Sunday, October 19, 2008


If you haven't heard about "Joe the Plumber" by now, you've been living under a rock. He's the McCain campaign's latest weapon in the fight against Senator Barck Obama and the potential of a Democrat in the White House. I understand the point behind the narrative - that taxing the people with high incomes to fund tax decreases for people with lower incomes, to "spread the wealth" as Senator Obama (somewhat unwisely) phrased it, smacks of Socialism, and seems unAmerican.

It's interesting, but Joe Wurzelbacher the Plumber seems to be the perfect spokesperson for this message. If the news reports about him are to be believed, here's a man who has a lien against his home, for failure to pay about $2,000.00 in income taxes from his home state of Ohio. Yet he's supposed to be planning to purchase the business that employs him - one that makes about $250,000.00 in profits every year. Who on Earth is going to sell a quarter-million dollar a year revue stream to a man who doesn't even have the money to pay the state taxes on the income he already has? Given today's capital climate, who would lend him the money? We've got to be talking at least a couple million dollars here. Granted, this is a business, and not a guaranteed income, like the lottery or something - but still, this isn't something that would come cheaply.

And that, for me, raised an interesting point in Senator McCain's take on this. We're being told that we should oppose the rich (the top 5% of income earners, in fact) shouldering a greater portion of the tax burden in part because we want to make that kind of money one day, and wouldn't want to be saddled with the taxes ourselves. But how many of us can realistically aspire to that?

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