Tag Archives: 2014

Russia’s Invasion of Crimea 2014

Carrying a large Russian rifle, a nearly naked Vladimir Putin aggressively advances into Crimea.
Carrying a large Russian rifle, a nearly naked Vladimir Putin aggressively advances into Crimea.

On February 28, 2014, Russian troops arrived in the dark of night, orchestrating a military invasion and occupation of the Crimean peninsula. Unidentified, uniformed Pro-Russian gunmen seized control of the main airports at Simferopol and Sevastopol, also taking over the Crimean parliament located in Simferopol. Despite Ukraine’s independence from the U.S.S.R in 1991, Russia had been maintaining its fleets at Sevastpol since that same year. Because of this, the Russian Foreign Ministry reasoned that troops were “required to protect deployment places of the Black Sea fleet in Ukraine” (MacAskill 46). However, the Ukrainian interior minister claimed that the Russian attack was a “military invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms,” which were outlined in the United Nation Charter (Article 2(4)), a document that prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” (MacAskill 21). Therefore, it was apparent that Russia’s military actions were aggressive and illegal and that they were occupying the Crimean peninsula only to increase Russia’s geopolitical power.

In Tom Toles’ political cartoon, “Naked Aggression,” (Tole cartoon) published in the Washington Post on March 4, 2014, he satirizes the military aggression and unjust actions taken by Russia in order to claim Crimea. The cartoon depicts Vladamir Putin as a villainous individual who is seen with only his red underwear on, which is humorously embellished with an array of skulls and crossbones. Additionally, Putin is illustrated without a shirt, referencing his well-known and proud penchant for being photographed bare-chested, while engaging in “macho” adventures such as hunting, boating, and spearfishing (Brown 3). Putin is characterized as aggressively advancing across the land while carrying a large Russian rifle. Particularly, he steps on the word, “Crimea,” as he marches into that territory. Two men in the background state, “Now he’s dropped his trousers too,” as they observe Putin “nakedly” marching into Crimea.

The context of this comic revolves around the climactic and geographic factors that limited pre-Soviet imperial Russia’s economy. Due to the vast amount of bitter cold regions in Russia, this limited Russia’s agricultural activity to about ten percent of the country’s land area. Of this amount of land, approximately sixty-percent of it was used for cultivating crop (“Russia- Agriculture”). During the beginning of the twentieth- century, “agriculture constituted the single largest sector of the Russian economy, producing approximately one-half of the national income” (Jackson). However, due to the lack of technological advancement, the Russian agricultural industry began to decline. Crops and livestock failed to withstand Russia’s harsh winter, ultimately leading to famines. Gradually, this led to Russia’s imperialistic nature of searching outwardly in other countries for land, resources, and even for warm water ports for year-round trading and building their navy. The agricultural difficulties that limited Russia’s economy not only influenced social reforms, but it also contributed to the rise of the Bolshevik revolution.

The Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Lenin, were a revolutionary party devoted to the philosophies of Karl Marx (“Bolsheviks”). They believed that the working class should liberate themselves from the economic and political bindings of the ruling classes. Since Russia was a backward agriculture country, a mass amount of peasants demanded more land, and factory workers began to protest the wretched working conditions and economic turmoil. Therefore, the Bolsheviks, became increasingly popular among the working class, eventually overthrowing the Provisional Government in 1917 (“Bolsheviks”). Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution, they changed their name to the Russian Communist Party in 1918, beginning the reign of a socialist government (“Bolsheviks”).

During the reign of the Soviet Union from 1922-1991, it consisted of fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan (Dewdey 8). During its existence, the total area possessed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R) constituted the world’s largest country – essentially covering one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface (Dewdey 31). Not only did the Soviet Union obtain vast areas of land during its reign, but it also possessed control over a multitude of waterways and valuable resources, thereby aggrandizing its geopolitical power.

However, by 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader, rose to power the Soviet Union experienced severe stagnation both politically and economically.  In order to remedy this, Gorbachev introduced the two-tiered policy: “perestroika” (“restructuring”) and “glasnost” (“openness”). The policy of perestroika was an economic reform program that would attempt to replace the centralized command economy with a progressive version of market economy, while the policy of glasnost enabled the freedom of speech among citizens (Dewdey 116). However, this change to the economy was unsuccessful, resulting in a further decline in production. Because of this economic regression, the citizens of the U.S.S.R and its republics utilized their new freedom of speech to criticize Gorbachev’s failure to improve the economy. Consequently, non-Russian areas such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania began to demand their own autonomy. With the combination of countries demanding their independence and democratic momentum within the U.S.S.R, this eventually led to the downfall and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991(Dewdey 134).

