Funky Tea

Cidu Bill on Dec 8th 2012

Mike: We beat up on Batiuk a lot, so maybe he should be thrown a rose when he gets a decent laugh. (and this also echoes the strips transformation over time)


Filed in Bill Bickel, Comics That Made Us Laugh Out Loud, Funky Winkerbean, Tom Batiuk, comic strips, comics, humor, lol | 33 responses so far

33 Responses to “Funky Tea”

  1. DemetriosX Dec 8th 2012 at 07:34 am 1

    This whole story arc has been bugging the hell out of me. It makes no sense! OK, they’re closing down the substation, fine. Harry’s old route still needs to be serviced and mail carrier routes are pretty well planned out and optimized now, so why would they be letting him go? They still need him. And even if they do lay him off, he’s been working for the PO for a good 20 years or more, so he has to have a pretty nice pension lined up. To say nothing of whatever his wife brings in. His paranoia about suddenly being jobless and impoverished is, to put it bluntly, crazy.

    Also, video-game-playing, air-guitar-contest-winning, *government employee* Crazy Harry is a Tea Partier? I don’t buy it. Funky maybe, but Harry? Horse hockey!

  2. chuckers Dec 8th 2012 at 09:18 am 2

    This is a CIDU for me. Probably because I don’t read the strip unless it shows up here.

    I used to many long years ago when it was a bout a high school band or something and it was, you know, funny but now…

  3. mitch4 Dec 8th 2012 at 09:25 am 3

    I have to agree with the more in-depth analysis offered by DemetriosX at #1. It’s a somewhat unthinking application of the cliché that everyone moves to the right with age.

    But still I agree this joke, despite the problems with the longer-stretch setup, is well executed. And wanted to point out it usefully leans on the shorter-term setup: the strip a day or two before this introduced the idea that some books could be “retired” since they are available at the library, which underlies this one.

  4. Powers Dec 8th 2012 at 10:05 am 4

    The idea of a government employee being a Tea Partier is no odder than the actual reality: Medicare recipients demanding the repeal of Obamacare but also demanding continued protection of Medicare.

  5. farmer Dec 8th 2012 at 10:21 am 5

    Or deeply conservative rural areas hooked on egregious farm subsidies.

  6. Keera Dec 8th 2012 at 01:05 pm 6

    Hah! If he’s a tea-partier then the library will be closing due to lack of funds so no books available, anyway.

  7. Elyrest Dec 8th 2012 at 01:45 pm 7

    I’m a lot more liberal now than I was as a teenager. I didn’t really understand the world at that time - I needed more education and experience. That doesn’t mean I was a conservative though. My grandmother was a mover and shaker in the Democratic party in Connecticut in her day and she passed on many of her beliefs. I know plenty of liberal older people and way, way too many conservative youngsters.

    Keera - Libraries and schools always seem to get cut first. Pretty short-sighted if you ask me.

  8. Keera Dec 8th 2012 at 02:44 pm 8

    Elyrest, I’m the same way, as in ignoring Winston Churchill’s “advice” that one be liberal in youth and conservative with age. But it’s hard to tell if I would have turned out this way without all my years in Norway, which has exposed me to 25% sales tax, subsidized funeral expenses and royalty at the shopping mall.

  9. Boise Ed Dec 8th 2012 at 05:17 pm 9

    DemetriosX [1], it makes a lot of sense to me. He’s paring down his beloved library, and using the metaphor of a corporate CEO downsizing his company. Books, in this metaphor, are his employees.

  10. Mark M Dec 8th 2012 at 05:18 pm 10

    No one says “I’m a tea partier”. That’s a phrase liberals use to describe those who are fiscal conservatives.

  11. guero Dec 8th 2012 at 06:43 pm 11

    I considered myself slightly left of center when I was in college (I wouldn’t even have qualified as a bleeding -heart liberal back then, much less knee-jerk), and I honestly don’t think my politics has changed much over the years, but the center has moved so far to the right that I’m now out in far left field, at least according to the conservative pundits.

