Cartoon: Selective Heartlessness, aka, On Employers Who “Can’t Afford” Paying A Living Wage


The fall of Rome was caused by not enough Romans supporting my Patreon. So sad! If only there were some way of preventing our civilization from suffering the same terrible fate…


I penciled a bunch of this one during a plane ride from California. And let me tell you, I was pretty proud. No more wasting plane time reading a Jack Reacher novel for me, no sir! I was productive!

And the person sitting next to me seemed very impressed with my drawing skills, which honestly is always fun. It’s like a very slow party trick.

I had to do some other work for a few days. Then, when I returned to this strip –  man, those pencils were awful! I tried to fix a bunch of figures, and then eventually gave up and redrew panels from scratch. It felt like I’d somehow forgotten how to draw.

I worked through it – although I did change the planned background (walking through a city) to a park walk, because drawing park walks is… What is that expression? It means when something is really easy and pleasurable.

But even the park came out badly the first couple of times I tried. But I kept at it, and eventually I pushed through it, and acceptable drawings were coming out of my stylus again.

It happens like that sometimes.

Then it became now, and I’m writing this text on one screen and looking at the cartoon on another screen, and it seems like every time I look at it there’s something I need to fix. It is friggin’ endless.

Seriously! Since the time I declared this cartoon done and sat down to write this text I have paused to correct:

1) Coloring the path so it’s different from the grass around it.

2) Fixing the lettering layout a bit in panel four.

3) Adding the sidebar thank you.

4) Turning the layer with the hatching lines back on because I turned it off back during correction one and forgot to turn it on.

5) Fixing his vest in panel four so it has a back panel like it does in panel one.

6) Fixing the path in panel 1 so it stops being twice as wide to the left of the boulder.

7) Coloring the plant next to the turtle in panel one, which I know I’ve done already, but I guess that change got lost at some point.

8) Color the dandelions in panel two.

9) Wait, what happened to the plant color in panel one I just did a couple of minutes ago? Why did it disappear? Aaargh. Redo that. Oh, the mushrooms lost their color too, fill that in.

10) And while I’m here anyhow, might as well color that plant on the right in panel four.

Each of these changes takes very little time to do, but it adds up and begins to feel endless. And, honestly, very few readers would notice if I hadn’t made these changes. But on some level, I think readers do appreciate the care, even if they naturally aren’t as attuned to the details as I am.

(After writing the previous paragraph, I noticed I’d drawn in clouds in panel four but not in panels one or two, and I went and fixed that).

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. I find this kind of work extraordinarily satisfying. And it is potentially endless, in that I could keep on finding little things to fix, or add, or improve.

But at some point you just have to stop and let people see the strip.


I know in real life people seldom walk around in vests. But I really like drawing vests.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two people chatting as they walk through a hilly park. One, the person walking in front, is wearing a vest and tie, and has one of those beards that’s done with a very thin strip of beard. (There’s probably a word for it?) The other is an older woman, with curly white hair, a striped shirt, a calf-length skirt, and cat-eye glasses. Let’s call them VEST and SKIRT.

PANEL 1

Vest is in front, taking big strides and scowling a little as he talks. Skirt follows a few steps behind, listening with a look of concentration.

VEST: Workers who aren’t paid a so-called “living wage” aren’t earning one! If they can’t handle wages set by the free market, a more productive worker will take their place.

PANEL 2

A close-up of Vest’s face; over his shoulder, still several steps behind, we can see Skirt holding up a finger to make a point. Vest looks crabby, and honestly, Skirt looks a little crabby too. These two may not be destined to be close friends.

VEST: I can’t stay in business if I pay my employees more than I have to!

SKIRT: Think of it this way…

PANEL 3

A close-up of Skirt, who is holding up both hands at shoulder height, “talking with her hands,” and smiling as she gets into what she’s saying.

SKIRT: If an employer can’t figure out how to pay a living wage, they don’t deserve to stay in business. A more productive entrepreneur will take their place, right?

PANEL 4

For the first time in the strip, Vest has turned around to face Skirt. He looks very distressed, his eyes huge, and he’s yelling. Skirt, startled, takes a step back.

VEST: HOW CAN YOU BE SO HEARTLESS?!?


On Employers Who Can’t Afford Paying A Living Wage | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Class, poverty, labor, & related issues, Economics and the like. Bookmark the permalink. 

5 Responses to Cartoon: Selective Heartlessness, aka, On Employers Who “Can’t Afford” Paying A Living Wage

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    If an employer can’t figure out how to pay a living wage, they don’t deserve to stay in business. A more productive entrepreneur will take their place, right?

    Not necessarily. It may be that there’s (currently at least) no way to operate that particular kind of business in a fashion that will permit paying the employees a living wage while giving the employer a workable return on investment. At which point the business will simply close and no one will have any kind of job at all.

  2. 2
    Eytan Zweig says:

    At which point the business will simply close and no one will have any kind of job at all.

    Is there a rule now that if you work for a business that goes under you can never get another job? Because I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

    It may be that there’s (currently at least) no way to operate that particular kind of business in a fashion that will permit paying the employees a living wage while giving the employer a workable return on investment

    Then that particular kind of business should probably not exist. Offering non-living wage jobs to some people is not a good enough reason, especially if other viable businesses do exist.

  3. 3
    Dianne says:

    If an industry is so unprofitable that any business that undertakes it will be unable to pay a living wage then it should either be allowed to die or, it if it necessary to society, be socialized.

  4. 4
    Horatio Velveteen says:

    @RonF: I believe Hayek had something to say to this effect

  5. 5
    Sebastian H says:

    Excellent cartoon. There is probably some level of minimum wage that would shut down lots of functioning businesses, but not at the level of living wage.

    Side note—a lot of the problems with living wage are really housing policy problems. The ‘living wage’ only has to look so high in some places because we’ve let housing costs get ridiculous.

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