SYNDICATED COLUMN: I Am So Damn Anxious I Feel Like I Am Going To Have a Heart Attack

index I never thought I’d live to be this old (52). I never thought that, if I lived to be this old, I’d still be so scared.

I’m white, male, able-bodied, educated, tall. Got a solid resume. I’m relatively adaptable. I started out as one of hundreds of professional political cartoonists. Now there are fewer than 20. Yet I’m freaked out.

I’ve survived poverty, getting mugged and being shot at and managed to remain pretty calm. But I’m more worried now.

Given how relatively good I have it, I can’t imagine how freaked out everyone else must be. Like, for example, black people when they get stopped by cops. Or Tamir Rice’s parents.

There are countless anxiety-inducing news stories tailor-made for this news junkie with a special interest in economics and the Middle East. This week alone, the Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Yemen widened into a full-fledged Sunni-Shia diplomatic rift over the execution of a Shia cleric. Scary. Then there’s the falling stock market, which controls me, over which I have no influence, and against whose effects I am unequipped to protect myself. The boom-bust cycle of capitalism is giving us bigger, more frequent troughs punctuated by shorter boomlets whose benefits all go to the top 1%.

I can’t believe anyone likes capitalism. Most people are a paycheck away from homelessness. Jobs are scarce. Jobs keep paying less. Bosses keep getting meaner. Everything gets more expensive.

Capitalism is so depressing it makes one nostalgic for Soviet-era queues for toilet paper.

In what is in danger of becoming a pattern for me, I have to apologize to the Baby Boom generation, specifically for rolling my eyes when Boomers whined about turning 50. That’s when you lose your job, can’t find a new one, struggle to care for aging parents while feeling your own body start to fall apart. They were right. The fifties are a bitch. (Though fiftysomething Gen Xers have less cash than they did.)

To mangle Hunter S. Thompson, last year got weird. I’m trying to go pro, but I’m not sure what that means.

2015 was the year when what used to be my boring safe job, drawing political cartoons, became more dangerous than my other job, part-time war correspondent.

Psycho gunmen slaughtered my colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, making France the nation where a journalist was most likely to get murdered in 2015. More psycho gunmen tried to shoot up a right-wing anti-Muslim cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, only to get themselves killed by the local SWAT team. There were always death threats; now they’re scarier and more specific.

After Charlie and Garland, you’d think newspapers and magazines would have rallied around what’s left of American editorial cartooning. There is zero, zip, nada support for American cartoonists by editors or publishers. Post-Charlie, they all wrote passionate editorials defending free speech. They said nice things about cartooning. While they fired more cartoonists. Refused to hire any. Stopped printing them.

The cowards didn’t even reprint the Charlie cartoons so their readers could see what the fuss was about.

The annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Columbus inaugurated the new normal: police police police, police dogs, police snipers on the roof. When I went on tour to publicize my book Snowden, security became a routine part of the equation — for the first time in nearly 20 books.

No wonder no one under 30 wants to become a political cartoonist. Not only is there no work and no respect, your impoverished ass might get shot with an AR-15.

So then a few weeks ago I looked at my chest. I probably do this more than you do, because a wart on my chest once nearly killed me. I noticed a new bump. A growing new bump. I found myself in the somewhat ridiculous role of the first male in three weeks to pass through the automatic doors of the rhodamine-pink special Breast building at my hospital. I’m anti-sexist. Still, it does something to a man to be quizzed about his menstrual and lactation histories. Not to mention worrying about the possibility of becoming one of the couple of thousand American men who get breast cancer each year — you just know the system isn’t set up for that.

Fortunately, I dodged that bullet. Just a lipoma.

