Slavery Must Be Abolished

farmer labeled "The South" standing in a barren field chaned to a bail of cotton.
Cartoon by John Knott depicts farmer in a barren field, chained to a bale of cotton.

 

Slavery Must Be Abolished

John F. Knott- August 27, 1931

This cartoon published in August of 1931, is a raw depiction of a typical southern cotton farmer’s situation during the Great Depression. During the Great Depression era, before President FDR or his New Deal, little was being done to help cotton farmers handle the struggling market. The constant production of cotton at high rates caused the cost of the crop to drastically drop when the Great Depression hit, as consumer demand for these products fell. Farmers were left with copious amounts of unwanted crop that they could not get rid of. At the time, Southern leaders agreed the solution was to diminish cotton acreage, as to reduce the ample supply and therefore raise the market value of the crop. Texas proposed the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931 (TCACL) as the remedy to the cotton problem, and as an example for other Southern states. However, unlike President Roosevelt’s Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), passed in 1933, the TCACL did not directly offer subsidies to the farmers. Rather, it fined them if they overproduced under the provisions of the law (Jasinski). Knott compares these issues for farmers to the issues slaves had seventy years before with through his cartoon, “Slavery Must Be Abolished.”

The article that accompanies this cartoon, “He Owes Too Much Now,” explains the situation and relationship between the banks and the farmers of this cotton issue as well as sharing the author’s issues with the proposed solution. The article highlights that banks in Texas were not able to finance the large scale reduction of crop production for farms. Big banks were trying to keep a large supply of money in depositories in case of emergencies, and small banks had loaned out far too much to “take on a heavy line of credit” with the cotton industry (“He Owes Too Much Now”). After not receiving financial help from the government and being unable to borrow any more money from private investors such as banks, farmers were forced to sell their farms and lay off workers, including their tenants. Herbert Hoover, the president at the time, attempted to help with the issue by establishing the Federal Farm Board to “supervise agricultural cutbacks and levy a special tax” (Kentleton).  Despite Hoover’s endeavors, many felt he was not doing enough to affect much change in the market, typical of his laissez-faire approach to economics (Baughman).

The humor in this cartoon comes from the comparison of the struggles of 1930’s southern farmers with cotton, to the plight of African slaves to their slave owners in America up to the Civil War. The cartoon depicts an elderly man who is identified as “The South” by the writing on his shoulder. It is easy to surmise that he is a farmer by the hoe in his hands, the clothes he is wearing and the barren field he is standing in, specific characteristics of agricultural life during that time period. Knott uses the old man to represent southern farmers and the barren field he is in represents the mandated curtailing of cotton production to reduce the surplus that has slashed the market value. He also shows the farmer chained by the ankle to a bail of cotton, illustrating a metaphor for the fiscal issues southern farms faced with the surplus of their crop. The strongest factor of the humor of the cartoon is easily the title, where Knott points out the ironic parallel between the relationships of Great Depression farmers to their cotton, and pre-Civil War slaves to farmers/plantation owners. The fact that these farmers who are now slaves of their crops were generally the same people that participated in slave culture some seventy-plus years before creates the humor and apathetic message Knott wanted to portray.

Farmers in the south faced a tough situation throughout the Great Depression. Many were forced to sell their land and move, either to support their families or because banks would foreclose on their property. Knott’s cartoon “Slavery Must Be Abolished” creates an accurate depiction of the condition of these farmers.  These families had so much invested in cotton as their livelihood, the market crash forced them to cling to whatever assets they had remaining. The farmers were bound to their way of life, and needed to bare through the painful remedy of withholding supply if they wanted any chance of recuperating their businesses.

 

Works Cited

Author Not Listed. “He Owes Too Much Now.” Dallas Morning News. 27 Aug. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 25 Oct. 2015

Baughman, Judith S. “The Farm Crisis.” American Decades. Ed. et al. Vol. 4: 1930-1939. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

Britton, Karen Gerhardt and Fred C. Elliott, and E. A. Miller, “COTTON CULTURE,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Jasinski, Laurie E. “TEXAS COTTON ACREAGE CONTROL LAW OF 1931-32,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Kentleton, John. “Success or failure? Herbert Hoover’s presidency: he sent the troops against the bonus marchers and gave his name to a shantytown in Washington, but has history been fair to President Hoover?” Modern History Review 14.4 (2003): 7+. General OneFile. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John F. “Slavery Must Be Abolished.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 27 Aug. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 01 Nov.2015

 

The Farm Bills

Large farm corporations take advantage of government agriculture subsides while small farms are left out to dry.
Mike Keefe illustrates how large farm corporations take advantage of government agriculture subsides while small farms are left out to dry.

The Farm Bills

Cartoon by Mike Keefe

This cartoon, by Mike Keefe in May of 2008, is a humorous crack at the corporate corruption within the farm bills that the U.S. passes every five years or so. The idea of a ‘farm bill’ originated as part of FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression, called the Agriculture Adjustment Act. The idea behind this legislature was to compensate farmers for not growing crop on a percentage of their land, in order to induce market growth and raise the selling price of crops. With this bill the Department of Agriculture was given the power to more or less regulate the agricultural market. Farmers in desperate need for income, took the subsidies and were instructed to not use certain acres of their land. If the prices did not go up, then the Government guaranteed a minimum price per bushel contained in federal loans. This was good and well as the prices stabilized and caused food production to grow and flourish, until 1936, when the AAA was found unconstitutional. A new, temporary farm bill was put together as a solution, but was not made permanent until 1973. In current times, an average of $2,000 per tax payer per year has been put into agricultural support, though only 75% of agricultural support has gone to only 10% of subsidy receivers (Barber).

Ironically, the 10% that receive the majority of the benefits within recent years are companies such as Cargill, Continental, Bunge, ADM, Tyson and Smithfield, some of the largest Agricultural businesses in the nation. Many critics of the farm bills claim that the authors and re-writers have investments in the big farms and therefore continue to use this legislature for in their own self-interest. Theoretically, farm subsidies should help small, family farms more than large corporations, but attaining these subsides remain incredibly difficult and burdensome. Those who barely make ends meet by plowing their own fields and harvesting their own crops don’t have the time or funds to get into this questionable business (Sphairon).Consequently, all these subsides go straight to the big companies, which gives them another advantage over their smaller competitors. Big agribusiness siphons off the majority of the farm bill subsides, taking advantage of the overbearing system that small farms don’t have the means to effectively use.

