Tag Archives: democratic socialism

Alice in Blunderland

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“But I don’t want to go among selfish, greedy people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all selfish and greedy here. I’m selfish and greedy. You’re selfish and greedy.”

Today, in a thread about ACA and profit in healthcare I questioned the foundational American belief in the nature of capitalism and decided not to respond to a comment about the futility of trying to “escape the trap of money” in a “ridiculously hedonistic, unhealthy narcissistic society” written by a woman who listed her current occupation as “artist” (she apparently worked in gems and precious metals) and her previous occupations as a manager of a Lexus dealership and “private jet broker.”

Private. Jet. Broker.

This is why some people don’t think there’s any room at the table. Because someone took up all the space with a private jet.

The woman in question seemed to consider herself fairly liberal, politically speaking. I didn’t know her, except I felt like I did, because I grew up in  place where money–not just enough money, or a comfortable amount of money, but ALL the money, as much money as a person could get, and then more money on top of that–was considered paramount. Not that they were bad people. The rich people I grew up around gave lavishly to charity and voted in favor of social services. But they lived in another world, and their children didn’t understand how ridiculously much more they had than everyone else. They knew they were rich. They just didn’t understand how poor so many people were.

This weekend I had a couple comic ideas around the theme of people debating whether or not the president-elect is fascist, whether the people who support him are nazis, and my thought that this kind of labeling/identity politics/name-calling is pointless. I don’t care whether or not a regime’s qualities align 100% with those of the 3rd Reich. I do care whether or not their actions result in .01% of the atrocities of World War II. So I’m trying to stay focused on a discussion of what people do, whether it is kind and helpful or selfish and greedy.

I maintain that 1) money is only one possible way of dividing resources, not a necessary evil, but a cultural system that exists because enough people want it to exist, and 2) that there are sufficient resources on planet Earth that everyone could have everything they needed if we all chose a more equitable way of distributing good and services while communicating the value of community and meaningfully contributing to society, but that 3) the reason we don’t usher in a true utopian era is because most people are greedy and selfish.

We’re almost all at least a little greedy and selfish. Even if we love our fellow human and wouldn’t personally wrong them, we accept a system in which some people can be a lot greedy and a lot selfish and love their fellow human not at all, and have no compunction about personally wronging them if it could be done for profit and power. We say it’s OK for one person to earn a private jet while many more people cannot earn homes for their family and food for their children even though they work 40, 60, 80 hours a week. We don’t have to accept this system as the only possibility, but the vast majority of us do. We could change that. For sure we could work out a system where everyone receives healthcare.

I’m afraid my Alice looks too much like Janet Jackson. I was going for Latinx. But you know I made the Hatter’s hands small on purpose. That’s not like calling someone a fascist. That’s comedy. The Putin-Hare kind of creeps me out. Also, I did this Tenniel drawing before, in a Dragon Comic. I already had the “Alice in Wonderland” tag.

 

2 Ways of Looking at Socialism

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Little known fact: Uncle Sam is a champion fencer, and can take down an unarmed banker with an epee blade in under 2 minutes. Well known fact: babies contribute nothing

I almost didn’t draw this comic today. I almost didn’t draw any comic today. For one thing, this is an illustration where my lack of advanced cartooning skills kills me, because this would be 10 times as powerful with better drawings. For another, it has been made clear to me that my views on democratic socialism, while widely shared among those with whom I went to school and my current friends, are pretty far from the mainstream, and downright offensive to some.

It’s confusing to me how people can own 3 mansions and 12 cars and not think about the less fortunate at any point in their lives. I personally earned about $300 last year, and I gave pretty much all of it to charity (I am a special case, obviously, living on The Man’s largesse, some of which I also gave to charity) in addition to having a regular volunteer job, which I’ve been doing for over 11 years. But apparently, there are some people who think it’s totally fine to stockpile vast resources they could never hope to use in 50 lifetimes and give nothing to the community while there are homeless, hungry kids on the other side of the tracks whose lives would be immeasurably improved with 1% of what the rich people don’t use.

If the American presidential election were held today from among the current candidates, but only the people I know on Facebook were voting, the tally would stand at something like 80% Sanders, 15% Clinton, 1% Trump, and 4% whoever else remained in the Republican clown car. But America is diverse, and apparently some people somewhere do not think Donald Trump is the most selfish, least responsible, sorriest excuse for a leader ever to take to the campaign trail. We’re talking about a guy who hates women, hates minorities, hates the poor (so already, this guy hates probably 85% of America), has bankrupted 4 of his own companies, spit on the media, and clearly has no understanding of what a person might be expected to do should that person be elected president. (Hint: the president has to answer questions about what he’s going to do with meaningful and honest statements; the president doesn’t get to skip important meetings because he doesn’t like the person moderating them.) We’re talking about a guy who claims he built an empire from nothing, a guy who considers a million dollar loan from his dad “nothing.” (I also read that, if he had just put that million in some kind of standard money market account, he would be 10 times as rich as he is now. This really isn’t a person you want making budget decisions. This isn’t a leader. It’s a taker.)