A bullet that hit me square in the chest last year, albeit metaphorically, was fired by Nick Goldberg, an editor at The Los Angeles Times. He accused me of lying in his newspaper, a grave offense in journalism unless your name is Bill O’Reilly, and fired me. I hadn’t lied. He was wrong. After I presented proof that I’d told the truth, the Times — under pressure, since the Internet was going crazy due to their disgusting refusal to reconsider — didn’t issue a retraction or hire me back. Presumably fearing a lawsuit, they doubled down. Goldberg still draws a salary. Not me.

I used to be a sound sleeper. Head hit the pillow, I was gone until morning.

No more. Insomnia is my new normal. I’m jittery, nervous, distrusting. Lots of nightmares. If you can be so totally wronged, libeled by a corporation that’s literally trying to destroy your career because of its opaque conflict of interest with outside parties (the Los Angeles Police Department), and it doesn’t make any difference when you prove you’re innocent, where common sense and human decency no longer hold sway, well, that’s a weird, unsettling world where you can never relax. If I get four hours a night, that’s better than most.

The thing that surprises me most about workplace shootings is that there are so few of them.

Under the doctrine that 2015 sucked so hard, 2016 has got to be better, I’m cautiously optimistic about the coming year. Yet anxiety remains.

My new graphic biography Bernie is about Bernie Sanders. Sales figures will be directly proportionate to the senator’s performance in the primaries. There’s cause for optimism in New Hampshire but the South is a challenge and now you’ve got The New York Times skewing expectations by suddenly claiming that the Iowa caucuses are do or die for Bernie, even though no one thought he was going to win there before. It’s Hillary’s campaign to lose. I knew that. But it was hers to lose in 2008, and she did.

What if Bernie crashes and burns? Then my book dies. Or what if Bernie becomes the nominee, and the book gets huge — will there be enough security? If not, I die. Anxiety turns everything into a lose-lose.

Behind all that anxiety, of course, is money. Not enough of it.

Every month that I manage to pay all the bills is a miracle. I move money around, scare up just enough extra work, hustle hustle hustle. My colleagues marvel at my energy. What’s my secret? Being tired all the time, and depressed, and not knowing how I’ll be able to eat in 10 years, much less retire. Probably like you.

Like most Americans, I don’t have substantial retirement savings. If I don’t work, I live maybe a year or two before moving to the great outdoors.

I fantasize about a soft landing. Maybe some magazine or website or newspaper will take me on full-time. Maybe with benefits? It’s OK, I don’t need benefits.

Or an academic gig — teaching journalism or cartooning or history somewhere. It would be fun. I’d be good at it. But where? How? You can’t apply to a college or university; the academic job application process is insanely time-consuming and the reply is always a rejection. An offer has to come to you.

One must trust in the universe. The philosopher Eckhart Tolle says the universe will provide what you need.

Unless it doesn’t.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for and, is the author of “Snowden,” about the NSA whistleblower. His new book “Bernie” about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is now available for pre-order. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



  • Congratulations – I guess? – for dodging the pink bullet…

    Yes, these anxieties of the relatively “successful” sound actually quite familiar, if on the extreme end. To be sure, the anxieties of the unsuccessful – a state which can be reached at the drop-of-a-hat even after a heretofore deemed successful life by either giving out financially and/or being left empty after working at a meaningless job now literally kill a significant number of boomers in the U.S.

    It is amazing how stale the carrot has become (to say nothing of the stick). In academia myself, I recently heard two scientists seriously argue about the best time to get work done: is it between 2-3am after everyone has gone to bed or between 5-6am before they have risen? And these were those who actually got the coveted 1 in a 100 position (and when they got it, it still was 1 in 10). While we don’t get death threats I ain’t laughing.

    At least Ted has had a shot at being to the precariat what Marx was to the proletariat. Got to count for something when looking yourself in the mirror in the morning (to check for superfluous tissue 😉

    • No – it actually doesn’t count for anything while looking in the mirror to check for superfluous tissue. – just ask the deceased millions of people who have succumbed to it. The precariat now are what the proletariat was then, with predictably the same results, since they share the same characteristics of ignorance, impatience and anger. You can trust me, because I never lie and I’m always right. 🙂

  • > I can’t believe anyone likes capitalism.

