Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why is Joe the Plumber Doing So Much Better Than Other Plumbers?

The star of the last night's third (and, mercifully, last) presidential debate was neither Barack Obama nor John McCain (nor even Bob Schieffer, who somehow managed to look fair and dignified even while allowing Sen. McCain to interrupt Sen. Obama 15 times, and even while letting Sen. McCain get the last word on 7 out of nine topics). No, the star of the show was "Joe the Plumber," an ostensibly "undecided" voter who questioned Obama about his tax policy while the latter was campaigning in Ohio last Sunday. "Joe," (real name: Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher) was concerned about how Obama's tax plan, which proposes tax increases on people and small business netting over $250,000 a year, would affect his chance to buy the plumbing company he's been working for for several years. You can see Obama's response on YouTube here. McCain brought up "Joe's" sorry plight, and forced Obama to confront "Joe" directly. All in all, Joe the Plumber was mentioned a total of 26 times, according to the CBS News transcript. There's just one little odd thing about Joe....

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics "Occupational Outlook Handbook":

"Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among the highest paid construction May 2004, median hourly earnings of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were $19.85. The middle 50 percent earned between $15.01 and $26.67. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.62, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.72. "

If, as Joe claims, he is working 10-12 hour days, and he is earning the "top" $33.72 an hour (hell, I'll round it to $34), EVEN PRESUMING HE WORKS WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS AND NEVER GETS SICK OR TAKES A VACATION, that comes out to....LESS THAN $150,000 A YEAR.

You're going to point out that those number are from 2004- so I ask whether it seems likely that in four years the average earnings of plumbers has gone up 66%- which is what would need to happen to bring Joe the Plumber up over Obama's threshold. Well, does it?

So, this means one of the following:
1. Joe REALLY overcharges.
2. Joe lays more pipe weekly than JFK and Clinton did in their entire adult lives.
3. Joe is a good plumber, but really, really, bad at math.
4. "Joe the Plumber" is a McCain plant deliberately inserted into the campaign in order to stir up untruths about Obama's tax proposals.

I think you all know where I'm personally leaning on this one.

UPDATE: he following facts are now known about "Joe the Plumber":

FACT- Joe does NOT, in fact, make $250,000 a year, or anywhere near it. He admitted that in an interview with Katie Couric.

FACT- Joe was NOT "undecided." In that same interview, he claims "not to have been swayed by the debate" AND that he pretty much knew who he was voting for. That adds up to his having been 'decided" AT LEAST before the debate.

FACT- Joe is a registered Republican.

FACT- "Joe the Plumber" (Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher) is believed to be closely related to ROBERT Wurzelbacher, a prominent Republican donor, and- get this- the son-in-law of CHARLES KEATING, JR and Vice President of the parent company of the S&L that started the whole scandal.

FACT: Joe the Plumber (who moves around a heck of a lot) shouldn't really worry about tax increases, because he apparently doesn't bother to pay his taxes anyway.

FACT: Joe the Plumber ISN"T EVEN REALLY A PLUMBER. At least, not a legal one.

© 2008, Christopher Stansfield. Some rights reserved. This work is licensed to the public under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License, and may only be distributed according to the terms of said license. To view a copy of this license, please click here.

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