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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Selfishness of Joe Wurzelbacher: The Plumber Is Plumb Wrong

I don't need to come up with a conspiracy theory to explain why Joe Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is wrong.

"Joe, you're rich. Congratulations."

Senator John McCain said that during last night's Presidential debate in mockery of Senator Barack Obama's explanation of his tax plans. McCain was referring to Joe Wurzelbacher—"Joe the Plumber," the new personification of the Joe Six-Pack the McCain campaign has been trying to dress itself as.

Joe himself has admitted his taxes won't go up under Senator Obama's tax plan, and that really he's just playing some slippery slope rhetoric. But I'm more worried about his core rhetoric, the false, antisocial (not merely anti-socialist) message the flailing McCain campaign is trying to dress in Joe's grey t-shirt.

Joe is spewing the last stale Rush Limbaugh lines about redistribution of wealth, socialism, and rugged individualism.

I know what you're saying, Joe. I used to be there. I used to think taxes were punishment and that everything would be fine if we were all responsible for no one but ourselves.

And then I figured out that I live in a community (actually several nested communites), where my life is inextricably entwined with those of my neighbors, the ones I like and the ones I don't.

I figured out that we redistribute wealth all the time. A society has to, by definition. Those of us with wealth hand over a chunk of that wealth to government (an organization we willingly create) to guarantee that everybody gets a certain basic quality of life. We sacrifice for the good of the community. In return, we get the guarantee that even if we end up poor and helpless, our neighbors will redistribute some wealth our way to make sure we still have police and firemen to protect us, schools to educate our kids and grandkids, and even (in the American model) grocery money and health care when we are old.

I figured out that taxes aren't punishment; they're the price of admission to community.

I figured out that, much as I loved the rhetoric of rugged individualism, it doesn't apply in modern America, or any modern society. I can't blog and reach people with my ideas without the Internet, this massive, evolving invention created by the military, academics, and nerds. Joe can't plumb without tools, pipes and glue, and a truck and roads built by others who have knowledge and skills he doesn't. And neither of us would have much time for personal wealth creation if we were totally responsible ourselves for protecting our homes and families from fire and marauders or even for creating our all of our own educational materials for our kids.

Oh yeah, and in the big picture, someone's got to pay for the Army, Medicare, and the mortgage bailout. And if we resist paying higher taxes (and eventually we have to), we commit the worst selfishness of all: indulging our current desires and leaving our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab. That's the real redistribution of wealth, a temporal redistribution from future to present, that we have to stop.

And we won't stop it with self-centered attitudes like Joe's. Sorry to burst your bubble, Joe, but the world is not filled with lazy, greedy people who don't work as hard as you. Your town and your country is simply filled with neighbors, fellow citizens, people every bit as good as you, doing their jobs, trying to get by. Some are richer than you, some poorer; a lot of them are nowhere close to buying their own business, not because of some moral failing, but simply because their job doesn't pay as much as yours.

As Joe says, "You need rich people. I mean, who are you going to work for?" Sure. You also need everybody else. I mean, who's going to work for the rich guys while they count their money?

And we all need to pay our taxes. They're not punishment. They're the fair price we pay for the liberty and prosperity that none of us—not Joe with his monkey wrench or I with my computer—could create on our own.

28 comments:

  1. If its not a redistribution of wealth what do you call Obama's comments that you need to help
    those less fortunate.

    If you're not working do I owe
    you an income?

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is a total lack of personal responsibility in Washington. Lets save the greedy, rotten bastards that tried to bankrupt America so they can do it all over again.

    If you screw up, there should not be a reward for doing so.

    Paul said he who does not work should not eat.

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  3. Anon 9:42: I never said Obama's plan isn't a redistribution of income. It is. So is McCain's. So is the status quo. That was my point. We do redistribution all the time. Read the post.

    Don't work, don't eat? Sounds simple, but do we apply that moral code to children? Grandma and Grandpa? Folks in the hospital? The clients at ECCO? Corey Briest? Might want to flesh out that statement.

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  4. My in-house theologian says Paul's line is actually about anyone who is "unwilling" to work.

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  5. Joe never said he didn't pay taxes. He never said he didn't feel he should pay taxes. I pay lots of taxes and make nowhere as much as Joe does. Both Joe and I know that I need to pay taxes to support services.

