Why Some Jobs Are Illegal

Cartoon by Barry


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Sex work is, for me, in the same category as smoking pot or (until recently) not legally recognizing same-sex marriages, a category I’d describe as “there’s just no logical reason this should be illegal.”

This cartoon focuses on how little sense the arguments against legalization make. But the most important line, for me, is in panel 2: “Wouldn’t that make things worse for maids?” It seems clear that 1) no law will ever succeed in wiping out sex work, and 2) laws making sex work illegal inevitably hurt the sex workers themselves.

When the government outlaws something, it’s going to lead to people being hurt.

And sometimes it’s worth it. Lowering the speed limit to 20mph in a residential zone will harm some people. Some people will be made late, some people will have to pay speeding tickets, etc. But in exchange for that, we get a big gain – pedestrians hit by cars will have a much higher chance of surviving. The gain, in this case, seems worth the loss.

But outlawing selling sex makes it much more likely that sex workers will be assaulted, hurt, even killed, and makes it much harder for them to go to police for help. And the more marginalized a sex worker is (for instance, because of race, or because of being trans) the more endangered they are. This doesn’t seem to be a case where the gains justify the losses.

Artwise, this strip looks good to me, although I wish I had inked with bigger, meatier lines – the lines in this one look a bit too thin and controlled to my eyes. But that’s the sort of thing I notice a lot more than readers do, I think.

There are a bunch of things I think came out well. The clothing is better than usual for me this strip. The hardest thing to draw here was the maid’s cart, but I think it came out well (by which I mean, I think readers will immediately recognize what it is without having to think about it). And I think some of the body language looks good (especially the woman in the plaid shirt in panels 3 and 4).


Transcript of cartoon

Panel 1
In the foreground, a young woman with her head shaved on the sides and sunglasses is walking three dogs. In the background, standing on a grassy hillside, two women, one in a polo shirt, the other in a plaid shirt, are talking.
POLO: No one could want to be a dog-walker. It shouldn’t be legal.
PLAID: Some people like it.

Panel 2
In a hotel hallway, in the foreground, a maid pushes a cleaning cart. In the background, the same two women are talking.
POLO: Many maids are exploited or even trafficked. We should outlaw being a maid!
PLAID: Wouldn’t that make things worse for maids?

Panel 3
A hilly park again. In the foreground, a man with a knit cap and one of those orange “I work for the city” vests is picking up trash off the ground with a trash-picking stick. In the background, the same two women talk; Polo looks disgusted, and Plaid is facepalming.
POLO: Picking up trash for a living is gross. It shouldn’t be allowed.
PLAID: You’re being ridiculous.

Panel 4
In the final panel, we see only Polo and Plaid, talking to each other. Polo has a forefinger pointing up, making a point, and Plaid responds fervantly, leaning forward and smacking her fist into the palm of her other hand.
POLO: And for the exact same reasons, we should outlaw prostitution!
PLAID: YES!

Posted in Barry's favorites, Labor rights & Unions |

Mens Rights Activists, Feminism, and Male Workplace Deaths

Cartoon by Barry


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Transcript of cartoon:

PANEL 1

It’s outdoors; we can see a row of houses in the background, and some green space with trees. A woman with glasses and a yellow zip-up blouse turns, as if surprised by the man talking to her. The man has blonde hair and is wearing a yellow and orange striped shirt.

MAN: Did you know that 93% of workplace deaths happen to men? But feminists do nothing!

PANEL 2

The woman puts a finger on her chin, in a “I’m thinking” gesture. The man looks uninterested.

WOMAN: Something should be DONE! How about stronger unions, so workers could DEMAND safer workplaces?
MAN: Meh.

PANEL 3

The woman continues talking. The man turns away, looking placidly bored, his hands in his pant pockets.

WOMAN: How about strengthening OSHA, so works safety laws are actually enforced?
MAN: Whatever.

PANEL 4

The man suddenly is yelling in the woman’s face, arms wide, fists clenched, totally engaged. The woman flinches back in surprise.

WOMAN: So how do you think we should–
MAN: WRITE TEN THOUSAND TWEETS SAYING FEMINISTS SUCK!

Posted in Feminist cartoons, Labor rights & Unions |

Treadmill

Cartoon by Barry

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

Panel 1
A toddler runs on a full-sized treadmill, carrying a teddy bear in one hand. A woman in a tight black dress squats, smiling, to address the toddler.
WOMAN: A teddy bear? You need better toys! Or else the other kids won’t like you!

Panel 2
The same scene, but the toddler is now a child, and no longer holding a teddy bear. The woman, who is now standing and facing away from the child with a dismissive air, has not aged.
WOMAN: If you don’t have cool clothes and a cool phone, then you’re a loser!

Panel 3
Same scene. The runner is now a young woman. The other woman exhorts the runner on.
WOMAN: You’ve got a mountain of college debt! Run! RUN!

