Obamacare – Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness?

Obamacare reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, and more specifically of Ivy and Gerald Starnes, and the Twentieth Century Motor Company that they run into ground, by their rule of From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

I read that during the recession of 2007, the sales of Atlas Shrugged climbed. I can imagine why. Among all kinds of dystopian worlds that writers dream up and write about, Ayn Rand’s visualization is the most plausible. While I don’t think that Obamacare is the final nail in the coffin of the American way of life, I do think that it has set the ball rolling.

Bluntly put, what Obamacare symbolizes is:
If my neighbor can pay to stave off my death and if government can pay to feed me – why must I work?
And also,
I can’t swim but I am tied to the ankle of the guy who can swim, who wants to live, and who probably has the strength to pull my weight along, why should I learn to swim?

What Obamacare effectively does is – it punishes people to be work hard, earn more, and stay healthy – and it rewards people to do the opposite. It takes away people’s right to choose and people’s need to be productive, because it promises to fulfill the safety needs of people without their having to raise a finger. Maslow’s hierarchy establishes the basic needs as physiological needs and safety needs…and everyone would work to fulfill these needs – except when they are fulfilled automatically. Doles of all kinds result in auto-fulfillment of these needs – and yet I am not against doles per se. Why? Because they allow people to fulfill their basic needs and allows some of them to break out of poverty. Others who don’t want to work because they’ve got habituated to the easy life, become less disruptive, because their basic needs have been fulfilled. So doles do help in keeping societies together.

What I am against however is disguising a dole under a veneer of an “earned” right. If you earn more you pay a higher premium regardless of whether or not you need a health insurance cover. If you don’t earn, despite having never taken care of your health a single day of your life, you pay a lower premium – you get a waiver. And yet both get exactly the same treatment when they need it, if they need it.

  • Does it make sense?
  • How does it make any sense?

Theoretically, this could’ve been achieved by increasing the taxes, or perhaps by revisiting the tax structure and by grading it to make it easier for the low-earning members of the society to make ends meet. But then a dole would still be called dole and if the administration had gone about doing it honestly, a lot of people would have resisted it. It wouldn’t have worked.

Theoretically, this could’ve been done by asking people to be more charitable and people generally are charitable, but when they earn they prioritize and nobody puts his neighbor’s kids before his kids – even when he loves his neighbor. Obamacare requires that you do that – except that you put your money in a kitty with many others…and then that money is drawn and used by many others…and nobody knows anybody else.

So people who could pay were made to swallow the bitter pill by putting it inside a coating of sugar and chocolate. People were told that those who were happy with their plans could keep them…but from what I hear, this isn’t happening. Many Americans have been left holding the short-end of the stick!

To make matters worse, the Obamacare website keeps failing. A gentleman who is my FB friend recently posted his experience with the Obamacare website. He tried for many hours before he could add the information for his wife, and then suddenly it all disappeared. Just like that!

Here’s an illustration that I did around the concept of the failing healthcare website, for the March 2014 Issue of The American Spectator Magazine.

???af_dialog.Label_OK??? by Ira Stoll - Illustration for The American Spectator Magazine March 2014

Accompanies the article “???af_dialog.Label_OK???” by Ira Stoll  (Click the image for larger view.)

I see a lot of similarity between The Twentieth Century Motor Company of Atlas Shrugged and The United States of today. What has made the United States the country it is – is the will of its people to earn an honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work. In the long run, schemes such as Obamacare dry up that will to work, because hardworking people who create value are smart too, and in time they see through any veneer that the administration may use…and when they do realize, something similar to what happened at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, could happen.

If you haven’t read the book, this is what happened at that factory.

All the hardworking people got fed up of seeing the money that was made of their sweat and blood, ending up in the pockets of those who were able to make a case of how needy they were – they got fed up of working to fulfill their neighbor’s need.

In Ayn Rand’s fictitious dystopia, there still was hope – for the prime movers had united and they intended to build America back – but that was fiction and a manifestation Rand’s obsession with super-heroes. What would happen in reality? Who are the prime movers? Are there any prime movers at all?

If America doesn’t go back to its original values, one day the declaration of Independence might be replaced by another declaration – the declaration of co-dependence, and the words “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” will stand changed to “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness.”

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Caricatures of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for the American Spectator Magazine.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to caricature two most talked about talk-show hosts of America: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Most of my readers are aware of the pains I take to hide my ability to travel through time. But as they say, it’s impossible for talent to stay hidden for long. Someone must’ve blabbed about my ability to time-travel, to the American Spectator Magazine. They hired me and my time-machine to transport Limbaugh and Hannity into the past, dress them up as the nobility of those times, and transform them into pamphleteers!