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, only twelve republics emerged from the U.S.S.R. These remaining republics formed the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin became President of the Russian Republic in 1990 (“Boris Yeltsin”). He attempted to repair the country by supporting a market-oriented economy and the right of Soviet republics to greater autonomy within the Soviet Union. However, his popularity declined quickly as he failed to reform the free-market economy in order to spur economic growth. Yeltsin was eventually forced to resign in 1999, when Vladimir Putin, who was a former KGB (the primary security agency of the Soviet Union which is now known as the FSB) official, threatened to expose Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter, who had been taking part in “high-level corruption and financial malfeasance” within the government (Bolhen 26).

Vladimir Putin was soon elected President in 1999 (“Vladimir Putin”). Since his election, Putin had been attempting to rebuild “Soviet Russia,” stating that the “demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” (“Putin: Soviet Collapse a ‘Genuine Tragedy’ ”). Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia continued to experience severe economic turmoil. However, in order to increase geopolitical and economic security, Vladimir Putin deployed Russian troops on an overnight mission on February 27, 2014 to seize the Supreme Council and the Crimean peninsula. The surprising and sly invasion of Crimea underscored Putin’s “flagrant violation of international law and the postwar order” land “was an aggressive move to return to a world in which Russia was still an international superpower” (Pinkham 58).

While Russia characterized the invasion as simply deploying soldiers to protect Russian fleets in Crimea, it was evident that the access to oil and gas reservoirs located in the Black Sea were the real objectives. The vast amount of valuable resources within the Black Sea not only would provide a much more stable and powerful economy, but the possession of the port would also extend Russia’s maritime boundaries (Goncharov 9). This strategic waterway served as an important naval port, increasing Russia’s geopolitical power.

These aggressive military actions mirror the hostile actions made by Japan in demanding the cessation on the boycott of Japanese goods in Shanghai during the 1930’s. In the midst of its imperial conquest, Japan invaded and conquered Manchuria through the Mukden incident that took place in 1931 (Byas 2). Manchuria was a territory rich with valuable resources that was legally governed by China. After the establishment of the pseudo-government, “Manchukuo,” in Manchuria, Japan began to use excessive military force in Shanghai to suppress Chinese boycotts of Japanese goods that arose out anti-Japanese resentment. In doing this, Japan hoped to occupy Shanghai in the process, gaining a foothold in another valuable area in order to spread its sphere of influence. Ultimately, these aggressive acts carried out by Japan not only violated its legal obligation to denunciate war, as outlined by the League of Nations, but also further heightened tensions that already existed between the two nations.

Similarly, Russia invaded Crimea, violating the United Nations charter by committing an aggressive and unjust act of imperialism. By possessing control of the Black Sea, it was evident that this was Russia’s key to geopolitical and economic stability. In Tole’s cartoon, Putin embodies a similar body language and image to the Japanese militant in John Knott’s cartoon, “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits’ ” (Knott cartoon). Putin and the Japanese soldier both possess a large military gun as they invade into a territory that is not their own. Furthermore, the bully-like characterization of the soldier compares to Putin’s “nakedness.” While the immense size and strength of the militant corresponded to Japan’s militaristic demeanor, Putin’s nearly naked state parallels to his “naked” or bold aggression that was portrayed by the Russian invasion on Crimea. Therefore, both cartoons resonate with the sheer aggression exhibited by Japan and Russia.

Due to the economic and geopolitical pressures that Japan and Russia experienced during their respective time periods, these factors pushed them to aggressively seize territories, even if it was illegal, in order to achieve economic and geopolitical stability. While the 1928 Kellogg- Briand Pact and the 2014 United Nations Charter (Article 2(4)) were both designed to urge nations to reject war, the geopolitical and economic circumstances presently occurring in the world may cause countries to act in their self interest in order to gain stability. Therefore, it is important to keep the past in mind to better evaluate the future outcomes of Russia’s war on Crimea.


Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Bolshevik.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Bolshevik.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Boris Yeltsin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Boris-Yeltsin.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Vladimir Putin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Vladimir-Putin.

