Cartoon: The Right-Winger’s Guide to Labor Economics

For want of a shoe the shoelace was lost. For want of a shoelace the shoefly was lost. For want of a shoefly the flyover states were lost. For want of the flyover states the state of grace was lost. And the only way to get the state of grace back is to support these cartoons on Patreon. Weird how that works.

This cartoon really started out with what ended up as panel 4 — I wanted to make fun of the idea that high unemployment could be linked with laziness. But – at least, in what came to my mind as I was working on this strip – the laziness thing never seemed to become an entire strip. (Maybe I was just too lazy to figure out how. Ba-dum-dum. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

So instead I made a cartoon that‘s really just a grab bag of some pop economics ideas about labor that too many on the right seem to believe.

I decided that I liked this cartoon better as one character monologuing rather than having a different character in each panel. Since just one figure talking at the reader could get visually boring, the challenge is to make each panel look and feel different, even though they’re really just the same thing six times in a row.


This cartoon has six panels. Every panel shows the same man, a white man with a mustache and thick hair that’s going white around the temples, who is speaking to the reader in front of an abstract color backgound. He’s wearing tan slacks, a light blue collared shirt, and a red striped necktie.


A caption at the top of the panel, in big red letters, says:


The man in the necktie is looking sincere, his hands pressed together in front of him almost like he’s praying.

MAN: CEOs are infallible and holy and the government must get out of their way.


The same man is suddenly exploding with anger, stomping his feet and waving his hands and yelling.

MAN: Workers are the worst! They need the constant threat of unemployment, homelessness and starvation to do anything!


In a closer shot, the man looks out at the reader with an expression of bewilderment, as he shrugs.

MAN: If Luisa’s boss is illegally paying her $3.50 an hour, then $3.50 is exactly what she’s worth! I can think of no other explanation!


Now the man has switched into a wise-professor-explaining pose, face calm, a finger raised to emphasize his point as he speaks.

MAN: High unemployment happens when millions of people get lazy all at once. It stays high until they all suddenly stop being lazy. Until the next recession, when they’re lazy again.


A sudden, extreme closeup shows the man‘s face contorted with furry as he yells. (Wait, no, contorted with “fury,” not “furry.” I don’t know or want to know what being ”contorted with furry” is.) We can see that he’s trembling, and a little caption with an arrow pointing at him says “trembling with rage.”

The background, which up until now has mostly been a cool light purple, is bright red/pink in this panel.

MAN (yelling): When unions force rich people to pay employees more, that’s literal armed robbery!


The “camera” pulls back to a full-figure shot, and his expression is now calm and smiling and a little smug. He’s got his arms crossed and is standing with one foot on the heel in a jaunty sort of pose.

MAN: Everything I say is the objective truth because I am super logical and definitely not just rationalizing my ideological beliefs and if you don’t agree then you suck at economics! LOL!

This cartoon on Patreon

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6 Responses to Cartoon: The Right-Winger’s Guide to Labor Economics

  1. 1
    Görkem says:

    The idea that unemployment is primarily a product of individual laziness is so easily falsifiable by the fact that laziness in society “seems” to raise and fall as the overall economy grows and contracts, and yet it is still very widely held, even among people on the ostensible left.

    I think it’s equal parts leftover moralistic economics from a previously dominant religious worldview, successful neoliberal pro-employer propaganda, and a desire to look down on the less fortunate, all combined into one big sticky ball of wrongthink.

    Now Ron and Corso will come along to explain why actually laziness among workers is a major epidemic that needs to be dealt with as a priority.

  2. 2
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    I thought laziness was the reason that so many low wage jobs are infilled in this time of ultra low unemployment. Just goes to show you how destructive the constant laziness of the workers is.

  3. 4
    Ampersand says:

    That’s brilliant!

  4. 5
    run75441 says:


    Nicey done with your creativity using individual

    I am convinced we will never get the point across that Labor is not the issue. They are the smallest cost in the cost of manufacturing consisting of Labor, Overhead, and Materials. That is another story and it will take many more words for me to explain here.



  5. 6
    RonF says:

    I’d say there would be multiple reasons for high unemployment. One might be that there are far fewer jobs than people who are looking for them due to a contraction of the economy; plant closings due to increases in energy costs, for example.

    Another might be a societal shift wherein the number of low-skill jobs decreases and the number of high-skill jobs increases; in some cases the former low-skill workers cannot retrain to become high-skill workers for various reasons, in other cases the educational system doesn’t turn out people qualified to become high-skill workers, etc., or a combination of the two.

    Still another could be that welfare and other government programs provide benefits that working people have to pay for on their own and that many jobs that would permit people to pay for those benefits require levels of productivity (in order for paying that amount to be profitable for the employer) that the people using the government benefits either cannot or do not care to perform; that last meaning that there are a certain number of people who would rather accept the living conditions that government programs provide rather than put forth the effort in an employment situation to equal or improve them.

    There are currently objections to “in order for paying that amount to be profitable for the employer” based on the concept that management and stockholders are keeping too much profit and not distributing enough of it in the form of wages to employees. I have no problem with this concept. If they are doing that, then they are going to have issues with hiring workers to the point that they will either have to pay more or go out of business. And if the workers decide to unionize and force the issue directly, more power to them as long as we are talking about private businesses and not government employment.