Tag Archives: 2009

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.

Second Auto Bailout

The ‘Auto’ Industry begs ‘Obama’ for more ‘Bailouts’ after they are unsatisfied with all previous attempts from the government to help revive the auto industry.
The ‘Auto’ Industry begs ‘Obama’ for more ‘Bailouts’ after they are unsatisfied with all previous attempts from the government to help revive the auto industry.

During the 2007-2010 economic period, the auto-industry bailout was a huge controversy. It began with the collapse of many banks and very highly affected the auto industry. Along with the persistence of bad management, which lead to a poor response to the unexpected downfall, the labor union workers were outraged and demanded the unions do something. This brought the major automobile companies: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors borderline bankrupt. The quality of these company’s products were already being scrutinized for not holding up to the standards that they had in previous years. In addition, their workers were also being paid dramatically low wages which made the matters worse since they were so close to bankruptcy. The public saw the low wages as an attempt, by the companies, to save money and at least stay afloat in the industry, but even with spending less money on labor the companies still found themselves struggling financially. During that time, the automobile companies requested bailout money in an effort to save their companies and their workers. Many factors were taken into account on making the decision of whether or not the government would grant the auto companies the money. The effect the decision would make on the country’s economy was the major influence in the situation. The dilemma arose that if the country lost three major auto companies the economy would suffer. On the other hand, if the government bailed the companies out the taxpayers would have a huge chunk of money taken from them; As the loss of so much tax dollars, through the act of bailing out the auto companies, would have a devastating effect on the economy. The factors were discussed and the American government decided to allow the release of funds towards the bailout of the automobile companies. The government’s decision to allow the bailout money to be issued to the automobile companies had caused the resentment in the tax payers towards the government, hurt the economy even more with this event having occurred at a bad time of economic recession, and brought negative connotation to ‘Auto Industry’ as they had received an unfair advantage.

Published on February 19, 2009 in The Buffalo News Newspaper, Adam Zyglis’ cartoon titled, “Second Auto Bailout” illustrates how the auto industry continues to misuse aid money and disappoint the country no matter how much help they are given; In this case it was widely believed that the auto industry had received an unfair advantage over all other struggling industries towards the end of the recession of 2007-2009. His cartoon shows Barack Obama as a baseball player who seems to be the supplier for the ‘Bailouts’ as they are depicted as steroids. The character representing ‘Auto’ asks Obama if he’s “Got Anything Stronger??” as he already has plenty of syringes stabbed into his back along with the many more used syringes in his hand that he hides behind his back. Obama is pictured as a weak, terrified, and disappointed individual while ‘Auto’ is huge, aggressive, and scary individual because he misuses, by over using, the ‘bailouts’.

The Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009, was ultimately the result of the failure of an 8 trillion dollar housing bubble. The loss of such wealth led to cutbacks in consumer spending. As a result, a collapse in business investments occurred, along with the financial market chaos combined with this loss of consumption. Once the business investments and consumer spending was depressed, extensive job loss followed. 8.4 million jobs were lost in 2008 and 2009 from the U.S. labor market.  It was the worst employment devastation since the Great Depression. The country was already in a bad state in the midst of a recession which made the bailout more costly that it would’ve been if it was in a stable economic period. The country, economically, could not afford this act to bailout the Big 3 auto companies. This would explain why Obama, in Zyglis’ cartoon, is scolding ‘Auto’ and why Obama has his back turned to ‘Auto’. Obama is making an effort to ignore ‘Auto’ because the country cannot afford to bailout the auto industry, however with the great recession occurring, the spotlight is really put onto the auto industry and it’s struggles so it is difficult for Obama to NOT acknowledge this issue.