Panel 4
The runner is now a bit older – 40s? – and a desk has been set up on the treadmill, with a laptop. The woman types on the laptop with one hand; her other arm is holding an infant. The woman has gotten more intense, waving her arms and yelling.
WOMAN: Your kid is DOOMED if you don’t get a big house near a good school!

Panel 5
The runner is now considerably older, her hair turning white. She’s running hard, sweating, both hands typing on the laptop.
WOMAN: Now pay for a decent college, or your kid will be POOR her whole life!

Panel 6
The runner, now older still, has collapsed and lies dead on the treadmill. The woman in the black dress leans over the treadmill, cheerily addressing the corpse.
WOMAN: You should invest in the deluxe casket.

Posted in Economic cartoons, Labor rights & Unions |

Unions Are Imperfect

Cartoon by Barry

unions-are-imperfect

Transcript of cartoon:

Panel 1
Two angry-looking men are talking to each other in a house. A window in the background lets us see that it’s snowing outside. One of the men is wearing glasses, suspenders and a striped necktie; the other man is wearing a bowtie and smacks his fist into his palm.

GLASSES: I just realized: Unions are imperfect!
BOWTIE: Then let’s get rid of unions!

Panel 2
Same scene. Glasses is looking down at his clothing with an expression of distress; Bowtie is yellling.

GLASSES: These clothes aren’t perfect either!
BOWTIE: We’ll get rid of them too!

Panel 3
Same scene, but now the guys are naked (“censor bars” have appeared in front of their naughty bits). Glasses is looking around at the room, and Bowtie is holding a can of gasoline.

GLASSES: Hey, our house isn’t perfect!
BOWTIE: Burn it down!

Panel 4

Still naked, Glasses and Bowtie are now standing out in the show, shivering and looking sad. In the background, we can see their house burning down.

GLASSES: I just r-realized: Something imperfect can st-still be c-c-crucial.
BOWTIE: Y-y-ya think?

Posted in Labor rights & Unions |

What Have Unions Ever Done?

Cartoon by Barry

unions-ever-done-1200

The beautiful backgrounds for this comic were drawn by the amazing Adrian Wallace! Thanks, Adrian!

Transcript of cartoon:

PANEL 1
An elderly woman in a striped skirt, walking a dog, is being spoken to by a friendly young man, who is holding out a petition on a clipboard and wearing an anti-union t-shirt. The dog sniffs at the young man’s leg in a friendly way.

MAN: Ma’am, you should sing our right-to-work petition… What have unions ever done for you?

PANEL 2
CAPTION: Outlawing child labor.
The panel shows a young girl in a striped shirt playing on a old-fashioned scooter.

PANEL 3
CAPTION: The 8 hour workday.
The panel shows a young woman at work, delivering packages, and whistling. She’s wearing a striped shirt.

PANEL 4
CAPTION: Health plans and sick leave.
The panel shows the same young woman, now with a broken arm in a cast. A friend is signing the cast.

PANEL 5
CAPTION: Maternity Leave.
The same woman in the striped shirt, now a little older, pushing a baby in a stroller.

PANEL 6
CAPTION: Weekends
The same woman in the striped shirt, now older still, at a carnival, being pulled along by her happy daughter, who now looks about 10.

PANEL 7
CAPTION: Vacation time.
The same woman and daughter at the beach, the woman now wearing a striped swimsuit, and looking older still, as she walks along the beach with a metal detector. In the background, her daughter, now a teen or young woman, is talking on a cell phone.

PANEL 8
CAPTION: Social Security and Medicare
The same woman, now elderly and dressed as she was in the first panel. She has the dog with her, and is pulling envelopes out of her mailbox.

PANEL 9
This panel shows the woman and the young man with the anti-union petition again. The woman has walked past the young man, her nose in the air in a “I refuse to even dignify that with an answer” attitude. The dog has the same attitude. The young man watches them leave, not understanding.

MAN: Ma’am?

Posted in Labor rights & Unions |

Unions, Bosses, And The Balance of Power

Cartoon by Barry

This is an illustration drawn for a union newsletter.

union-see-saw

Transcript:

PANEL ONE
The first panel shows two people on a see-saw, both glum-looking; a man in a suit and a woman wearing a work uniform t-shirt and jeans. Although they’re not very different in physical size, the man is much heavier than the woman, and the see-saw is pressed against the ground on his side.

CAPTION: The relationship between you and your employer is not one of equals…

PANEL TWO
Now the woman has been joined on her side of the see-saw by five other worker. The workers look happier now. The employer in the suit looks a bit surprised. The see saw is now perfectly balanced.

CAPTION: Being in a union fixes the imbalance!

