A pair of cartoonists at Cartoon Movement are out in front of the pack on the topic of the Pandora Papers, a colossal load of data obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that reveals tax havens of the rich and famous.
Zach, from the Philippines, points out the massive task of sorting through the information, and I like his use of the desert island rather than the iceberg, because, while the bulk of the data has been hidden, the cover story was been not of a smaller version of what lies beneath but of a completely different, terribly modest version.
Le Lievre, cartooning from Australia, cuts to the chase, showing a horde of Uncle Pennybags clones fleeing in the wake of having looted the world.
It may be that Zach and Le Lievre are first off the mark because of where they live, given that the first reports on the papers were released around noon on Sunday here, a day when only a handful of American cartoonists are working.
But it may also be that the Philippines are way over-represented in the list of oligarchs, relative to the size of their country, and that Aussies are easily aroused by plutocratic excess, being something of a working-class culture.
However, there are other elements to this that I hope to be wrong about.
It’s complex, which is why a number of news outlets are combining to sift through the dump, and this Google News link shows not just the variety of media involved but the initial scope of dumbfounded awe as they consider the sprawling expanse of information.
And it’s not that they won’t eventually sort it out, but, in a media world dependent less on editorial judgment than on audience clicks, what rises to the surface will be the sexy bits, like the money Putin spends to keep a mistress — and possibly their child — ensconced in comfort.
But even that will fall off social media if another cute blonde goes missing, while, for instance, the jaw-dropping excesses of King Abdullah will likely be of interest only in the Middle East in the first place.
There is also the current fashion for being world-weary.
Back in the 70s, when we learned of COINTELPRO and other intrusions of the intelligence community on political activists, it was no surprise to the Civil Rights and antiwar people, though a few politicians were surprised to find they had been spied on and messed with.
But it was a shock to people who trusted the government and their outrage led to reforms.
I don’t know how many people will be shocked to learn that the ultrawealthy are tax cheats, at least not here, where we give them tax cuts expecting them to shower it upon their workers.
Mostly, the problem is that math is hard and some of the numbers are ungraspably large and what’s Kim Kardashian up to now?
I guess I’m pretty world-weary myself.
Another, perhaps more central, issue is that I’m not sure how much such high-level financial shenanigans will shock a nation that doesn’t — for instance — grasp the actual definition of “communism,” a term thrown around here as a scare-word since Bolshevik days, and which most people seem to think is a synonym for “socialism.”
Which they know, by Jesus, is evil!
Danziger can point out the obsolescence of pure communism, and Robert Reich can lecture on the growing gap between the wealth of owners and the income of workers, but we have been well indoctrinated to believe that trickle down works and that people who want more are just greedy bums.
And that when I get fabulously wealthy (as I surely will, one day), they’ll want my stuff, too!
I was, BTW, amused to read that South Dakota has been revealed to be a major junction for off-shore and hidden accounts. I remember back in the 80s when all the credit card companies seemed to be headquartered there, and I guess they’ve stepped up their game.
If I were a taxpayer there, I’d be asking “If you’re so dumb and blind, why ain’t we rich?”
Meanwhile, it’s not just cute missing blondes that will drive the Pandora Papers off the aggregation sites and off the ratings-obsessed broadcast news.
“Pigs in Space” is a more fun news story than some dreary accountant’s tale of how they can afford such wretched excess while their workers need government relief to make ends meet.
Juxtaposition of the Day #3
It’s nice to see that xenophobia is paying off equally on both sides of the Atlantic, noting that Sheneman singles out the Republicans for this accusation, while Dublin-based Cooney puts a Union Jack in the hands of his whiner.
The British can, and probably should, blame Brexit for their woes, which include both labor shortages and supply chain issues, but, then again, if they didn’t believe that “the wogs begin at Calais,” they wouldn’t have voted to bail out of the EU in the first place.
Meanwhile, labor issues aside, we’ve also got people who believe the resurgence of Covid is not because they won’t cover their idiot faces in public or get the vaccinations every sensible person takes in stride, but because immigrants are bringing the virus here.
Everything is the fault of Those Other People.
Juxtaposition of the Day #4
Luckovich points out the foolishness of refusal, not only because of common sense and civil decency but via polls showing that most Americans favor vaccine mandates.
Nevertheless, in a journalistic world of “on the one hand but on the other” coverage, those who refuse to accept science get equal coverage, and sometimes more. Summers portrays those fired for refusing to comply as hordes of victims.
He’s not alone: Is this headline partisanship or simply amoral clickbait?
Because even in their own story, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find:
But nobody would bother clicking on
They’d probably just read it, along with similar headlines from other responsible journalists, and then go get their own vaccinations to avoid missing the trend.
In a world, that is, where stories about numbers were newsworthy.
And where accordions sound like pianos.