Archive for March 3rd, 2013

Back in 2010, I shared parts of a Dave Barry column that mocked the government for bizarre examples of stupid law enforcement.

Barry was specifically making fun of OSHA bureaucrats for fining a company for the horrible transgression of saving a worker when a trench collapsed. But there are many other examples of law enforcement run amok.

  1. The Food and Drug Administration raiding a dairy for the terrible crime of selling unpasteurized milk to people who prefer unpasteurized milk.
  2. New York City imposing a $30,000 fine on a small shop because it sold a toy gun.
  3. The pinheads at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission going after Hooters for not having any male waiters in hot pants and tight t-shirts.
  4. Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources is legally attacking a family for rescuing a baby deer.

And now we have another Kafkaesque episode.

Here are some of the strange details from a local newspaper.

Anthony Brasfield saw romance when he released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach with his sweetie. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw a felony. Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning. …Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act. …Between 2008 and 2012, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said there were 21 arrests statewide under the rarely used environmental crime statute. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Let’s now think about what this means.

We have a guy who almost certainly had no idea he was committing a crime. He presumably isn’t rolling in money since he was staying at a Motel 6. Yet now he faces a harder life because he has a felony arrest on his record.

I’m assuming, by the way, that the government surely won’t send him to prison. I’m also guessing – or at least hoping – that the state won’t even impose a heavy fine. And perhaps the prosecutor’s office will drop or reduce the charges so he won’t have a felony conviction on his record. Though maybe I’m being too generous in those assumptions.

Anyway, my main point is to question why the unfortunate Mr. Brasfield was arrested in the first place. What was the cop thinking, that a felony arrest would help fill his quota?

By the way, I’m not claiming that there shouldn’t be a rule against releasing balloons near a nature preserve. It may be that imposing some sort of sanction is the right way,¬†from a cost-benefit perspective, to preserve and protect the environment.

But Mr. Brasfield wasn’t a big corporation dumping chemicals into the water with full knowledge of lawbreaking and potentially doing millions of dollars of damage. That’s the situation where felony arrests and prosecutions are completely appropriate.

Releasing a few balloons, by contrast, should be treated more like jaywalking or littering. Though I realize that would require common sense from lawmakers, law enforcement, and the justice system. So good luck with that.

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If you asked me that question 30 years ago, I would have said Jeff MacNelly without hesitation.

MacNelly Shutdown CartoonsNot that I was exposed to many options in the pre-Internet dark ages, so my choice may have been driven by lack of knowledge. Nonetheless, MacNelly was a genius with the details, as you can see from these cartoons about IRS complexity and government shutdowns.

But what about today’s cartoonists?

Based on the number of cartoons I’ve shared, the easy answer would be either Michael Ramirez or Chuck Asay, but there are cartoons from other artists that are absolutely superb.

So I’m going to turn this question around.

Here are my favorite cartoons from various artists and you can answer the poll about which one you would rank highest.

In no particular order, the options are:

Michael Ramirez – This gem about Obamanomics is the most-viewed professional cartoon in the history of this blog, and his European lemming cartoon is great, as is his masterpiece on taxes in the Garden of Eden. But if I had to pick only one, it would be his Julia cartoon.

Chuck Asay – Since I’m a budget wonk, I should choose his cartoon about the garbage-in, garbage-out approach of the Congressional Budget Office. But for mass appeal, this tractor cartoon and this regime-uncertainty cartoon are much better. And my favorite is this nothing-left-to-steal masterpiece.

Henry Payne – For sentimental reasons, I might pick this Robin Hood cartoon. But for political cleverness, his Obamacare-Romneycare cartoon is a classic, and his Valentine’s Fairness Act cartoon is satire that could become reality. But given what I focus on every day at Cato, you’ll understand why this cartoon about Greek fiscal policy is at the top of my list.