Posted in Labor rights & Unions |

It’s Great To See Such Diverse Job Applicants

Cartoon by Barry

job-applicants-800

Transcript of cartoon:

Panel 1 shows four executives sitting at a desk. We can only see the backs of their heads; they all have the same height and haircut. The four executives are facing a large group of people dressed up for a job application. There are a similar number of women and men, who appear to be of a range of ages, races, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds. One applicant is using crutches to stand.
EXEC 2: It’s great to see such diverse job applicants! Rest assured, our firm does not discriminate against women or minorities.

Panel 2. We are now looking at the four executives from the front. They are all identical white men in business suits.
EXEC 1: But we can’t hire everybody, so… Anyone who didn’t graduate from the “right” kind of college, please leave.

Panel 3
EXEC 2: Anyone with family responsibilities that could interfere with work, please leave.

Panel 4
EXEC 3: Anyone without a recommendation from someone already in the field, please leave.

Panel 5
EXEC 4: Anyone whose accent or look or gender presentation wouldn’t be a “fit” for our firm’s existing culture, please leave.

Panel 6 shows the applicants again; only one is left. Other than being younger, he looks precisely like the four executives.
EXEC 4: Gentleman, we’ve found our new hire!

Posted in Anti-racist cartoons, Economic cartoons, Feminist cartoons, Labor rights & Unions |

Maternity Leave vs Profit

Cartoon by Barry

maternity_leave_2

This cartoon was done in collaboration with my friend Becky Hawkins. I did the writing and lettering with Becky’s help, Becky did the drawing with me helping on layouts, and I did the gray tones.

Transcript:

Panel 1
A woman in a collared shirt and black pants is talking to a businessman in a fancy suit.
WOMAN: Businesses oppose paid maternity leave because you put money above women’s health!
BUSINESSMAN: We care deeply about women! We’re against paid leave because it’s bad for women!

Panel 2
The businessman has pulled a mother, holding a crying newborn, into the panel.
WOMAN: Women need time off to recover after giving birth.
BUSINESSMAN: Nonsense! Just look at Tiana here… She can’t wait to get back to work. It’s patronizing of you to say otherwise!
TIANA: So tired….

Panel 3
BUSINESSMAN: Paid maternity leave makes hiring women more expensive – and that means companies will discriminate against hiring them! Have a heart!

Panel 4
The businessman violently shoves Tiana off-panel.
WOMAN: So we’ll give paid leave to new mothers AND new fathers!
BUSINESSMAN: But that would cost MONEY!

Posted in Becky Hawkins collaborations, Economic cartoons, Feminist cartoons, Health care, Labor rights & Unions |

The Right To Work

Cartoon by Barry

right-to-work-2

Transcript of cartoon.

Panel 1: A Young Guy in a sweatshirt is talking to a well-off looking older man, who is wearing a double-breasted jacket and a tie.

SWEATS: Your “right to work” law sounds excellent! I’d love to have a right to have a job!
TIE: Sounds that way, doesn’t it? But actually, “right to work” laws aren’t a right to a job!

Panel 2
SWEATS: So what do they do?
TIE: “Right to work” laws give workers the right to take all the benefits of their union’s work without ever joining the union!

Panel 3
SWEATS: So “right to work” laws are actually about the right to freeload?
TIE: Exactly! And the more people freeload, the weaker unions become. That way, your boss gets all the power!

Panel 4
SWEATS: This doesn’t sound so excellent anymore.
TIE: Give it a chance! You haven’t even heard about the lower wages yet!

Posted in Economic cartoons, Labor rights & Unions |

Our Exports Include Tragedy And Death

Cartoon by Barry

factory-deaths-color

(This cartoon, like all my color cartoons, is also available in black and white.)

Script of cartoon:

Panel 1: An Uncle Sam sort of figure, wearing a top hat with stars and stripes and a floral Hawaiian shirt, is talking to a cigar-chomping businessman.

Uncle Sam has his hand on a sign sticking out of the dirt. The sign says “NEVER AGAIN!”

UNCLE SAM: 146 workers died in the Triangle Factory fire! We can NEVER let that happen again!
BUSINESSMAN: If you institute safety regulations for my factories, I’ll be forced to raise prices! You play a few cents extra per shirt!

Panel 2
Close-up of Uncle Sam, who is looking very anxious about this dilemma.
UNCLE SAM: A few cents? That’s HORRIBLE! But hundreds of factory workers dying is ALSO horrible! What a DILEMMA!

Panel 3
BUSINESSMAN: I know! I’ll build totally unregulated factories in other countries! So shirts will stay cheap, but we won’t have any more big factory tragedies in the USA!

Panel 4
UNCLE SAM: Hooray! EVERYBODY wins!
BUSINESSMAN: That’s capitalism for ya.

We can see that the “NEVER AGAIN!” sign now has a piece of paper taped under it; the paper says “Where we have to see it.”

Posted in Economic cartoons, Labor rights & Unions |