Thursday, August 3, 2017

Q Toon: Playing an Uphill Lie

One of my colleagues posted the other day how much he hates drawing grass. There's a lot of grass in this week's cartoon, and all things considered, I'd rather draw grass than (see last week) buildings.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Aug 3, 2017

One thing newspaper editors hate about editorial cartoons is that there's no editing the things once they're drawn. News articles don't get to misstate the facts. Editorial think pieces don't get to distort the truth. If something in the fifth paragraph isn't totally on the up and up, it can be edited out, clarified, or corrected.

Editorial cartoons, on the other hand, constantly misstate and distort, albeit in the interest of getting at a greater truth. I readily admit that I had to do some of that this week. If I had wanted to be a stickler for just the facts, ma'am, the cartoon would be almost all text with a couple tiny little characters tucked into the corner.

You see, it's nearly impossible to come down with a dollars-and-cents figure for either the medical costs of transgender service members or Donald Joffrey Trump's golf trips — last Friday's chart notwithstanding.

Let's start with the medical costs.
[A 2016 RAND Corporation] report says gender transition-related health care—not just surgeries, but also ongoing care such as hormone treatment—sets the US military back between $2.4 and $8.4 million per year. That’s between 0.04% and 0.13% of its total medical budget.
As small a percentage of the Pentagon medical budget as that may be, most of us would consider the difference between $2.4 and $8.4 million huge. It's especially huge if you want to compare it to the cost of one presidential golfing trip. We don't know the cost of that either; the best estimate anyone has been able to come up with is based upon a golf trip President Obama had taken to Florida's Treasure Coast in 2013. With transportation, lodging, advance teams, security and whatnot, Obama's trip cost the federal government $3.6 million.

That's 150% of $2.4 million, but only 42% of $8.4 million. Politifact, moreover, rates using the $3.6 million figure as the cost of any Trump visit to Mar-a-Lago as only "half true," due to any number of variables in the cost of such a trip. Using the higher figure for transgender medical costs and a conservative $2 million for Trump's weekly golf trips, GQ suggests that "allowing trans men and women to serve in the military would cost about the same as four of Trump's weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago. Four!"

That's with the conservative estimate for Trump's trips to his own golf courses. One thing we know, however, is that Trump Inc. does not offer Trump Administration any discounts.

Trump loyalists will allege that their man has promised to reimburse the government for Mar-a-Lago expenses. Yet as we learned last year after he claimed to have raised $6 million for veterans' charities, Trump can be mighty slow to pay out on his promises. Nor can we expect him to suddenly stop fighting to keep his finances out of the public eye.

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