This is who I feel sorry for.
Joel Pett works in Kentucky and so has a front-row seat to the result of the betrayal of the coal miners.
In the margin of the Lexington Herald-Leader page where this cartoon appears is a headline for another story: “Paychecks bounce, leaving Kentucky coal miners at bankrupt Blackjewel in a bind”
In which we read
Melissa Cole, a Letcher County woman whose husband worked at a Blackjewel mine near Cumberland, in Harlan County, said she deposited about $1,800 where she banks in Hazard and paid some bills.
On Wednesday, she found the bank had subtracted the money, leaving her overdrawn by $1,088.
I feel sorry for them and I’m furious with them, but it’s like someone getting into an auto accident with fatalities, or coming out of a marriage they never should have gotten into.
It’s no time to ask they how they could have been so foolish in the first place.
Why were you driving so fast?
Why would you marry someone like that?
Why was it, when Hillary Clinton warned you that coal jobs were over and promised to set up training centers to help you find your next job, did you vote instead for that lying con man who promised to bring the jobs back?
Those questions won’t change what has happened.
And they are simply cruel.
Decent people don’t ask such rude questions.
Coal country, by the way, is one of the centers of the opiod epidemic, and between genuine pain from working the mines and overall despair over not working at all, it’s little surprise.
It’s okay to be angry over the situation, and Pett is pretty clear, with the MAGA hats and campaign posters and references to emphysema and the “sale” of workers, that he’s unhappy with what got us here.
And yet here we are.
We all cheered for Norma Rae back in 1979, and we had boycotted J.P. Stevens for at least a decade before that.
I knew a young woman who worked for a ribbon factory until they moved down to the owner-friendly Carolinas, and I used to go over to the projects so she could cut my hair in her kitchen while her toddler played on the floor.
She may have been poor, but she wasn’t dumb enough to move all the way to the Carolinas to be exploited even more than she had been in New York.
And the mills in the real Norma Rae’s hometown have all closed down, so that was futile.
We’re currently contemplating tariffs on the clothes that used to be made here in the USA, so now they’ll be as expensive as if they were union-made, only local consumers don’t have union paychecks.
Meanwhile, over on the funny pages
Signe Wilkinson resists the prevailing crepe-hanging festival by pointing out that we still have a lot of graphically-talented wiseasses amongst us.
I don’t normally like Boomer-bashing, but she’s right that all the weeping and wailing over the death of Mad magazine ignores the fact that it has had its influence and, while the original publication may be gone, it unleashed a flock of little Alfred and Alfreda Neumans upon the world.
It bothers me that the decision by the NYTimes to stop running cartoons in its international edition, and the decision by that chain in New Brunswick to switch cartoonists, has touched off so much “death of the editorial cartoon” thumbsucker bloviation.
The Gray Lady’s lack of interest in cartoons is legendary. Their decision was foolish and chickenshit, but it wasn’t surprising.
And, with all due respect to a cartoonist whose work I much admire, the idea that Michael de Adder was fired over that Trump cartoon simply doesn’t hold water.
Even as his replacement turned down the job, he noted that, as BNI had said, he was offered the job before that cartoon was drawn.
I lost one job because the publisher liked me but his wife did not, and another because my boss liked me but his boss did not, and it sucks and it’s hard and I hate when it comes down to something like that, but, well, shit happens.
It’s not always worth writing about, and it’s even less often a sign of any sort of apocalypse.
And here’s the thing: Everybody in newspapers walks on eggs these days, therefore never send to ask for whom the empty cardboard box was brought. It was brought for thee.
I’ve had friends lose their jobs in the newsroom, but I’ve also had friends lose their jobs in the backshop, and in the pressroom, and in the mailroom, and in circulation, and in advertising.
And my current job is in the budget for another year, but budgets get cut.
Let me be clear: I’m very sorry for my friends in editorial cartooning who get laid off.
But, first of all, it’s a big club and they’re not the only members, and, second, if commentators make a fetish of their plight, they simply spread the concept that cartoonists are the most disposable people on staff.
I don’t think that’s true, and I’m quite sure it doesn’t help.
Speaking of influencing
What gets said on social media — about cartoonist jobs or anything else — does, indeed, have influence, but today’s Lockhorns cracked me up because I read it scarce moments after reading this story about an ice cream vendor who is sick of self-proclaimed “social media influencers” hitting him up for free samples.
For those who don’t follow self-important twits, “influencers” go around to hotels, restaurants, cruise lines and all sorts of manufacturers offering to say nice things about them in exchange for freebies.
This is vomitous to anyone in the real media, where we are not supposed to take anything for free, and certainly not allowed to promise positive coverage, and where “breaking the rules” is letting someone at a meeting you’re covering buy you a beer, or attending the press screening of a film without paying the price of a ticket.
I prefer my reporters ethical and my whores honest.