Joe the Plumber AgonistesJoe on Youtube
If you haven't seen it yet, this is the video that started it all.
Looking back at it, Obama comes across as quite reasonable. Joe doesn't seem to know or acknowledge what is in his best financial interest (or that of the country). He seems utterly unable to understand the concept of progressive taxation (Hey, maybe the rich can afford to pay 3% higher in income taxes than those making less than $250,000).
Maybe that's why Joe is an apprentice plumber in his mid-30s. (Actually he's not even an apprentice plumber, he's unlicensed plumber who works apparently for a licensed plumber).
I'd be a little wary about having Joe work on my house (due his his apparent lack of any formal expertise in plumbing), but with his knowledge of economics I might be willing to take a gamble on him.
"Hey, Joe," I'd say, "instead of paying you $10000 for this bathroom job, how about I pay you, say, $7200? After all, the government is gonna take 28% in income tax. This way you'll pay less tax to the government--sound good to you? And you'll be $7200 closer to that quarter million you need to buy your boss's business (after he finishes "training" you). That's what I say is Win-Win, brother!"
But Joe is a dreamer. He dreams big--Bill Gates big. When he starts pulling in that $250K plus, he doesn't want to have to pay more percentage-wise than the slug making $40K a year (the amount Joe made last year). That just ain't the American way. And besides he'll need to buy a bigger SUV (probably on credit) and a bigger house (also mortgaged to the hilt) in order to live the good life his hard work deserves.
Credit's become the real American right--not health care, not free speech, not separation of church and state. All these laissez faire wannabees sure don't want the credit spigot turned off. And I'd love to know the percentage of those against the $700 billion bailout who are carrying a credit card debt of say, $5000, or more.
The McCain campaign is right: Joe the plumber does represent the American worker. Too lazy or stupid to get his plumber's license. Indignant that his hard work (without the job skills that could land him better pay) is not better remunerated. Relying upon the emotional crutch of ideology that prevents him from even listening to what Obama, slowly and clearly, is trying to explain to him what's in his (and his son's) best interest.
With two liens on his house for non-payment of taxes and medical bills, Joe the Plumber still doesn't seem to realize that he's not middle-class--he's one month away from poverty-level. (Funny how no one talks about "the poor" in this campaign--it's always the "middle class," many of whom are soon to become "the poor" whether they will call themselves that or not).
No, Joe will have none of that fancy "reason" or "rational self-interest" upon which the Founding Fathers based our system of government. No, he's been ginned up by Sarah Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity and all the others to believe that all taxes are simply a form of socialism and that mild progressive taxation is a "slippery slope" that will lead us into Joe Stalin collectivization.
Hate and fear rules these folks' minds. They are sure that something is being taken away from them--their hard-earned money, their dignity, their very souls. They are radical theocrats at heart--not Republicans (or even conservatives). Not knowing tradition (rootless, moving from Arizona, to Texas to Ohio, divorced with child), the Joe the Plumbers substitute a radical ideology for a sense of place with organic traditions and mores.
Joe the Plumber has nothing to conserve. His ranch house? The American Military? His plumbing business (that's not even his business, and he's not even skilled enough to pass a plumber's license test)?
He has nothing tangible to conserve. Not a land, a soil, a community. He's rootless in the rust belt looking for someone to blame for his failure to own the McMansion in the suburbs and the profitable plumbing company in town.
Of course he's angry. He's mad that he doesn't have what the celebrity folks (MTV, etc.) have. What have they done to earn what they have when he's snaking out backed up toilets? It's not fair! The politicians are to blame. The teachers are to blame. The parents are to blame. Saddam Hussein's to blame. Bin Ladin's to blame. Immigrants (legal or otherwise) are to blame. The whole system's to blame.
"I could have been somebody, I could have been a contender . . . you should have looked out for me, Charlie," said Terry Malloy.
But Charlie didn't look out for Joe the Plumber. And Joe, poor Joe, thinks that McCain and Palin will.