Monthly Archives: October 2010

Shear Trade

Vintage Scissors by H. Cromwell Criterion. (Image courtesy of Great Planes Trading)

A pair of vintage scissors by H. Cromwell Criterion. (Image courtesy of Great Planes Trading)

Not many of us are overwhelmed with patriotic feelings when we think about scissors but they have been a highly protected manufactured good for much of America’s history. In the tariff act of 1922, the tax on imported scissors was 45%, which was pretty high for that time. In the 1990s, the tariff on “cheap scissors” was 23.6%, which is super high for our era of low tariffs.

Not that any tariff rates make any sense: the tariff on a patriotic commodity like steel rides at around 1 or 2%, while foreign-seeming soybean oil gets 18 to 45%. Premium cuts of meat are barely guarded at 4% but cheap meat gets a 10 to 20% tariff slapped on. Don’t mess with our crappy meat or our crappy scissors!

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Ben Jackel

Activist art often conjures associations of hyper-political, in-your-face images and guerrilla performances that affront and assault the senses in order to draw attention to a particular cause or injustice and even more ideally, antagonize the viewer to action. Los Angeles-based artist Ben Jackel takes a different, more subtle tack. According to Jackel, art needs to be socially conscious, but first and foremost, “it has to be a beautiful object.”

Artwork by Ben Jackel, Fire Axe (2008-2009)

Fire Axe (2008 – 2009) made with stoneware and ebony.

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