Let me warm up before going into full rant:
Red and Rover is always enjoyable, a pleasant nostalgia piece about being a kid and having a dog, but the past week has been particularly sweet, as Brian Basset made it a daily reflection on why Red is thankful for his dog.
This bravura Sunday is above and beyond, and, yeah, you probably have to be a dog person, but there are a lot of dog people out there.
I have a very low tolerance for "sweet" and, as much as I have had, and loved, dogs since I was three years old, Facebook pics of cuddly puppies don't really do much for me.
But this silent story brought me back to being a kid and those lower-than-low moments when the emotional rollercoaster of childhood bottomed out, only to have my dog hit the reset button.
Rover's slow wheedling into Red's space is an eloquent depiction of my own childhood dog that, half a century and many great dogs later, brought back some authentic, rather than schmaltzy Hallmark, memories.
And speaking of Facebook
I have a lot of "friends" on Facebook that I put in quotation marks because I'm never sure how they ended up on the list except that they asked and I said okay, but they never post in a language I understand and their cartoons are too much into that international/metaphorical mode for me to truly get.
Just when I think of thinning things out, however, someone posts one like this:
The cartoonist is a Colombian, Raul Zuleta, and he's not the one who posted it, but now I've put a friend request in, because I'd like to see more from him.
I already found this one on his wall when I was looking around for information on him:
And now to our featured rant:
I actually just looked up Scott Stantis and Nelson Rockefeller to see how old the former was when the latter died, which turned out to be 20, which doesn't quite solidify things for me, since some 20 year olds have fairly solid political roots and others are still flailing.
However he got there, Stantis is a throwback to thoughtful conservativism, which keeps me persistently off-balance. That's a good thing, understand: If the point of a political cartoon is to make people think, rather than to comfort them in their assumptions, then "thoughtful" is better than "predictable."
This cartoon raises a question central to the moment, and is enigmatic without being pointless.
That is, he doesn't propose a specific solution, because the specific solutions won't work, but he doesn't retreat into pointlessness, as have several of his colleagues, the latest pointless approach being to comment on the Pope's message by depicting the pontiff in the Guy Fawkes mask of the Occupy movement.
Does that mean that the Pope is also rebelling against the immorality of corporate greed, or that he is a tool of the communists? I guess it depends on who drew the picture, which is why it's a pointless commentary.
So here we are, and my IRA is looking healthy once again, in large part because my neighbors' children don't have adequate winter clothing.
The resurgence of the Dow may cause Wall Street to cheer, but you can't claim an economic recovery while people are suffering from the impact of that "recovery's" main engine, which is maximizing profit by minimizing costs.
The shift in the past 30 years or so from an economy based on local/regional production to one based on national/international stock trading has left us with some issues so deeply intertwined and interdependent that you can't simply isolate the one thread you care about and expect to tug on it without the entire enterprise unravelling.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't see that thread and correct the flaws it represents. We absolutely should and we must.
And if the problem were that your corner drugstore was making massive profits while its employees suffered, it would be simple to demand that the store owner raise salaries and compensate by getting a smaller yacht, a less flashy pinkie ring and perhaps going two years between new Cadillacs.
But honestly? If the problem were this store owner and that store owner, then the simple-minded libertarian solution would work: Employees would quit working for the stingy guy and go work for the generous guy.
And that "just quit and get a better job" solution is as childish as the accompanying metaphor whereby we are supposed to set the national budget as if we were sitting around the kitchen table planning our own family spending.
However, just because the viewpoint of rightwing true believers is simpleminded, that does not mean that the viewpoint of leftwing true believers is therefore sensible.
If we could drop back to the way things were in 1960, then it would be simple enough to mandate a liveable wage, mostly because it wouldn't be necessary.
However, to simply drop that mandate on a massive economy based in large part on not paying workers or preserving infrastructure would be incredibly disruptive.
The question, then, being "Disruptive compared to what?"
And that, Dear Friends, is one helluva good question.
Let's look back 175 years or so, to a time when the Southern agrarian economy was based on slave labor, and simply freeing the slaves would have destroyed it.
The most vocal, visible abolitionists refused to acknowledge this, the most vocal, visible pro-slavery people refused to admit that the current system could not continue, and both ends of the spectrum refused to acknowledge that some transitional process might be possible.
So we let it fester like a gangrenous leg until the result was a Civil War that not only destroyed the aforementioned agrarian economy but also killed, by one estimate, a tenth of our military-aged male population.
Which brings us to the Fram oil filter solution: You can pay me now, or pay me later.
It can't be ignored.
It isn't going to be painless.