Tag Archives: 2010

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Dump Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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


Works Cited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rise and Fall of Australia’s Mining Tax

Julia Gillard and her “Mining Tax” have been stomped into the ground by Tony Abbott and Australia’s “Mining Industry,” depicted as an elephant, representing Australia’s Mining Tax controversy of the early 2010s.
Julia Gillard and her “Mining Tax” have been stomped into the ground by Tony Abbott and Australia’s “Mining Industry,” depicted as an elephant, representing Australia’s Mining Tax controversy of the early 2010s.

In the 2000s and early 2010s, Australia’s mining industry was booming. Australia’s economy had always been resource dependent (Critchlow, “Australia Abandons Mining Tax…”), but increased demand from Asian countries had caused steadily rising prices on coal and iron since 2003. This increased demand led to increased industry profits and a bolstered Australian economy moving into the 2010s (Phillips, “The Mining Boom…”), insulating it against the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008. In 2010, the Australian government led by then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, began to create a mining tax on these booming coal and iron ore industries to fund new pensions and tax cuts on new businesses throughout the nation. This tax was called the Resource Super Profit Tax (RSPT), and caused much controversy among the mining behemoths of Australia and throughout the population. The RSPT eventually failed and was replaced by the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

John Ditchburn’s political cartoon “Where Gillard and Abbott Stand on the Mining Tax,” published on March 20, 2012, depicts Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister from 2013 to 2015, standing proudly atop an elephant labeled “Mining Industry.” The elephant appears to have just stomped Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister from 2010 to 2013, into an elephant-foot-shaped hole. Gillard has a large lump atop her head, and is looking at a piece of paper titled “Mining Tax” in disbelief (Ditchburn). Around the time that this cartoon was published, there was much controversy surrounding the mining tax, and Gillard and Abbott were at the center of it. As the Prime Minister replacing Kevin Rudd, Gillard was working to amend and pass Rudd’s RSPT, resulting in the MRRT; while at the same time, Abbott’s political campaign for Prime Minister was built upon the opposition of Gillard’s MRRT. The humor depicted in Ditchburn’s cartoon alludes to the flawed development and implementation of the MRRT, as well as the response of Australia’s mining conglomerates.

In 2008, economies across the globe were suffering from the GFC, the worst economic depression since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The GFC was triggered by the 2007 collapse of the United States housing market, when many homebuyers with poor credit were unable to pay off their mortgage loans, leading to a lack of liquid funds in the United States’ banking systems. The collapse of the United States housing bubble was the catalyst for the GFC, causing stock markets around the world to crash and become highly volatile (Davies, “Global Financial Crisis”). The GFC was impacting nations across the globe, but largely due to Australia’s mining boom – the biggest boom since the United States’ gold rush of the mid-1800s (Phillips) – Australia was well insulated from the negative effects of the GFC. The Australian mining boom began in 2003, and was fueled by the rapid development of Asian nations, especially China. These developing countries drove up demand for natural resources like coal and iron ore, which led to massive price increases for those resources. Iron ore prices were around $25 per ton, and peaked at $170 per ton during the boom; while coal prices were around $45 per ton and peaked around $180 per ton during the boom (Phillips).

In 2010, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd proposed the RSPT, a single, simple forty percent taxation rate on all profits of mining corporations in Australia, which would replace the previously complex, confusing taxation policy on natural resource mining corporations. The RSPT was projected to generate twelve billion dollars of government revenue in its first four years; however, it was heavily criticized by mining corporations, due to a lack of corporate consultation regarding the tax rate during its development. This led the new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to negotiate with Australia’s biggest mining conglomerates: Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Xstrata, in order to amend the tax. The result of these negotiations was the MRRT, which taxed mining operations for twenty-two and a half percent of their total profits; rather than taxing them for forty percent of their total profits, like the RSPT. Even then, the MRRT only taxed coal and iron ore mining operations which made more than seventy-five million dollars annually, rather than all mining operations (“Australian Government Repeals…”). While the RSPT was projected to generate twelve billion dollars in its first four years, the MRRT only generated 480 million dollars in the two years before it was repealed, less than a tenth of a percent of the Australian national budget in 2012 and 2013 (Critchlow). The MRRT’s failure can largely be attributed to the immense influence that Australian mining behemoths had on the development of the tax. Their influence hindered the MRRT’s ability to produce any real government revenue which helped preserve as much corporate profit as possible.

The MRRT was enacted on July 1, 2012, but was repealed just two years later by Gillard’s replacement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, on September 2, 2014. Abbott’s repeal of the tax was largely thanks to the Palmer United Party – Australian oil tycoon Clive Palmer’s conservative, pro-industry political party – controlling the senate vote to repeal the MRRT (“Australia’s Mining Tax Repealed”). Shortly after the repealing of the tax, Chief Executive of Australia’s Business Council, Jennifer Westacott, claimed that “The Senate’s vote to repeal the [MRRT removed] an unnecessary weight [from] Australia’s economic growth and competitiveness … [improving] Australia’s reputation as an attractive investment destination … [ensuring] a strong, growing resources industry into the future.” This claim was proven to be true, as many other nations welcomed the repealing of the tax, and were ready and willing to invest in Australian resource industries (“Australian Government Repeals…”). This exemplified the positive effects that the repeal of the MRRT benefited Australia’s economy, in the long run. Despite these benefits, there were still naysayers to the repeal of the MRRT, arguing that the revenue generated by the tax could be used to strengthen Australian communities and infrastructure (Gaille, “Eight Mining Tax…”).