Bohlen, Celestine. “YELTSIN RESIGNS: THE OVERVIEW; Yeltsin Resigns, Naming Putin as Acting President To Run in March Election.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Jan. 2000, www.nytimes.com/2000/01/01/world/yeltsin-resigns-overview-yeltsin-resigns-naming-putin-acting-president-run-march.html.

Brown, Chris. “Vacationing like a ‘Real’ Man: Photos from Putin’s Macho Holiday Seen as Part of Re-Election Bid | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Aug. 2017, www.cbc.ca/news/world/vladimir-putin-images-siberian-holiday-1.4237878.

Dewdney, John C., et al. “Soviet Union.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Soviet-Union.

Goncharov, Vladimir Petrovich, et al. “Black Sea.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Black-Sea.

Jackson, George D., and Robert James Devlin. Dictionary of the Russian Revolution. New York: Greenwood, 1989. Print

Kara-Murza, Vladimir V. “Ukraine Is Putin’s, Not Russia’s, War.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 Mar. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ukraine-is-putins-not-russias-war/2014/03/04/f587b698-a337-11e3-84d4-e59b1709222c_story.html?utm_term=.5c1b9a1d2417.

Knott, John. “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits’.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 28 January 1932. Newspaper. 18 April 2018.

MacAskill, Ewen, et al. “Russian Invasion of Crimea Fuels Fear of Ukraine Conflict.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Mar. 2014, www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/russia-crimea-white-house.

Pinkham, Sophie. “How Annexing Crimea Allowed Putin to Claim He Had Made Russia Great Again | Sophie Pinkham.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/22/annexing-crimea-putin-make-russia-great-again.

“Putin: Soviet Collapse a ‘Genuine Tragedy’.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 25 Apr. 2005, www.nbcnews.com/id/7632057/ns/world_news/t/putin-soviet-collapse-genuine-tragedy/#.WvSSy4gvxPY.

“Russia – Agriculture.” Portugal – FAMILY AND KINSHIP RELATIONS, countrystudies.us/russia/60.htm.

Toles, Tom. “Naked Aggression.” Cartoon. Washington Post 4 March 2014. Newspaper. 20 April 2018.





Raise the McMinimum

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

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


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

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.

“Stop the Cycle”

Reformers want to stop the  "revolving door" of the Texas prison system.
Reformers want to stop the “revolving door” of the Texas prison system.

The cartoon Stop the Cycle Reform the System, published on December 28, 2014, highlights the recidivism problem in Alabama prisons: a tendency in which prisoners relapse into previous conditions especially criminal behavior (“Definition of Recidivism”). An article published by the Alabama Editorial Board calls for the people of Alabama to take a stand and help start a reform movement to better the state’s prison system (“Our View: Action is”). This article addresses issues of recidivism, appropriate treatment facilities for parolees, and overflowing prisons – the same concerns that are also addressed in an article by Michael Haugen discussing the Texas prison systems within the recent years. The “revolving door” is used as a metaphor for the constant cycle into which so many inmates fall victim. Revolving Door Syndrome is a term used in criminal justice systems to reference recidivism (“Definition of Recidivism”). Most offenders walk out of the prison doors only to walk right back in due to the lack of treatment facilities available for offenders who have been granted parole. This cartoon calls for system reform in order to stop this never-ending cycle.

In 2007, the Texas Legislature estimated that within “five years the state would need to build as many as 17,000 additional prison beds to keep pace with the growing incarceration” (Haugen). The estimated budget was around $2 billions, which the legislature deemed too costly (Haugen). So, in order to help minimize the number of prisoners, the legislature decided to reform the prison system by looking into the causes of prison growth and recidivism. After interviewing many criminal justice workers, they found most non-violent offenders were sent to prison because there was not a better alternative. Many of these offenders happened to be on wait lists for drug court or mental health problems, making it difficult for them to find effective treatment (Haugen). Lawmakers also found that the Board of Pardons and Paroles had been granting parole to barely any offenders because they felt inmates were not receiving appropriate rehabilitative treatment within the prison system (Haugen).

