in the fight for workers rights: fair pay, collective bargaining, and work hour restraints.
The people of the United States, rather in the past, the present, or future, appear to be entangled in the sluggish inefficiency of change. Although the progressive agenda that strived to change and rectify corporate greed in the United States has had limited success in the past century, there is hope. New York’s recent enactment of the $15 minimum wage is an obvious milestone for the advancement of workers rights. Yet it is simultaneously indicative of how much further the people of the United States must push onward in the battle for equitable workers rights.

 

Works Cited

Labor Laws.” Everyday Finance: Economics, Personal Money Management, and Entrepreneurship, vol. 1, Gale, 2008, pp. 281-283. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX2830600117&it=r&asid=2479ea0abb5dd9387b350cefa7289042. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017.

Gompers, Samuel. Samuel Gompers Papers, University of Maryland, 2011, www.gompers.umd.edu/quotes.htm.

McKinley, Jesse, and Vivian Yee. “New York Budget Deal With Higher Minimum Wage Is Reached.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Mar. 2016, mobile.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/nyregion/new-york-budget-deal-with-higher-minimum-wage-is-reached.html.

Bureau, US Census. Census.gov, www.census.gov/en.html.

“CPI Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.

Boyer, Jeffrey. “Editorial Cartoon by Jeffrey Boyer.” The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, 3 Apr. 2016, editorialcartoonists.com/cartoon/display.cfm/149853/.

Nagourney, Adam. “Mario Cuomo, Ex-New York Governor and Liberal Beacon, Dies at 82.”The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Jan. 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/nyregion/mario-cuomo-new-york-governor-and-liberal-beacon-dies-at-82.html.

Meister, Dick. “Ronald’s Reagan’s War on Labor.” Labor – And A Whole Lot More, www.dickmeister.com/id89.html.

McCartin, Joseph A. “Opinion | Reagan vs. Patco: The Strike That Busted Unions.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2011, www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/reagan-vs-patco-the-strike-that-busted-unions.html.

Raise the McMinimum

After raising the minimum wage, fast food prices rise and many workers are laid off.
After raising the minimum wage,  some workers are satisfied whereas consumers are not after the effects of the raise cause prices to go up and other workers to lose their jobs.

 

Cartoonist A.F. Branco published a cartoon titled “Minimum Wage Rage” for the Liberty Alliance organization in 2013 that depicts a man ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant. He is complaining about the high price of a hamburger meal to the cashier. The cashier notes that although the price is high, at least he, the cashier, is making fifteen dollars per hour. There is another worker in the background upset that he was just laid off from his job.

This cartoon is about the protests that began in 2013 in the United States regarding the minimum wage. The United States minimum wage was set at $7.25 in 2009. Americans have found that this hourly wage, which many are forced to live off, is insufficient. Minimum wage workers work on average 40 hours a week (“What are the Annual Earnings”). This pay translates to $290 a week (based off of the federal minimum wage) not including taxes. With roughly 4 weeks in each month, the average worker makes a little more than $1,000 a month. This is where problems arise. The average rent in the United States is about $1,200 a month (Glink, “Top 10 Cheapest Cities”).  The average worker cannot afford this based on their pay. This is rent alone. Then the cost of food and travel expenses must be accounted for. As a result of this, workers are protesting to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.

As of 2013, the poverty rate in the United States was approximately 14.5 percent (DeNavas-Walt and Bernadette, “Income and Poverty”). In 2016, the United States poverty rate featured a decline to 12.5 percent (Semega, Fontenot, and Kollar, “United States: 2016). However, despite this obvious decline, living conditions worsen and inflation causes prices to rise for the United States in 2017.  Many working class citizens survive off of government issued food discounts and healthcare. The citizens that find themselves in poverty cannot find a way out with current wages (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). Minimum wage workers cannot keep up and demand for wage increases. Labor unions have taken it upon themselves to protest major corporations in hopes that one might listen. In May of 2017, hundreds of fast food workers marched outside the headquarters of fast food giant McDonald’s Corp (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). This protest is just one of many and the labor unions across the United States are not going to stop.

 

Protests against major corporations have been occurring for decades. In 1937-1938, situations for workers were similar back then to how they are now in the United States from 2013-2017.  In 1937, workers were underpaid and congregated into unions to fight for a better work environment as well as benefits. John Knott, a political cartoonist, in 1937 produced several cartoons depicting the struggles workers had to face. He drew one cartoon in particular titled “Chronic Disease” that is similar to A.F. Branco’s cartoon “Minimum Wage Rage.”

John Knott depicts the United States crisis regarding labor unions and striking in a cartoon titled “Chronic Disease” for the Dallas Morning News published on March 23, 1937.  The image shows a man sitting hunched over with his hands on either side of his face.  He appears very burly and very defeated. He has the word “labor” printed across his shirt sleeve. Behind him is a woman wearing an apron. She is on the telephone and has the word “public” printed on her apron. She is speaking into the telephone.  Her quotation bubble reads, “Is this Dr. Roosevelt?” The cartoon demonstrates the disparity between government action and the labor unions in that the President Roosevelt banned sit down striking and the labor unions were highly upset.

The cartoon depicting the fast food workers connects very easily to John Knott’s cartoon. Both demonstrate the effects of the government action on the working class. In Knott’s cartoon, the government restricts the working class by banning sit down strikes and in Branco’s cartoon the government restricts the working class by having a low minimum wage.

A.F. Branco’s cartoon depicts the struggle minimum wage workers and labor unions have had against the government in attempting to raise the minimum wage in the 2013-2017 era.

Works Cited

Chiarito, Bob. “Hundreds protest over minimum wage at McDonald’s stockholder meeting.” Reuters, 24 May, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-wages-protest/hundreds-protest-over-minimum-wage-at-mcdonalds-stockholder-meeting-idUSKBN18K2EB

DeNavas-Walt, Carmen and Proctor D. Bernadette. “Income and Poverty in the United States in the United States: 2013.” Census,16 Sept. 2014, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.html

Glink, Ilyce. “Top 10 cheapest U.S. cities to rent an apartment.” Cbsnews. 20 July. 2013, https://www.cbsnews.com/media/top-10-cheapest-us-cities-to-rent-an-apartment/.

Semega, Jessica L, Fontenot, Kayla R., and Melissa A. Kollar. “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016.” Census, 12 Sept. 2017,

https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-259.html

“What are the annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker?” ucdavis, 30 Aug. 2016, https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-are-annual-earnings-full-time-minimum-wage-worker.

Especially Interesting Money

The Democratic Party’s donkey and the Republican elephant entrench themselves behind piles of special interest money.
The Democratic Party’s donkey and the Republican elephant entrench themselves behind piles of special interest money.

Campaign finance reform has been a hot-button political issue since the early 1970s and the advent of soft money. Soft money describes unregulated amounts of campaign donations from special interest groups – a type of lobbying collective focused mainly on campaign finance – who then effectively control the candidate’s platform and voting record (Williams). The above cartoon, created by former Brigham Young University Magazine political cartoonist Aaron Taylor, depicts Taylor’s opinion of special interest groups and soft money – a natural evolution of the soliciting banned by the Hatch Act’s provisions banning federal employees from involvement in political campaigns – and their negative effects on the political process in America (Porter).