The Hot Air article “Yes, the “new and improved” farm bill is still chock-full of agribusiness pork,” testifies that the corporate corruption that surrounded the farm bills of the past is still present, even in more recent re-issues of the bill. The article states that on top of unequal distribution, the 2013 farm bill cost taxpayers almost $1 trillion, about $300 billion more than the 2008 bill. The article goes on to weigh in on the outdated system of farm subsidies, specifically price guarantees for crops, where the author humorously comments that we should also have price guarantees “for gold, running shoes, and umbrellas” (Johnsen). Supporters of the bill claim that after over the next decade legislators will be cutting spending, saving taxpayers upwards of $20 billion dollars. While this may be true, the figure of $20 billion dollars is relatively negligible compared to the enormity of the trillion dollars budgeted for the 2013 version. Politicians have no issue with dishing out such a large amount of money, given that evidence shows it’s going to end up back in their own pockets.

In his cartoon, Keefe depicts the irony of the intention of the farm bill versus the corruption that actually takes place. As illustrated, “Farm Bill” airplanes drop loads of money labeled $300 billion over two large farms called “Big Agribiz.” It is easy to see that the “Small Farm” located in between the two large farms are not receiving any of the money being dropped by the planes. The irony is tied together with the man in a business suit speaking to the farmer in front of the small farm saying, “Feel id in the air? Another great year!” referring to the money falling from the sky. So here is a businessman, presumably involved in big agriculture business telling the local farmer about how excited he is about the free money from the sky, that the small farmer will never see any of. The point of the farm bill program, was to equalize the agricultural market, and level the playing field for small farms.  The fact is, that the opposite has happened, large companies received the majority of the government assistance, and eventually started buying up the less fiscally secure farms. As a result the big farms got bigger and local, family farms began to rapidly decrease. Inevitably, the large farming corporations became a huge political lobbying force. So now the people who had the power to change the corrupt system had vested interest in these large companies, and would be reluctant to lose out on the profits. The business man in the cartoon represents either the Argribusiness executives or the politicians who’ve wet their beak in the industry.  The man in the cartoon is obviously excited about the subsides, but appears to have a sarcastic and spiteful attitude toward the local farmer, who’s is obviously getting the bad end of a deal.

Works Cited

Barber, Tate. “How the Farm Bill Has Affected You Daily: Part 1.” Tate Barber. N.p., 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Johnsen, Erika. “Yes, the “new and Improved” Farm Bill Is Still Chock-full of Agribusiness Pork.” Hot Air. N.p., 16 June 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Keefe, Mike. Unkown. Digital image. The Public Choice Capitalist. WordPress, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Munro, Donna. “Farm Bill: Cut Subsidies to Big Agriculture.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Smith, Dan. “Senate Farm Bill Continues Giant Giveaways to Big Agribusiness.” U.S. PRIG. N.p., 11 June 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Sphairon. “Road to Rothbard: February 2009.” Road to Rothbard: February 2009. Blogspot, 20 Feb. 2009. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Lets cut back on spending by a ‘sprinkle’ percent!

Obama, as an ice cream server, "cutting back" on government spending by withholding the sprinkles.
Obama, as an ice cream server, “cutting back” on government spending by withholding the sprinkles.

In late January, President Barack Obama presents a federal budget proposal that would exceed restricted spending caps mandated by congress four years ago. This proposal includes new capital gains, bank taxes, and a new tax on american companies competing in world markets. The political cartoon was posted on January 2nd, 2015, prior to the announcement on Obama’s budget proposal, titled Bloated Government. It is shown and predicted by the cartoon artist, Steve Breen, that Obama voices his want to cut back on government spending but those are not his actions. Barack’s new proposal could cause the government to become further bloated, untiqued, and unresponsive to taxpayers, and that is exactly what the GOP would like to avoid. The cartoon strongly and correctly predicted that Obama would spend more rather than cut back on government spending, just as was seen previously through FDR’s term in office.

President Barack was never actually known for cutting back on costs. In his plans to cut taxes, extend unemployment benefits, fund job-creating public works projects, and increase defense spending, he added $6.167 trillion to the national debt, which is a fifty-three percent increase, in only six years. So far the national debt is building up like an enormous snowball. Today’s taxpayers and future generations face massive indebtedness, while congressional democrats and current administration(Obama) block every attempt to turn things around.

In Steve Breen’s cartoon, Bloated Government, there is a rather large, and heavy set man sitting on the left side of the counter, concluded to be the customer. This obese man is labeled “gov’t” to symbolize the nation’s government currently and how bloated it is. On the counter there is a large bowl, uncommonly huge for the size for a regular bowl of ice cream. The bowl is filled with more than eight bananas, dozens of ice cream scoops of assorted flavors, all drizzled in chocolate, foamed over with tons of whipped cream, and a cherry to top it off. Not your average cup of tea, or rather, bowl of ice cream. This bowl happens to be labeled “spending” to symbolize how great the national government’s spending is and common it has become for it to be that much. On the right side of the counter there are two thin men dressed as the ice cream servers. One man symbolizes Barack Obama, having the same characteristics. “You need to cut back so we withheld the sprinkles,” Obama says in the cartoon. All, put Steve Breen is depicting in his illustration that Obama says he wants the government to cut back on spending but in his actions he does not show that. All that government spending might anger, or already is angering taxpayers, republicans, and congress.

Although Barack’s proposal was likely to get prevented from making progress in congressional opposition, he did not give up. The budget is down to pre-financial crisis levels, and the president will seek approval to break through spending caps. This will play out to be more spending and more debt. After hearing the proposal Senate Orrin G. Hatch says, “He is the most liberal, fiscally irresponsible president we’ve had in history. I don’t know why he doesn’t see it. You’re facing a debt crisis not because Americans are taxed too little but because the government spends too much.” Obama’s plans represent roughly seven percent increase in 2016 government spending. To his credibility, Obama basically inherited a terrible financial crisis that was the worst that our economy has sustained since The Great Depression. Looking in the past, because of his policies the economy has come roaring back.

The resemblance is existent between President Obama term and FDR’s, just as the likeness of Steve Breen’s political cartoon and John Knott’s. Knott’s cartoon, Nice Work!, portrays the Director of the Bureau of Budgetary, Lewis Douglas, as a hard working man trying to cut down the national budget. In Breen’s cartoon, Bloated Government, Obama is seen “trying” to cut back on government spending. During FDR’s term in office, Lewis Douglas worked hard to cut down the national budget so that the government would not spend as much and taxpayers would remain contempt. FDR went along with Douglas’ plans until he showed his true colors and downplayed efforts to cut costs and balance the budget causing Douglas’ role to diminish. Likewise with Obama, he himself voiced that he needed to cut back on government spending. Not only did he go over the projected budget, but his proposal requests to spend even more. Unlike FDR, Obama worked with congress in order to help the economy. Congress on October 21st, 2015, moved a step closer to clearing a bipartisan budget deal that would boost spending for domestic and defense programs over two years while suspending the debt limit into 2017. The agreement would essentially end the ongoing budget battles between congressional republicans and President Obama by pushing the next round of fiscal decision making past the 2016 election when there will be a new congress and White House occupant. Obama and FDR have both set up the national budget situation for the president to come and take over. The next president will then also have political cartoons to be depicted in during their term.