While I usually don’t like to take passengers on my trips into the past, I couldn’t refuse this particular offer. After all, these two distinguished gentlemen have been striving hard to make America see the pluses of Conservative thought. I also knew that they’ve each got about 15 million viewers of their talk-shows, and if only 1% of their viewers thought that they looked awesome in their retro-gear, and decided to hire me as their fashion-designer, I’d be famous too.

So this caricaturist hauled up this precious cargo to the past, dressed ’em up in wigs’n frills, made ’em stand in front of a printing press, handed ’em those pamphlets to pose with – and shot this picture. Then she got ’em back, took out her wand and used the obliviate spell to wipe their memories of this event. (This is why they’d deny ever accompanying me on this trip!)

Here’s a snapshot of the magazine on my desk 🙂

Caricatures-Rush-Limbaugh-Sean-Hannity-American-Spectator-November-2013

Click for Larger View.

I know that you’d like to see the details of their dresses (especially, if you were to hire me as your fashion-designer,) so here’s the closeup.

Caricatures of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity - Talk Show hosts - Illustrated for the American Spectator Magazine - November 2013 issue.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity

Both these gentlemen have their websites too. Check them out at:

I’ll return with more next week, when Bigsaw Classic arrives on the App Store 🙂 In the meantime, download and play with Bigsaw Designer – a custom picture puzzle-making machine for your iPad.

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine October 2013 Issue.

First…

———— An update ————

(for the regular readers, others please skip.)

For the last two months, I’ve been working on something very different and something really detailed…something that has kept me away from creating caricatures for this blog (ok…I did Merkel’s caricature, but other than hers, all the other caricatures that I’ve been doing are for that other project…and oh, that project really has nothing to do with caricatures.) Confused? You should’ve heeded my warning.

———— Update ends ———–

Now let me tell you about my recent work for The American Spectator magazine. I painted the cover page of the October issue of the magazine, which features three of the most admired Presidents of the United States. The forever young and handsome John F. Kennedy, the White House Cowboy Ronald Reagan, and the silent but strong Calvin Coolidge.

My copies arrived two days ago, and just before I finished work last night, I took this picture of it.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk. The Cover Features Three Past US Presidents – John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I learned that The American Spectator would like to me to paint the three Presidents together, I felt really happy. I love to paint caricatures with stories, and painting three well-known faces in the same picture along with a story that made them look like they were friends-forever, was something that made me want to drop everything else and work on it.

I sent in the sketch. While everything else in the sketch remained the same as what you see here, I had an open window behind President Reagan and you could see the earth through it. My idea was that these guys could get together only in heaven – and this would add to the effect. This of course, didn’t make to the final painting – nor did Reagan’s hat on a peg – because that would have me add a wall behind them, and a wall would make their environment appear claustrophobic. I am sure that even in heaven, the American Presidents would be given beautiful, spacious quarters… so I decided to add those French Windows looking out into a haze of clouds.

Painting the Caricatures of the Three Presidents

Painting John F. Kennedy’s Caricature

I had drawn President Kennedy‘s face before, so I knew his face well. What I didn’t know was the exact color of his hair. I checked out a lot of pictures of his, and his hair looked different in every one of them. It varied from black, to dark brown, to light brown, to reddish-brown, to golden.  I still don’t know. But he looks like himself and that’s good enough for me 🙂

(President Kennedy’s Black and White Caricature done a couple of years ago.)

Painting Ronald Reagan’s Caricature

President Reagan’s face is tough to caricature. If a caricature-artist wants to challenge himself  (or herself – excuse the stereotyping, but truth be told, most of our kind are men,) he should try caricaturing Reagan’s face. I had to do a lot of research to figure out what he liked to wear as casuals. (In fact, I came across a picture in which he was wearing checks in a meeting with Margaret Thatcher.) I realized that he loved horses and I thought that his cowboy getup in denims would be just right for the occasion. He could’ve returned from a pegasus-ride, or could be going for one. (Fellow Artists, note that according to the light outside of the windows, it could be late morning or early afternoon)

Painting Calvin Coolidge’s Caricature

President Calvin Coolidge was a visual enigma. I had sketched him on the right side of the page, which meant that I should show his left profile. After hours of research, I came to the conclusion that because President Coolidge had little hair on the left side of his head, he always got his portraits painted/photographs taken to show the right side of his head.  I had absolutely no idea what his left profile looked like, until I came upon a 1924 video of one of his public addresses (after he had fixed the Great Depression?) and in that video he twice turned to show his left profile to the camera. I know that he must’ve berated himself for it later, but what was done was done – and a happy caricaturist returned to her drawing board – knowing exactly what to paint.

And the Concept…

…that their topic of discussion is this specific article about JFK actually being a conservative (and this is why JFK’s got the magazine in his hand,) was super awesome – it came from the super-creative Managing Editor of the magazine! It just made the picture-puzzle fit. Speaking of picture-puzzles, I am reminded of the project…I need to go back to work.