Taylor’s cartoon itself features the mascots of the nation’s two party system deeply pitted against the other in trench warfare, each sheltered behind a mountain of money bags. The animals themselves obviously represent their respective parties; additionally, the donkey wears the military uniform of Andrew Jackson, who created the logo after a political opponent called him a jackass (CBS News). The elephant, while not dressed as any specific Republican figure, exhibits attire evocative of the Republican-dominated Eisenhower era. The parties’ entrenchment against each other manifests visually through their foxholes, illustrating the perpetual gridlock inherent to bipartisan democracy. Outside their dugouts, piles of sacks labeled “Special Interest Money” further separate the two parties, mirroring the real life deepening of political divide through allegiance to financiers (Drutman).

Just as the bordeaux blazer clad, high ranking politicians depicted in Knott’s cartoon controlled the votes of their employees through intimidation and coercion prior to the Hatch Act, large businesses and labor unions exercise an enormous amount of power over legislators by extensively funding their campaigns. And the volume of money only increases. Despite the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act – a law intended to stop the flow of soft money into politician’s pockets – in 2002, spending from special interest groups increased by $366 million over the following two years (Thomson; Tarr &  Benenson). Due to this increased corporate influence, party leaders no longer have meaningful control over their constituents, lending credit to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s qualms regarding the Hatch Act’s depletion of partisan unity.

Taylor’s cartoon, along with Knott’s “How the Workers Will Enjoy It!” share an overwhelmingly negative view of money’s involvement in politics and high ranking political officials in general. While in Knott’s case, the elite solicited money and support from their employees, Taylor’s finds them subject to corporate soliciting themselves. Although further attempts at campaign finance reform continue to be debated in Congress, the lucre of the legislator’s current situation makes it hard to believe they would do anything to rock the boat.

 

Bibliography:

Drutman, Lee. “How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy.” The Atlantic. April 20, 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/how-corporate-lobbyists-conquered-american-democracy/390822/. Accessed 8 Nov. 2017.

“How the Parties Got Their Animal Symbols.” CBS News. August 26, 2012. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-the-parties-got-their-animal-symbols/. Accessed 10 Nov. 2017.

Porter, David L. “Hatch Act.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 4, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 103-104. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3401801858&it=r&asid=5a20cf84bb2588b9b2fbb925367456f7. Accessed 7 Oct. 2017.

Tarr, Dave, and Bob Benenson. “Soft Money.” Elections A to Z, 4th ed., CQ Press, 2012, pp. 592-595. CQ Press American Government A to Z Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX4159000195&asid=a0a0a053357280acb8ff8702bc67cd0a. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017.

Taylor, Aaron. Cartoon. Brigham Young University Magazine, Summer 2004. Web.

Thomson, Lisa Ann Jackson. “Informing Campaign Finance Reform.” Brigham Young University Magazine, Summer 2004.

Williams, Glenda C. “Soft Money.” Encyclopedia of Political Communication, edited by Lynda Lee Kaid and Christina Holtz-Bacha, vol. 2, SAGE Publications, 2008, pp. 749-750. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX2661300519&asid=ba65f9e04ce3b8852e1e94b8b2f7c36c. Accessed 10 Nov. 2017.

Should Be Retired With Texting While Driving

Jeff Parker's cartoon visualizes the effects of texting and driving
Jeff Parker’s cartoon visualizes the effects of texting and driving.

Cellphones and smart devices put a world of information at our fingertips and allow communication to flow endlessly. Before, only doctors had to be “on call” at all times. Now, everyone with a smartphone is. In September of 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a law that prohibits the use of a wireless communications device for electronic messaging while driving statewide. In the United States, 1 in every 4 car accidents is caused by distracted driving because of cellphone use (Schumaker).

The growing phenomenon of texting behind the wheel is portrayed in the political cartoon by Jeff Parker titled, “Driving While Dialing”, published on October 1, 2009, in Florida Today. In the cartoon, a person texting on their smartphone is illustrated while driving into pedestrians and another vehicle. An elderly lady is one of the pedestrians depicted being hit by the car, with her groceries flying in the air above her. Parker utilizes the elderly lady, the main victim of the crash, as a representative of older generations and the cell phone user, a millennial, as a figure representing younger generations. Parker illustrates millennials literally running over the older generations carelessly, so it can be concluded that he agrees with the stereotype of millennials being largely indifferent and narcissistic. A cyclist is also hit by the car, but only their feet are pictured above the car as the victim is launched off of their bicycle. Ahead of the driver, is a man in another vehicle who is caught by surprise as the car heads towards him. In the rear-view mirror, another man can be seen; the man seems to be furious at the distracted driver. The reckless driver appears to be using a Sidekick LX 2009 smartphone. This model debuted under carrier T-Mobile and popularized the use of mobile Internet in the late 2000’s. This concept of mobile internet became a key selling point for tech companies in the coming decade (Hahn).

A study conducted in 2016 by Ioannis Pavlidis from the University of Houston explored driver behavior when absent-minded, emotionally charged or when they are engaged in texting (Merkl). The study found that when driving with certain levels of distraction, drivers utilize a “sixth sense” that allows them to perceive risk and drive with more caution. The study concluded that people lose this vital level of awareness almost entirely when texting. In fact, some research argues that drivers who text are just as impaired as people who drive while drunk. Research by U.S. government demonstrates that texting while driving “by far the most alarming distraction” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

In 2011, the Texas Legislature was successful in passing a statewide ban on cellphone use while driving. Despite overwhelming public support, the ban was vetoed by Governor Rick Perry (Rasansky). Similarly, in 2015, House Bill 80, a bill aimed at banning texting and driving, was introduced. The bill, although approved by the Texas House panel, was turned down in the Senate before becoming a law. By this time, local governments had already passed bans on cellphone use while driving in their cities. In May of 2017, the Texas Legislature finally fully passed House Bill 62. The Texas House Bill 62 of 2017 states that the “use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle (is) a criminal offense.” First-time offenders of the law could be fined up to $99 and consequently, $200 for a repeat offense (Texas Department of Transportation).

Modern day issues of public safety that exist in Texas have significant connections to the decisions made in the Texas Legislature in the late 1930’s. The political cartoon by John Knott titled, “Should Be Retired With Unsafe Cars”, published on February 27, 1938, in the Dallas Morning News, illustrates the manifesting danger caused by reckless drivers. Rising fatal car accidents and traffic safety in the late 1930’s caught the attention of legislators in Texas and all over the country. In the 1930’s the issue of a small device that communicates you with the world distracting drivers was nonexistent, let alone comprehensible. Although the technology in cars and communication has changed drastically since then, the fundamental act of driving an automobile and the risks accompanied by it remain the same. The journal article, “A Theoretical Field-Analysis of Automobile-Driving” by James J. Gibson and Laurence E. Crooks states that of the skill demanded by contemporary civilization, driving an automobile is the most important to humans because a defect in it has the greatest threat to our lives.

The law that was recently passed by the Texas Legislature comes in a time where the public desperately needs to be saved from themselves through legal guidance. As technology continues to advance, old problems such as risky driving, become more complex. More and more, cell phones are drawing our eyes away from the road. In his cartoon, Jeff Parker epitomizes modern day distracted driving and the imminent danger it causes.