 

Works Cited

Snell, Kelsey. “House Passes Budget Deal; Senate Expected to Act Soon.”The Washington Post. N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Mufson, Steven, and Juliet Eilperin. “Obama Budget Proposal Would Boost Spending beyond ‘Sequestration’ Caps.” The Washington Post 29 Jan. 2015, Business sec. Fred Ryan. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Mervis, Jeffrey. “Budget for 2016 Accentuates the Practical.” Science Mag 6 Feb. 2015: 599-601. Print.

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Which President Added Most to the U.S. Debt?”About.com News & Issues. Neil Vogel, 14 July 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Which President Added Most to the U.S. Debt?”About.com News & Issues. Neil Vogel, 14 July 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Crew, Clyde. “Obama’s 2016 Federal Budget And Middle Class Economics.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Breen, Steve. San Diego Union-Tribune 2 Jan. 2015: n. pag. Print.

Knott, John. “Nice Job!” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 25 Nov. 1933, 2nd ed. Print.

Their Fiscal Cliff or Ours?

President Obama attempting to prevent himself from being dragged down a cliff by a blind folded elephant by attempting to hook on to a tree with a cane.
Obama desperately attempts to save both himself and a blind folded Congress from going over the fiscal cliff.

Cartoonist Luo Jie, of the news site China Daily, created a significant portfolio of critical political cartoons addressing global issues. In his humorous cartoon, “Fiscal Cliff,” Luo Jie symbolically depicts the struggle between U.S. President Barack Obama and the ignorant Republican Congressional opposition in their efforts to pass the federal budget for the fiscal year 2013.

Jie’s cartoon, published December 8th, 2012, utilizes several symbols to convey meaning to the viewer: the man in the suit representing Obama; the blindfolded Elephant representing oblivious Republicans; the chain representing the bipartisan requirement to pass the fiscal budget; the other items representing actions regarding fiscal policy. The aggregate of the symbols constitutes a message censuring partisan politics in the United States, mocking both Obama and the Republican Party.

The 112th Congress, in office from 2012 to 2014, consisted of a Democrat-dominated Senate and a Republican-dominated House of Representatives. The ideological split between the Senate and House resulted in severe disagreements, bolstered partisan politics, and stalled policy development (Zeleny). The term “fiscal cliff” earns the name from the impending shift of fiscal policy. The cliff referred to large budget sequestration (reduction of the federal deficit through spending cuts) and the expiration of President George W. Bush era tax cuts. Republicans backed sequestration and opposed the increase on taxes while Democrats backed increasing taxes for only those considered upper-class (Sahadi). Despite the negative connotation of the word “cliff,” the fiscal cliff in its entirety holds the ability to cut the United States budget deficit seventy-five percent by 2022 which would result in significant positive economic impact in the long-run (CBO). Disagreeing with the increase of taxation on the middle class, Democrats pushed for higher taxation on the top two percent of income earners in lieu of the expected increase on middle class taxation hoping to still provide the positive economic benefits of reducing the budget deficit. Across the isle, Republicans refused to tax the wealthy – the vast majority of their campaign donors – resulting in a stand-still in the budget creation process (Jackson).

An article, released the same day as the cartoon, titled “GOP: White House ‘fiscal cliff’ idea ‘a joke’,” analyzes current Speaker of the House Republican John Boehner’s remarks regarding the fiscal cliff talks. Boehner sees the Democratic fiscal cliff proposition as an insult to the Republican Party and excoriates Democrats for not focusing more on cutting the budget, and relying almost exclusively on a tax increase (Jackson).

The humor in Jie’s cartoon consists of several layers generated by the visual representation of Obama and the elephant. Obama’s struggle to latch onto the tree of “THE RICH” with the cane of “RAISING TAXES” exists as the focal point of the cartoon due to Obama’s fight to keep both himself and the elephant alive. The mien of Obama, is that of panic and worry, signifying that Democrats truly believe the best and possibly only solution to avert going over the fiscal cliff is to keep the tax cuts for the middle class and increase taxation for the upper class. Meanwhile, the blind-folded elephant, the Republican dominated Congress, attempts to casually keep walking not realizing there is a cliff in front of it. The two branches of government chained together depicts the requirement of different parties to work together in order to accomplish anything. Unfortunately for President Obama, the elephant does not realize the impending danger of the situation, representative of Congress’ uncompromising rejection of raising taxes on the wealthy. The panicked expression of Obama lets the viewer understand the importance of the situation, but when contrasted with the blinded elephant’s absent minded actions allows the reader to laugh at Obama’s pain and the naivety of the Republican party.

The humor parallels that of John Knott’s 1931 cartoon titled “No Time For Fiddling!” in which Knott portrays Congress as an oaf who quite literally is fiddling around – playing a fiddle labeled “partisan politics” – while the world burns. The cartoon denounces the U.S. Congress for its inability to come together to act on the impending threat, later resulting in the Great Depression. Partisanship remains the biggest obstacle for functional and effective government, and cartoonists like John Knott and Luo Jie continue to criticize the institutions’ failures for years to come.

Partisan Politics serve as the biggest hinderance to change, and oftentimes, even in the face of an impeding crisis, opposing parties refuse to work together. Eventually Congress and the White House will probably become uniform and under one party, but until then President Obama will have to compromise with his Republican controlled House of Representatives.

Works Cited:

Congressional Budget Office. Economic Effects of Policies    Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013. CBO, 8 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Jackson, Jill. “GOP: White House ‘fiscal cliff’ Idea ‘a joke'” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 8 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Jie, Luo. Fiscal Cliff. Digital image. ChinaDaily. CDIC, 8 Dec. 2012. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John F. “No Time for Fiddling!” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News[Dallas] 15    Dec. 1931: n.pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Sahadi, Jeanne. “Fiscal Cliff: Next President’s First Big Problem to Solve.”CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Zeleny, Jeff. “G.O.P. Captures House, but Not Senate.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Do Something!