    But that is the difference between Obama's plan and me. Obama does not think that many people need to or should have to pay taxes; in fact, he thinks it is the duty of certain Americans to pay additional taxes so that certain others do not have to pay any.

    No one disputes that paying taxes is necessary. The disagreement is on how much taxes we should pay, where the cutoff is arbitrarily placed by Obama as determining "rich," and who/what our tax dollars should go to and why. Obama admitted his was a wealth redistribution, finally. Fancy word for welfare increase.

    He says he is going to give tax cuts to 95% of the people. Can't do that as numbers don't add up, but just ignore that little fact. He is going to send a check for $500 to people who don't even pay any income taxes to begin with. THAT is what Joe and I have a problem with. That is straight forward socialism, whatever you want to call it.

    I grew up poor; nobody gave my dad a check from the gov't to bring his income up to the banker's in town. He didn't expect it either and probably would have turned it down; that's the kind of man he was.

    If Obama wins, I am retiring. Why should I pay higher taxes to Obama who will decide where it goes? I won't.

    And as Joe said, if he has to pay higher taxes, he will employ less people. Then what is Obama going to do with the rising unemployment? His tax plan will end up hurting the same people he claims to want to help.

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  6. Redistribution of wealth has already taken place under Bush's tax cuts and undue influence of a few. Plumber Joe is fighting over scraps. The Republican party has totally lost its way.

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  7. PS: Our country thrives by having a middle class which Obama's tax structure will once again encourage. And don't forget McCain also wants to significantly lower estate taxes for the rich. It takes middle class people who buys homes and can afford to maintain them who are really hiring the plumbers of this world. jh

    ReplyDelete
  8. Actually, Paul's "line" is about being idle and taking from the fruit of others. This is the actual scripture (NIV):
    6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
    11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

    14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

    Paul was definitely saying that the idle should not be rewarded, and that the working should not be expected to pay their way, but we should treat them as a brother and be charitable. I work hard, two jobs, I have a large family,and most important: I am responsible for myself. I pay my own bills, and am disgusted by the attitude that we have developed.
    Welfare ushered the fall of Rome (coupled with military overextension), sound familiar?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Actually, Paul's "line" is about being idle and taking from the fruit of others. This is the actual scripture (NIV):
    6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
    11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

    14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

    Paul was definitely saying that the idle should not be rewarded, and that the working should not be expected to pay their way, but we should treat them as a brother and be charitable. I work hard, two jobs, I have a large family,and most important: I am responsible for myself. I pay my own bills, and am disgusted by the attitude that we have developed.
    Welfare ushered the fall of Rome (coupled with military overextension), sound familiar?

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  10. This is a government that is for the people by the people.

    I think that it is selfish and myopic for those who say "well I earned what I have...blah blah blah..." We all work DUH! And for those who don't there is 95% of the time a good reason. Why shouldn't we help our brother/sister when they are down?

    It's not like none of us has never been in a situation where we needed help. Sometimes longer sometimes shorter but help was needed and was given.

    The mindset of "I've got mine, get your own" is the reason why the country is so screwed up. Greed. The Word says since we are quoting Scripture, "the love of money is the root of all evil."

    The ability to give is what rewards and nothing else.

    I am not saying for people just to lay up for years and years to get money from everyone that is not what I am saying but I know from personal experience that sometimes those situations happen and you need help.

    Freakin pay your additional 3 dollars per 100 to help this country be the great nation it USED to be. We currently are a begging nation going to China or SA to finance us out of our problems.

    ReplyDelete
  11. chuck ritter10/16/2008 2:17 PM

    caheidelberger,
    Joe did not say his taxes won't go up under an Obama administration.

    Joe said he, currently, doesn't make $250,000! He also went on to say 'where does the cut-off on being 'rich' stop? $200,000...$100,000???'

    You misrepresent the facts. You want to take money that you haven't earned and give it to people who don't deserve it. Which is probably why you are as COLD as Barack Obama. I hope you like Kings and Dictators because that's what you are choosing!

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  12. What's the point of voting for Democrats or Republicans? They both voted for the bailout.

    What's the point of voting for Obama or McCain? There's hardly any difference between them, and they both voted for the bailout.