 

Works Cited

“Cell Phone Ordinances.” Texas Department of Transportation, www.txdot.gov/driver/laws/cellphones.html.

Currin, Andrew. “Distracted Driving.” NHTSA, 22 Sept. 2017.

Davis, Stacy C. Transportation Energy Data Book. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2013.

Gibson, James J., and Laurence E. Crooks. A Theoretical Field-Analysis of Automobile-Driving. 1938.

Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015: Supporting a Decade of Action. World Health Organization, 2013.

Hahn, Jason Duaine. “The History of the Sidekick: The Coolest Smartphone of All Time.” Complex, 20 Sept. 2016.

Merkl, Lisa. “A Sixth Sense Protects Drivers except When Texting.” University of Houston, 7 Aug. 2017.

Pavlidis, Ioannis. Dissecting Driver Behaviors Under Cognitive, Emotional, Sensorimotor, and Mixed Stressors. Dec. 2016. Scientific Reports.

Rasansky, Jeff. “Rasansky Law Firm.” 31 Aug. 2017, Dallas, Texas. Address.

Schumaker, Erin. “10 Statistics That Capture The Dangers of Texting and Driving.” Huffington Post, revision 2, 7 July 2015.

Shropshire, Corilyn. “Teen Texting Is OTT, Even at Wheel.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16 July 2007.

“Slaves to the Smartphone.” The Economist, 10 Mar. 2012.

Smith, Morgan. “Texting Ban among More than 650 New Texas Laws That Take Effect Today.” Texas Tribune, 1 Sept. 2017.

Taggart, Michael. “The Very Real Dangers of Texting While Driving.” Huffington Post, 17 Apr. 2017.

Traffic Safety Facts 2015. U.S. Department of Transportation, 2015, crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication812384. National Highway Safety Administration.

The Whopper

“The Whopper”, by Nate Beeler
A cartoon by Nate Beeler that shows the reasoning behind Burger King’s move to Canada.

“The Whopper” is a political cartoon drawn by Nate Beeler in 2014 for The Columbus Dispatch and caglecartoons.com. It is about Burger King’s 2014 merger with Tim Horton’s, during which Burger King considered moving its headquarters to Canada. The main reason for the move, despite Burger King’s claims, was likely to significantly lower the amount of corporate taxes that Burger King would need to pay. Consequently, this cartoon is related to the Knott cartoon “Hunting Easter Eggs” and the Dallas Morning News editorial “Political Tax Bill”, since all of these portray corporate taxes as overly limiting for businesses. Specifically, in “The Whopper”, corporate taxes are shown through graphic symbolism as harmful and unreasonably high.

In August 2014, Burger King announced its intentions to buy Tim Horton’s, a large Canadian coffee chain. This deal would represent a merger that would, in addition to merging the two companies, move Burger King’s headquarters to Canada. (Hartley 1). This potential move was very significant, since the change in location would lead to Burger King paying taxes based on Canadian rates. The United States has some of the largest corporate tax rates in the world, while Canada has comparatively very low tax rates. According to The Washington Post, the move would have ended up saving Burger King 1.2 billion tax dollars over three years (Ferdman 1), in a highly disputed tax inversion.

A tax inversion is “a transaction used by a company whereby it becomes a subsidiary of a new parent company in another country for the purpose of falling under beneficial tax laws” (“Tax Inversions” 214). Tax inversions, along with other corporate actions that shelter companies from taxes, are very controversial. Tax sheltering schemes like tax inversions have effectively cost the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars over the years, which has escalated the federal deficit (Farell 63). Inversions have been so much of an issue that in early April 2016, due to concerns partially inspired by Burger King, President Barack Obama proposed new rules that would prevent U.S. companies from moving abroad to avoid taxes. “The measure appeared to end the proposed merger of U.S. pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer with Ireland’s Allergan Plc, which would have represented the largest tax inversion” (“Tax Inversions” 214) on record.

Such rules were not yet in place in 2014, so Burger King would have been legally allowed to carry out the merger. However, upon announcement of their intent to move to Canada, there was massive controversy, as expected from a tax inversion measure. Obama called companies like Burger King “corporate deserters who renounce their citizenship to shield profits” (Hartley 1), and both he and the Treasury Department began preparing bills and plans to prevent such inversions in the future, such as the aforementioned 2016 rules. In addition, consumers had historically responded unfavorably to previous corporate tax evasion. In 2013, “Starbucks saw its sales dip in the United Kingdom after the public learned the company was using complex accounting methods to pay less in taxes in the country” (Ferdman 1). Had the merger actually completely happened, it is likely a similar effect would have occurred in the United States.

Due to the massive backlash at their announcement, Burger King announced in late August that they would not move after all, and would simply share common ownership with Tim Horton’s. This was true to some extent-their headquarters did remain in Miami, the original location, but since the new parent company of both Burger King and Tim Horton’s, created by the merger, was still in Canada, Burger King still saved much tax money. Nevertheless, the maintaining of the headquarters’ location was enough to quell most of the controversy, and Burger King remains a very strong and successful company today, perhaps partially because of the money saved.

In “The Whopper”, Beeler illustrates his view of the Burger King controversy primarily through visual symbolism. Burger King’s intentions are directly shown by a Whopper, Burger King’s signature product, with a flag reading “Canada or bust!”  Meanwhile, the implied reason for the move, America’s corporate tax rate, is represented by a much larger burger, full of garbage, dangerous glass and poisons, and other disgusting objects. By using such a large and repulsive symbol for the tax rate, Beeler shows his opinion of the American tax rate, namely that it is far too high and very harmful to companies. In addition to the immediate meanings of the symbols, their juxtaposition adds more meaning to the cartoon. Most noticeably, the “Whopping American Corporate Tax Rate” (Beeler 1) contains a pun on Burger King’s signature Whopper that serves to enhance the humor of the cartoon and thus make it more accessible and entertaining for readers. More significantly, however, the burger representing the tax rate is significantly larger than the actual Whopper, which symbolizes the dominance of corporate taxation over Burger King and other corporations in general.

The entire situation, and the contemporary cartoon’s depiction of it, has some relation to the Knott cartoon “Hunting Easter Eggs” and its accompanying editorial, “Political Tax Bill”. Knott’s cartoon and the editorial both are critical of the Undistributed Profits Tax, which was a bill that charged massive corporate taxes on unspent reserve funds. Like the Knott cartoon and editorial, “The Whopper” also criticizes large corporate tax rates, even if the modern rates are general rather than for reserve funds specifically. All of the works seem to be in favor of the corporations, and show business taxes as a negative burden on businesses.

“The Whopper” provides an interesting glimpse into 2014’s business situation and the overall impact of corporate taxes on business. This cartoon is particularly of interest because of its unique viewpoint. As mentioned earlier, Burger King’s announcement was met with severe backlash, being heavily criticized by both ordinary Americans and powerful government officials. In the midst of this backlash, it is odd to see a cartoon that supports Burger King and depicts the move as a valid response to a greater issue, that issue being the massive corporate tax rates in the United States. Whether or not one agrees with this view of the controversy, it is still very useful to analyze, in order to further understand the attempted Burger King merger and the controversial general issue of corporate taxation in American. After all, taxation is an inevitable part of life in the United States, and it will always be a hotly debated issue. It is critical to have resources to understand it.