  12. Freezer Dec 8th 2012 at 07:06 pm 12

    @DemetriosX : Don’t forget that this is the same strip that had Wally held as a POW for a decade by Iraqi insurgents, declared dead, discovered alive, sent home and kicked to the curb without so much as a CNN interview.

    This is not a strip that lets reality get in the way of its melodrama.

  13. The Vicar Dec 8th 2012 at 08:50 pm 13

    @Mark M:

    O RLY? Funny, “Tea Party” was an appellation created by the right wing for the astroturf movement funded by the Kochs and given credibility by Fox News hype.

    I, personally, am fiscally conservative. We should cut government spending by a minimum of 40%. The difference between me and you is that I think it should all — every last penny — come out of the “defense” and “security” budgets. (Close the overseas bases, scrap the largely outdated and useless aircraft carriers, stop the moronic and useless privacy intrusions, and reign in the endless corrupt and wrong spycraft.) Heck, I’ll even give political cover to breaking a union: the prison guards, who are largely behind the useless, foolish, endless increase in incarceration in the U.S., which has far and away the highest rates in the free world.

  14. Detcord Dec 9th 2012 at 07:17 am 14

    The Vicar is correct, the US has the highest incarceration rate - followed by the UK, Germany, France and Russia. In a counterpoint, the World Bank lists the US as the 8th wealthiest (per capita) on GDP per capita basis - along with the CIA (yes, them). IMF says 6th, and the University of Pennsylvania says 9th.

    This may be skewed a bit as the World Bank countries with better stats in this area are very small per capita-wise, (i.e. Luxemburg, Qatar, Macau, Norway, Singapore, Kuwait ). So, really, the US is not doing all that badly, with regard to sharing the wealth, in comparison with its contemporaries.

    Unfortunately, The Vicar’s version of Fiscal Conservatism has been tried before. President Roosevelt tried all sorts of The Vicar’s “fiscally conservative policies” - all of which had no impact on the state of the US economy at the time. It took the highly ambitious Japanese to shake Roosevelt and the US out of their collective lethargy to promote investment in infrastructure and industry along with encouraging the populace to save massively. Thus we (the US) learned a lesson - perhaps now forgotten? Relearning what “Provide for the Common Defence (i.e. Aircraft Carriers et al)” means was part of that lesson and we forget it at our peril.

    Now prison guards being responsible for incarceration rates….? That one I don’t get.

  15. Nebulous Dec 9th 2012 at 09:25 am 15

    In Louisiana, many(most?) local sheriff’s offices own for-profit prisons, and their profitability stems from keeping the beds filled AT ALL TIMES. This leads to the fact that Louisiana has the highest rate of imprisonment in the country, possibly in the world.
    Other states that have deregulated to use for-profit prison systems have similar effects, but Louisiana has the most obviously inflated rates.

  16. The Vicar Dec 9th 2012 at 03:10 pm 16


    We spend more on the military than the next 25 highest nations COMBINED. The next highest spender according to Wikipedia is China, which spends about 1/6 of what we do. Military and “security” spending makes up over 60% (yes, you read that right) of the discretionary budget*, which does not even include post-budget spending bills, which the military regularly gets (and which add to the federal debt). Cutting the federal budget by 40% composed entirely of military and “security” reductions would mean cutting their budgets by 2/3. We would still have the best-funded military in the world, and still be spending about as much as the next two largest spenders (China and Russia) combined. (And, incidentally, still be spending far too much on our military, which produces nothing useful, tends to end up making extra enemies every time it gets used, and is a worse “investment”, in terms of stimulating economic benefits elsewhere in society, than anything else the government does. A dollar spent on, say, education ends up contributing more than a dollar to the GDP, because teachers spend their paychecks locally, and the money the continues to circulate. As I recall, the figure is something like $2.50 in extra GDP for every $1 of teacher salary. Dollars spent on the military, on the other hand, contribute less than a dollar to the GDP via circulation.)

    Furthermore, military spending is not infrastructure spending in any way. Not even the interstate highway system is considered “military spending” any more, even though it was originally a military project (to ensure that, in the event of a nuclear war, we could still shift troops and equipment around the country to repel post-nuclear invasions or quell internal dissent). So the “OMG we have to keep spending on the military or everything will fall apart” argument is just ridiculous; either you really have no idea how this stuff works and are an alarmist, or you do understand and you’re deliberately telling lies.