Do-nothing Congress gets ready to jump into vacation and crush the remaining issues.
Do-nothing Congress gets ready to jump into vacation and crush the remaining issues

In the winter of 1931, only a few years after a debilitating Stock Market crash and in the midst of the Great Depression, unemployment was at a staggering sixteen percent and the holiday season was approaching rapidly (Darity, Shmoop). Nearly eighty years later in 2007, the housing bubble popped and the stock market came crashing down once again (Ferrara). In these times of economic calamity, Congress is placed in the spotlight. The pressure was on to pass legislation to help the country’s suffering citizens (“The Hungry Years”). In a cartoon illustrated by John Knott and accompanying article published on December 19, 1931 in the Dallas Morning News, Knott established just how hard Congress had worked to pass relief efforts before the holiday season. However in the midst of the more recent economic problem, this wasn’t the case. In 2012, an article by Amanda Turkel of the Huffington Post described just how unproductive the 112th Congress was. Many, such as John Darkow, a cartoonist for the Columbia Daily Tribune poked fun at Congress for being so lazy and useless. Congress has gone through cycles of productivity, but throughout history one thing has stayed the same: the American people always want them to do more.

The editorial in the Dallas Morning News in 1931 titled “A Disposition to Work” gave an optimistic view of the work congress had done during the Depression. The author clearly held a very optimistic view on how much work Congress had done. Knott’s cartoon reflected the views of the article, illustrating a very productive and obedient Congress. However in the editorial, the author hinted that others were not quite as pleased about Congress. “The notion that Congressmen are numbskulls and scalawags has its humorous possibilities”, hints that even in 1931, people did not trust congress nor the member within it. This is still an ongoing problem, as of October of this year only thirteen percent of citizen trusted Congress to actually do its job (Gallup).

In 1948, President Harry Truman coined the term “do nothing congress” when he bashed the work done by the 80th Congress (“Truman”). While Truman saw the Congress as being slow to act, they still managed to pass 906 bills into law during the session (“Truman”, Terkel). In the 1960’s, in the midst of civil rights activism and the beginning of the Vietnam War, Congress was passing around 1500 bills each session (“Vital”, Baughman). In the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan pledged to cut down big government and passed legislation that often cut funds to government programs (Valelly). Congress passed around 900 bills each session during Regan’s time and public approval for congress hovered around thirty five percent (“Vital”, Gallup).

In 2012, with only a week left until the end of the session, the 112th Congress had only managed to pass 219 bills. This put the congress on track to be one of the least productive sessions of Congress in US history (Terkel). And although there were a multitude of issues during the time which could have used some Congressional intervention, Terkel of the Huffington Post argued that a number of the bills that were passed have not been of particular importance. With “at least 40 bills… [that] concern[ed] the renaming of…public buildings [and] another six [that] dealt with commemorative coins”, it is no wonder that congressional approval ratings dropped below twenty percent (Terkel).

An enduring theme over the decades has been a negative attitude about Congress. Journalists and comedians find humor in the futile Congress, many poking fun at the members being lazy and stubborn. In August of 2012, John Darkow published a cartoon about the 112th congress in the Columbia Daily Tribune. It depicts a robust man labeled “Do-Nothing Congress” with his clothes and briefcase in a pile behind him, jumping into the shallow end of a swimming pool. He is shouting “Five weeks of summer recess! Boy do I need this! fussin’ an’a feudin’ can cause a lot of stress!” “Congress” is about to land on a frightened man in an intertube labeled “issues”. Darkow paints congress in a negative light by portraying him as a heavy man, implying that the US Congress is lazy. The physical size of “Congress” compared to the size of the “issues” makes it clear that “Congress” is about to destroy all of the issues that are important and floating right on the surface. The quote from “Congress” is humorous because it implies sarcasm. Congress has no reason to be stressed, since he has done nothing. “Congress” also uses an unexpected dialect when saying “fussin’ an’a feudin’” which makes him seem undereducated. This pokes fun at the fact that congressmen and elected officials in government are supposed to be elite and educated. Darkow makes it clear that he disapproves of the little work the 112th Congress did by humorously rendering Congress lazy, unintelligent, stubborn, and unable to tend to the issues at hand.

In 1931, some citizens of the US may have seen Congress as “numbskulls and scalawags”, but in the end, they were able to pass bills involving important issues at the time (“A Disposition”). In 1948, Harry Truman may have believed Congress was “do nothing”, but they did manage to pass over 900 bills (Terkel). In the 1960s and 1980s Congress was a little more productive but was still overall disliked by the public. In 2012, the historically disapproving attitude toward Congress became more justified when the 112th Congress had passed less than 300 bills right before the end of the session (Terkel). And although there was a lot of work to be done in the US, many people, like John Darkow, turned to humorously judging Congress. And with approval ratings so low, it is clear that the rest of America was laughing along.

 

 

 

Work Cited

“A Disposition to Work.” Dallas Morning News 19 Dec. 1931: 2. Dallas Morning News Historical Archive [NewsBank]. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

Baughman, Judith S. “The 1960s: Government and Politics: Overview.” American Decades. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library [Gale]. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Darity, William A. “Great Depression.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Refence USA, 2008. 367-71. Gale Virtual Reference Library [Gale]. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Darkow, John. Columbia Daily Tribune 11 Aug. 2012: n. pag. Print.

Ferrara, Miranda H., and Michele P. LaMeau. “U.S. Housing Bubble and Credit Crisis in the Late-2000s.” Corporate Disasters: What Went Wrong and Why. N.p.: n.p., 2012. 339-42. Gale Virtual Reference Library [Gale]. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

“Congress and the Public.” Gallup.com. Gallup Polls, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John F. “Just Before Christmas”. 19 December 1931. Folder 2, Box 3L317, John F. Knott Cartoon Scrapbook. Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Great Depression Statistics.” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Terkel, Amanda. “112th Congress Set To Become Most Unproductive Since 1940s.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

“The Hungry Years: A Narrative History of the Great Depression in America.” Choice Reviews Online 37.06 (2000): n. pag. BRT Projects. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

“Truman Brands Session ‘Do Nothing’ Congress.” Los Angeles Times 13 Aug. 1948: 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers [ProQuest]. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Valelly, Richard M. “Ronald Reagan.” Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. Vol. 7. Washington, DC: CQ, 2010. 320-25. Gale Virtual Reference Library [Gale]. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

“Vital Statistics on Congress.” Brookings Institute, n.d. Web.

 

It’s All Greek to Me

A confused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book entitled, “Basic Economics".
A confused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book entitled, “Basic Economics”.

It’s All Greek to Me

Michael Ramirez ~ July 8, 2015

Since the global recession of 2008, Greece’s economy has been struggling. While Europe suffered from a debt crisis following Wall Street’s crash, Greece was hit the hardest by the recession. In October 2009, Greece revealed the severity of deficit  (of about 317 billion Euros) admitting that it had been understated for years. Many countries in the European Union(EU) began to worry about the country’s economic status. Because the European Union shares economic responsibility of all states between every member state due to a shared currency, the state of Greece’s economy has a large effect on other countries in the EU. The EU decided to take preventative measures by refusing Greece’s requests to borrow money; however, without the ability to borrow, Greece spiraled into bankruptcy, so the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission issued two bailouts for Greece that totaled about 240 billion Euros. Although, these bailouts did not come without strings attached. Greece was required to revamp its economy, instituting harsh austerity measures, deep budget cuts, and large tax increases. The lenders also wanted Greece “to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business” (New York Times). This crisis illustrates the importance of proper financial reporting and decision making in a nation.