Works Cited:

Beeler, Nate. “The Whopper.” Cagle Cartoons, 27 Aug. 2014, caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID={4B1BCF82-33A5-427F-97C7-308C2F888F39}.

“Tax Inversions.” American Law Yearbook 2016: A Guide to the Year’s Major Legal Cases and Developments, Gale, 2017, pp. 214-215. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3633800089&asid=af2451534afde7cb4a29adfbab2337ad. Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.

Farrell, Keith C. “Corporate Tax Shelters.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues, edited by Michael Shally-Jensen, vol. 1: Business and Economy, ABC-CLIO, 2011, pp. 59-67. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX1762600013&asid=cf85dfda1e7d01d522d806af2cb3db16. Accessed 16 Nov. 2017.

Hartley, Jon. “Burger King’s Tax Inversion and Canada’s Favorable Corporate Tax Rates.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Aug. 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/jonhartley/2014/08/25/burger-kings-tax-inversion-and-canadas-favorable-corporate-tax-rates/#2ec8c4f53ed7.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “We finally have an idea of how much money Burger King will save by moving to Canada.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 11 Dec. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/12/11/burger-king-could-save-a-whopping-amount-of-money-by-moving-to-canada/?utm_term=.51d85676f585.

Jacobson, Louis. “Burger King says it’s ‘not moving’ and ‘will continue to pay all’ of its taxes.” Edited by Angie Drobnic Holan, Politifact, 29 Aug. 2014, 5:29 pm, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/aug/29/burger-king/burger-king-says-its-not-moving-and-will-continue-/.

Freedom of Navigation versus Freedom of the Seas

The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is seen pushing the United States’ 44th president Barack Obama back with a croupier stick in order to stop American military involvement in the South China Sea
The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, is seen pushing the United States’ 44th president Barack Obama back with a croupier stick in order to stop American military involvement in the South China Sea

In Heng Kim Song’s political cartoon “Heng on the South China Sea Dispute” the United States (U.S.) is seemingly infringing upon China’s sovereignty in the South China Sea under the pretext of the current International Law of Freedom of Navigation. The South China Sea (SCS) region has been a zone of conflict for many years after World War II with territorial and jurisdictional disputes. Having multiple nations fighting over potential natural resource deposits, fishing grounds, and strategic control over the waterways and islands make this region very dangerous. Currently, many of the countries in the region are working for peace and resolution. However, the U.S. has been sending military vessels under the pretext of Freedom of Navigation to spy on the islands owned by China due to speculation that the country is building major weaponry and military equipment on the Paracels, Spratlys, Macclesfield Bank, and Pratas groups of islands, threatening U.S. commerce and allied nations. Beijing has issue with the U.S.’s spying and over-extensive interpretation of the Freedom of Navigation agreement leading to tension and negative confrontation. This is also apparent in John Knott’s 1937 cartoon “What Price Freedom of the Seas?” where the U.S.’s interpretation of the ideology: Freedom of the Seas, has led to conflict and opposing opinions from the general public. In 1937, the upkeep of commerce and geo-political control over the seas was very important to the U.S. and they tried to maintain commerce with belligerent nations under the pretext of Freedom of the Seas. The importance of commerce and control is still apparent today in the South China Sea. Although 80 years apart, both cartoons depict the U.S. interpreting the notion that the seas are neutral, differently from other nations and people (whether the notion is an ideology or a law).

An article by Ankit Panda that sheds light on Heng’s cartoon is called “China Reacts Angrily to Latest US South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation” from the international news magazine: The Diplomat. The article presents both sides to the dispute. The U.S.’s argument is that “China claims to support freedom of navigation, but discriminates between civilian and military vessels” because they have captured American military vessels and drones in the past. While China’s argument is “Its [the U.S.’s] behavior has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China’s sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation.” (Panda) This article and other articles like “Protecting Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea” from the Diplomat challenge the U.S. to ratify the UNCLOS before demanding other nations to allow them near their land under the international law.

The UNCLOS is “a comprehensive framework for the regulations of all ocean space” created in the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea between the years 1973 and 1984. The UNCLOS set regulation rules for many different situations including: “…the limits of the territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of individual states; the right of access to the sea, freedom of navigation and other lawful uses of the sea in various maritime zones; exploitation, conservation and management of living resources of the sea; deep sea mining in the area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction; marine scientific research; protection and preservation of the marine environment; and the settlement of disputes.” (Mensah 463) As of today there are 157 signatories (countries that have signed) that include both the U.S. and China. However, the U.S. never ratified this treaty, making China doubt the legitimacy the U.S. has on using this law for its Freedom of Navigation operations in the SCS.

The United States has always believed in having neutral oceanic territory across the globe from the Jefferson Embargo Act of 1807 to today. This “Freedom of the Seas” idea allowed nations to travel across all waterways for commerce, natural resource hunting, and simple passage across the oceans without fear of being attacked by other nations near their waterways. This idea is still extremely important to the U.S. today because of commerce, international business, and natural resource deposits rely heavily on being able to send ships freely through the seas.   However, this was only an idea, mostly reinforced through intimidation from the U.S. and small agreements between allied nations. The introduction of the UNCLOS in 1994 legally set this ideology in international law, changing the idea of “Freedom of the Seas” to “Freedom of Navigation” with many nations signing onto it, ratifying it, and abiding by it. This change gave the U.S. more incentive and protection to spy on China’s current developments on their islands (shared by many allied nations to the U.S. like Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines).

The main region of conflict in the SCS are the many groups of islands often categorized into the Paracels, Spratlys, Macclesfield Bank, and Pratas (these islands are also often simply grouped into either the Paracel islands which are all the islands in the northeast, and the Spratlys islands -northwest). These islands are currently owned by six claimates: Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and China. All of these nations recognize that “the Sea is one of the primary routes for international trade, and many claimants believe that the Sea hides bountiful oil reserves in addition to its plentiful fishing stocks.” (Mirski) However, it wasn’t always this way, in fact, at the end of World War II, no claimate owned a single one of these islands. Ownership of these islands only gained attention a year after the war: “Then, in 1946, China established itself on a few features in the Spratlys, and in early 1947, it also snapped up Woody Island, part of the Paracel Islands chain.” (Mirski) But the SCS was still not seen as a priority until 1955 and 1956 where other nations started to claim different portions of these island chains. In the 1970’s claiming these islands became even more urgent to the nations surrounding them because oil was found beneath the waters. This led to invasions and the Battle of the Paracel islands where many Vietnamese were killed by Chinese naval forces. China later invaded more chains in 1988 killing more Vietnamese people. In 1995 China built bunkers above Mischief Reef for protection, causing a dangerous increase of tension between all the claimates.