To counteract the problem of overflowing prisons, Texas Legislators proposed a package to prevent prison expansion and improve treatment programs while keeping the public safe. The first wave of reform brought “800 new residential substance abuse treatment beds and 3,000 more outpatient substance abuse treatment slots” (Haugen). The second wave of the reform included the addition of  “2,700 substance abuse treatment beds behind bars, 1,400 new intermediate sanction beds (a short-term program for those offenders who commit technical violations), and 300 halfway-house beds” (Haugen). Lawmakers also decided to cap parole caseload at 75 to make sure there was adequate supervision from supervisors for the parolees. Instead of opening up more prisons, this package gave the Texas Legislators a more affordable option to help solve the problem of growing incarceration (Haugen).

While this package did reduce incarceration rate and closed three prisons, Texas still has a long way to go. “The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of that being prisoners” and Texas accounts for the highest rate of incarceration compared to any other state (Henson). There are still 109 prison facilities all over Texas and over half contain offenders locked up for non-violent crimes (Henson). According to two researchers from the Institute of Urban Policy Research and Analysis at The University of Texas at Austin, the number of people behind bars actually increased in 2013 despite the closing of prisons (Dunklee and Larsen). Texas has also not implemented any reforms to help solve their racial disparity problem in the state’s prisons for “African Americans comprise 35 percent of prison populations despite comprising only 12.4 percent of the state’s population” (Dunklee and Larsen). Furthermore, many African Americans, as well as other minorities, are imprisoned at higher rates than their white counterparts even if they commit the same crimes.

These cries for reform mirror those from Texas citizens in 1937, when the State of Texas tried to reform the prison system by giving  new power to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to help supervise offenders while on parole as well as helping released inmates better adapt to society after being discharged. The editorial accompanying John Knott’s cartoon published in the Dallas Morning News on April 8, 1937, discusses how “[t]he Texas State prison system is open to enough criticism” thus the prisoners entitled to pardon or parole need to be granted those benefits (“Pardons Deadlock”). While the reform movement in the 1930’s did improve the system, the issues of supervision and treatment facilities for inmates on parole carried on into the early 2000’s. Even though another reform movement took place in 2007, still many people argue for another reform campaign today.

Reformers today call for improvement of prison facilities and racial impact statements. To help with the state’s racial disparity problem, reformers feel a racial impact statement; “a statement for lawmakers to evaluate potential disparities of proposed legislation prior to adoption and implementation”, for all criminal justice policies, practices, and proposals is necessary (Porter). Also, some citizens feel the lack of opportunity for communities of color as well as racialized law enforcement in Texas needs to be addressed by lawmakers (Dunklee and Larsen). The improvement of prison facilities has also been a topic of reform, as 75 percent of Texas’s prisons have no air conditioning in the inmates’ living facilities (McCullough). This is seen as cruel and unusual punishment by many citizens and has resulted in “23 deaths and hundreds of illnesses related to heat in Texas prisons since 1998” (McCullough).

Overall, the Texas prison system has seen many reforms and will continue to be reformed in the future. The problem of recidivism and adequate treatment options for offenders has improved but still can be refined in order to better the system. Additionally, while reforms have been made to help non-violent offenders, violent offenders still are subject to unfair treatment from parole boards across the country that do not want to risk their jobs by being responsible for releasing a “violent” inmate (Ewing). Recidivism, conditions of prison facilities and racial disparity are issues Texas still faces today, and the state has a long road of reform ahead in order to address these concerns. These issues were prevalent in 1937 and will continue to be problems until serious reform actions are taken.

Works Cited

Board, AL.com Editorial. “Our View: Action Is Required and Prison Reform Must Start with New Leadership for Alabama’s Prisons.” AL.com, 28 Dec. 2014, www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/12/action_overdue_prison_reform_m.html.

Definition of Recidivism . www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recidivism.

Dunklee, Caitlin, and Rebecca Larsen. “Setting the Record Straight on Texas.” UT News | The University of Texas at Austin, 11 Aug. 2015, news.utexas.edu/2015/08/10/setting-the-record-straight-on-texas-prison-reform.

Ewing, Maura. “Why So Few Violent Offenders Are Let Out on Parole.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 29 Aug. 2017, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/why-so-few-violent-offenders-are-let-out-on-parole/538305/.

Haugen , Michael. “Ten Years of Criminal Justice Reform in Texas.” Right on Crime, 2 Aug. 2017, rightoncrime.com/2017/08/ten-years-of-criminal-justice-reform-in-texas/.

Henson, Scott. “Raising the Bars for Texas Criminal Justice Reform.” The Texas Observer, 28 Feb. 2017, www.texasobserver.org/raising-the-bars-criminal-justice-reform/.