So, that’s my story. I just drew something that’s going to make me unpopular, but I’m standing behind it. Sharing is caring. Unchecked selfishness is sick. Regardless of who is elected president of America, I still believe in socialized medicine, fully funded public schools, the post office, the highway system, and having firefighters available to people of every income level, including no income at all. Anyway, as an artist, I’m compelled to tell the truth. Anyway, this is my blog, and if you don’t like it, you can go start your own blog and post original art and writing 5 days a week and send it out into the world for strangers to judge and see how that feels. (Hint: something like this.)

In panel 1, I made the worthless lowlife receiving the handout an artist, obviously. The arts are always the first thing to go. But when I was telling the Girl about FDR and the WPA the other day, the first thing that came to my mind was that there was funding for artists in the WPA. There are still great works of art, which you can see today, that were commissioned by the government. There was a time when the government paid lots of artists to create art, and that art elevated the country. That art inspired people who were beaten down and wanted to give up. And that was democratic socialism. If you visit national parks, many of the roads and improvements you use will have been forged by young workers hired by the WPA. You might think we don’t need art and parks, but I promise you, we do. Without art and parks, there isn’t much point to anything else.

In panel 2, I chose the communal table because this type of dining is very powerful. My mother was a big believer in large dinner parties, and I take it ever further. If you know how to cook, you can make a lot of food for a lot of people without having a lot of money. If there are people, I cook. It is always joyful to share food, no matter how little I have. This guy I know from Benin, who owns a local restaurant, once told me, “In my country, we say that if you share with your friends, you always have more food.” Maybe that sounds paradoxical, but in my experience, it’s 100% true. I feed people, and it inspires them to feed people, and everyone gets to eat. We don’t begrudge those who can’t contribute today. We know that if we give them something now, it will boost them up enough that they’ll contribute tomorrow.

And if they don’t, you know what? It’s still the right thing to do.

Fruit Salad Mandala

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Grapefruits and cherries. They’re grapefruit and cherries. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I have this dilemma regarding how political I want to go; in the last week, I’ve been involved in a few really interesting conversations about democratic socialism starting with randomly telling the Girl about FDR and the WPA. Then I made a throwaway comment–a joke, really–on someone’s Facebook page, and a mutual friend who I think is actually a poly sci prof or something like that challenged me to define socialism.

Man, I was actually afraid. Who wants to get spanked online by a guy who’s probably 10 years their junior but way further ahead in his career? I almost just copied the entry from the giant OED in my desk. (Aw, hell, who I am kidding? I just love pulling that thing out of my desk. It weighs about 50 pounds and comes with this crazy hemisphere magnifying glass.) But then I thought about what the word meant to me and wrote something kind of thoughtful and intelligent that wasn’t exactly about what “socialism” means, but about what it means to individuals, what it could mean under certain circumstances. And more-successful-than me professor guy gave it a like.

Anyway, it could also be a comic. It would have been super cool to have it ready now, just in time to kick off caucus season (ug) but those serious comics take the most time to lay out and I was getting punched in the guy by my monthly dudebro and also The Man had to play a klezmer concert for a mock Jewish wedding at a Hebrew school north of here, and that sounded more interesting than not attending a klezmer concert for a mock Jewish wedding. Maybe I can do it tomorrow. Although I might have a tattoo consultation tomorrow.

So many comics to read and write!

Amusing anecdote about people who don’t understand socialism:

In 2002 or 2003 I was standing in this interminable line at the Walgreen’s pharmacy counter. I don’t even think I was getting my own medication; it seems to me that I was picking something up for a friend, and this line was WAY past the toothpaste and didn’t seem to be moving at all. And there was a guy in front of–old white guy wispy white hair and a fierce voice–and he had opinions. Lots and lots of opinions.

Well, complaints, really. His medications were so expensive. His doctors were so expensive. He was getting ripped off on all his pills. Everyone was profiting off his misery. It was just terrible, terrible, everything cost so much, medical care cost so much money. This dude was telling me (well, everyone in the vicinity, but I was the person behind him so I was the most trapped) about how much his healthcare cost for like 10 minutes.

Finally he took a breath for air and looked at me expectantly.

“That’s why we need socialized medicine,” I said.

“Well, YOU’RE a COMMUNIST,” he replied, disgusted, and mercifully turned his back on me and shut up.

People are unclear on the concept.