In response to this rivalry, in 2002 China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN- which included Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos) came together to sign the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS. (Mirski) The declaration was “a code ‘to lay the foundation of long-term stability’ with respect to the territorial dispute.” (Baviera 348) This code’s purpose is to provide stability and peace between all the nations involved in the Sea, but it can only be upkept if all parties act civilly and peacefully. Today the U.S. speculates that China is beginning to show threatening signs of neglecting this code with the numerous sightings of increased militarization on these islands, threatening the friendly nations and U.S. commerce. (McLaughlin)

The reason for U.S. involvement in the Sea (other than for maintenance of free trade) is due to satellite images taken in 2015 revealing increased militarization on Chinese man-made islands. These man-made islands have been on the news since 2015: “China has begun secretly constructing a military airstrip on a man-made island in the South China Sea, provoking alarm among countries in the region already fearful of its increasingly aggressive actions. Satellite images released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington show that Chinese workers have constructed a third of a runway, eventually expected to be almost two miles long, on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.” (Coghlan) The speculation around these islands is that they will be vital landing pads and pubs for military ships and planes as China wards off other claimates or eventually decides to invade the other islands. More images were captured later by drones, satellite, and planes throughout 2016, confirming American speculation. Beijing has had a number of these drones seized due to a violation on their Freedom of Navigation interpretation, making the U.S. want to send even more drones due to this need for secrecy.

The cartoon itself shows two main characters: Barack Obama and Xi Jinping who represent the leadership of the United States and the Republic of China at the time this cartoon was published. They are depicted standing at a sand table with models of jets, missiles, flags, and military vessels often used to coordinate war strategies. As Obama moves a jet towards where the Chinese arrows point, Xi Jinping pushes Obama back with a croupier stick while exclaiming “Beat it!” This cartoon depicts the conflicts going in the SCS on a smaller scale being just between Barack Obama and Xi Linping in a small room, around a sand table. The sand table is often used in war strategies, and this depiction in the cartoon shows the geo-political “game” these two leaders are playing. The consequences of this political game can be detrimental. The cartoon’s small-scale depiction and inclusion of toy planes and ships may also have a different meaning… Both nations think the other’s interpretation of the law is faulty, but not many things have been done to resolve the conflict, similar to arguments made by children on a playground. The model planes, ships, and the phrase “Beat it!” make Xi Linping look like a school bully on a playground, shooing away another kid wanting to play with the jets. Knowing the true magnitude of the actual conflict makes this interpretation seem a bit out there, but it may be Heng criticizing the actions made by both leaders that led to no resolution.

Behind Obama is a door with the word “Asia” written on it, suggesting that the rest of Asia may be metaphorically “behind closed doors” in this conflict because of how much more powerful both the U.S. and China are than the other Asian nations involved in this ordeal. Although much of the other claimates in this conflict are geographically much closer to China than the U.S., they are allowing the U.S. to continue getting involved in the SCS for personal interest. Barack Obama in this cartoon is in-front of the door that says Asia, representing the other countries and standing at the frontline against China. Many of these smaller nations depend of the U.S. for its umbrella of defense. Xi Linping pushing Obama back with a stick instead of a serious weapon also shows that the conflict for now is somewhat peaceful for the time being.

The U.S. involvement in the South China Sea is heavily based on the maintenance of international trade. The U.S. is taking actions that respect its interpretation of Freedom of Navigation, but so is China. As of today, there is no concrete resolution between these two interpretations, all the while the tensions keep rising. This is also apparent in John Knott’s cartoon where different groups of people and belligerent nations interpreted the ideology of Freedom of the Seas differently. In the Knott cartoon belligerent nations violated the ideology and it pushed America into the war, as many citizens predicted. Currently both China and the U.S. think the other is violating the law, and this is only leading to confrontation and conflict. The parallels of these instances that are 80 years apart are staggering, but hopefully this time the U.S. will not repeat history, and not enter a World War for a third time.

 

Works Cited

Baviera, Aileen S.P. “The South China Sea Disputes After the 2002 Declaration: Beyond Confidence-Building.” ASEAN-China RelationsRealities and Prospects, edited by Saw Swee-Hock, et al., Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2005, pp. [344]-355. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX2837300032&it=r&asid=e9e67811e01e9584838b665834463004. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.

Coghlan, Tom. “Satellite images show China’s secret island airstrip” Times, The (United Kingdom) news edition 2, EBSCO Industries Inc. 18 April 2015. Web. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=15&sid=51104f6e-5a1f-4bb5-ab34-b2092f0fe181%40sessionmgr4010&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=7EH98423036&db=nfh

Gates, Douglas. “Protecting Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea.” The Diplomat. 28 May 2015. Web. 12 November 2017. https://thediplomat.com/2015/05/protecting-freedom-of-navigation-in-the-south-china-sea/

Heng Kim Song. “Heng on the South China Sea Dispute.” New York Times. print.  22 February 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/opinion/cartoon-heng-on-the-south-china-sea-dispute.html

McLaughlin, Elizabeth. “What you need to know about tensions in the South China Sea.” ABC News. 17 March 2017. Web. 12 November 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/International/tensions-south-china-sea/story?id=44306506

Mensah, Thomas A. “UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).” Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, edited by Ted Munn, et al., vol. 4: Responding To Global Environmental Change, Wiley, 2002, pp. 462-463. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3438400799&it=r&asid=f5dd4bf07e13cb536216649f578665f6. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.

Mirsky, Sean. “The South China Sea Dispute: A Brief History.” Lawfare. Publ. by the Lawfare Institute in Cooperation With Brookings. 8 June 2015. Web. https://www.lawfareblog.com/south-china-sea-dispute-brief-history

Panda, Ankit. “China Reacts Angrily to Latest US South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation.” The Diplomat. 4 July 2017. Web.  3 November 2017. https://thediplomat.com/2017/07/china-reacts-angrily-to-latest-us-south-china-sea-freedom-of-navigation-operation/

Trump Tells NATO: Pay Up

A stereotypical American couple lounges at a backyard pool. The man sits on the side reading a newspaper with the headline: "Trump Tells NATO: Pay UP." The man complains that "Nice Going Trump! Now the French are going to be even RUDER to us..."
A stereotypical American couple lounges by the pool, while the man comments on Trump’s assumed provocation of the French, remarking that now they will be even ruder than before.

In the spring of 2017, the tension was growing between the United States and various other nations. The US was still considering whether or not to remain part of the Paris Agreement, an accord within the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aimed “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change … [and] to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change” (UNFCCC page on the Paris Agreement). According to Trump, “Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as $2.7 million lost jobs by 2025” (NPR). For many Americans, this was an extremely unattractive prospect. When running for office, Donald Trump promised to back out the Paris Agreement if it failed to meet the needs of the US. The outlook for the US remaining bound by the agreement was dim. Due to this, many nations lowered their opinions of not only President Trump but of the United States as a whole.

Donald Trump spoke to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on May 25th, 2017. NATO, an international alliance founded in April of 1949, is designed to mitigate both political and military disputes. Notable members of NATO include the United States, Germany, France, and Italy. The United States is a large proponent of NATO’s funding and, as one of the world’s leading powers, it is a key member of the organization. However, due to tensions that arose as a result of the Paris Accords, many other nations within NATO looked down on the US.

Consequently, when Trump spoke to the NATO saying that, “Massive amounts of money were owed,” the reception was not pleasant (BBC).  According to NATO’s report in 2016, the number of countries who had reached the target 2% spending on defense was only five. The President remarked that “[It] is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and [from] not paying in those past years” (BBC). While the goal for countries involved with NATO is 2% spending on defense, “NATO states’ contributions are voluntary and a target of spending 2% of GDP on defense is only a guideline” (BBC). Many United States citizens, including some high ranking government officials, believe this number to be a hard line. Eventually, the US did withdraw from the Paris Agreement on June 1st, 2017.