While the two bailouts were supposed to help stabilize Greece’s economy, most of the money has gone to paying Greece’s outstanding loans.  in July of 2015, Greece’s economy was in a dire situation and its relationship with the European Union was in a fragile state. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been unable and unwilling to make many reforms that were necessary for a successful economic reform. They have made no reforms, and many people, including Tsipras, believe Greeks are too proud to change. Even though the EU has imposed austerity measures onto Greece in exchange for the bailout money, Tsipras said, “We don’t believe in the measures that were imposed upon us” (Petroff). Tsipras has refused to make any internal reforms other than those imposed upon the country by their lenders. This has led to disagreement on lending from the EU countries, such as Germany.

Now after receiving a third round of bailout money from the EU, Greece’s creditors are angry that no significant economic or governmental reform has been made in Greece because Greece’s economy affects their creditors. Now many members of the EU want Greece to leave the union as Greece does not contribute enough financially, yet needs constant support (New York Times). While many believe that Greece’s economic situation is straining the EU’s economy, others believe that Greece should be supported during their economic hardship until they can recover and once again contribute to the EU’s economy.

This political dilemma is the focus of Michael Ramirez’s political cartoon in Investor’s Business Daily on July 7, 2015, we see Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras holding a book titled, “Basic Economics,” and saying, “it’s all Greek to me.” Ramirez employs a classic cliche relating to Greece, “It’s all Greek to me,” which colloquially means that something is impossible to understand like Greek letters. The usage of this phrase is comical due to the fact that Tsipras is Greek, so not only should he be able to understand his own language, but as the Prime Minister of a country that founded Western Civilization, he should be able to understand basic economics. Ramirez’s cartoon claims many of the economic issues in Greece are due to Tsipras’s inability as a Prime Minister to enact change effectively, and his exaggerated drawing of Tsipras’s illustrates him as baffoonish and caveman-esque with his large brow ridge and jowls.  Since Tsipras is pointing at an economics book and saying that it is impossible to understand, Ramirez is highlighting Tsipras’s ineptitude as a Prime Minister. He has been unable to employ successful economic and political reform following the bailouts, and he could not convince his fellow politicians to accept the bailout.

In Knott’s comic, There Ain’t No Such Animal, he focuses on Germany’s reparations and their affect on other nations, just as Ramirez focuses on Greece’s economic woes and the effect of this on the EU. Both comics employ an exaggerated caricature holding signs to illustrate their political meaning. Both cartoons focus on the economic strife of a country, and other countries reaction to said economic trouble. In Knott’s comic, he illustrates the world ignoring the struggle of Germany due to their compliance with stringent reparations, while Ramirez illustrates Greece’s ineptitude and the EU’s disapproval of Greece’s economic policies. While both cartoons deal with complex economic situations and the world’s reaction to those economic policies, they differ in the reactions.

Greece’s Economic crisis has had a huge effect on the global economy, and the crisis has shown the importance of economic reform and proper usage of bailout funds. Due to this crisis and inability to control the Syriza part, Tsipras resigned his post as Prime Minister of Greece on August 20 (The Economist). If Greece had been able to control their financial reports and made better financial decisions in the years leading up to the 2008 recession, this situation could have been avoided, but due to poor financial planning and an ability to cooperate with creditors Greece has earned a reputation within the EU as uncontrollable and risky, and its exit from the Union and return to the Drachma could be soon to follow if things do not change in Greece.

Works Cited

Alderman, Liz, et al. “Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained.” New York Times [New York City] 9 Nov. 2015: n. pag. nytimes.com. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/greece-debt-crisis-euro.html?_r=0>.

Data Team. “Another Greek Vote: Tsipras Resigns.” The Economist 20 Aug. 2015: n. pag. The Economist. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/08/another-greek-vote>.

Hatzigeorgiou, Andreas. “The Greek Economic Crisis – Is The Euro To Blame?.” World Economics 15.3 (2014): 143-162. Business Source Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Knight, Daniel M. “The Greek Economic Crisis As Trope.” Focaal 2013.65 (2013): 147-159. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Petroff, Alanna. “Tsipras: I Don’t Believe in New Greek Reforms.” CNN Money.  N.p., 14 July 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/14/   news/economy/greece-crisis-tsipras-parliament-vote/index.html>.

Ramirez, Michael. “It’s All Greek to Me.” Cartoon. Investor’s Business Daily: n. pag. Investor’s Business Daily. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <http://www.investors.com/default.htm>.

Watch Out for Greek Debt!

The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.
The cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus by Myron with “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus symbolizing debt at other, cowering European countries.

The political cartoon Watch Out for Greek Debt! depicts the famous Greek statue Discobolus, with the word “Greece” written on it, ready to throw a discus, which symbolizes debt, at other cowering European countries (Sooke). The statue is posed as if it is about to hurl the discus, and all of the statues around it are ducking to avoid getting hit. This cartoon symbolizes how the other countries are avoiding getting “hit” by the negative consequences of Greek debt and having all of their political-economic progress regress (“Watch out for Greek Debt!”). The cartoon emphasizes the potentially devastating effects of Greek debt for other European countries in the Eurozone.

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political partnership between twenty-eight European countries that was created in the aftermath of World War II. The intent behind the creation of the EU is that countries that trade with each other become economically interdependent and therefore more likely to avoid conflict. The establishment of the EU brought about the creation of the euro, the single currency used across the twenty-eight countries (“The EU in brief”). Greece is one of the many members of the EU, along with Ireland, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Portugal, to name a few (“Countries in the EU and EEA”). Greece in particular, however, is singled out in this cartoon as the most vulnerable as well as the most threatening member of the bunch.

Greece is in the midst of a debt crisis that could potentially crumble the economies of its European neighbors. After Wall Street crashed in 2008, Greece became the center of Europe’s debt crisis. Greece admitted that it had been understating its deficit figures for years and suddenly found itself shut out from borrowing in financial markets, leading the country toward bankruptcy. This sudden decline put Europe on the verge of a new financial crisis. To avoid collapse, the financial troika – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission – issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than $264 billion in today’s exchange rates. “Greece’s relations with Europe are in a fragile state, and several of its leaders are showing impatience” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The other countries depicted in the cartoon are not chosen at random either. Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – collectively called “The PIGS”– are known for having “binged on cheap debt” and “allowed citizens’ benefits to go well beyond the means of their governments.” In 2010, the PIGS were going bankrupt at a fast rate and threatened the continued existence of the euro and the entire European project. However, since then, all of the PIGS except for Greece are returning to economic health (Dawber). Now Greece is putting them at risk of relapsing into economic instability, threatening the euro in the process. This is symbolized in the cartoon as “Greece” throwing a discus of “debt” at its neighboring European countries.

