A $6,000 toaster is the most absurdly perfect metaphor for income inequality.

When tax cuts came up during a televised community meeting in Australia, let's just say that things got a little ... toasty.

The controversy started during the May 9 taping of "Q&A," a popular panel discussion show on the country's public broadcasting network, when audience member Duncan Storrar asked an impassioned question about the country's latest tax cuts:


GIFs via AussieNews1/YouTube.

It's a valid concern. And Australian Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer, who was one of the panelists, offered a, erm, less-than-valid rebuttal.

O'Dwyer launched into a tried-and-true refrain about trickle-down economics — a theory that's been repeatedly debunked regardless of how much people really really want it to work. But it was the example she used to prove her point that really raised some eyebrows. Referring to a(n imaginary?) small-business owner with a $2 million budget, she said:

GIF via AussieNews1/YouTube.

Yup: SIX. THOUSAND. DOLLAR. TOASTER.

GIF from "The Brave Little Toaster."

Upon hearing this, most Australians thought, "Who the &$%# spends $6,000 on a bloody toaster?!"

All across the country, people were moved by Storrar's speech — and dumbfounded by O'Dwyer's blatant disconnect from the struggling poor and working-class citizens, who the government should actually be listening to.

GIF via Denny's/YouTube.

Our cousins Down Under rallied together and launched a tongue-in-cheek GoFundMe campaign to buy a $6,000 toaster for Duncan Storrar. Within two days, they raised more than 10 times that amount.

That's even more remarkable than the guy who raised $55,000 to make a potato salad. But while the impetus behind this campaign was similarly silly, it was also coming from a place of desperation and discontent with the ever-increasing rate of income inequality that's been spreading across the entire global economy.

Taxes are basically just a mandatory government-run crowdfunding campaign. And while you can argue about that supposed tyranny all you want, the fact that thousands of people willingly gave up their own hard-earned cash to help a man in need speaks volumes about the power of empathy and the far-reaching effects of community support.

GIF from Nicolette Groome/Tumblr.

The fact that governments across the world continue to eviscerate social benefit programs to give tax cuts to the wealthy is a disheartening affront to that same goodwill.

Governments should work for the people — which means all the people, not just the biggest breadwinners. So how come nearly 1 million Americans are losing food benefits while House Republicans are proposing an additional $98 billion in social program cuts? Why are 500,000 people in the U.K. losing their disability benefits, which many of them rely on to survive? Why are people like Australia's own prime minister hiding billions of dollars in potential taxable income in places like Panama and still getting tax cuts when the time comes around?

And how come when thousands of people opened their wallets and said, "This guy deserves a piece of toast! (Or, more accurately, to take his daughter to a movie once a year!)" the Australian government still ignored them?

Put mildly: That's not cool.

Guess which side of this toaster represents the working class? GIF via Photonic Induction/YouTube.

These phenomena obviously aren't limited to Australia. But a $6,000 toaster making front-page headlines is a pretty good indicator of just how absurd the problem really is.

Granted, there are some smaller businesses who would benefit from a six-foot-wide, double-racked toast-making behemoth like this. But what good is a $6,000 industrial toaster if the majority of your potential customers are too poor to afford a sandwich?

Maybe instead of concerning ourselves with fancy electronics, we should make sure everybody has their bread first. After all, you can't make toast without it. And if a couple thousand people were willing to chip in $60K in just two days to make one guy's life a little easier, imagine the difference it would make in the entire community if everyone did their part.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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