    *For the governmental-operations-clueless, which these days apparently includes the entire Republican Party: the discretionary budget is all the stuff that we can either choose to spend money on or not during the coming year. It does not include obligations to which the government is already committed, which is mostly (but not exclusively) payments towards the federal debt**. Social Security only appears in the budget at all as a debt; the fund itself has a notional surplus at the present time (all the hand-wringing is because it projected to run into problems in about 20 years), but quite a lot of the money in the fund is currently “invested” in a loan to the government to cover our military spending of the last 40-odd years. This is, however, just a debt like any other. We have no choice but to pay it unless we default on our debt, which would pretty much instantly destroy the dollar and break the U.S. economy for good.

    **It has also occurred to me that a lot of people are confused about “debt” vs. “deficit”, so I’d better throw in an explanation of that, too. The federal deficit is the amount of money the government has to borrow this year to meet its immediate obligations. The debt, on the other hand, is the sum we owe for all the deficits every year since we started having deficits. A balanced budget would eliminate the federal deficit but leave us with the federal debt.

  17. Mark M Dec 10th 2012 at 12:47 pm 17

    The Vicar - I’m well aware of where the term originated. However, that was then and this is now. It has developed into a bit of a negative connotation used to describe radical conservatives. That’s why I said no one would use it to describe himself.

    I’m all for spending cuts, but “every last penny”? Really?

  18. NitricAcid Dec 10th 2012 at 01:49 pm 18

    The Radical Right also decided to name themselves “teabaggers”, and then got in a huff when the rest of us started laughing at the idea.

  19. Cidu Bill Dec 10th 2012 at 06:19 pm 19

    Are you sure about that, NitricAcid? My recollection is that teabagger was a name given to Tea Party members by others because, well… Urban Dictionary…

  20. The Vicar Dec 10th 2012 at 06:37 pm 20

    @Mark M:

    It’s like this: you guys chose the term yourselves. The fact that it is now derogatory comes from the fact that nobody else respects you or your ideas. Any other name you care to choose will shortly become derogatory as well — it’s not the name people hate, it’s the policies. If people actually thought you were intelligent and worthy of respect, then the name would be a mark of respect as well. Groups have been known to reclaim derogatory names and symbols before — look, for example, at the pink triangle.

    And yes, every last penny should come out of the military. It’s where the biggest, easiest to find, most egregious wastes of money are. The worst you can say about non-military spending is that some of it could be better allocated, whereas the military is filled with big wasteful projects, unnecessary bases, unneeded equipment, and foolish expensive contractors.

    @Cidu Bill:

    I have a vague recollection that that particular choice was made by some particularly backward part of the Tea Party who didn’t know the connotation, and it was immediately and joyously seized upon by their opponents. I can’t remember the details, though.

  21. Mark M Dec 10th 2012 at 10:44 pm 21

    “You guys”? I don’t remember expressing any affiliation or respect for Tea Partiers. Maybe you can tell me something else about myself that I don’t know since you know me so well.

  22. The Vicar Dec 11th 2012 at 01:43 am 22

    @Mark M:

    As I recall, you’re the guy who shows up every so often spouting right-wing talking points.

    If I have you confused with someone else, then sure, I apologize. My point is still true, but you aren’t one of them. (Well done.)

    If not, then quite frankly it’s immaterial whether you think you’re a Tea Party member or not; at this point, being a right-winger automatically pretty much puts you in the “disconnected from reality” category whether you want to use that particular label or not. Just as an example: in polls after this election, 49% of Republicans agree that Acorn committed election fraud to get Obama reelected. Which is quite a trick, considering that the organization hasn’t existed at all since 2010. There are similar numbers for believing in imminent threat of one-world-government takeover (go Google “Hilary Clinton UN gun ban”, just for kicks), creationism, or the various bizarre and contradictory charges thrown at Obama (at this point, he’s supposed to be a Nazi Communist with a radical Christian priest, except that he’s Muslim). The right wing is pushing austerity — which has been shown emphatically in Europe to destroy economies when applied during a downturn — and tax breaks on the rich — even though the tax breaks the rich have received over the last 3 decades are the cause of much of our budget problem. At this point, claiming to be a sane, well-informed right-winger is… well, I’m sure there are some, somewhere — sleeping in experimental cryogenics pods from the 1950s, back when they were sufficiently principled and intelligent to reject Joe McCarthy. The modern ones, though — sure, they’re not crazy, just totally indistinguishable in any way from people who are crazy! What a difference! Someone call David Chalmers, there’s a new wrinkle he may not have considered!

