I swore I wasn't going to do another Occupy Wall Street cartoon since I've done so many of them lately, but I couldn't help myself. I find that there's much to say about the Occupy movement and surrounding issues, while I don't have many exciting insights yet about the Republican candidate-buffoons beyond pointing out that they are, in fact, buffoons. I'm sure they will inspire cartoons as the race heats up.
I feel this one violates my policy of trying to show rather than tell, but it makes a point about something that's been driving me nuts. (See related cartoon from 2007, "The Mental Welfare State," about people too lazy to pull their brains up by their bootstraps.)
As you've probably heard, Congress recently blocked new USDA rules intended to improve nutrition in school lunches. Among them was a requirement that pizza slices have more than a 1/4 cup of tomato paste in order to qualify as containing a vegetable. Big food heavies such as Coca-Cola, Del Monte, the American Frozen Food Institute, and the National Potato Council weighed in to preserve the school-lunch status quo.
What you may not have heard about is how large companies and industry groups have also managed to infiltrate conferences for nutrition professionals. The biggest one -- the American Dietetic Association conference -- is now sponsored by the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Mars. I highly recommend this entertaining and appalling report on Food Safety News, which comes complete with photos of a giant can of Goldfish crackers dangling from the trade show ceiling and a Coca-Cola booth bearing the slogan "Promoting the Registered Dietician." Panels included -- I kid you not -- one called "A Fresh Look at Processed Foods."
This cartoon, of course, references Grover Norquist's famous line about wanting to reduce government to the size where he could drown it in a tub, like some unfortunate critter. One concept anti-government types aren't too clear on is that waste is hardly unique to the public sector. I'm not saying government programs are necessarily more efficient than privately-run ones (although in the case of health care, public plans are massively more cost-effective). But money out of your pocket is money out of your pocket, whether it's going to the guv'mint or a corporation.
My cartoonist colleague Susie Cagle was arrested while reporting on #OccupyOakland last week. I can assure you, she's not the sort of person to give cops a hard time. She was standing in a doorway with a bunch of observers from the National Lawyers Guild, trying to avoid a skirmish, when the police came up and arrested all of them. So I got to thinking... if protesters aren't allowed to peacefully assemble on private property, and they risk arrest or physical injury from overzealous police on public property, where are they supposed to go, exactly? An entirely separate plane of existence is all they seem to be left with.
The 1% have lobbyists, superPACs, and Fox News, of course, so they don't have to bother with the messiness of occupying meatspace to make their case.
This one was at least partly influenced by the "We Are the 99 Percent" Tumblr (h/t to my colleague Matt Bors), where #Occupy movement supporters of all ages are posting photos of themselves holding hand-written notes explaining their circumstances, many of which are dire. Read enough of them, and twin themes emerge of crushing student loans amd medical bills. It's an almost embarrassing display of how miserably the richest country in the world deals with its citizens' education and health care. (And yes, I realize that Baby 7B is most likely being born in a so-called developing country, under different but no less-challenging circumstances, but I took some artistic license.)
One meme that really gets my goat these days is the idea that college kids shouldering massive student loans must have partied their way through school, or were too lazy to work to pay their tuition. Have these critics not noticed what a college degree costs now? Do they really think you can pay for higher education on a library book shelver's income? (That was my college job.) Sometimes I think these self-satisfied blowhards must have spent the last decade partying, or were simply too lazy to do the work of following basic economic trends.
Now that the exclusivity period has expired, I can share a biographical comic I drew earlier this year for Bitch Magazine about the great humor writer Cynthia Heimel. Heimel had quite the influence on me while I was in college, and it was a thrill to be able to interview her for the piece.