Amazon’s Free Publicity Party

Amazon's Free Publicity Party

click to read at the New York Times

The media spent last week gushing over a drone delivery program that exists only in Jeff Bezos’ imagination. All while ignoring the terrible conditions its pickers endure as they fulfill our orders for cheap shit we don’t need.

I’m a hypocrite and occasionally use Amazon’s services. It’s too convenient, but I would gladly pay more to avoid the guilt that comes whenever a package arrives filled with the sobs of their minimum wage employees.

Walmart Cares

Walmart Cares

Full comic at the New York Times

Last week was littered with news about Walmart being terrible, so it was pretty much like any other week. The Waltons may be the most egregious offenders, but most companies treat their employees like shit because it’s profitable, and there aren’t enough regulations to prevent them from being shitty.

If I could, I do all my shopping at Costco, which seems to be relatively decent. But I’m a poor freelancer and can’t afford to be ethical all the time. I’m sure my budgetary constraints have helped close mom and pop stores, and continue to contribute to the poor conditions of Amazon’s warehouse employees. I’m a monster.

Unbridled consumerism is a year-round problem, but if you know anyone who’ll be shopping on Thanksgiving Day, make that asshole sit in a bathtub full of gravy until they reconsider their priorities.

Class War Weapons

Class War Weapons

click for comic

Today’s the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse and the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Not much has changed since then … for the poor at least. The rich are doing better than ever, and that’s all DC cares about.

But the organizing that went on during Occupy lives on, particularly in the ongoing push for increasing the minimum wage in fast-food and retail jobs. Whether they’re successful remains to be seen, but as the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen, there will be more despair for the next five years of this so-called “recovery.”

If you still haven’t subscribed to NSFWCORP, you’re missing exclusive cartoons by me every month. Here’s last month’s Voyage of the NIMBY, unlocked for a limited time.

Greetings from Flyover Country

Greetings from Flyover Country

click for comic

President Obama is in the midst of touring the country and giving speeches about the economy. I agree with most of the content of those speeches, but after five years of saying those same things, the economy remains stuck in the shitter for most Americans. The fact that those speeches focus almost entirely on the middle class, and only briefly mention “those willing to work” out of poverty highlights the President’s desire distance himself from those hardest hit by economic inequality, lest he be blamed for catering to his base of “moochers.”

Yes, the obstructionist House is mostly to blame, and I’ll probably go after them in next week’s ‘toon, but thinking a nationwide tour will somehow turn them around this time is a folly. Wall Street and the elite are reaping all the benefits from this anemic “recovery,” but the rest of us remain mired in an economic crisis. Both parties are so far removed from it, they’re not treating it like the disaster it is.

Detroit is an extreme example, but if the status quo remains, its fate could be any city’s.

McBudget Advice for Fast-Food Employees

McBudget Advice for Fast-Food Employees

click for comic

McDonald’s and Visa were roundly mocked last week for making a website designed to “help” their employees budget on their meager wages. The sample budget was obviously written by rich people who have no idea what living in the real world actually costs. CNN had a great piece where real employees filled out the sample budget and the results were predictably depressing.

McDonald’s was singled out because of that budget, and a recent strike at a Manhattan franchise aren’t making them any more sympathetic, but the suffering is the same for everyone in the fast-food industry and minimum wage workers everywhere. Companies are able to get away with it because low wages are subsidized by government programs like SNAP, Medicaid and the Earned Income Credit; things companies like Wal-Mart openly use to increase their bottom line.

Way back during his State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned raising the minimum wage. Obviously it went nowhere, because those earning minimum wage aren’t likely to have any leftover income to make campaign contributions, unlike the corporate behemoths who are raking in huge profits by exploiting their undervalued labor.

Fetal “Facts”

Fetal "Facts"

click for comic

The House recently voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, under the pretense that fetuses can feel pain by then. Texas Representative Michael Burgess said a dumb thing in defense of this dumb ban:

Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful … They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?

Burgess is an OB-GYN by profession, which makes his comments even more troubling. But I doubt he believes it. It’s just a pretense for the Republicans’ plan to chip away at access to reproductive rights. Whether they’re stripping funding for Planned Parenthood, or passing terrible laws at the state level, the GOP is determined to make abortion impossible, if not outright illegal.

To the Republicans, every potential life is precious, until it’s born. After that, they’re more than happy to let it starve to death.

