Budgets and Tax Structures and Punching Dachshunds in the Face…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, April 24, 2010

I typically don’t go for the “labeling” approach of editorial cartooning. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for a newspaper editorial cartoon to have 20 or more callouts with arrows and signs and whatnot. And this worked because readers generally spent some time going over the cartoon and cartoonists didn’t necessarily expect everybody to get each jab and joke, so they tended to include something for everybody. Over the past 100 years cartoons have trended toward simpler, single-idea pieces and labeling has become kind of passé.

But I had this wonderful vision of a wiener dog chasing its own tail. And because it’s a wiener dog, the chase is an exercise in futility — it is physically impossible to catch its tail. It seemed the perfect allegory for Michigan’s chasing a sustainable budget with a revenue structure created back in our manufacturing economy era. It’s not going to happen, so it’s time to make some decisions. It will be difficult — some people will have to pay higher taxes!!!!!!!!!!!! — but it’s the sensible thing to do.

This allegory actually carries further with my life. When I was two or three, my uncle gave our family a dog: Charlie Brown. And (Mom and Dad, correct me if I’m wrong) if he wasn’t exactly a dachshund he was dachshund-ish. Charlie Brown loved my Mom. I loved my Mom. Charlie Brown did not love me. I did not love Charlie Brown. Fighting ensued. I can remember Charlie Brown latching onto my arm and the feeling of me punching Charlie Brown in the face. Clearly things were not working, nor were they going to get better. So my parents had to make a difficult decision. Understand that my Mom — aka, St. Francis — did not want to get rid of Charlie Brown. It might have been timely successes with potty training that tipped the scales to my favor, and I got to stay. (I have no doubt that Mom and Dad had their second thoughts when several years later the bills for my orthodonture work started rolling in.)


  1. Chris Willis said,

    May 7, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    How did I miss that you did a cartoon with a weenie dog? 🙂

    For the record, we’ve had three of them (currently two) and I’ve never seen one of them engage in tail chasing activity. This I take to be a good sign, as repetitive tail chasing can be a sign of a bored and not well adjusted dog, and it can become compulsive to the point of being destructive. I’ve actually read a case where a dog had to be put down because it got locked into obsessive tail chasing behavior to the point the dog was wasting away, and medication wasn’t helping. I guess term limiting is meant to be a way of euthanizing our state legislators … so we can get a fresh batch of inexperienced tail chasers to fill their seats!

    But I digress. My real point is that although my weenie dogs aren’t tail chasers, they are quite limber, and do regularly engage in various other doggish behaviors that involve licking their nether regions. Based on that observation, I would have to say it IS unfortunately technically feasible – and more likely – that a weenie dog would catch it’s own tail than it is that we will any time soon make the difficult and politically distasteful decisions necessary in order to balance our state budget.

  2. John Auchter said,

    May 7, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    After I posted this last week, I sent you an email apologizing for the imagery and letting you know that “I am not now nor have I ever been an anti-dachshundite.” I stand by that statement, although I can also say that I now know much more about weiner dogs than I’m comfortable with….

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