Similar to the situation in John Knott’s 1937 cartoon entitled, “There’s an Idea”, the workers in Knott’s cartoon are basically striking for more and more demands they want from the government. Over 250 strikes took place in the auto plants within the span of 3 months, so it’s safe to think they had to be asking for a bit too much and had excessive demands. In Zyglis’ cartoon ‘Auto’ asks, “Got anything stronger??” as ‘Auto’ already has many used syringes; ‘Auto’ is wanting too much. In 1973, America experienced an oil crisis which caused the oil prices to rise from $3 per barrel of oil to $12 per barrel. At this time, gas guzzlers were popular vehicles as muscle cars took over the era. American muscle cars became very popular and the auto companies were bloated and successful. As the unexpected and unanticipated oil crisis hit the country, the auto industry had no time to prepare. As result, Japanese auto plants were established in America which was a huge blow to the American auto industry as more competition was added. American vehicles had been producing bigger and more fuel-inefficient cars for decades when the Japanese manufacturers arrived and produced smaller and more fuel-efficient cars which would come to outperform the american style models. The auto industry needed a bailout and the first bailout was issued after this crisis, which is why this cartoon is titled “SECOND Auto Bailout” as it refers to the bailout during 2007 to 2009 recession.

During the late 2000s, ‘the steroid era’ was a term created in Major League Baseball when many players were thought to have used performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs, in the form of steroids. During this period, offensive output had increased dramatically.  In Zyglis’ cartoon, his reference to steroid use alludes to ‘the steroid era’ with the syringes of steroid representing ‘bailouts’. It is likely that the reference could be towards Alex rodriguez, or A-Rod, as he admitted to using steroids in his MLB career, from 2001 to 2003, on February 9, 2009. The cartoon was drawn on February 19, only 10 days after the confession. In addition, at the time of the the confession, A-Rod played for the New York Yankees who are notorious for wearing pinstripes on their gameday uniforms, which many baseball fans see as an outdated fashion and ugly. In the cartoon, the players are wearing pinstripes. Going along the fact that Steroid use in sports was always referred to as an “unfair advantage”, it’s very likely that Zyglis used this reference to the bailout. Since the auto industry required a bailout in the 1970s and the government decided to give them another bailout during the recession was seen by most americans as an unfair advantage just like what steroids does. During the recession, out of all the corporations that were struggling and needed some help, the government decided to give the auto industry another bailout rather than give it to an industry that hadn’t had one yet.

Work Cited:

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Was the Big 3 Auto Bailout Worth It?” The Balance, www.thebalance.com/auto-industry-bailout-gm-ford-chrysler-3305670.

“A-Rod admits, regrets use of PEDs.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 10 Feb. 2009, www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=3894847.

History.com Staff. “Energy Crisis (1970s).” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/energy-crisis.

“National Employment.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iagauto.htm.

“Newsfeed.” NTU – National Taxpayers Union, 12 Dec. 2009, www.ntu.org/governmentbytes/detail/the-auto-bailout-a-taxpayer-quagmire.

“Second Auto Bailout.” CagleCartoons.com – View Image, CagleCartoons, www.caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID=%7B8096AA1D-D136-416D-81EA-27FAFAADDBEB%7D.

Sepp, Pete, and Thomas Hopkins. “GM bailout costs each taxpayer $12,200, National Taxpayer’s Union says.” Bizjournals.com, The South Florida Business Journal, 20 Nov. 2009, 9:11am, www.bizjournals.com/wichita/stories/2009/11/16/daily42.html.

Swanson, Ian. “Rejecting bailout wins political capital for Ford.” TheHill, 27 June 2010, 11:00am, www.thehill.com/homenews/administration/78211-rejecting-bailout-wins-political-capital-for-ford.

“The Great Recession.” State of Working America, Economic Policy Institute, www.stateofworkingamerica.org/great-recession/.

“The Steroids Era.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 5 Dec. 2012, 4:23 pm, www.espn.com/mlb/topics/_/page/the-steroids-era.

Five Year Anniversary

Nate Beeler's cartoon depicts the 5th anniversary since the Stimulus Package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into legislation, and how the act was a waste of money.
Nate Beeler’s cartoon depicts the 5th anniversary since the Stimulus Package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into legislation, and how the act was a waste of money.