Indicators of the Real Economy

Indicators of the Real Economy

click for comic

The big economic news last week was a rise in housing prices, and that women are now the main breadwinners in 40 percent of families. Combined with the other indicators commonly used by the government and the media, the anemic recovery looks like it’s finally gaining some steam. But anyone with eyeballs can see unemployment has been insanely high for five years while those lucky enough to be employed have seen their wages stagnate or go down.

This “recovery” is fueled almost entirely by record corporate profits. I’m not sure what’s so great about rising housing prices anyway, since that’s what caused the last bust. And I couldn’t afford a house when prices were at all-time lows. As a lifelong renter, I’m essentially a non-entity as far as economists are concerned.

I personally won’t feel like the economy’s healthy until I can buy a boat. Right now the Brian Boat Index is at a pathetic 0 Boats. Thanks, Obama.

Truth in Commencement Speeches

Truth in Commencement Speeches

click for comic

I’m a couple months too old to be considered a millennial, but since everyone under 60 has been screwed by the Boomer generation, I can sympathize. No benefits, no pensions, and no hope of ever retiring is our fate, all so they could play make-believe with supply-side economics.

I was drawing this when Time’s trolling cover story about “selfish, lazy, millennials” came out, so this isn’t directly in response to that, just a happy accident. Leave it to a rich-as-fuck columnist to be willfully ignorant of wage stagnation in the face of sky-high worker productivity and corporate profits.

It’s not all bad news, my fellow middle-agers and youngs; eventually these greedy shitheels will all die off. And we’ll have a couple months to enjoy a world without them before climate change finishes the job they started.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Dow Jones Industrial Average

click for comic

The Dow Jones reached record highs last week! The recovery’s over … for the rich. The rest of us have had more productivity squeezed out of us for the same, or even lower wages, or are one of the 12 million or so who want a job but can’t find one.

February’s jobs numbers were pretty decent, for an average month in the 90’s. But to make a dent in unemployment, those numbers would have to be significantly higher than that for a year just to bring us back to 2007’s not-so-great numbers. Unfortunately, it’s easier to report on the Dow with a green or red arrow and a number, than to explain the fall in median incomes and household wealth. It’s not impossible though. This video was everywhere last week, which shows the public actually wants to hear about this stuff:

And the stupidity of austerity, which we’re euphemistically calling “the sequester” because everyone knows austerity doesn’t work, won’t begin to gum up our already shitty economy until the end of this month. FUN TIMES.

I don’t own a portfolio, so I generally don’t read The Wall Street Journal, but this article about the poor, long-suffering banks is an example of how far up its own ass the financial sector is, five years after ruining everything:

Moreover, as investors chase stock returns, they are dumping fixed-income products, which will likely put pressure on interest rates. Over time, this will help the lending side of the ledger, which has been squeezed by razor-thin interest margins.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that even when all of the financial-crisis overhang subsides and the economy is thriving, it is unlikely that banks will be able to engage in the level of leverage that created outsize profits and stock valuations of the bubble days. U.S. regulators might not be able to rein in pay incentives as their European counterparts have, but they have been aggressive on balance-sheet risk.

Aw, those poor banks! They won’t be able to repeat the same disaster we’re still living through! They’ll have to come up with new bullshit schemes to extract wealth from ordinary Americans. And even though it’s a given that the U.S. won’t cut the bankers’ balls off like the Swiss did, there’ll be some unpleasant rules to make sure their balance-sheets are slightly grounded in reality. Fuck those guys.

Lastly, Eric Holder admits he’s a wuss.

The Minimum Wage Awards

The Minimum Wage Awards

Click for comic

Raising the federal minimum wage came up during the State of the Union speech. It’s a good idea. But don’t take my word for it. A guy with a fancy Nobel Prize in economics agrees with me.

Finally, it’s important to understand how the minimum wage interacts with other policies aimed at helping lower-paid workers, in particular the earned-income tax credit, which helps low-income families who help themselves. The tax credit — which has traditionally had bipartisan support, although that may be ending — is also good policy. But it has a well-known defect: Some of its benefits end up flowing not to workers but to employers, in the form of lower wages. And guess what? An increase in the minimum wage helps correct this defect. It turns out that the tax credit and the minimum wage aren’t competing policies, they’re complementary policies that work best in tandem.

I’ve been lax in updating the blog with links to my comics and even lazier about writing commentary. Currently the minimum wage for maintaining this blog is $0, so I think I’m putting in the right amount of effort.

I’ve backdated posts with links and mini-commentary to The Strips that I’ve neglected to post. Now future generations will be deceived into thinking that I wasn’t a lazy sack o’ crap for most of February.