McCullough, Jolie. “Heat Is Part of Life at Texas Prisons, but Federal Judge Orders One to Cool It.” The Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune, 20 July 2017, www.texastribune.org/2017/07/20/texas-prison-heat-air-conditioning-lawsuit/.

“Pardons Deadlock .” Dallas Morning News, 8 Apr. 1937, Dallas Morning News Newspaper Archive Database, Readex, infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_productpp. 2–2.

Porter , Nicole D. “Racial Impact Statements.” The Sentencing Project, 1 Dec. 2014, www.sentencingproject.org/publications/racial-impact-statements/.

Russia Moves On Crimea

Cartoonist highlights the tension between Russia and Ukraine on territorial disputes over Crimea.
Cartoonist highlights the tension between Russia and Ukraine on territorial disputes over Crimea.

In Dave Granlund’s political cartoon, Russia Moves on Crimea, Crimea is shown to be in a dire situation following the Ukraine Crisis in 2013 which provided Russia advantages in claiming Crimea by making it appear as if Russia was able to assist Crimea in the middle of the crisis by annexing it. Russia is depicted as a bear, symbolizing the stereotype of Russia being “fierce and angry” and related to “frost” and “despotism” (Khrustalyov). In addition, Crimea is portrayed as a fish, the water as the Ukraine, and the dangerous features of the wave as the crisis. The political cartoon revolves around a political “tug-of-war” between Russia and Ukraine over who should rightfully have Crimea as a part of their nation (Ellicott). Although not a communist establishment anymore ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia still sought to expand, not ideologically as it did with communism, but territorially to grow as a larger superpower, which explains the reason why Russia sought to claim the Crimean Peninsula , an area that once belonged to it (Ellicott). At the time the cartoon was published on Granlund’s website, March 3rd, 2014, Crimea belonged to the Ukraine, yet Crimea was already leaning towards Russia since it seemed as if they could save the country from the crisis, hence the bear saying, “I’m saving you from drowning!” Furthermore, the grayish color tone of the cartoon highlights the seriousness of how the “tug-of-war” over Crimea was.

The Ukraine Crisis occurred as a result of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an association agreement with the European Union (EU) in November 2013 (Ellicott). Yanukovych was pro-Russian and the decision was made as a response to Russian threats to disrupt trade in order to keep Ukraine-Russian trade stable since Russians didn’t want the Ukraine to align more with Europe (Ellicott). However, it led to pro-EU protests in the Ukraine, which further led to pro-Russian influences triggering more “violent demonstrations” in the country (Ellicott). After failing to disperse these events, the Ukraine parliament sided with the protesters and voted Yanukovych out of office, after “four months of civil unrest and political deadlock between demonstrators and Yanukovych’s government” (Jalabi). Prior to this event, Ukraine-Russian relations were fairly calm since the two countries were trade partners and shared the similarity of once being a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Ellicott). However, as a result of Yanukovych being ousted for avoiding EU relations and trying to create closer ties with Russia, Russia reacted with “immediate hostility to the new pro-Western leadership” in the Ukraine, causing more tensions between the two countries. In addition, pro-Russian troops stormed into Crimea, influencing the peninsula into wanting to be a part of Russia as it was once Russian’s territory and already carried several pro-Russian citizens (Ellicott). It can be seen in Granlund’s cartoon that Crimea relied on Russia to rescue the country as the fish fearfully looks back at the wave representing the Ukraine Crisis and had no choice but to let the bear save it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that people of Crimea wanted to join Russia as a result of their repression by the government that “took power when Ukraine’s unpopular President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev”, the capital of Ukraine, in February of 2014 (US Official News). His claim proved to be true as Crimea held a referendum on March 16, 2014 that had 95 percent of voters favoring to secede from Ukraine and to be annexed by Russia with an 80 percent voter turnout (Schofield).

As a result, on March 18, 2014, Russia officially signed a treaty with Crimea to have it be annexed as a part of Russian territory once again (Ellicott). Granlund’s political cartoon displays this annexation as the bear saving the fish from drowning in the water, parallel to Russia saving Crimea from Ukraine.  However, the bear’s sharp teeth symbolized the force that Russia pressed on Crimea before the annexation. Russia approved military intervention and seized several areas in Crimea by force to counteract Ukraine’s military stationed in Crimea (Jalabi).