    I know this is a rhetorical statement, but I’ll get up on my soapbox anyway. Republicans like capitalism, or rather, the like that which they’ve been led to believe capitalism is. (“There are two kinds of Republicans: millionaires and suckers”)

    We’ve had something like seventy years of politicians and millionaires disparaging other economic systems. Today, 100% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats believe that “Socialism” means “Police State.” If “other” is so scary bad, then whatever we’ve got is obviously better, end of discussion. Yet none of the sheep look up long enough to ask *why* politicians and millionaires are so scared of it.

    > I have to apologize to the Baby Boom generation, specifically for rolling my eyes when Boomers whined about turning 50.

    Didn’t you just hate it when your parents said, “You’ll understand when you get to be my age” ? Yeah, me too. Now I am older than they were when they first said that, and damned if they weren’t right all along. I hate that, too.

    • The elite seems particularly scared of Trump. *Gasp* Do you think he could be the closet “true-blue-unicorn socialist” that you’ve always spoke of and wished for? You should vote for him just in case. Don’t want to miss the chance!

  • Naw Ted,

    If they false-flag you it’ll be with an AK, keeping in line with the “Evil Muslim” meme. Remember how Hunter T. was suicided? He shot himself in the head … twice.


    • Meantime, now they can point to the article above and say that you were feeling depressed … .


  • Ted,

    Oy, to use the correct cliche, life’s a bitch and then you die. That said, strangely, you’re better off than most on the planet. Which sucks the big one. And capitalism, don’t get me started. I’ve been arguing about this for many decades, and my head hurts. It’s evil, plain and simple. And people have known this since it started. Look up the Diggers. Or the Levelers. People just are so easy to manipulate, and control, that no one other than the very few are actually looking after themselves. I am proud to come from a family with at least three generations of people who fought capitalism. My grandmother organized the longshoremen on the west coast in the 30’s. My (step) grandfather was a courier for the communist international. My dad ran a Marxist study group at city college in the 50’s. I’m hoping to pass it on to my kids, but I no longer expect to live to see the revolution, I hope my kids do.
    Love that Hunter Thompson quote. Came to not love Hunter himself, he seemed to end up being pretty much of a schmuck, but “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” pretty much sums up all of life 🙂 And hey, I’m two years older than you, it only gets worse…
    Break a leg with the Bernie Book!! (theater kids)

    • Thanks, yes, what you said.

    • If Marxism/Communism ever actually ended up making people better off than before, I’d love to hear about it.

      “People just are so easy to manipulate, and control,” says the True Believer. IRONY

      I guess I have to give credit to the Maoist/Stalinist types who at least know the real purpose of their ideologies–to convince starry-eyed dupes to do their prep work.

      • This gets old. Marxism is a surprisingly well developed account of how the haves screw over the have-nots – and each other – while generating dynamics they themselves can’t see their way out of and which may lead to instability of the whole system.

        The different camps of Socialists have been to a varying degree influenced or at least paid lip service by that evolving account. When Socialists got uppity there have been a variety of responses, all the way from co-optation to extermination. Triggered civil wars certainly weren’t fun, but it is a little rich to blame the serfs for it. When they were successful, it got mixed results, which Socialists were the first to admit and even predict – as the basic system of exchange was not actually touched (there is a famous Lenin speech about why they can’t afford to move away from Capitalism towards Communism) and a new caste of apparatchicks took over from the old management. The worst results were downright genocidal, almost as bad as Capitalism (i.e. look up how many people starved in British India while The Great Leap Forward killed off millions of Chinese).

        They got their best results when they 1) maintained close connections to people and 2) were not completely exterminated by external and internal forces. E.g it is clearly documented that countries which practised land reform had much better long term outcomes than those which let the plantation owners control everything.