    It's time to vote for a true conservative, the Libertarian Party's candidate for president, Bob Barr. He has the support of Rep. Ron Paul and others who voted against the bailout.

    Bob Barr's website is: http://www.bobbarr2008.com/

    ReplyDelete
  13. You've been watching TOO much television, caheidelberger!

    What happens, stay with me on this, what happens if the government wouldn't pocket their share? I suppose you would feel the same if your favorite politician wouldn't take a lions share of the taxes?? Or did you think the Pork in the Rescue Bill was a good idea too?

    Remember the amount of money Americans(not the government) sent to the Dec 26th, 2004 Tsunami victims? Do you remember the amount of money and gifts sent to the victims of Katrina, by common Americans?
    The flaws in your thinking are that you look at common Americans as idiots, which shows in your treatment of Joe Wurzelbacher.

    The common 'Joe' works hard and when he sees people in need, it makes him feel good to help his neighbor. The common 'Joe' also doesn't want to TAKE handouts. It embarrasses them because they take pride in themselves and they understand taking from others means whoever gave them that gift has less. THAT is community!

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  14. The MSM is going after Joe now!
    They found a lien on his property for not paying his real estate taxes!

    I guess that'll shut him up!

    ReplyDelete
  15. We have "redistribution of wealth" right now. Working Americans watch their retirement funds or nest eggs evaporate, while at the same time rich executives get richer even if their corporations spiral into the ground.

    Money evaporates from the middle class and condenses among the wealthy elite. If that's not redistribution of wealth, then what is? It walks like a pig and oinks like a pig and smells like a pig and flies like a pig. So as far as anyone living in the real world is concerned, it is a pig.

    All Obama wants to do is reverse the flow of the Ganges so the thirsty masses get water. A noble objective. I wish him luck. He is going to need it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Chuck Ritter...WTF...what is W. Bush he has eroded more individual liberties then any president since your repbulicans beloved Abe Lincoln who suspened Habes Corpus. Under bush we get a shadow government, a bigger government, a war on Terror in Iraq that is a joke, No bid contracts in Iraq, Record Oil Prices... no coincidence that he is an oil man, Wire Taps on Our Phones, Warrants without real Just Cause, Toturing of Prisoners, Bail Outs of Big Business, Crashing Economy. Yeah I am sure McCains first priority will be to eliminate all these shams Cause I am not George W. Bush...I just kissed his ass the last 4 years so I could be annointed as the Successor. I admit I loved McCain 8 years ago but since then he has become a SELLOUT.
    Chuck Ritter don't you ever work or does Walmart pay to post political Blogs? Can we get the truth on that? I have boycotted Walmart for 18 days and counting thanks for opening my eyes to you and your sham company!

    Sincerly,

    Mrs. Chuck Ritter

    P.S. Get me some of the RGHB free milk that you claim to sell in your store before you come home.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I heard a solid idea from a local business person the other day. He said we should set up a gradient tier for paying down the national debt. Something like paying the Fed $100 if you make $40,000 or less, and adding $100 for every $40,000 you make, so $80,000 would pay $200, $120,000 would pay $300, $160,000 would pay $400 and so on. It is a one-time payment, mandatory, and would eliminate our national debt. He also said he may vote for Ralph Nader, so perhaps this is Nader's plan. I don't follow Nader and am not aware of his budget discussions. Obviously, unless we change how money gets spent in Washington, within a couple of years we'd be in the same spot we're in today as far as national debt, but it sort of made sense. Bite the bullet and fix one of our problems as a nation of Americans. Unity?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anon 5:50: tell your friend that's a good idea! We've all benefited from our government's credit-card mentality; we all should help pay the bill. Whatever the final formula, we've got to pay the bills. We've doubled our debt under Bush; we've got to clean up our mess rather than handing it off to our kids.

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  19. ANON1:57, Let's get one thing clear. The welfare culture that we are talking about is not "95%" justified. I have worked with the financially oppressed as an attorney in a free clinic and have seen first hand how these recipients sit at home all day, drinking, smoking and generally not working, then coming to the clinic to get free help in getting out of legal trouble because they had too much time on their hands.

    I know that is a generalization, but I can't stand to read posts by people who have no contacts outside of small town America and think they have a firm grasp on what is going on everywhere else. I used to live in Wyoming and I know the demographics there. I also used to live in the projects of Atlanta (as a child and teen) and KNOW what is going on there.