Meanwhile, here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the October 2013 Issue of the American Spectator Magazine Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge.

Two other Interesting facts:

More later…

And oh,

do you want to know how “really” Newton happened to discover gravity? I have the inside scoop…return if you are interested 🙂

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine July-August 2013 Issue.

I was earlier planning to post a caricature of Julia Gillard along with my story of why she resigned from her position as the Australian Prime-Minister, but when I received my copies of the American Spectator Magazine’s July-August issue, I couldn’t resist from sharing these pictures here.

Let me start by showing you the magazine.

The American Spectator Magazine Cover - July August 2013 Issue Cover Art - The Radio Family by Shafali Anand

The American Spectator – July-August Issue 2013 on my Desk. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I heard from the magazine that they’d like me to do the cover for the July/Aug issue for them, I felt thrilled yet a bit anxious. A cover is, well, a COVER. I could live with having forgotten to paint those draw-strings on Red’s pajamas, but when an image is destined to become the cover of a magazine, it asks for a lot more dedication from the artist.

The requirement was – an American family of 1940s/50s, gathered around the radio. Sounds simple, right? Let us analyze.

An American family? That was easy. I am so completely into Hollywood movies, American News (CBS News is on my top-bar,) and American sitcoms that I often think of myself as a virtual American.

But an American family of 1940s/50s? I wasn’t even born in the 40s and 50s. In fact, my mom must have been a little girl back then. So, I had to research. I had to research the radio, the dresses, the toys, the papered walls, the floral couches, the pooch (who would’ve been a cocker-spaniel if my friend Nancy wouldn’t have told me that the middle-class family in those days would likely own a mutt and not a spainel,) and the colors that would make it look more like the 1940s.

So, upon receiving the requirement, I did my research, got it all into a sketch, and sent it over for approval. After they okayed it I began painting…and I did little more than paint for the next many many many hours. Eventually, a very tired, zombie-like me sent the artwork to the Magazine , plopped down on the bed and got ported to Atlantis. The next morning, I heard from them that they were happy with it. I took a small break from work and then returned to work on a Graphic-design project.

Then two days ago, I received the copies of the magazine. The cover looked even better than I thought it would. The Design team had done such a great job on it. The subtle, low-intensity colors in the Title, the subtitle, and the top and bottom bars integrate with the picture seamlessly. I was so happy when I looked at it that I decided to photograph it and post it along with the artwork.

Here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the American Spectator Magazine - July August 2013 Issue - The Radio family of 1940s - Shafali

I’ll return with Ms. Gillard’s story soon 🙂 Until then keep drawing to smile.

Color Caricature/Cartoon – Peter Criss: The American Spectator Inspires the Caricaturist to Paint.

If you’ve known this caricaturist for a while, you know that when left to her own devices, she picks up a pencil and draws black-and-white caricatures. She then expects people to swoon over her black and white drawings, conveniently forgetting that the world loves colors. (She obviously won’t let go of this opportunity to compare herself with the Great Mr. Henry Ford who was happy making black cars, telling people that they could have any color as long as it was black.)

So when on February 5th, she opened her mailbox to find an email from the American Spectator, asking her to paint the color-caricatures of  three famous rock stars of the twentieth century, she looked at the deadline and moaned. Three color caricatures in five-and-a-half days…and of rock-stars (I am tone-deaf, remember?)

The good news is – I did it 🙂 The short and succinct “looks great!” from the other side of the world, kept me fueled up.

Here’s Mr. Peter Criss a.k.a. the Catman. He was the drummer of the Rock band KISS. The caricature accompanies an article “Rock and Roll is (Mostly) Noise Pollution.

Caricature/Cartoon of Peter Criss Painted for the American Spectator Magazine.

The concept asked for Peter Criss (in his Catman costume) checking out the thesaurus, as the article is an interesting review of the mad-rush of rock-star autobiographies.

The text “Makeup? or… Breakup?” twists the title of his autobiography “Makeup to Breakup,” to build a connection with his checking out the thesaurus. I left the sticks on the ground – unattended…for now, because the autobiography takes up his attention.

What I loved painting the most?

That white face and those gloved hands…getting those highlights right was fun…and of course, it was a novel experience. You don’t paint a Catman every day.

The Color-scheme

You could look at it from a distance of 10 feet and figure out that the caricature plays out a complementary color-theme. I didn’t think about it then, but as you’ll see in the other caricatures too – they all turned out to follow the complementary color-theme. I guess it was an intuitive need to balance the colors.

Guess that’s all for now 🙂

(Note: I know that many of my visitors arrive here to read my verbal-caricatures. If I’ve disappointed you, I am sorry – but I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of The American Spectator and read “Rock and Roll is (Mostly) Noise Pollution.” I don’t have the nerve to write anything after reading that :))