        The probably best results for the people was when the Capitalists decided to buy off the Socialists with crumbs from their table of various sizes. This has happened big time in Western Europe, so long as the Soviet Union was next door and they had to pretend to care about the lower classes. Not so much since their demise. It was evident in Brazil when the rich decided that they overdid the inequity thing and literally only dared to exit their gated community by helicopter so let Lula have a go but in very circumscribed ways. This overlap of interests between the Social Democrats and Capitalists in Brazil seems to have come to an end now. And yes, people did much better when they let Lula have his narrow window than under the military dictatorship and whatever is coming next.

        Also in the U.S. where I’m guessing you’re writing from, pretty much all of what passes for your safety net and workplace safety regulations, etc. where written with the deliberate intent to buy off the masses for the time being (“I’m standing between you and the pitch-forks”). You do know that retirees used to die of poverty in droves and tens of thousand of children died of bleached milk not much more than a hundred years ago in New York. Seriously, look it up, makes great business sense to bleach rotten milk and sell it to kids. But by all means lets unleash the God of the Free Market and pretend Marxists have never done anything right and that all Socialism leads to a North Korea (which btw is not the actually existing North Korea which got literally razed to the ground from the air not too long ago and precious few Americans know the first thing about).

        I haven’t been drawn into internet rows in years now – why the weak moment now? 😉

      • You seem to be arguing in good faith so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

        You say “the haves screw over the have-nots” like it is a unique phenomenon of capitalism. Surely you know that happens in *any* system.

        Colonialism has fuck all to do with free markets.

        As far as my first comment, I was referring to going from a largely free market system to a system in which socialists have actual power. In your Brazil example, the socialists never got that power. Social Democrats are preferable to Fascist types after all. I feel confident in saying for example, that in Weimar Germany, Social Dems were preferable to either Nat’l Socialists or Communists.

        And as far as bleached milk goes, killing customers is neither good business nor sanctioned by free markets. Favoring free enterprise does not equate to disregard for murder and rule of law. I don’t think Capitalists typically argue that no business ever makes bad products.

        What I’m saying is that we can both point to wrongful deaths in either system type, but that in Capitalism it is a bug that can and should be corrected but in Socialism it is a feature as is inefficiency.

      • To Jack Heart:

        Above you “educate” me by restating my own point: “the USSR never operated under by-the-books communism.”

        Indeed, then why do you, and the rest of “the West” continue with the baseless harangue that this particular time you formulate as “If Marxism/Communism ever actually ended up making people better off than before, I’d love to hear about it”?

      • falco,

        I was not “educating” you. I was *agreeing* with you by paraphrasing your point.

        I’ll indulge you though. Communism works fine for an incredibly small group–assuming that they don’t care about efficiency or innovation. To my knowledge, it’s never been done with a nation; however, some nations have called themselves “communist” and are known by that name. If you prefer, I could ask instead “when has a pure socialist system ever helped anyone?”

      • Oh, and andreas or anyone else, I am an American who knows nothing about this and would appreciate any elaboration.

        “North Korea (which btw is not the actually existing North Korea which got literally razed to the ground from the air not too long ago and precious few Americans know the first thing about).”

  • You aren’t alone Ted. The rise of the internet, the crash of 2008, wars, global climate change and the pervasive pessimistic atmosphere take their toll. If you haven’t realized that so many people are outright telling you live in fear and be angry, don’t worry, someone will tell you about that, too. Just look at the comments sections of many news articles, and you’ll find crazed, angry people, freed by the ability to hide behind a computer screen, spitting and screaming at other people and advocating horrible things. Is what the Firesign Theatre troupe once said true? – That people are no damn good?

  • Yes andreas5, it was a weak moment, but that’s OK – you got a chance to bark and try to sound intelligent and logical in print that you could look at, review, and possibly, bark at more. You are pathetic example of someone trying to sound intelligent without a knowledge of history and what is actually happening. Almost no one here on this forum wants to hear arguments about pure capitalism vs.pure socialism or whatever. You were right, you should not have posted your long, boring crap about Socialists buying off Democrats and wherever this went. 🙂

    • @rikster

      yes, silly me, to think that people would come to a forum on political cartoons to read and write political stuff.