  23. mitch4 Dec 11th 2012 at 08:45 am 23

    Vicar, while I by and large agree with your politico-economic views, I wish your characterizations of those we disagree with could more temperate.

    In any case, I think other participants along with the Vicar may not be clearly expressing what bothers them about the naming issue. A lot can turn on precise form, so that someone who might accept or even announce agreement or affiliation with the “tea party” might object to the personal noun “tea partier” — just as we were at one point in the name of p.c. asked to say “Shia” instead of “Shi-ite” [for two reasons, I suppose — I’m getting at the overtones of the “-ite” suffix, not the resemblance to a 4-letter word.] And of course “tea bagger” is just meant to be taunting — okay if taunting is what you’re outright doing, but then you can’t say “you shouldn’t mind, it’s just the established name.”

  24. The Vicar Dec 12th 2012 at 06:07 pm 24


    The point at which “temperate” ceases to be a virtue is when remaining “temperate” permits others who are not so controlled to become dangerous. That point was actually passed nearly a decade ago, when the Republicans decided to conduct a preemptive military strike against a party unrelated to the 9/11 attack, using the 9/11 attack as an excuse. Our foreign policy since then has been a danger not only to the various hundreds of thousands of innocent foreigners we have killed (and the millions we have turned into refugees), but also to every single one of us because sooner or later there will be a reprisal. (And that’s just one issue; we’re already starting to see the effects of global warming — which the Republicans deny and attempt to make worse — on crop yields. Just wait until the price of food starts to permanently rise as a result. Even the Pentagon, which is notoriously in favor of conflict, thinks that’s dangerous.)

    Even Judith Martin (Miss Manners) is careful to distinguish between “being polite” and “being a doormat”. There is no call for sane people to sacrifice their own well-being in order to avoid offending people who are dangerously insane or stupid or both, and we have long since passed the point where sitting quietly while the right wing pollutes the atmosphere with lies and off-the-wall paranoia poses a serious threat to the rest of us.

    (And, incidentally, “tea party” at least is a term the group in question selected on their own. Their sole reason for wanting to abandon it now is that the term is now widely understood to stand for… exactly what the group stands for. They aren’t honestly seeking to avoid something insulting or indelicate, they’re trying to achieve a sort of false advertising. Why should we help them?)

  25. Dave in Boston Dec 12th 2012 at 10:46 pm 25

    The price of food has already started to permanently rise.

  26. The Vicar Dec 13th 2012 at 05:29 am 26

    @Dave in Boston:

    The price in food has risen, but there’s a little uncertainty over whether the rise so far is a direct reflection of global-warming-related scarcity, speculation caused by the imminence of global-warming-related scarcity (which is not the same thing), or just a symptom of the worldwide economic doldrums. In any event, the projections for food prices over the next couple of centuries, barring extraordinary unforeseen circumstances (alien intervention, a global plague with very high fatality rates, a sudden significant lowering of heat from sunlight, etc.), are hair-raising and orders of magnitude worse than anything seen so far. Time to learn to love vegetarian cuisine and tap water…

  27. Dave in Boston Dec 15th 2012 at 03:01 pm 27

    …and also remember not to accidentally live for two centuries :-)

    AIUI, most of the recent food price surges have been linked to weather events (e.g. the drought and heat wave in Russia a couple years back, the current drought in the US midwest, etc.) and it’s folly to pretend these aren’t linked to global warming.

    The chief exception is that the big runup in food prices prior to the 2008 panic mostly (AFAIK) came from the runup in oil and gas prices.

