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Tuesday, October 21st 2008

8:15 AM

Is Anybody Else Sick of Joe the Plumber?

The most famous person in America is not JOE-Mama.  It’s Joe the Plumber.  As soon as presidential hopeful Barack Obama mentioned his name during the last debate, opponent John McCain grabbed hold of it like a pit bull and wouldn’t let up.

Joe the Plumber became the voice for every hard-working “wanna be self-employed” man in America. Initially I was proud of Joe because he represented my home state of Ohio---but then, as all good journalists do, I started looking into his background and what I found now makes me think he was a “plant” for the Republican Party.

First of all, Joe said he was a plumber and would like to buy a plumbing business but was worried about Obama's planned tax increases on small business owners earning more than $250,000.  Well, what Joe failed to mention was that he makes no where near $250,000 and, furthermore, he doesn’t even have a license to do his job.  The county Joe and his employer live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses. So what’s up with that Joe?

Another thing, Joe admitted later on that he doesn't have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating from his boss.  He said he's worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.  Just how long is “some point?”  It could be next week or it could be in 10 years.  Surely Obama won’t be in office by then.

"There's a lot I've got to learn," Joe the Plumber told a reporter.

Joe, you said it right.  There’s A LOT you need to learn so here’s my advice:  Meet Joan—The Teacher.  She’s someone who went to school, got a degree (license) and could certainly teach you a thing or two---especially if you’re required to take some kind of test to get your plumber’s license.

30 message(s).

Posted by ayburke:

This Joe the Plumber thing is over played by the McCain campaign because they have nothing of value to say. And as usual, the story isn't even true. Joe is not a licensed plumber, makes only around $41K, isn't buying a small business, etc. He was probably a republican plant that has once again backfired!
Tuesday, October 28th 2008 @ 8:53 AM

Posted by Bob Buckley:

Bev ...

We differ? I thought I'd brought you around, over the years, and "saved" you from your "fuzzy-headed liberalism!" ;-)

Friday, October 24th 2008 @ 4:56 AM

Posted by Beverly:

Bob, you said...

"Work requires a license ... and the individual can work off the license of his company. That's what Joe was doing."

Well, that's not totally true. YES--work does require a license but the county that he and his employer live in requires plumbers to have licenses. And the Lucas County office of building regulations says NEITHER Joe the Plumber or his BOSS is licensed there.

Furthermore, an official at Local 50 of the plumber’s union, based in Toledo, said Mr. Wurzelbacher does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union.

So what message is he really sending?
Wednesday, October 22nd 2008 @ 11:22 AM

Posted by Beverly:

C. Erickson,
Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents--you do have that right? :)

Bob is a dear friend and colleague whose opinions I always respect--even though we may differ.

And as far as following each other on Twitter--I'd love to.
Wednesday, October 22nd 2008 @ 11:09 AM

Posted by C. Erickson:


I just have to say, your friend Bob rocks, and I'm not a rich person. I also don't think I'm going to be in the $250,000 tax bracket anytime soon. But I won't vote to tax them more and send me a check. Just because something benefits me doesn't make it right and it won't make me vote for it.

Love your attitude though, allowing and even championing the value of good debate and discussion on Twitter. (That's how I found you... After the election, can I follow you? :))
Wednesday, October 22nd 2008 @ 10:42 AM

Posted by Bob Buckley:

Econ 101:

Taxes are the price we put on commerce and achievement. Like the price of anything, there is a point that maximizes revenue.

Kurt Hauser's research has shown that, over the last 70 years (the life of the modern version of the income tax) one thing has remained remarkably constant: Americans have paid about 19.5% of GDP in income tax. It has fluctuated only about one half of one percent, either way, whether the top rate was 70% or 28%

What that tells us is that, if you want to have more money to give people via the government, you need to find that tax level that maximizes GDP.

Arthur Laffer's research shows us that figure is between, roughly, 18 - 28% for income tax and 5 - 15% for cap gains and dividends.

That tells me that those who insist on higher tax rates (not higher taxation, remember) either don't understand fundemental economics or simply want to punish or "get even," with those who earn a lot of money.

Sure, there are some who simply get fortunes through the luck of their birth (Kennedy's, Rockefellers, e.g.) but the profile of an American millionair is remarkably consistent ... again, that's for another post.

Wednesday, October 22nd 2008 @ 6:57 AM

Posted by Bob Buckley:

Econ 101:

Taxation is the price we put on commerce and achievement. Like the price of anything, there is a point at which it produces maximum revenue.

Look at the tax history of this country. For the last 70 years, we have paid 19.5% of our GDP in taxes, each year - it's been remarkably consistent, fluctuating only about one half of one percent, in any given year. That 19.5% figure has been true when our top tax rate was 70% and when our top tax rate was 28%

So, if you want to have more money to give to people you should ask, "At what rate will we maximize our revenue?" The work of Arthur Laffer shows that figure is somewhere between 18 and 27% for income taxes, between 5 and 15% for capital gains and dividends.

After all, if Coke suddenly started charging $10 for a bottle of soda vs. $1, they wouldn't find they had 10-times the income ... they'd probably find they had less.