      So 90s, showing my age ;-). Off topic anyway.

      • To andreas5:

        Don’t be deterred. I wasn’t exactly received warmly here at first.

        Even if you decide to “be strong,” you may find the following interesting, if you haven’t already read it: “Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR.”
        Resnick and Wolff

        It makes the case that “communism” was never achieved in the USSR, which, instead operated under state capitalism.

      • The USSR never claimed to have achieved communism, they only claimed socialism. (you probably know’d dat already 😉 I’ve never read your suggested book, but I’ve definitely heard the ‘state capitalism’ bit before.

        It’s always been problematic for the state to get control of the entire economy. Those darned peasants will stubbornly trade with each other, in spite of what the gov’mint says. Then there’s all those black market goods, and foreign currencies with which to buy them …

      • FWIW, andreas, the only comments rikster likes are his own with the recurring sentiment that, “Ted, you’re preaching to the choir; everything’s hopeless and everyone is ignorant and angry.”

      • Of course, falco, the USSR never operated under by-the-books communism, but I’d have thought that CrazyH would be the first to tell you that when the state owns the means of production it is socialism and that “state capitalism” is thus an oxymoron.

      • @ falco (and others)

        thanks for the reference – I like the dry humor and delivery of Rick Wolff, but haven’t come across that book yet, so will keep an eye out for it. In the meanwhile I have a lot of stories from older relatives who experienced that system 😉


    • I like andreas5’s bit. Not necessarily in agreement with all of it.

      This is a rather small forum with only a couple dozen regular posters, and the two or thee of you that use phrases like “trying to sound intelligent” or “long, boring crap” because you’re too mean, lazy, or dumb to actually refute someone’s point are the ones the rest of us don’t want to hear.

      • We can agree on this. Andreas’s comment was not “barking,” “trying to sound intelligent,” or “boring.”

  • @ Jack Heart

    Thank you for the benefit of the doubt, which I shall have to return.

    Reading your contributions I am regularly thrown by some passage that I initially find skewed or downright false. I say “thrown” because before and after you seem to be making perfect sense. I should think it must feel similar for you reading my texts (or Ted’s for that matter). It would seem we are operating from a very different set of assumptions.

    So I am going to select a few points of contention but mostly focusing to make some of those assumptions transparent. I’ve put the actual arguments in [] since I’m sure we heard those before and so they can safely be skipped 😉

    You mentioned “state capitalism” but connected to nominally Socialist states such as the USSR, and seemed to suggest that any state which owns the means of production could hardly be called capitalist. Now from my background, state capitalism is usually invoked to describe nominally capitalist “free enterprise” states – such as the U.S., but really any of the developed countries. How much of the means of production in the U.S. are really owned by private industry?

    [For example, there is a huge state financed and largely state run research sector, including universities, labs, grant giving agencies. A lot of it is traditionally coordinated through the Pentagon, plus now a bit by NIH, “homeland security”, etc. Some of this has been nominally privatized, sure, but always as a second step after the basic technology was invented (think IBM for computers, more recently internet companies) and while still retaining a lot of links to the state sector.

    Transportation and communication infrastructure is likewise mostly state-owned and operated and even the car companies (which heavily rely on the interstate highway ystem) and airlines (ditto on airports, etc.) are basically taken into receivership (bailed out) regularly without much change. Even the service sector (think Walmart, fast food joints …) heavily relies on state owned and/or state run logistics and even their management systems have emerged in symbiosis with business schools and so on.]