The political cartoon Russia Moves On Crimea by Granlund parallels with John Knott’s political cartoon, On Fertile Soil, over the vulnerability of China to Russian influence in the country in 1931. Both cartoons depict the idea of Russian expansion, even though Granlund’s cartoon primarily focused on territorial issues rather than ideological ones like in Knott’s cartoon over communism. The Russian government in Granlund’s cartoon differs from the government in Knott’s cartoon as time progressed and Soviet Union had fallen on December 26, 1991 as a result of communist leaders being incompetent and several countries overthrowing the communist government in their territories (Stock). After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its “successor state” in 1991 and pushed towards “democratic and economic reforms” and became more of a democratic government in 2014 as Russian officials were eventually chosen by elections (Ellicott). Even though not a communist country anymore as it was in 1931, Russia in 2014 sought to expand its territories by claiming areas such as Crimea to further build the power of its nation.

Further similarities of Knott and Granlund’s cartoons include how both foreshadowed events that were controversial at the time their cartoons were published. Knott’s cartoon predicted that communism will take over China as a result of Russian influence and the country’s unrest which proved to be true as the People’s Republic of China established a communist government influenced by the Soviet Union in 1949 (Hyer). Furthermore, at the time of Granlund’s cartoon, the debate over the annexation of Crimea by Russia was already leaning towards annexation as a result of the unrest that occurred in Ukraine in 2013 that affect Crimea’s stance in the middle of the “tug-of-war” (Ellicott). Grandlund’s political cartoon that displayed hints of Crimea wanting to join Russia was created before Crimea’s referendum and Russia’s annexation, foreshadowing these events that happened only a few days after the publication of this cartoon.

Russia Moves On Crimea by Dave Granlund summarizes the Crimean annexation that resulted from Russia seeking expansion in territorial powers while On Fertile Soil by John Knott displayed expansion of communist ideology as Soviet influence was depicted in China. After discovering the communist system was a failure after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia adopted a more democratic government and went under many reforms for the economy, constitution, banking, labor, and private property (Ellicott). To further increase their growth as a nation, Russia decided to claim back the land that was once theirs; the Crimean Peninsula, which played a large role in providing Russia access to the Black Sea (Ellicott). After incorporating a more stable type of government, Russia now primarily focuses on developing as a more powerful federation through territorial expansion rather than revolving its nation around a single ideology and expanding it.

“China.” Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2013, edited by Karen Ellicott, vol. 1, Gale, 2012, pp. 489-521. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

“Emperors, 1800–1912.” Encyclopedia of Modern China, edited by David Pong, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009, pp. 505-509. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Granlund, Dave. “Russia Moves On Crimea.” Cartoon. DaveGrandlund.com. DaveGrandlund.com, 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 

Hyer, Eric. “China–Russia Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 15-21. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Jalabi, Raya. “Crimea’s Referendum to Leave Ukraine: How Did We Get Here?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 13 Mar. 2013. Web.

Khrustalyov, Rossomahin. “Russia Medvedev: Origins Imaging (XVI-XVIII Centuries).” Center for Ethnic and National Research ISU. Ivanovo State University, n.d. Web. 

“One Year After the Annexation, a Darkness Falls Over Crimea.” US Official News. Plus Media Solutions, 19 Mar. 2015. Web.

Schofield, Matthew. “Crimea Votes for Secession.” The Tampa Tribune. The Tribune Co., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 

Toyota Gets Rustled By Rick Perry’s Texas



David Horsey’s cartoon Toyota Gets Rustled by Rick Perry’s Texas provides a hyperbolic illustration of the relocation of industries from California to Texas. Through the depiction of former-governor Rick Perry and two other Texans dressed as stereotypical cowboys taking the Toyota headquarters from California, the Texans are likened to rustlers, stealing something that belongs to California (Horsey). Although Toyota decided to relocate to Texas because of Texas’ favorable business climate and to be closer to their Southern manufacturing hubs, the portrayal of the Texans in the cartoon casts an unfavorable light on Texas, further communicating California’s feelings that they had been stolen from (Hirsch). The accompanying editorial “Toyota exit from Torrance inflames Texas/California rivalry” goes on to provide more background behind the tension between the two states’ vastly different economic models. With two powerhouse economies, California and Texas can be “seen as the perfect contrast between a high-regulation blue state and a low-regulation red state” (Horsey). Since the Toyota industry was moving from California to Texas, it only added fuel to the fire for people arguing over which economic model was superior (Horsey). Overall, Horsey’s depiction of Toyota being stolen away to Texas provides insight to the relocation of industries in response to push and pull factors, as well as Californian sentiment about Toyota’s departure.