    It is doubtless going to get worse.

  28. The Vicar Dec 15th 2012 at 06:05 pm 28

    @Dave in Boston:

    The problem is that it is not at all clear that we have reached the point where lowered crop yields have actually caused prices to rise in and of themselves.

    Consider an analogous market: oil. (Analogous in this case because there is a maximum amount of production in any given year which is determined by plans made in advance.) Although demand continues to rise, we are still nowhere near a point where there are unmanageable shortages — so far, mass transit manages the excess consumer demand, while industrial use is more constrained by the ability to transport the oil which is already being produced than by production itself.

    Despite this, oil prices have risen by several hundred percent over the last decade. Why? Not because production isn’t meeting demand — in point of fact most reserves are currently full, or nearly so — but because of speculation. Someday in the future, oil will actually be scarce, and so we pay more for it now. Depending on how rigorously you want to define “because of scarcity”, you can argue for or against the proposition that oil prices have risen because of scarcity.

    In the same way, we have not reached a point where people are starving because global warming has crippled our food production capacity, although that seems to be on the way. The things killing people are the old problems of food distribution, profit-taking, and waste. (Animals are a big waste, for example — pigs are the most efficient meat animals to raise, and they still only produce about a third as many calories as meat as they take in, even under optimal circumstances. Cows and chickens and so on are much worse. If the whole world converted to veganism by next year, and was willing to accept any crop as long as it contained the necessary nutrition, the U.S. could undertake to produce all the world’s food without too much effort, provided the distribution issues were worked out. So food scarcity is, in a certain sense, an illusion.)

    So: is global warming causing price rises because of scarcity? It depends on how closely you define “because of scarcity”…

  29. Boise Ed Dec 15th 2012 at 10:30 pm 29

    Dear Vicar, oil prices are largely a matter of gambling — the commodity markets move the price of oil up and down based on how much short-term profit they can make, not on long-term supply considerations.

  30. The Vicar Dec 16th 2012 at 12:14 am 30

    @Boise Ed:

    Your objection would make more sense if food was not also traded in commodities markets which are traditionally subject to manipulation by profit-takers. (There were actually food market manipulations before there was even such a thing as a stock market — see for example the biography of Thales of Miletus.) Or are you suggesting that there’s something magic about oil which somehow makes it subject to rules not applicable to other commodities?

  31. Dave in Boston Dec 16th 2012 at 02:46 pm 31

    Vicar: you’re drawing a distinction that doesn’t really exist. Supply disruptions (these have been happening) affect prices, and it isn’t really meaningful to try to distinguish price fluctuations caused by “speculators” from “real” price fluctuations., or to distinguish “real” shortages from shortages that occur because market forces do not respond instantly to compensate for supply disruptions.

    As for the oil market, part of the issue there is that the political will to track down and prosecute folks who’ve (probably) been rigging the market doesn’t exist.

  32. The Vicar Dec 16th 2012 at 06:20 pm 32

    @Dave in Boston:

    Not in real time, but it is usually possible to look back and compare prices with real events and make some kind of determination. It is still technically possible that someone will “fix” global warming before it destroys our food supply — shade satellites at the Lagrange point between the earth and the sun, artificial increases in albedo, etc. If that happens, then the post facto analysis will be that the entire price rise was speculation.

    As it is, we can nevertheless say that the rise in the median price to date is necessarily speculation, because all supply disruptions have been localized. (That is, a failure of Russian wheat, if there’s still an overall surplus, will apply only in areas which have no alternate supply. North America won’t notice it at all.) At some point, that will cease to be true, and that’s when the biomass will hit the rotoimpellers. We’ll definitely know the difference between speculation-driven price increases and shortage-driven price increases once we see what happens to prices in a true shortage.

  33. Dave in Boston Dec 19th 2012 at 03:02 am 33

    That is… baloney. Right now, right here, bacon is in short supply and the price has gone up. It is not because of evil commodity speculators in Chicago; it’s because of the drought in the Midwest.

    It seems like you don’t want to consider this a “true” shortage, but I don’t see why.

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