    You will probably think that I’m having things backwards (again), that we should think of the system as capitalist first and state run second. From looking at some of your other comments, such as the one about colonialism having nothing to do with free markets – in my view colonialism was the main way something like free markets were ever enforced (selectively) since hardly anybody would agree to them voluntarily – it would seem to me that to be logically consistent, step by step one is forced to concede that essentially none of the actually existing systems are remotely free market, and that the notion of a free market is but an abstraction or ideal. Or could you come up with any actual example of a working version?

    Then again you have said pretty much the same about a society without haves and have-nots being a Socialist utopia which never existed, which in a way is fair enough. So to an extent it seems we are both looking at the world through the image of a fairer society which doesn’t exist around us at the moment.

    Still, I am puzzled since I feel that I am surrounded by relationships that do not work according to market logic, as well as by egalitarian or at least flat hierarchy relationships in many work projects (though not so much in the formal economy or academia beyond the precarious fringe). I would like the rest of our society to work in similar ways (with different versions appropriate to large scale structures). In fact, there are lots of working examples of common stewardship. Large scale private ownership really is the historical aberration here – the idea that a person should be able to legally “own” e.g. a large area of land to me is the ultimate absurdity. Even in the Middle ages, when all the land nominally belonged to some king or lord the peasants who actually lived on it had a long list of use rights (collecting firewood and so on).

    To me market interactions are typically what makes us act in horrendous ways, not what sets us free. This is true even when I am the beneficiary and e.g. buy electronics off the internet through sites like where I get a good deal by putting the screws on retail firms who put the screws on assembly firms who put the screws on mining firms all of which screw over their workers and the environment, mostly in far away countries. I have a very hard time seeing such relations as efficient in any way, except for a very skewed, short term, monetary one.

    [While we are on the subject of efficiency, the Soviets did seem to be ruthlessly efficient in producing tanks, hospitals, fighter jets, schools, nuclear plants, rockets, spacecraft, etc. So I do not follow why you are quipping about their planning system – not that I am in any way invested in the Soviet system – to be necessarily inefficient. They had a narrow focus on some aspects of society. What is our systems focus?]

    To bring it back to one of the discussion points: I don’t see any “rational” reason for a “rational” maximizer not to sell deadly milk to poor children. They make a quick buck rather than have to pay for discarding of the milk (so win/win) – and it’s really not like we’re going to run out of poor children anytime soon, irrespective of the best efforts of the guys who put bleach in rotten milk. In fact, I would suggest it is market systems who compel people to engage in such practices, who then are compelled to lie to themselves about their complicity or cultivate sociopathy in some form to be able to live with themselves, which would explain a lot of the insanity around (and within) us.

    [Final point, since you asked, the two North Koreas. I was pretty exasparated when I wrote this and this is hard to parse and does sound like a Monthy Python sketch ;-). More importantly, it was unfair since you did not actually bring it up yourself.

    Basically at some point in such discussions the argument is made that Socialist states become like North Korea, i.e. images of famine and personality cult. As a contrast I was mentioning that all of North Korea was levelled in the Korean War – literally, as more bombs were dropped than throughout all of WWII and they ran out of targets and did not leave a single building higher than one storey stand. If any country in history was a product of “Western” aggression it would be North Korea (and Eastern Europe after WWII btw). So I find it always a little rich to imply that this is what the Left is moving towards (albeit inadvertently). Also their economy may have been picking up/not been all that of a basket case, it is really hard to know since credible reports rather than stereotypes are actually hard to come by. So there is one construct of North Korea as talking point which essentially exists independently of the real thing – much like constructs of Gandhi or MLK which have severed most if not all of their links to the actual persons of that name.]

    • Nice post, andreas5. I agree with most of it, but will take issue with one point: “colonialism was the main way something like free markets were ever enforced”

      No, usually the colonizing country would favor one business entity over another. For instance, King Charles granted the Hudson’s Bay Company a monopoly over the fur trade coming out of North America. Today, oil companies have exclusive rights to many parts of the Middle East. Just try to start your own petroleum company & negotiate contracts with the House of Saud. Exxon doesn’t need to enforce that, you’ll get a visit from the State Department long before Exxon has to step in, assuming the Saudis will even talk to you in the first place.

