Cartoon: Welfare vs Wealthfare

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Another collaboration with Rachel Swirsky!

I don’t have much to say about the politics of this issue that isn’t covered in the cartoon. Accepting help from the government is seen as morally shameful for the poor – but routine for the ultra-wealthy.

The script for this one was one of those back-and-forth collaborations in which it becomes difficult to recall who wrote what. The initial idea came from Rachel, and the idea for the specific format and layout came from me. The particular gags were written by both of us. I remember that I wrote the kicker gag as “Queen of England,” and Rachel changed it to “Beyonce,” which definitely made it funnier.

Oh, and if anyone’s wondering, there really were thousand-dollar bills once, but the government hasn’t printed any since 1945. If you happen to come across one, it’s still legal tender – but you’d probably get more than a thousand dollars by selling it to a collector. Several different designs were used for thousand dollar bills, including one featuring Alexander Hamilton.

A special thanks on the sidebar to patron N.K. Jemisin, who – among many other accomplishments – recently won the Hugo Award for “best novel” two years running. Rachel and I are both big fans of N.K.’s novels, and you should check out her website.


At the top of the cartoon, in large letters, is the title “WELFARE vs WEALTHFARE.”

Below that, the cartoon is divided into three columns. The columns on the left and right show regular cartoon images; the middle column only contains a caption for each row. The left column is underneath the word “Welfare” in the title; the right-hand column is underneath the word “Wealthfare” in the title.


Welfare Panel: A man holding a grocery bag is startled by an angry man in a necktie yelling at him.
NECKTIE MAN: Let me see those groceries! You better not have spent your food stamps on anything nice!

Wealthfare Panel: A well-off looking man in a jacket and tie stands looking aloof, with his arms crossed and his nose up in the air. Behind him, a man wearing a tie is kneeling on the ground and begging.
KNEELING MAN: PLEEEEASE let us buy you a new stadium! We’ll give you $200 million dollars!


Welfare Panel: A woman stands at a pay phone, the phone held to her ear. She has luggage with her, and an anxious looking ten year old son.
VOICE FROM PHONE: Sure, we can help with housing. Looks like we’ll have space for you in… Four years.

Wealthfare Panel: A wealthy-looking older couple, wearing sunglasses and casual-nice clothes, stands in front of an enormous yacht.
WOMAN: We legally declared our million-dollar yacht our second home.
MAN: So now we deduct its mortgage from our taxes!


Welfare Panel: A building with a sign, which says “welfare office.” Voices come from inside the building.
FIRST VOICE: Pee into this cup.
SECOND VOICE: But I don’t use drugs!
FIRST VOICE: Exactly what a druggie would say!

Wealthfare Panel: A wealthy looking businessman sits in a large executive chair, reading some papers. Behind him, two younger, slightly nerdy looking people talk to his back, looking anxious.
NERD 1: Look at all these crimes! I’m sorry, but you’ll have to pay a modest fine.
NERD 2: But you can deduct it from your taxes!
BUSINESSMAN (unconcerned, barely paying attention): Uh-huh.


Welfare Panel: A security guard in a brown uniform lounges in front of a house, leaning on a sign that says “For Sale By Bank.” A father holding an infant, and his young daughter at his side, look aghast.
GUARD: The bank says “thanks for the swell house!”

Wealthfare Panel: Another businessman, seated behyind an enormous desk; the desktop is mostly empty, although he does have a laptop and a desk calendar. Behind him is a big window with a cityscape view.
BUSINESSMAN: Hello, government? I gambled away billions of my bank’s assets. Give me my bailout in thousand dollar bills.


Welfare Panel: Uncle Sam has his back turned towards a mother carrying an infant. His expression shows contempt. He holds out a tiny check to her like it’s a dead fish. A line from the check points to a little ¢ symbol.
UNCLE SAM: Take your welfare, MOOCHER.

Wealthfare Panel: A smiling wealthy man looks on as a smiling Uncle Sam brings in a wheelbarrow overflowing with piles and bags of cash.
UNCLE SAM: Here’s this month’s delivery, sir!

Kicker panel at bottom of strip
We see the necktie man and the food stamps user from the first panel. The necktie man is yelling again.
NECKTIE MAN: You have a refrigerator AND a cell phone? What are you, Beyonce?

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10 Responses to Cartoon: Welfare vs Wealthfare

  1. 1
    Jake Squid says:

    Only 1 criticism from me. It seems to me that $200 million is on the low side of what owners extort to pay for their stadia.

  2. 2
    Petar says:

    Well, duh!

    If those lazy parasites want respect and meaningful assistance, they should just buy their own politicians, like people of quality do.


  3. 3
    RonF says:

    When I find myself in agreement with pretty much all the major points in Amp’s cartoon and Jake’s comment I figure I should make a point of noting it publicly!

    I do believe that the new tax law will put an end to the right-hand “Housing” panel, however.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Interesting! We might need to rewrite that panel. Pity, I thought I did a decent job drawing that yacht.

    And thanks! It’s nice to know that I did a cartoon you agreed with. :-)

  5. 5
    Jake Squid says:

    You might just need to change the wording. If I’m not mistaken (and I probably am), the new tax law makes the upper limit on deducting mortgages $500k.

    When it comes to any sort of interest in major pro-sports, Ron & I probably make up the entire population in these parts.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    O.K. I checked it out. From the Wall Street Journal

    The new law allows homeowners with existing mortgages to continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million of debt for a first and second home. But for new buyers, the $1 million limit fell to $750,000 for a first and second home.

    For example, if Charles already has a $750,000 mortgage on a first home and a $200,000 mortgage on a second home, then he can continue to deduct the interest on both on Schedule A. What if Charles already has one home with a $750,000 mortgage and wants to use a new $200,000 mortgage to buy a second home this year? In this case, he couldn’t deduct the interest on the second loan, according to a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, or NAR.

    My guess is that someone who has a yacht as their second home has a mortgage on their first home that’s > $750,000 or even $1,000,000. And a 3-deck yacht would be millions.

  7. 7
    Jake Squid says:

    And a 3-deck yacht would be millions.

    Tens of millions, even.

  8. 8
    Charles says:

    But it seems like it is still the case that someone who had already paid off their mortgage on their first (or first dozen) multi-million dollar home(s) could buy their new $50 million yacht, borrow $750k+ to pay for part of the yacht and then declare the yacht their primary home and deduct the mortgage interest on the first $750k. The only difference from the previous tax policy is that they can only claim the first $750k instead of the first $1M.

    What the panel is describing is declaring your yacht (or whichever of your many houses has a mortgage) your primary residence for tax purposes. Unless that has been specifically abolished, then the panel is still accurate.

  9. 9
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Charles, there is no need to claim the yacht as a home.

    If I need to borrow money for a big purchase, I won’t find a better rate than borrowing against the home I own outright, so that’s what I’ll do. Such a loan is deductible exactly like a mortgage is.

    A wealthy person would only need to claim a yacht as a primary residence if for some reason they decided to actually borrow against the yacht, and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would do that if they could borrow against a house- and if they can’t borrow against a house, they are almost certainly already in debt on said house and taking advantage of their mortgage deduction.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    Charles, you might be right, but the panel specifically names the yacht as a second home, not a first one.

    Frankly, I don’t think there should be a mortgage deduction for anything but a primary residence, and the only way that it should be claimable again once taken advantage of is if the primary home is sold and replaced.

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