In Mike Lester’s political cartoon, Trump Tells NATO: Pay Up, a woman lounges in a backyard pool while a man nearby reads the newspaper. The front of the newspaper reads: “Trump Tells Nato: Pay Up” in bold, black letters. Presumably reading the story, the man remarks: “Nice going Trump! Now the French are going to be even ruder to us…” Lester’s cartoon presents the thought that President Donald Trump’s actions with NATO are derogatory not only to the organization but to international relations, particularly with France.

Mike Lester adds a bit of humor to his cartoon, with the male reading the newspaper stating that: “Nice going, Trump! Now the French are going to be even ruder to us…” For many years, the stereotypical view of French people by Americans is that they are stuck up, snobby, and altogether impolite. They seem to look down on those from the US. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center (PRC), the approval ratings of the US President dropped 70% between the past two administrations. Trump’s demands have not only led the general public to loathe him but other entire countries as well, including France. Thus, the man in the cartoon reading the newspaper fully expects the French to remain stereotypically snobby, but to an even greater extent.

Due to the tensions in the Paris Accord and the US’s new “mandate” for countries to pay their fair share, international opinion of the United States is diminishing. The American government has chosen to maintain a hard position rather than work to compromise with NATO and the countries involved with the Paris Climate Agreement. This relates to John Knott’s political cartoon, Dirty Work, from the Dallas Morning Newspaper. The rigid position and the decision of countries to avoid compromise in the 1930s links the two cartoons. The struggle of each nation to fulfill its own agenda led to another world war. It seems similar to the US’s current actions: threatening to pull out of arguably globally beneficial agreements if its own agenda is not brought to fruition. The parallels between present day and the 1930’s are eerily similar. If nations, and more importantly, international organizations such as NATO, cannot function effectively to create agreements,  then the consequences may be severe. If countries make the same unyielding demands as they did before World War II, then history may be destined to repeat itself.

Works Cited:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Status of Ratification.” The Paris Agreement – Main Page, 12 Oct. 2017, unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php 

Romo, Vanessa, and Miles Parks. “Confusion Continues: The United States’ Position On The Paris Climate Agreement.” NPR, NPR, 16 Sept. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/16/551551083/u-s-still-out-of-paris-climate-agreement-after-conflicting-reports.

“Donald Trump Tells Nato Allies to Pay up at Brussels Talks.” BBC News, BBC, 25 May 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40037776.

Wike, Richard, et al. “U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, 26 June 2017, www.pewglobal.org/2017/06/26/u-s-image-suffers-as-publics-around-world-question-trumps-leadership/.

Economic Fantasies

A liberal and conservative state their basic economic fantasies
A liberal and conservative state their basic economic fantasies

Andy Singer’s cartoon, Economic Fantasies, cleverly depicts both a stereotypical conservative and a stereotypical liberal and their economic fantasies. The top of the cartoon reads “Choose one:” giving the reader instructions to choose from the two options. One being the “Conservative Economic Fantasy” which is, “If we keep cutting taxes and spend less, everything will get better.” The other being the “Liberal Economic Fantasy” which is, “If we raise taxes and spend more, everything will get better.” The appearance of both of the men in the cartoon are clearly derived from stereotypes based their political philosophy. The conservative is wearing a tie as well as traditional half moon reading glasses, has a clean shaved face, and also has his suit jacket buttoned. The liberal however is not wearing a tie, has circle shaped glasses, a full mustache and goatee, and has his suit jacket unbuttoned.

 

The cartoon was originally published in February of 2016, and at the time the 2016  presidential election campaign had just started. Just like any other election the candidates gave their proposed economic plans. As expected from a republican candidate Trump’s economic plan was expansionary and called for tax cuts and reduced spending (Amadeo, 2017). On the other hand Clinton’s economic plan was contractionary and called for both an increase in taxes and spending (Amadeo, 2017). Both their tax plans aline with the “economic fantasies” in the cartoon, but again there comes the decision of which side to go with. As the economy is constantly changing the argument of what policy is best in terms of continuous growth and overall prosperity is inevitable.

 

Singer’s choice of using the word fantasy is an accurate way of putting it, because although both plans have their obvious benefits they still have flaws. Due to Trump’s plan being expansionary it was estimated to increase GDP by 11.5% and create 5.3 million jobs (Clinton vs Trump, 2016). His proposed plan would also reduce government revenue by 10 trillion dollars over the course of 10 years. Due to Clinton’s plan being contractionary, it would help reduce government debt by 191 billion after a decade (Clinton vs Trump, 2016). However it would also slow down economic growth in the form of a 1% GDP decrease and the loss of 311,000 jobs. Either way things will be better in some way but not “everything will get better.”

 

This dilemma of seeking a suitable economic policy has been common throughout the history of the United States. Within the Great Depression in the 1930’s, the same issue arose. Marriner S. Eccles the head of the Federal Reserve proposed an increase in tax in order to balance the budget (“Eccles Explains”, 1937).  The budget was at a deficit of $26.4 billion and a tax increase was the only way to balance the budget but it also meant that the recession would continue (“1937 United States Budget”). In opposition of this proposal was that of the American government and the people of the United States, who advocated for tax cuts and decreased spending. With this plan the budget would’ve still been at a deficit but the recession would’ve come to an end. The message of Singer’s cartoon can even be applied to this situation during the Great Depression. With both plans certain things would be better but again not “everything will be better.”

 

With an ever-changing economy it’s not a surprise to see this issue has become so common since the government is always trying to protect its people from devastating changes in the economy. Singer’s cartoon basically sums up what the two main opposing views and how they’re beliefs are so extreme that they could be referred to as fantasies.

 

Works Cited

“1937 United States Budget.” Rate Limited, federal-budget.insidegov.com/l/39/1937.

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Deficit Spending Is Out of Control. Here’s Why.” The Balance, 2 May 2017, www.thebalance.com/deficit-spending-causes-why-it-s-out-of-control-3306289.

Clinton vs Trump – Tax Plans Compared.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 13 Dec 2017.

“Eccles Explains.” The Dallas Morning News, 18 March 1937.

 

Walmart Scalia Thomas

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia disrespectfully forcing women back to work at Wal-Mart.
Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia disrespectfully forcing women back to work at Wal-Mart.

As workers of the 21st century continue to pursue the fairest and most equal opportunities for their individual careers, the conflict of sex discrimination and fair pay between those powers and authoritative entities have continued.  Even with the establishment of the 14th Amendment over a century back, the Supreme Court’s interpretation has shifted.  The amendment states there should be no denial to, “any person within its (United States’) jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws (law.cornell.edu).”  Unfortunately, there are court cases that discuss the very question of whether or not an individual is given equal protection under laws, which applies to Danziger’s cartoon portrayal of sex discrimination and unfair pay, applying to female employees of Wal-Mart.  

Back in 2001, a Wal-Mart employee named Betty Dukes and 5 other women, filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, claiming that they had been employing company-wide discrimination acts against women (cnn.com).  The women essentially claimed that it was more difficult for them to get promoted than their male counterparts and that the level of pay for women was inferior.  Dukes and the five women who filed the lawsuit represented over 1.5 million women at Wal-Mart, which made it the largest class-action lawsuit in U.S. history (cnn.com).  That class action lawsuit didn’t result in a victory for Dukes, however, as the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against it.  Danziger’s political cartoon above expresses these results, and emphasizes the crucial relationship of Supreme Court decisions to worker’s rights, in addition to continuous business development.