      As for the term “State Capitalism” – we have approximately 196 counties in the world today, and no two of them have exactly the same socio-politico-economic system. We have a limited number of terms to choose from, so we start combing them.

      “State Capitalism” is an attempt to describe a system which acts more like capitalism than socialism. In this case the state takes on the role of the capitalist. They own the land and the capital, employ the labor, and seek to make a profit on their investments. They tend to benefit the party members (“ruling class”) over the population as a whole.

      In full-on socialism, the state acts as arbitrator and coordinator. It does not seek to make a profit, nor does favor one group over another. It does not employ labor for wages, but instead it ensures that everyone works, everyone eats, and everyone shares equally in the fruits of their labors.

      Other seemingly self-contradictory terms include “Constitutional Monarchy”; “Democratic Republic” and “Democratic Socialism”

      Let’s look at the latter. Socialism means the economy is controlled by the state. Democracy means the state is controlled by the people. So in this case, the people at large are ultimately in charge of the economy. The state exists as a servant of the people and acts according to their will. Theoretically, at least, their will is to ensure that everyone benefits from their society’s productivity.

    • Ultimately, by virtue of the property-tax, the “State” owns everything within (and frequently even, beyond) its own borders. “Income” tax is just a variation on this theme.

      Go ahead, don’t pay your property tax, and you will discover that property is no longer yours. Don’t pay your income tax? You will also be deprived of your privilege to even produce an income.

      The moment humans started incorporating a government among themselves, they functionally surrendered all their natural “rights” of independence. In the end, it’s a trade off. Protection? Or liberty … .

      • It’s absolutely sick that one can be charged simply for continuing to own property that as you say is really not owned by the person at all.

    • @ CrayzH

      thank you 😉

      About colonialism and free markers. You have a point: initially the European colonial powers pursued Mercantilist policies, keep the flow of goods mostly a one-way street and keep others out. My point was that after Neo-colonialism, when such regimes can no longer be maintained, the (post)colonial areas find themselves in a week position, and with an economy geared towards exports and dependant on imports of medical goods, sometimes even food, and so on. I am not aware that any truly independent country ever “opened up” their markets unless violently forced to do so.

      Of course the whole thing is crooked since the EU and the US never really opened their agricultural markets or stopped subsidizing agro-business – agriculture being the main sector in the Global South with a competitive advantage of lower wages…

      as for trying out different definitions of state capitalism, socialism, and so on, I’m not going to argue those with you in the abstract… I think I get the general direction of what you want to do, and if those definitions work for you, fine. For other purposes I would be disinclined e.g. to equate (all forms of) Socialism with state ownership. Yugoslavia had a very different model, for example, where I think majority ownership by workers e.g. of mines was constitutionally mandated, at least nominally.


      yes, here in Canada this is a joke that indigenous people sometimes make: that the white settlers are actually the exploited and downtrodden people since their lands defaults to “the Crown” if they don’t pay property tax, unlike the reservations (not that they are economically viable of course).

      Still, I think you are seeing this too much from the perspective of land owners. If someone comes to use “your” land if you want to be able to call the police on them there needs to be some arrangement to pay for policemen, surveyors, clerks who keep track of ownership deeds… so if you think that’s an evil, it is a necessary evil.

      Of course if you want to get rid of the police entirely… 😉 but then we’re back to “Utopian” forms of social relations (even though millions of people lived in such arrangements through history)

      • CrazyH,

        My utopian dream is really quite modest, I would prefer to only reform the police. Stuffing that evil genie all the way back into the bottle may be a bit too ambitious. After all, the primary mission of the first cop-forces in America was to return all runaway slave-property. From the very outset, cop-shops were created to exclusively service the economic elites during their transformation of slavery from a private corporate expression to one of expansive government control … all the way to the wage slave. Go ahead, don’t pay your slave’s tax(es) and find out how quickly you’re punished.