Lisa Benson – This cartoon about California tax hikes would be near the top of the list, except taxpayers were tricked into voting for the referendum. I very much like this fiscal cliff cartoon, this Keynesian economics cartoon, and this one about jump-starting the economy with tax hikes. But the top prize goes to this cartoon because it perfectly captures Obama’s fiscal policy.

cartoon-obama-icebergEric Allie – More than anyone else, he shows with this cartoon and this cartoon how even well-intentioned government goes awry. And the teetering-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff cartoon accurately shows Obama’s mindset on fiscal policy. If forced to choose, though, I’ll go with this forward-to-the-iceberg cartoon.

Robert Ariail – I think I’ve only used three of his cartoons, but the image he produced about Greece, the euro, fiscal policy, and the rest of Europe is a classic. The other two I’ve used (here and here) are funny, but not in the same league. But if you need some added humor to compensate, this map showing how the Greeks perceive the rest of Europe is very amusing, as is this video and this video about the Greek mindset.

Gary Varvel – Here’s a good Halloween cartoon, but Varvel is the best at exposing the spending-cut hoax in DC, as you can see from this sequester cartoon and this deficit reduction cartoon. This cartoon about Bernie Madoff and Social Security, however, is at the top of my list.

Scott Stantis – Here’s a cartoon strip about involuntary contributions to support the green-energy boondoggle. And we also have a cartoon showing Obama’s less-than-stellar appreciation of the Bill of Rights. But without doubt this cartoon about Keynesian stimulus is the best Stantis cartoon I’ve ever seen.

Jerry Holbert – I was tempted to use this cartoon about the rich involuntarily financing a continued spending spree. And the Obama-as-magician cartoon will make you laugh, as will Holbert’s sequester cartoon. My favorite, though, is the one showing big government as a ravenous, spoiled, and destructive brat.

Glenn FodenGoing to Greece in a handbasket doesn’t seem like an obvious topic for a cartoon, but Foden pulls it off. And you’ll understand why I appreciate a cartoon that makes fun of sequester hysteria. But for what it’s worth, I think his best cartoon is the one mocking Obama’s private-sector-doing-fine assertion.

Chip Bok – He’s got a couple of amusing cartoons about Obama’s class-warfare agenda that can be seen here and here. I’m also partial to his cartoon about the Fed helping to bail out the euro. But the one that makes me laugh the hardest is his cartoon about the “war against women.”

Glenn McCoy – He has a great pair of cartoons on condoms and gay marriage, and I also like his cartoon on sequester hysteria. McCoy’s cartoon on gullible voters being bribed with their own money normally would be a contender. I don’t think there’s any question, though, that his cartoon on media bias is the best of the bunch.

A.F. Branco – Since I’m sick and tired of Obama and the special interests complaining about the supposedly savage sequester, I obviously like Branco’s cartoon portraying the sequester as a roadblock that may save us from fiscal destruction. But I’m even more partial to his cartoon riffing on Obama for his you-didn’t-build-that comment.

Unknown – Last but not least, here’s one of my favorite cartoons, though it’s really a parody of the Wizard of Id. And I don’t have any idea about who produced it. But how often do you find first-rate analysis of labor-supply incentives in a cartoon?

That was more work than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed getting a second look at many of these cartoons.

Now it’s time for your input. Which cartoon/author would you rank first?

P.S. Though I lack any artistic talent, I’ve played a role in creating some cartoons. Here’s my photo-shopped cartoon that uses Lucy and Charlie Brown to show why it is utterly naive to think that tax increases will lead to deficit reduction. I even have an award for gullible GOPers who don’t grasp this simple lesson.

Welfare State Wagon CartoonsWe also have the famous set of cartoons showing how the welfare state begins and how it ends. These images were drawn by a Cato intern, but I selfishly take credit for developing the concept and guiding her work. Especially since these cartoons are the most-viewed post in the history of this blog.

I didn’t include either of these in the voting, though, since I’m sure they would have received all the votes. Right? Surely you agree? Hello…anybody there? Can you hear me?

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