Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Not much time for an artist’s statement this week as I have a major writing project to finish.
This cartoon was inspired by an IM message Jim sent me last week, saying, “Hey man all the money in the world is going away.” This was the first I had heard of the popping of the housing bubble and subsequent freakout of the stock market. I don’t really understand the economy, the stock market, any of that stuff. I don’t even really know what “the Fed” is. When people start talking about interest rates and the housing market I usually start thinking about sex or replaying scenes from Star Wars in my head.
However, I am pretty sure that people who purport to understand these things for a living don’t actually know a lot more about them than I do, since things like last week occur with some regularity. I am of course happy to see President Bush get blamed for this and anything else bad that happens, but I don’t really think it makes any more sense to blame him for this than it does to blame the tribe’s shaman for bad weather. Though it’s noteworthy that in all the discussion of the economic downturn I haven’t heard anyone mention the Bush administration’s reckless and nonsensical fiscal policy of giving huge tax breaks to the richest taxpayers while simultaneously launching a major military invasion and indefinite occupation of Iraq—the equivalent of quitting your day job to pursue your ambition to write the great American novel while at the same time finally buying that ranch in Montana you’ve always dreamed of.
I have an ambivalent attitude toward financial catastrophe. On the one hand, there's something childishly exhilerating about it, a vindication of my private theory that our whole enonomy is founded on bulllshit. I've never quite believed that things like "service" and "information" are commodities in the quite same way as, say, steel. It sort of depresses me that more Americans are now casino dealers than tool and die makers. Manufacturing jobs seemed more real, more--I hate to say this for risk of romanticizing something I know little about, but more dignified. I don't know; maybe it just makes me nervous that nobody knows how to make anything anymore. I mean, look at those McMansions: why do they cost a million dollars and yet look so flimsy and tacky and, well, cheap, with windowless side walls and shutters that can't even close? It's as if someone used Barbie's Dream House as an architect's model. Older, smaller, more modest houses meanwhile look far more well-made and substantial and like places a human being would actually want to live. If the end of the housing bubble means fewer hideous chintzy McMansions blighting the countryside or lower rents in Manhattan I am for it. Something in me rejoices at the puncturing of the illusions of the New Economy, wrongly imagining a return to some more reality-based system.
On the other hand, this is stupidly wishing for my own ruin, since I am one of the prime beneficiaries of the bullshit economy, a happy bit of flotsam on a big frothy sea of frivolous businesses--graphic design and advertising and marketing and publishing. I draw a cartoon every week. It's not like I know how to build so much as a goddamn table. In fact I have some money invested in the stock market, and have yet to ask my financial advisor whether it still exists. I figure, what good will it do me to find out? Might as well live it up while I can. Once the money runs out it’s down to the mall to make sandwiches all day for Mr. Fuckerman [rhymes with Zuckerman]. Long have Ben Walker and I dreaded the day when at last we would be reduced to Making Sandwiches at the Mall. It is the final humiliation, the ne plus ultra of failure. Of Mister Fuckerman himself I can say nothing. He appeared unexpectedly at the eleventh hour, early on Monday morning, when my cartoon is due in at the paper. He is the harbinger of our doom, the embodiment of our fate.
Next week: My Stimulus Package!