        Ultimately, the elite want to stay elite … or at least, those who got there first, want to remain the “most” elite within that mostly closed community.

        Meanwhile, the “new” elite do their goddamdest to fit into the elite crowd. They will have absolutely no qualms about using “the law” in order to oppress any and all competitors who arrive after them. Microsoft’s virtual monopoly comes to mind.

        The indigenous peoples of our hemisphere got along just fine without cops for ten-thousands of years. But then the corporate juggernaut started taking over only a few hundred years ago. Suddenly, we got cops, and we gave it to them too.

        It’s much more of a social disease than many are willing to admit.


      • Oops, sorry CH, I was actually responding to andreas5.


      • > I would be disinclined e.g. to equate (all forms of) Socialism with state ownership.

        It’s obviously not the whole story as understood by those of us who’ve done our homework (and I include you in that group.)

        Bit it is the ECON101 definition; it’s what you’ll find in most dictionaries, wikis, etc, and it’s pretty close to Marx’s definition as well.

        As such, it’s a good starting point for the unread. We can’t have any meaningful discussions with people who have been conditioned to believe that “Socialism” means “Police State.”

    • I’ll keep this brief since it comes late, but I wanted to reply at least.

      I do have mostly very different values, but I credit Ted for long ago teaching me that there is more overlap between political perspectives than most realize.

      I think it is a problem that the state is so involved in the American economy and is the reason I don’t find it accurate to call us capitalist.

      Every time the state steps in, corruption is the result. Think of the revolving door between Wall Street and their own regulators for instance.

      Freer markets have existed in the past, but it is my opinion they never went far enough for the reason that it would mean greedy people giving up the option to use gov’t to bully political opponents and economic competitors as well as confer undue benefits upon themselves. It is just too enticing to too many. And we all know how those who make it to the elite want to do anything they can to pull up the ladder behind themselves. They use gov’t to do this.

      As far as free trade goes, it is by definition free of force. So if a country is forced into trade or a person is forced into a transaction, it is not free trade. Any person or entity can choose to participate *or not.*

      America’s economic/political system is best described as corporatism. I’d be tempted to call it fascist, but the only thing fascist about it is the corporatism. With our institutions and corporations caring very much about diversity, they aren’t racist in the typical sense and being multinational, they are not patriotic.

      I see what you mean in regards to N. Korea. I had heard long ago that we had dropped more bomb tonnage on Vietnam than in all WWII but did not know that was also the case in Korea.

      I consider it a myth propagated by Leftists that capitalism only encourages short term planning unless you have a very different definition of “short term” than I. If someone wants to start a successful business, he needs to develop products, have a business plan and create a system, and gather investors and finances, and hire people he hopes will be productive down the road. Even after beginning he still needs to plan to be profitable to stay in business not just tomorrow or next week but typically for the whole year and beyond. Wall Street speculators are thinking in the very short term, but that’s only because they know they can depend on taxpayer bailouts and a lack of gov’t prosecution for fraud and other crimes.

      A free market system lacks a focus and that is its appeal and strength. Nobody is smart enough to run such a massive economy and people should be left to their own choices anyway.

      At any rate this covers a few topics.

  • Have you talked to Alison Bechdel about how she gets her academic gigs? There actually are quite a lot of applications particularly for one-year fellowships etc., that’s how I got my current one-year gig at Princeton, I filled in five applications, got interviewed for two & got one.

  • Hi Ted,

    If what you’re doing doesn’t pay enough, search to find something that does. Use your insomnia time.

    For example, maybe computer support, being a sys admin, or software development. One can get books or study online to get the necessary skills, and there are certifications that can get you in the door. Jobs like that usually have benefits. If you still love cartooning, do it on the side, and only projects that you really want to do.

    That’s only one possibility. But that’s the general thing we all have to do to get our basic needs met.