There is coincidental irony in the name of the statue, Discobolus, and the subject matter involved. The suffix “obolus” means “a silver coin or unit of weight equal to one sixth of a drachma, formerly used in ancient Greece” (“obolus”). It is ironic that a discus that symbolizes a Greek drachma has “debt” written on it, as if foreshadowing that Greece being a part of the EU and using the euro as its currency has a formidable future of debt crisis.

The issues illustrated in Watch Out for Greek Debt! have a lot of similarity to the issues depicted in the political cartoon If They Would Exchange Presents by John Knott (Knott 2). Published on Christmas Eve 1931, Knott’s cartoon shows Uncle Sam of the United States offering a Christmas gift of war debt revisions to a queen representing Europe; and in the generous spirit of the season, she is offering the gift of disarmament in exchange.

In the twenty-first century, Greece is in debt to other countries much like Germany was in the aftermath of World War I. In the 1930s, the United States wanted Germany and the rest of Europe to disarm so that the funds going toward armament could instead go toward debt repayment; thus, in If They Would Exchange Presents, Europe’s gift to the U.S. was disarmament. In Knott’s cartoon, Germany, along with the rest of the indebted European nations, was asking for war debt revisions so that their debt load wasn’t so crippling. Germany was blamed for the damages and costs of World War I and was required to pay back the costs to the Allied nations. Repayment obligations were so onerous that they needed a moratorium and debt revisions to ever back on their feet. Similarly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece is held responsible for threatening Europe’s economy, and needs bailouts for its crippling debt like Germany was asking for war debt revisions. “The bailout money mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. And the government still has a staggering debt load that it cannot begin to pay down unless a recovery takes hold” (“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained”).

The humor of comparing these two cartoons, and particularly comparing twenty-first century Germany and Greece, is that Germany is now the poster-child for Greece to model itself after. “Germany has fewer outstanding tax debts than any other country in Europe, while Greece has more than any other. That difference not only helps Germany enjoy a far more fiscally sound position than Greece, but it offers a stark contrast between a disciplined government and one that historically has been hardly disciplined” (O’Brien). It is ironic that Germany, which once was economically unstable and deeply indebted to other countries, is now an example of European economic health, the example to which Greece aspires.

Lastly, in Watch Out for Greek Debt!, Greece has the potential of putting contemporary Europe in as much debt and economic instability as in the 1930s because of the region’s shared economic interdependence on the euro. The Knott cartoon shows Europe of that era requesting war debt revisions because it is in an economic rut. Contemporary Europe could potentially descend into similar economic turmoil because if Greece were to collapse, then the euro could collapse with them, causing a domino effect.

Works Cited

“Countries in the EU and EEA.” GOV.UK. Gov.UK, 24 July 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Dawber, Alistair. “While Greece Flails, Are the Rest of the Stricken Pigs Taking Off?” Independent. Independent, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“The EU in Brief.” Europa. European Commission, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained.” The New York Times. New York Times, 31 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Knott, John. “If They Would Exchange Presents.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 24 Dec. 1931, sec. 2: 10. Print.

“Obolus.” American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. N.p.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. The Free Dictionary. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

O’Brien, Matt. “7 Key Things to Know about Greece’s Debt Crisis and What Happens Next.” The Washington Post. N.p., 5 July 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Sooke, Alastair. “The Discobolus: Greeks, Nazis and the Body Beautiful.” BBC. BBC, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Watch out for Greek Debt!” Cartoon. Enikos. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Sanctions Vladimir Putin

putin bent over a barrel
Vladimir Putin bent over a barrel represents the worsened state of the Russian economy.

Sanctions Vladimir Putin
Christian Adams
December 17, 2014

The current conflict in Ukraine is just the tip the iceberg in Ukrainian and Russian relations. The area known as Ukraine had been under the control of Russia, with a few lapses, since 1793. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 shifted power from the Russian tsars to the communist Bolsheviks. In 1922, Ukraine joined the USSR as a founding republic; this includes the area that was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire (New World Encyclopedia 1.) The USSR was a communist nation which put them at odds with the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1939 the Soviets signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany, making an alliance with the U.S. and Great Britain very unlikely, until Hitler broke the pact and attacked the USSR anyway. This spurred talks between the U.S. and the USSR and an alliance was reached. The U.S. officially became a belligerent nation in WWII in late 1941 when they sent help to assist the USSR in fighting Nazi Germany. Relations between the U.S. and the USSR became strained again after the war signaling the start of the Cold War. Former prime minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” Speech on March 5, 1946. The Cold War persisted until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, which subsequently freed Ukraine. Russia has shifted from a communistic dictatorship to a democracy with a free-market system, however, the extent to which Russia is actually a democracy with a free-market system is up to debate.

“Sanctions Vladimir Putin” by  Christian Adams  published on December 17th, 2014 illustrates that the Russian economy, represented by the caricature of Vladimir Putin, is in a worsened state. The state of the Russian economy has steadily been in decline starting with the sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has had travel restrictions put on them by the EU and the U.S. Along this same line, many state run energy companies, such as Rosneft, have had their financing options limited. This makes it quite hard for them to recover from the blow of low oil prices. It has taken an even steeper dive since November 2014 when OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) started flooding the market with crude oil in an attempt to make extraction of newly discovered deposits of shale oil unprofitable in the Americas.

The sanctions that have been imposed by the U.S. on Russia are in response to Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression toward Ukraine. Russian aggression toward Ukraine has increased in region known as Crimea, which is regarded as an ethnically Russian region. Ukraine has been calling for somebody to stand up to Russia since “Russian soldiers… first appeared in the Ukrainian peninsula known as Crimea back in February [2014]” (Ioffe 1). The U.S. and the EU have responded with economic sanctions that have hit Russia squarely in the gut. These sanctions have “suspended credit finance that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia” as well as shut off all imports into Russia that would aid them in further oil discovery operations” (Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs 1).

Another major factor in the decline of the Russian economy is the sharp fall of oil prices. This is due to OPEC deciding to not drawback the output “despite a glut of 1-2m barrels a day accumulating in global markets” (Evans-Pritchard 1). This decision was made mostly by Saudi Arabia, who has made it their mission to stomp out the developing North American shale oil companies (Evans-Pritchard 1). Shale oil companies have been threatening the Saudi Arabia’s market share in recent years and Saudi Arabia is determined to make them unprofitable by keeping the oil prices drastically low. This has had a horrific effect on the Russian economy. As the oil prices have lowered, it has exposed the Russian economy as “decrepit… uncompetitive” and has put the ruble at a record low in the global exchange market” (Lucas 1).