In the political cartoon “Five Year Anniversary,” by Nate Beeler, five stacks of one hundred dollar bills are set on fire on top of a cake that reads “2009 Stimulus.” The five candles represent the Stimulus Package’s, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, five years of age upon being signed into legislation by Barack Obama in 2009. Beeler’s cartoon depicts the idea that the ARRA wasted money rather than pushing the economy out of the Great Recession.

In December 2007, the United States experienced a time of rising unemployment and declining GDP (gross domestic product) that lasted until 2009. This period was dubbed the Great Recession due to the severity of the negative impacts. The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a “period of at least two consecutive quarters of declining levels of economic activity” (Krabbenhoft), and during the time span between 2007 and 2009 GDP decreased by 3.5 percent and the unemployment rate increased more than 5 percent. The gross domestic product indicates the total value of goods and services produced over a period of time, so production and consumer spending decreased drastically. The government attempted to alleviate the unemployment rate and increase economic growth by creating what’s known as a multiplier effect. The multiplier effect occurs when there is an increase in final income from the increase in spending from the initial stimulus. Consumer expenditures make up 70 percent of GDP, and increasing consumer expenditures would create this effect, for consumption leads to the selling of goods and so on. Business investments are also a main component of GDP, and providing business incentives to increase the level of investment was also critical to alleviating the economy. With these two conditions kept in mind, President Bush signed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 into legislation. The ESA consisted of 3 provisions: the first provision provided a tax rebate for taxpayers while the second and third provided tax incentives to businesses to stimulate business investment. Unfortunately, consumer spending did not increase as the government hoped it would. Many households preferred to keep their money in their savings rather than spend it or pay their debts; thus, the multiplier effect did not take off. The tax incentives for businesses were also ineffective because the success was minimal and did not improve the economy; therefore, the ESA was failed, but it inspired a new act that was created by the next president, Barack Obama.

After becoming president, Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into legislation. The ARRA allowed people to keep a larger segment of their paychecks, provided tax credits for homebuyers, college expenses, and home improvements. Essentially, people got more than a single rebate and had more of an incentive to increase consumer spending. The ARRA also provided money for the government to improve health care, education, and infrastructure in order to create more jobs for the public and decrease the unemployment rate. Despite these efforts, the economy continued declining; however, GDP increased slightly during the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2013, but unemployment continued to increase. Although the ARRA played on the idea of the multiplier effect, it did not work because people either lost hope during the recession and stopped looking for jobs or used their money in ways the government didn’t intend. The ARRA had good intentions, but nothing occurred the way the government believed or wanted it to happen. This relates to John Knott’s cartoon, “What’s the Next Play Going to Be?” because of the naive thought that people would comply with what higher officials wanted them to do; in the end, people spent money the way they wanted to spend it or stopped trying to find a job whenever hope was lost. It is difficult to bring an economy out of a recession or decrease the unemployment rate immediately, and it takes time for such drastic changes to occur because people do not have unanimous opinions. Ultimately, the ARRA failed just as the NRA had due to the difficulty in governing people’s actions. The failure of the ARRA  and the NRA also expressed the theme that assuming what an entire nation of people would do is naive because people do not act or think similarly, and it is not safe to predict how millions of people would behave, especially during a crisis.

The irony behind the cartoon lies behind the fact that the anniversary of the Stimulus Package was being celebrated despite how negatively people viewed it. It is celebrated because the White House believed the ARRA was good for the economy, but many others thought otherwise as indicated by the burning money. Beeler’s cartoon depicts both standpoints, but the main focus is on how disfavored the ARRA was as shown by making the burning bills the focal point of the cartoon. 

Nate Beeler’s political cartoon “Five Year Anniversary,” stresses how much of a fail the ARRA was due to the amount of money it dissipated. Many efforts were put in to save the economy, but the government did not consider the fact that some households or businesses wouldn’t comply with their intentions. The government was unable to dictate the people’s actions, ultimately leading to the collapse of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Citations:

Krabbenhoft, Alan G. “Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 3rd ed., vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2014, pp. 234-236. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.