When we talk about rates above those listed, it seems to me to be little more than envy or an effort to punish the achievers. Most Americans have earned their wealth, after all (but that is yet another post).

Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 1:45 PM

Posted by Bob Buckley:

Economics 101:

Look at tax revenue to the federal government over the last 70 years: We have paid, as a society, 19.5% of our GDP in taxes. That number has been remarkably consistent (it's only fluctuated about a half percent, either way).

The point is, if you want more money to give people and the percentage of GDP paid in taxes remains constant, you need to find a way to maximize GDP.

Arthur Laffer's work shows us that figure is somewhere between 18 and 27% for income taxes and between 5 and 15% for capital gains.

Taxation is the price we put on commerce and achievement ... like any price, there is a point at which it maximizes revenue, and 40% ain't it.

When we get to those levels, it seems to me to be little more than envy or punishment for those who've achieved those income levels. There are exceptions, of course, to everything. But most people with great wealth in this country earned it. That, again, is another post.
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 1:25 PM

Posted by Bob Buckley:


Work requires a license ... and the individual can work off the license of his company. That's what Joe was doing.

Joe asked about the $250K because he hoped to own the company and that would be the income ... very sensible question.

As for our friend, Regina, yes, I've known what it's like to be poor. When my dad died, suddenly, when I was a boy, my mother was left with 5 kids and, literally, no income.

My mom went to work, we had to move out of our house, rely and family to have enough to eat and we wore not just hand-me-downs from our siblings, but those were handed down to them from friends and neighbors. Not complaining, just letting you know that I've been there.

If your goal is to have more money to give people through taxation, understand how to reach that goal. Raising tax rates is often detrimental. Not enough room in this post to explain. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 1:21 PM

Posted by Regina:

Oooh, I love the opportunity to respond to this.

I have to say, YES, it is very possible that Joe was 'planted.' When people are desperate, it has been known that the worst is capable of happening.

The part that bothers me is that people (HUGE percentage of conservatives) who have never experienced deception, hunger, electricity being shut off, homeless, etc. have no clue when it's staring them right in the face - which, once revealed, equals huge disappointment, desperation and still, dis-belief.

Everyone should look for taxes to be raised, whether it's food, clothes, books, telephone service, whatever, it's going to happen. Our country is experiencing what I call a financial meltdown. It's going to take money to fix it - hence, where will it come from? Taxes.

So for Joe the Plumber(s), Jane the wanna-be or anyone else for that matter, let's get to the real issues of what's happening in this country and stop trying to cover it up with deception, racism and downright ignorance.

In answer to your question, yes I'm tired of it. Joe has had his day, and if they want to talk about real 'licensed business' then let's do that, otherwise, 'shut it down' with Joe!

Ah! (as Jill Scott so eloquently says...)

whoo, that felt good to get out. Thanks for allowing me to share Bev ;)
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 9:43 AM

Posted by John McCann:

I ain't mad at Joe the plumber.
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 9:21 AM

Posted by Beverly Mahone:


My conservative colleague :) Thanks for your comments. Yes, I did research and found out that Lucas County DOES require licenses. Joe opened up that can of worms--forcing county officials to respond.

You're right about Joe never saying he made $250,000 so then why ask the question? If you know you're in the 95 percentile, what is your point? Maybe one day he'll make that? Maybe one day I'll own a TV station and keep people like you gainfully employed.
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 8:54 AM

Posted by Bob Buckley:

Bev, my old friend, I have to call you out on this one.

Is Joe a hero? Of course not. But is he an archetype for the basic American? You bet.

You had a couple of points: "Joe failed to mention that he makes no where near $250K." He never claimed to - he said that was the income of the business he hoped to buy.

You also said his argument is somehow illegitimate because he doesn't have his own plumber's license. But I assume, since you looked into it, you found that he isn't required to have one - he is legally allowed to work under the license of the business owner (which my research found he does)as most of the plumbers at that company do.

The point that he doesn't have a hard plan in place doesn't negate Joe's point that if he - or anyone - wants to buy that business (or even if the current owner keeps it) Obama's plan raises its taxes, signficantly.

Now, we can argue about whether a business with a net income of $250K makes the owner, "rich," but Joe's point stands, I believe: That there is a signficant difference in philosophy, here.

One side says if you work to accomplish something, the fruits of that labor should, for the most part, belong to you. The government is constantly asking us to tighten our belts, as it takes more and more of our money. When was the last time the federal government tightened its belt and spent less of our money? (Answer: 1991. Last time it was more than a percentage point or two: 1946).

The other side says, "We are going to make a determination on when you have enough and, when you surpass our concept of enough, we're going to take the rest and give it to someone else because, 'When you spread the wealth around, we all do better.' "

The, "We," in that, of course, is never defined. Whoever owns that plumbing business and loses a sizable chunk of what they earn might argue whether that makes their situation better.

Finally, it would be quite a feat for the Republicans to "plant" someone in just t
Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 8:45 AM

Posted by Community Blog:

Hi Beverly! I'm just walking through the community, here, and I happened upon your "house." What a great place you have here! Great layout, excellent content, easy to read text - great job!

I've added you to my list for the next blog update. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 21st 2008 @ 8:37 AM

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