The humor in this cartoon comes from the depiction of Putin as beat up, shirtless, and dazed. Humor is also derived from the physical positioning of Putin being on top of a barrel. This is a play on the phrase, bent over a barrel; which implies that somebody is in a bad situation that they cannot get out of. Putin usually comes off as aggressive, macho, and in control. This cartoon puts him in the exact opposite light: weak, put down, and out of control. The barrel itself is labeled “sanctions”, which implies that the reason why Putin is in this positon is because of U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia. Also the cartoonist used a barrel that has a black liquid leaking out of it. This is to illustrate that it is not just sanctions that have put the Russian economy in a bad position, but lower oil prices. These two factors are mainly why the Russian economy is in a predicament and it demonstrates that Putin’s is finally on the receiving end of his strong arm tactics.

The parallels between modern day Russia and Stalin’s USSR are a bit disturbing. First off, we have the leaders: Vladimir Putin and Joseph Stalin. They both achieved their goals by force. The USSR’s expansions into Eastern Europe in the late 1930’s and Putin’s grab of Ukraine are examples of an authoritarian leader ignoring the sovereignty of other nations. Stalin did kill millions of his own people, which Putin has not done, but he has definitely continued the oppression of his own people. The jailing of reporters that speak out against the Kremlin and the jailing of people for being homosexual are two prime examples of Putin’s oppressive behavior. The economic situations between the two time periods are quite alike as well. In Knott’s cartoon “All Over the Plan!” Knott is pointing out the dire outlook for Stalin’s Five Year Plan because of the world depression that was set off by the American Stock market crash in 1929. Modern day Russia is in an economic depression because of the drastically lower oil prices which are due to Saudi Arabia refusing to lower the output of crude oil to market needs. The parallels between modern day Russia and Stalin’s Russia are clear and point to the fact that Russia is not as far along in its modernization as it has been letting on.

Works Cited

Adams, Christian. Sanctions Vladimir Putin. 17 Dec. 2014. Digital file

Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. “Russia flirst with Saudi Arabia as OPEC pain deepens.” telegraph.co.uk. Ed. Telegraph. Telegraph, 6 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Ioffe, Julia, and Linda Kinstler. “Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine again, lets stop pretending a ceasefire ever existed.” New Republic. New Republic, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Lucas, Edward. “Putin’s economic lies over Russia have been dangerously exposed.” telegraph.co:uk. Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

New World Encyclopedia. “Ukraine.” New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ukraine>.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affiars. “Ukraine and Russia Sanctions.” state.gov. Ed. Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs. U.S. Department of State, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

François Hollande’s Rhine Journey

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In “François Hollande’s Rhine Journey” the economic competition between France and Germany in 2015 is depicted through Dave Simmonds cartoon.

 

Corporate instability dominated the French economic agenda in 2015 as the President of France, François Hollande, sought to achieve labor reform and decrease unemployment. With unemployment rates double that of its German counterpart, France has struggled to compete financially. In Dave Simonds’ combined editorial and political cartoon “François Hollande’s Rhine Journey,” Hollande is depicted repairing his dirty, beaten-down tricycle, while a muscular three-man team of Germans race past with zest (Simonds [Page 1]). Simonds’ illustration suggested that France’s economic competitiveness could not compare to that of its European neighbors, specifically Germany.

Fourteen years prior, the French and German unemployment rates were equal at eight percent. In 2015, however, the French unemployment rate was ten percent compared to Germany’s at five percent. The economic gap between France and Germany in 2015 was caused by a decrease in hours worked and an increase in the number of young adults not seeking employment, education, or training in France (Simonds [Page 1]). The French hoped that significant labor reforms would open up more employment opportunities, but the French Labor Code was 3,800 pages and very hard to adjust (Simonds [Page 2]). Unfortunately this meant that instead of a major reform, the French witnessed a series of smaller reforms aimed at improving their economic condition over time. Due to this the French fell behind in productivity causing their economy to react by increasing the price of exports, which in turn, led to a sharp fall in exports (Tully).

This lack of economic competitiveness was exemplified in Simonds’ cartoon as the French President struggled to ride his small tricycle with French citizens standing nearby looking weak and helpless. This is in contrast to the German cycling team depicted as muscular and strong, whizzing by on a sturdy and reliable bike, further emphasizing their economic dominance over France. In addition, Simonds cartoon separates the two countries with the Rhine River. The Rhine River is the boundary of West Germany and France, and one of Europe’s leading transport routes for trading. As a river that represented high levels of exports, in the cartoon it serves not only as the physical boundary for Germany and France, but also as the boundary of economic competitiveness as Germany far exceeded France in exports (Mutton). Humor is found in the type of ‘bicycle,’ or economy, that each country has. France, with its tricycle, a beginner bicycle typically used by children, suggests that their economic condition is immature and underdeveloped to that of the Germans who ride on a large, sleek, professional bike. The cartoon illustrates the differences in French and German competitiveness and ultimately sheds light on the weak economic condition of France.

The lack of economic control and competitiveness revealed in Simonds’ 2015 cartoon resonates with many of the economic issues displayed in “The Sunken Road” illustrated by Joseph Knott in 1933, and accompanied by the editorial, “Too Many Factions” as it lays out the struggles that troubled Prime Minister Albert Sarraut during the Great Depression. For example, both Prime Minister Sarraut and President Hollande ruled in periods of economic instability and were restricted by the French law as to how they could improve the economy (Deen). In the depression era, Sarraut ruled while France was still tied to the Gold Standard. The Gold Standard did not allow much room for monetary intervention, and because of this Sarraut struggled to adjust the economy, ultimately making matters worse and further hindering economic progress (“Too Many Factions” [Page 2]). In 2015, Hollande was restricted by the labor code causing widespread unemployment and loss of exports in France proving that without large improvements in the structure of the French economy he could potentially face the same fate of Sarraut in 1933 (Simonds [Page 1]). Both 1933 and 2015 were times of economic hardship where France struggled to keep up with its competitive neighbors.

German similarities and differences with French political relations can also be analyzed in 1933 and in 2015. In 1933 Nazi Germany had one faction, one ruler, and total control over its people under the dictatorial rule of Adolf Hitler. By contrast, in 1933, France had many factions and little control as Sarraut struggled to gain support and combat the Great Depression. Despite no longer being under the dictatorial rule of Hitler in 2015, the trend of successful German control held true as the German government was stronger than the French with a highly competitive economy. However, contrasting the countries separate economies in1933, both France and Germany formally integrated their economies as they joined the Eurozone, a group of European countries whose national currency is the Euro, France in 1999, followed by Germany in 2002 (Rosenberg). Because of this, France and Germany were dependent on each other to uphold the economy as the downfall of one country could have widespread harmful affects within the Eurozone. France, without large provisions in its labor code would not see an decrease in unemployment or an increase in exports and could ultimately lead to an economic downfall not only for themselves, but for the mass of countries participating in the Eurozone (Simonds [Page 2]). Simond’s cartoon sheds light on the economic struggles associated with a lack of competitiveness by the French, implying that France needs to improve its fiscal condition in order to rejoin the economic competition with Germany.