These women felt as if they were being unfairly treated, which is supported by a clear violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act that was created after the fall of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) in 1935.  The Fair Labor Standards Act clearly states that, “The equal pay provisions of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) prohibit sex-based wage differentials between men and women employed in the same establishment who perform jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions (dol.gov).”  Given that, it is apparent that Dukes and the female employees of Wal-Mart have a clear-cut point of reference for defending themselves in the lawsuit.

This occurrence of discrimination also ties into the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was preceded by a Supreme Court ruling over Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.  That decision resulted in employees not being able to take action over discriminatory pay if the pay decision by the employer occurred over 180 days earlier, which frustrated those seeking complete elimination of that discrimination (nwlc.org).  A dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg in the 5-4 ruling, discussed the need for Congress to take legislative action in order to fully rectify the discrimination conflict occurring in the workplace.  Thus, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 came into the worker’s rights equation, which finally assisted and protected workers subject to unfair treatment in the workplace, with anti-discrimination laws and a reset to the 180 day limit to file a claim(nwlc.org).  With evidence in play, it was up to the Supreme Court to validate the claim of Dukes and Wal-Mart female employees.

The two justices depicted in the political cartoon above, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, are regarded as two of the more conservative justices among those of the Supreme Court, and voted.  Although there may be a public perception of conservatives being less favorable than liberals towards gender issues, the personal history of both Scalia and Thomas provides more insight into his vote in favor of Wal-Mart in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.  During Clarence Thomas’ confirmation process to be a Supreme Court Justice, he was involved in a sex scandal.  His former assistant Anita Hill claimed he verbally harassed her with sexual language.  The coke can displayed in the political cartoon with Justice Thomas appears to be a reference to this sex scandal, because of the fact that Anita Hill once recalled Thomas asking, “Who has pubic hair on my Coke?(zimbio.com)”  This, among other sexual claims by Anita Hill, led to the one of the closest confirmations for a Supreme Court justice over the past couple of centuries, at a 52-48 vote from the U.S. Senate.  

In reference to Justice Scalia, there has been controversy on his views towards women, along with his preference for less-restricted business.  Scalia’s strict interpretation of the Constitution has etched a negative image of his views towards equal rights, particularly in association with his quote that sex discrimination will basically occur depending on the state of society,”If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures (Cohen).”  That interpretation of the constitution is frowned upon because of the equal-protection clause of the 14th amendment, which strived to not deny anyone equal protection of the laws.  Also, it gives the perception that sex discrimination acts are changeable based on the state of society.  Scalia’s corporate view also correlates to the political cartoon above, in his vote of Wal-Mart over Dukes, with an attempt to assist corporate influence.  One way in which he has done this was through halting any restrictions on corporate spending during federal elections, which he believed violated the First Amendment (Cohen).

The political cartoon by Jeff Danziger above, created on June 21st, 2011, depicts two Supreme Court Justices as greeters of Wal-Mart, telling women to get back to work.  It’s apparent that the cartoonist views both Justice Scalia and Thomas as the main antagonists of this incident involving women, regarding the court case of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.  Also, Scalia is shown as forcefully kicking a female employee back into the store, and back to work.  Justice Thomas is shown holding and looking at a coke can, while clearly irony abounds in these Wal-Mart “greeters” making the women go back in the store to work.

Danziger’s cartoon connects back to the John Knott cartoon of Hatching Another One for the Ax (Knott) and the editorial of Haste Made Waste with a correlation to a deficient business environment and the denial of the Supreme Court in a legal setting. The 5-4 decision against Dukes in the case, occurred because of a lack of any real substance when staking the claim that Wal-Mart was nationally discriminating women and giving less opportunity for promotion.  As stated in Justice Scalia’s majority opinion, “it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims will produce a common answer to the crucial discrimination question(oyez.org).”  This statement asserts not only the lack of legitimate support the women had, but also points to how difficult it is to win against a business of Wal-Mart’s magnitude.  The Knott cartoon also includes a Supreme Court restriction in helping out workers.  As the Great Depression peaked and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was looking to improve the economic condition in the United States, he announced changes in the form of the New Deal, a set of programs, regulations and acts designed to reconstruct the economy.  One of his acts was known as the National Industrial Recovery Act, or NIRA, which was enforced by the National Recovery Administration, or NRA.  The goal of the NRA combined with NIRA, was to implement industrial codes that would essentially regulate businesses in a fashion that could simultaneously benefit workers through improved wages, hours worked and working conditions.  Unfortunately, the NRA’s lifespan was cut short in FDR’s eyes, as the Supreme Court invalidated it due to legality issues in distribution of power(law-making powers to the president) and the failure to operate successfully.  The Knott cartoon portrays FDR’s desire to re-implement an NRA, but the past left a poor mark on that piece of legislation.  Ironically enough, the power of big business was increased by the NRA because of such poor regulation on industrial codes, leading to continuous big business power. Thus, not changing the fact that the Supreme Court indirectly helped big business with a denial to a new NRA, similar to how the Supreme Court benefited Wal-Mart with its decision in not granting money to the women of the Dukes lawsuit.  

The editorial, Haste Made Waste, in John Knott’s cartoon, references FDR’s desire for wage legislation to be introduced with the NRA, which is essentially what Dukes and the women of Wal-Mart wanted.  That said, FDR was given an opportunity to showcase what the NRA could do with its first introduction, but failed.  Dukes and the women of Wal-Mart have yet to be given an opportunity to adjust their work environment they way they want it. It’s evident that the business and worker problems of FDR’s era differ from that of today, but the connection in worker’s rights and the branches of related legislation are still prevalent in dictating how business and people will be organized and maintained for future years.

Works Cited:

Danziger, Jeff. “Walmart Scalia Thomas.” www.huffingtonpost.com.

Mears, Bill. Supreme Court Rules for Wal-Mart in Massive Job Discrimination Lawsuit. www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/20/scotus.wal.mart.discrimination/index.html.

“Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.” National Women’s Law Center, nwlc.org/resources/lilly-ledbetter-fair-pay-act/.

“Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.” Oyez, 13 Nov. 2017, www.oyez.org/cases/2010/10-277.

“Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.” United States Department of Labor, www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/hrg.htm.

Cohen, Adam. “Justice Scalia Mouths Off on Sex Discrimination.” Time, Time Inc., 22 Sept. 2010, content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2020667,00.html.

Staff, LII. “14th Amendment.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 12 Nov. 2009, www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv.

Knott, John. “Hatching Another One for the Ax.” The Dallas Morning News, 4 March 1937.

S-T-O-P texting and driving

A distraught driving instruction tells a teenager to “S-T-O-P” texting during his driver’s education test.
A distraught driving instructor tells a teenager to “S-T-O-P!” texting during his driver’s education test.

In the contemporary cartoon by Gary Varvel published in a 2009 edition of the Indianapolis Star, the trend of teenagers texting while driving is illustrated. The author has chosen to pair this cartoon with the editorial “Graduated license for teens, safer roads for everyone,” published in The News-Sentinel, an Indiana-based newspaper, in 2009. In the cartoon, the two characters are sitting in a car with a sign reading “Driver’s Ed” on top. The character behind the wheel, looking to be of adolescent age, is on his phone texting. The other character, presumably the driving instructor due to the clipboard he is holding, yells “S-T-O-P!” with a panicked expression on his face.