The car production company Toyota had been in California since 1957 (Ohnsman). Although it started as a Japanese company, Toyota eventually grew large enough to begin international sales, setting up a headquarters in California to be closer to the American market (Toyota History). However, over the 50 years that Toyota was stationed in California, California’s regulations grew stricter and taxes increased (California Code of Regulations). California’s businesses were “strangled by red tape that [made] starting and running a successful business difficult” (Fleeing California). All of these issues created a push factor, pushing businesses to look to other states for a more business-friendly climate. When compared to California, Texas had far less restrictive regulations. Since “[b]eing unfriendly to business isn’t good for the economy,” Texas’ regulatory simplicity, lower tax rates, and decreased red tape were all pull factors for industries in highly-regulated states, incentivizing them to relocate to Texas (DeVore).

In addition, the sentiment depicted in the cartoon is worth noting. Because the cartoon and editorial were published in the LA Times, they take on a very California-sympathetic tone. Instead of objectively showing Toyota making the choice that best benefited their business, the cartoon’s imagery makes the Texans out to be the bad guys. It is not coincidental that former-governor Rick Perry is portrayed as a rustler. The term rustler is used to describe cattle thieves, but it is commonly associated with the wild west cowboy era during the second half of the 1800s. Because California felt Texas had taken something from them, the Texans were likened to rustlers, stealing hard-working ranchers’ cows for profit in the time of the cowboy. By choosing to depict the Texans as rustlers, the cartoon is not only equating the Texans to thieves, but also presenting them as old-fashioned and stereotypical. The humor lies in understanding the common stereotype of Texans as antiquated cowboys, giving an additional layer of negative connotation to the representation of Texans as rustlers.

The factors surrounding the relocation of production from one state to another closely parallels the decentralization of industries towards the end of the Great Depression. In a similar fashion, John Knott’s cartoon Come to Texas! depicts industries coming to Texas to take advantage of Texas’ better business climate in the late 1930s (Knott). Just like how northern centralized industries decentralized to combat the problems of the Great Depression and the utilize the benefits of production in Texas, Toyota left California’s harsher business climate and regulation in favor of the advantages of being stationed in Texas. Even 70 years later, industries like Toyota still decentralize production to Texas because of its more business-friendly environment.

In conclusion, David Horsey’s political cartoon Toyota Gets Rustled by Rick Perry’s Texas provides commentary on the relocation of Toyota’s industry from California to Texas, including insight to the Californian viewpoint of the events. Despite some sour feelings in California, Toyota chose to come to Texas to escape high levels of regulation and take advantage of the business-friendly climate, similarly to the proceedings portrayed in Knott’s cartoon. Whether in the 1930s or the 2000s, Texas continues to draw in industries due to its lower regulations and environment that’s kinder to businesses.



Works Cited

“California Code of Regulations.” Westlaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/index?__lrTS=20161130033726038&transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29

DeVore, Chuck. “What Makes Texas The Most Small Business-Friendly State, And Rhode Island The Least.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckdevore/2015/08/18/less-regulation-taxes-unionization-make-texas-most-small-business-friendly-rhode-island-least/#71f9cff76d37

“Fleeing California.” The Washington Times. The Washington Times, 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/17/editorial-businesses-flee-californias-high-taxes-a/.

Hirsch, Jerry. “3,000 Toyota Jobs to Move to Texas from Torrence.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2016. http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-toyota-move-20140429-story.html

Horsey, David. “Toyota Exit from Torrance Inflames Texas/California Rivalry.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 1 May 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2016. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-toyota-exit-20140501-story.html

Knott, John. “Come to Texas!” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News. 27 March 1937. Sec 2: 2. Print.

Ohnsman, Alan. “Tesla Leads in California Auto Jobs as Toyota Plans Exit.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 16 May 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2016. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-05-16/tesla-edges-out-toyota-as-california-s-top-auto-employer

“Toyota History: Corporate and Automotive.” Toyoland. Toyoland, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.toyoland.com/history.html