Jasper and the Economy

Originally published as a September 25, 2009 webcomic for Everyday Citizen

All of us know friends and family members who’ve really struggled during this current recession. I know several friends who’ve been looking for jobs for many months, and they worry about whether they can pay their mortgage and their bills. It’s scary out there for many of them, and I’ve read many stories of people struggling to put food in the table for their children. At St. Thomas, the church I attend, they have a program called Our Daily Bread which serves lunch to the homeless and the elderly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve talked to a few people who regularly volunteer and they say that there are far more people who go to these lunches now than there were a year ago. Many churches offer food and other services for people who are financially struggling. You can look at the websites of your local churches to see what services they offer.

If you’re looking for a job, one of the resources that you might try looking is at the library. You can check out books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Books-on-CDs and other media. Many libraries also have free internet services that patrons can use. The library where I work has a pamphlet available that lists the job websites for people in the California area. Here are some of the websites for your prerusal.

  • RetirementJobs.com helps to identify companies more suited to older workers and match them with active, productive, conscientious, mature adults seeking a job or project that matches their lifestyle.
  • Indeed.com is a search engine for jobs, allowing job seekers to find jobs posted on thousands of company career sites and job boards.
  • Jobstar.org is a site that focuses on finding a job in California.
  • CareerOneStop is a partnership betwen the U.S. Department of Labor and the state-operated public employment service.
  • Careerbuilder provides access to the classified sections of nearly 140 newspapers, and career sites for more than 9,000 web sites.
  • Net-Temps is for those seeking contract positions.
  • Flip Dog is a job site powered by Monster.com
  • Senior Job Bank is a site for those over 50 years old.
  • USA JOBS is the official job site of the United States Federal Government.

One of the things that has most bothered me over the past few months are the people who still argue in favor of unregulated free markets. In light of the near financial collapse of the past year of our economic system, and the suffering that this collapse has caused to millions of people, I think a stronger argument can be made of more government intervention and regulations to our economy rather than less.

The recession that we are having right now is not an anomaly in the history of our free market system. In the course of this country’s history, the United States has had periods of serious economic crisis in 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1919, 1929 and now today. During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s administration created a set of government departments and regulations to protect the economy from the practices that led to the financial breakdown that was the Depression. It was the slow unraveling of these regulations in the last 30 years that left our economy vulnerable to the economic crisis of the past year.

Collapse of Liberalism: Why America Needs A New Left, by Charles Noble is a book written in 2004 and there’s a chapter called Why Capitalism Needs the Left that neatly describes the strengths and flaws of the capitalist system. He wrote:

“In combination, free markets and capitalism have also helped usher in and sustain fundamental political changes, widening the scope both of personal freedom and political democracy. Because of this system, more people get to choose where to work, what to consume, and what to make than ever before, while traditional inequalities of rank and status are overturned.

The spread of market capitalism has also laid the foundation for the expansion of democratic decision making. With the establishment of private property and free exchange, political movements demanding other freedoms, including wider access to government, have proliferated. To be sure, capitalism cannot guarantee personal liberty or political democracy – it has coexisted comfortably with dictatorships too, from Nazi Germany to China’s current amalgam of free enterprise and authoritarian rule – but to date, no society has been able to create and maintain political democracy without first establishing and securing a market capitalism system. …

But market capitalism is not a machine that can run on its own. It needs rules, limits, and above all, stewardship. Partly because it is a machine and therefore indifferent to human values, and partly because there is no central planner to assure that everything works out in the end, there must be some conscious effort to bring order to this chaos. Left to it’s own devices, unfettered capitalism produces great inequities, great suffering , and great instability. In fact, these in-built tendencies are enough to destroy the system itself. …

To the extent that capitalism has served the interests of the vast majority of Americans, and not just a few rich investors and corporate executives, the left deserves the credit. … In the twentieth century, it was the left that fought for racial justice, worker rights, equal opportunity, women’s liberation, environmental justice, consumer protection, civil liberties, and antidiscrimination laws – the whole panoply of social and political changes that made America a better society.”

Though I was dismayed by some of the things said by opponents of the current health care reform, I have to respect the conservatives willingness to fight for their views and work to influence public opinion. I’m ashamed to admit my own passiveness in standing up for health care reform during the month of August when I’ve heard people argue against health care reform in parties and gatherings. Matt Tiabbi wrote a scathing article in the September 3, 2009 edition of Rolling Stone magazine, and he made a good point in the last paragraph of his article. Tiabbi wrote:

“Then again, some of the blame has to go to all of us. It’s more than a little conspicuous that the same electorate that poured its heart out last year for the Hallmark-card story line of the Obama campaign has not been seen much in this health care debate. The handful of legislators – the Weiners, Kuciniches, Wydens, and Sanderses – who are fighting for something real should be doing so with armies at their back. Instead, all the noise is being made on the other side. Not so stupid after all – they, at least, understand that politics is a fight that does not end with the wearing of a T-shirt in November.”

In the March 2009 issue of the Progressive, Howard Zinn wrote an article in which he stated:

“Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed it responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war.

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which require direct action by concerned citizens.”

If you enjoy this cartoon, take a look at these links for more of my political cartoons at Everyday Citizen:

Jasper’s Day
Jasper Tackles Health Care
Jasper Protests the War
Jasper Sings a Protest Song
Jasper Meets a Poet
Jasper At A Detention Center
A Cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A Cartoon about My Experience in an Evangelical Church
A Cartoon about Political Debate
A Cartoon On Gay Marriage

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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Since my time in college, my goal has been to be a successful children’s book illustrator. I’ve illustrated 3 books: Two Moms the Zark and Me by Johnny Valentine in 1993; Night Travelers by Sue Hill in 1994; and Cherubic Children’s New Classic Story Book Volume 2 for Cherubic Press in 1998. I’ve painted murals for Lester Shields Elementary School in San Jose, the Berryessa branch of the San Jose Public Library, and Grace Community Church in Los Altos. I’ve had a few illustrations published in South Bay Accent Magazine and I will have an illustration published in the January/February issue of Tikkun magazine.
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