Works Cited:

Elkins, Thomas Henry. “France | History – Geography.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

Deen, Mark. “French CEOs Sharpen Calls for Labor Market Reform.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Hannon, Paul. “Eurozone Economy Slows as Exports Weaken.” WSJ. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Mutton, Alice. “Rhine River | River, Europe.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Pabst, Sabrina. “France’s Flailing Economy Endangering the Eurozone” DW.COM. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Simonds, Dave. “François Hollandes Rhine Journey.” The Economist 25 Apr. 2015: n. pag. Print.<http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21649471-french-president-tries-belatedly-catch-up-other-more-competitive-countries-his?zid=295&ah=0bca374e65f2354d553956ea65f756e0>.

“Too Many Factions.” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas, Texas] 18 Nov. 1933: 2. Print.

Tully, Shawn. “The Euro Crisis No One Is Talking About: France Is in Free Fall.” Fortune. 9 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

 

A Grand Ol’ American Tradition: Corrupt Politics in the Past, Present, and Unfortunately the Future

Rod Blagojevich sitting in his prison cell- by R.J. Matson
Rod Blagojevich sitting in his prison cell- by R.J. Matson

On December 10, 2008, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested and convicted for attempting to sell multiple political offices, including the one previously occupied by Barack Obama. As great of a head of hair he has, apparently there isn’t much head underneath it all. Selling jobs to the highest bidder has been around since the 19th century, and especially apparent in 1930’s New Deals congress. R.J. Matson’s political cartoon above shows how corrupt men like Blagojevich can still be politically involved after negative exposure, suggesting corruption will always be a part of American Politics. Blagojevich isn’t the only one, however, in current politics to try and make easy money; Many Supreme Court cases, individuals, and entire administrations demonstrate the clear and present danger today as it was back in the 1930’s.

Blagojevich’s arrest is nothing new in Illinois politics. Thanks to an all too revealing affidavit and secret recordings in his office, Blagojevich and John Harris, his chief of staff, were charged with, “…conspiracy to commit wire fraud and solicitation to commit bribery…” (Coen 1). Blagojevich really took after his predecessor, Governor George Ryan, who in 2002, highly suspected of being the leader of a racketeering ring in his administration (Rosenberg). No wonder Illinois is widely known as a hotbed for buying and selling civil service. We can trace corruption in Illinois to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a man of very strict beliefs, strict policies, and strict bribery (Rosenberg).  Corruption even goes FURTHER at the federal level, Jack Abramoff made a huge mess out of the Bush administration in 2006 with his lobbying tactics: often employing bribing officials, fake wire transfers to scam, and a little bit of contract killing (Rosenberg). Don’t forget corruption in FDR’s New Deals, because in 1930’s congress, representatives were caught in the actions of selling state jobs to various organizations (Dallas Morning News 18). This list of historical no-no’s could go on, but a precedence forms, a never ending cycle if you will. So this begs the question: will political corruption remain in american politics, now and forever? Those people who fought against big government corruption in the 1930s, such as Cartoonist John Knott and The Dallas Morning News, will their efforts be in vain? According to all this information, the future may be bleak.

Matson’s cartoon explores the previously explained unfortunate future in politics. Here there’s a very amusing depiction of Rod Blagojevich. Sitting in his prison cell, Rod happily looks across from a poster titled, “Rod Blagojevich 2026,” which is fortunately the year he is released from prison. So what’s hilarious is that this man clearly thinks he can run again for office, but as a society we know he isn’t going to re-elected; convicted felons are mostly frowned upon, especially those that are convicted of fraud and political corruption! There is something, however that is more unsettling about the cartoon, unsettling since it could be true. Is Blagojevich smiling because he’s naive and thinks he still has a shot of the big leagues, or because he knows that his conviction doesn’t change anything? If political machines have been running around politics for a hundred years, what’s to say they’ll stop? When it comes to combatting the current state of politics, “Faith in the judicial system itself can be undermined by corruption” (Handlin). This scary revelation amidst something originally intended as humorous scares many forward thinkers in todays political climate. If the past couldn’t fix its wrongs, what’s to say we can?

Blagojevich was just the tip of the iceberg. Examination of political corruption isn’t just a new issue, but has been rampant in 20th century government, such as FDR’s congress, and Mayor Daley. Political Cartoonist such as R.J. Matson and John Knott of the Dallas Morning News become freedom fighters of these issues, but no matter how much work they put in, no change will come about. The only hope is push this knowledge to the masses, if there is any hope at all.

Bibliography

Coen, Jeff, Rick Pearson, John Chase, and David Kidwell. “ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Gov. Rod Blagojevich Arrested, Charged, Released.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 10 Dec. 2008. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Dallas Morning News, ed. “Civil Service Needed.” Editorial. Dallas Morning News 3 Nov. 1933: 18. America’s Newspapers [NewsBank]. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

Handlin, Amy. “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 588 U.S. 1 (2010).” Dirty Deals?: An Encyclopedia of Lobbying, Political Influence, and Corruption Ed. Amy Handlin. Vol. 2: Articles. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 394-395. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Handlin, Amy. “The Roots of Corruption.” Dirty Deals?: An Encyclopedia of Lobbying, Political Influence, and Corruption Ed. Amy Handlin. Vol. 1: Essays. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. [273]-291. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Handlin, Amy. “The Corruption Tax.” Dirty Deals?: An Encyclopedia of Lobbying, Political Influence, and Corruption Ed. Amy Handlin. Vol. 1: Essays. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. [292]-300. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Homel, Michael W. “Daley, Richard J.” Encyclopedia of American Urban History. Ed. David Goldfield. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2007. 203-204. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Matson, R.J. “Blagojevich 2026-COLOR.” Cagle Cartoons. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.

Rosenberg, Stuart. “Abramoff, Jack (1958– ).” Dirty Deals?: An Encyclopedia of Lobbying, Political Influence, and Corruption Ed. Amy Handlin. Vol. 2: Articles. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 337-338. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Rosenberg, Stuart. “Blagojevich, Rod (1956– ).” Dirty Deals?: An Encyclopedia of Lobbying, Political Influence, and Corruption Ed. Amy Handlin. Vol. 2: Articles. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 368-370. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.