The frequency in which texting and driving was practiced grew as the popularity of texting as a form of communication grew. Despite texting, or short messaging service or SMS, being introduced in 1992, it was not popular in popular culture until 2007. By this point, 74 percent of cell phone users texted regularly (Keeline) In 2017, technology has advanced in a way that makes it easier than ever to text and drive, but the dangers that come with texting and driving are also more widely known. Due to lack of education and legislation when texting and driving first became a prevalent issue, the rate of automobile accidents was high.

The first laws on texting and driving began to be passed in 2008, and by 2010, 30 states had outlawed texting and driving (Automobiles). The law the cartoon was drawn particularly to depict was the Indiana law that extended the time frame and increased the effort new drivers would have to go to to get their license (News-Sentinel). The cartoon exaggerates the amount of texting and driving done by teen drivers, but does so to emphasize the severity of the issue.

One way Varvel shows the severity is by the way the texter is drawn. He is using both hands to text with only one of his fingers remaining on the wheel. His tongue is stuck out in concentration and his eyes are completely closed. The closed eyes shows the lack of attention being payed to the road or to the rest of his surroundings. This is an exaggeration, but the truth is not far off: looking down for 5 seconds going 55 miles per hour can cause a driver pass by the distance of a football field while completely distracted (Binnall).

Varvel employs clever visual tactics in his cartoon, the main one being the “S-T-O-P!” being said by the driving instructor. The way that it is drawn with the dashes separating the letters indicates that the instructor is speaking in the way that letters are typed while texting. This shows that the instructor has to go to extreme measures to get his point across to the teenager, literally spelling it out for him, as one idiom goes. This also serves as social criticism about the overuse of technology by those in modern society. The idea that the only way to get through to someone is by texting them (or, in this case, speaking a text out loud) is one that shows the pervasiveness of technology into our communication and everyday lives.

In the years since this cartoon was drawn, harsher bans and more severe punishments have been enacted against texting while driving due to the danger it puts drivers in. In Texas particularly, a statewide texting and driving bill was recently passed in June of 2017 and went into affect in September which increased the fine for texting and driving and classified it as a misdemeanor (Draper). The fact that the bill went through the approval process and was shot down three times before goes to show that opposition to texting and driving bans are still prevalent. Before the bill was passed, the policy on texting and driving was left for towns to decide separately, which was criticized because drivers passing through would have to keep up with the specific laws and policies of every town.

The issue of dangerous driving is one that has caused debate among legislators, educators and drivers themselves since automobiles were invented. The issue of texting and driving and the steps taken to ban it and educate the public reflect the introduction of driver’s education in schools in the early 20th century. The unsafe driving practices and lack of education on driving led to a death toll of 100,000 due to traffic-related accidents by 1923 alone (McShane) and eventually led to legislators taking action and implementing driver’s education as well as other legislation.

This implementation was illustrated in a political cartoon by John Knott, “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” published in a 1937 issue of The Dallas Morning News along with an editorial titled “Traffic Schooling.” The cartoon depicted a woman labelled “school authorities” teaching a child about driving safety from a book titled “The Safe Way” with the help of several informative posters (Knott).

The similarities between Varvel’s cartoon and Knott’s cartoon are evident immediately, even on a visual level. Both depict two characters, one an instructional figure and the other a younger pupil and both deal with the issue of safe driving. While there is a difference of 72 years between the cartoons, the context they were drawn in is not dissimilar. When the Knott cartoon was drawn, the lack of education about driving was causing the amount of automobile accidents to reach an alarmingly high number. When the Varvel cartoon was drawn, the lack of education surrounding distracted for teenagers led to teen drivers being four times more likely to get into an accident than older drivers (Sutton).

Another similarity this cartoon has with the Knott cartoon is that the legislation the cartoons illustrated both faced opposition from certain groups, and for similar reasons. The author discussed in the previous blog post how the Knott cartoon itself could be a criticism of driver’s education being put into place, mainly due to the young age of the student. The Indiana legislation extending the process for teen drivers to acquire a license and similar legislation also faced oppositions by groups claiming it was unfairly targeting young people. The opposing groups said that this was particularly unfair due to the fact that the drivers under age 18 could not vote to represent their own interests politically (Binnall).

The reluctance of citizens and lawmakers to implement harsher laws for texting and driving reflects the reluctance surrounding the implementation of drivers education itself. In both cases, said reluctance seems odd; the laws would unquestionably cause less accidents and make the roads safer. This could be because it is not the laws itself people have problems with, but the prospect of changing the way they were used to doing things.

As long as technology continues to develop and new factors are added to the equation of driving, new dangers and road hazards will continuously present themselves and legislators and educators will continuously respond to them. The issue of dangerous driving is a cycle that will repeat and may never be resolved, as shown by the mirrored issues of driver’s education in the 1930s and texting and driving in the 2000s.

Works Cited

“EDITORIAL: Graduated License for Teens, Safer Roads for Everyone: And the New Law Isn’t Being Sprung on Them; There’s Time to Prepare.” News-Sentinel, the (Fort Wayne, IN), 12 May 2009. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nfh&AN=2W63887152383&site=ehost-live.

“Facts About Teen Drivers.” Adolescent Health Sourcebook, edited by Amy L. Sutton, 3rd ed., Omnigraphics, 2011, pp. 472-473. Health Reference Series. Gale Virtual Reference Librarygo.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX1727600144&it=r&asid=4c0f02e7bb4fcd6aad1d2a57405a4927.

McShane, Clay. “1899 Automobile Fatalities.” Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History: A Reference Guide to the Nation’s Most Catastrophic Events, by Ballard C. Campbell, Facts on File, 2008, pp. 180-182. Facts on File Library of American History. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX4085100098&asid=16e2c60dac4d7f6141d76c9dfcc03ec5. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

“Automobiles.” American Law Yearbook 2012A Guide to the Year’s Major Legal Cases and Developments, Gale, 2013, pp. 12-13. Gale Virtual Reference Librarygo.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX2018000011&it=r&asid=37d0d0cd7f3b89537cf3a5b37bedd34d. Accessed 16 Nov. 2017.

Binnall, James M. “Texting-While-Driving Laws.” Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Ethics, edited by Bruce A. Arrigo, vol. 2, SAGE Reference, 2014, pp. 929-931. Gale Virtual Reference Librarygo.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX6500200350&it=r&asid=98d8a33652868ce987183d132256ee6a. Accessed 16 Nov. 2017.

Draper, James. “State Weighs Texting/Driving Ban — Again.” Kilgore News Herald (TX), 31 Mar. 2017. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nfh&AN=2W63323978933&site=ehost-live.

Keeline, Kim. “Texting.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 5, St. James Press, 2013, pp. 95-96. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX2735802703&asid=90087f69f3391c219e7973c0247fb474. Accessed 20 Nov. 2017.

Knott, John.  “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go.” Dallas Morning News, 28 Feb. 1937.

Varvel, Gary. Untitled. Indianapolis Star, 30 July 2009.