While Ditchburn’s cartoon was created two years before the MRRT was repealed, it accurately portrays many of the elements of the mining tax controversy around the time of its creation. Abbott standing atop an elephant labeled “Mining Industry” shows that he was working with Australia’s mining corporations in order to repeal the MRRT. Additionally, Abbott is shown shirtless, baring his hairy chest. This is a humorous commentary on the sexist, and borderline misogynistic, comments he made during his campaign for Prime Minister, which contributed to his feud with Gillard (Badham, “Why Some Australian…”). The mining industry being represented by a massive elephant shows the massive power that the mining corporations wielded in Australian politics at the time. This immense influence of the mining corporations is represented by the elephant stomping Gillard into an elephant-foot-shaped hole – along with her “Mining Tax” paper, representing the MRRT. This is representative of the way that the mining corporations essentially neutered the RSPT, turning it into the non-functional, ineffective MRRT. Overall, the cartoon’s various features humorously depict the ways that Australian mining corporations, along with Abbott, stunted the development and implementation of the MRRT, removing its effectiveness; leaving Gillard to wonder what went wrong with the tax.

Australia’s mining tax controversy of the early 2010s is very reminiscent of the debate surrounding increasing taxes on the Texas sulphur industry of the late 1930s. This debate was touched on in John Knott’s 1937 cartoon, “Legislator with the Sales Tax Complex” (Knott) and its accompanying editorial “Taxing Natural Resources.” In both Australia’s debate – touched on by Ditchburn – and Texas’s debate – touched on by Knott – the debate was centered around whether government revenues or industrial development should be prioritized, and in both cases, industrial development was prioritized. Additionally, both debates were set against the backdrops of horrible economic depressions, significantly impacting the debates and their outcomes. Even the two cartoon’s compositions are strikingly reminiscent of one another. In Ditchburn’s cartoon, Australian mining industries are depicted as a massive elephant trampling an attempt at taxation (Ditchburn). In Knott’s cartoon, Texas mining industries are depicted as the towering “Old Man Texas” (“Knott, John Francis”) threatening an attempt at taxation with a powerful resistance (Knott).

Australian mining corporations warping the RSPT into the MRRT in order to support their own development and the eventual repeal of the MRRT to invite foreign investment in Australia’s resource sector is shockingly reminiscent of Texas’s 1937 debate regarding taxation of natural resource industries. In both cases, the mining industry’s long-term growth and development were prioritized over short-term revenue gains for the government. Whether by the influence of mining conglomerates or by the government’s own choice, it seems that industrial development is prioritized very highly in politics. Through these historical examples, we can learn that history very often does repeat itself, and that by learning from our past, we can better understand our present.

Works Cited:

“Australian Government Repeals Controversial Super Profits Mining Tax.” Allen & Overy, Allen & Overy, 9 Sept. 2014, www.allenovery.com/publications/en-gb/Pages/Australian-Government-repeals-controv rsial-super-profits-mining-tax.aspx.

“Australia’s Mining Tax Repealed.” BBC News, BBC, 2 Sept. 2014, www.bbc.com/news/business-29009479.

Badham, Van. “Why Some Australian Women Loathe Tony Abbott.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 16 Sept. 2013, www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10313055/Why-some-Australian-women-oathe-Tony-Abbott-especially-now.html.

Critchlow, Andrew. “Australia Abandons Mining Tax as China’s Resource Demand Weakens.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 2 Sept. 14, www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/commodities/11069343/Australia-abandons-mining-tax-a Chinas-resource-demand-weakens.html.’

Davies, Justine. “Global Financial Crisis.” Canstar, Canstar, 18 Sept. 2017, www.canstar.com.au/home-loans/global-financial-crisis/.

Ditchburn, John. “Where Gillard and Abbott Stand on the Mining Tax.” Inkcinct Cartoons Australia, Inkcinct Cartoons, 20 Mar. 2012, www.inkcinct.com.au/web-pages/australian/political/2012–political.htm.

Gaille, Brandon. “Eight Mining Tax Pros and Cons.” Brandon Gaille: Marketing ExpertBrandon Gaille, 15 Mar. 2016, brandongaille.com/8-mining-tax-pros-and-cons/.

Knott, John F. “Legislator With the Sales Tax Complex.” Dallas Morning News, 24 Mar. 1937, p. 2. Web. 26 Sept. 2017.

“Knott, John Francis.” Texas State Historical Association, 15 June 2010, shaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fkn05.

Phillips, Keri. “The Mining Boom That Changed Australia.” ABC Radio National, ABC, 13 Apr. 2016, www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rearvision/the-mining-boom-that-changed-austrlia/7319586.