    There were many days when we could barely afford to eat, but we NEVER sat back and took money from others, and we ALWAYS worked.

    I have pulled myself up from poverty and made something of myself by sheer determination and hard work, and I'll be damned if I "gladly share the wealth" with others who live in squallor and send their children to school in rags, yet somehow have no trouble purchasing smokes and alcohol, driving a Yukon, having digital sattelite television and talking on a cell phone. (these are all things that I couldn't afford).

    How dare you pass judgement on those of us who believe that this is the greatest country in the World because ANYONE and EVERYONE can accomplish greatness, not because we coddle the fruitless.

    Charles W. Worthy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Charles:

    Good points all.

    This is not a confession forum, I realize, but during the late 1980s, I went through a phase where I was more or less one of those derelicts who spent all his money on booze, had too much time on his hands, and hung around upstate Florida with some pretty shady characters.

    It would never have crossed my mind to ask for a government handout. I didn't even know how. Still don't, actually. I figured I was doomed to die.

    I won't go into a long diatribe about my recovery other than to say that I can't think of any better explanation than direct intervention by God for my being here now to write this comment. My family helped me, too, a debt which I may yet get to pay back as my parents age. But my payment will be in the form of love and support and companionship, not dollars from the federal treasury (I hope).

    My point? Not sure, exactly, except that I saw a lot of the sorts of folks you describe, and they really do exist in great numbers. They are dirtbags, as I was. I also know the magnitude of the misery that runs through their lives, a sort of perpetual inner gloom that makes even the most beautiful day and spectacular place seem dark and sullen as Mordor.

    If my meager savings had run out, or my luck, I surely would have died, and one can rightly argue that my death would have been well deserved, a fitting end to it all. For many thousands if not millions, that's exactly what happens.

    I am genuinely concerned at the long-term prospects for sole proprietors, small business people, and entrepreneurs in this country if the "liberals" gain control of our government, keep it, and run wild for a couple of decades. The tax burden could rise to such a level that people like me would have to choose between idleness, working for nothing (or, by the worst ironic twists, less than nothing) and emigration. I've already decided I'd go for emigration. And I would make no secret of the reason.

    However, Charles, I suspect that you and about 75,000,000 other fiscally responsible voters will see too it that if the pendulum swings too far to the left, the Law of Universal Gravitation will bring it back past center and to the right again.

    Meanwhile, I feel a certain sympathy toward those less fortunate than I, and am not averse to giving more to them should I be lucky enough to get "rich" (by whatever definition). I would expect that those who are addicted to drugs and booze would somehow be required to get help, if only because the mere act of allowing their worlds to stay dark is a sin of omission on the part of the rest of us.

    What did I just say here? Help me!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Who said that Joe the Plumber is selfish? All he said was that he didn't want to be taxed for his hard work, with those taxes going to That One who would decide who were worthy recipients in his mind of Joe's hardearned tax dollars.

    Americans are generally the most generous, giving, caring of any nation on earth. Whenever there is a disaster here at home or overseas, we are there, even if those countries don't like us.

    What we object to is being forced to hand over our hardearned money in taxes to a gov't to spend in ways we don't agree with.

    Our nation is a nation of opportunity, it was founded that way, but it is rapidly becoming a nation of entitlement, aided and abetted by people like Obama in the name of "redistribution of wealth." This notion does not work, has never worked, and won't work here long term. It probably will get him elected though because there are too many people who think they are victims and deserve the "redistribution," and they are the exact people he and the Dems are targeting this election.

    I just hope Obama's honesty, albeit accidently stated openly, will resonate with voters and open their eyes to his true agenda.

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  22. "There but for the grace of God go I," right, Stan?

    Every one of us, even a paragon of nobility like Charles W. Worthy, is just one temptation, one accident, one bad decision away from misery we can't get out of without help. We can only hope that those around us won't respond to our misfortune by saying, "I worked for everything I have; you're on your own."

    Grace is the help we get even when we don't deserve it.

    Anon, you're not taxed for your hard work. You're taxed for being a citizen, for the benefits you derive from the safety and stability of a society. "Redistribution" is not an evil word you can use to win the election. Redistribution, as I said above, is something every society does. If you don't like redistribution, well, have fun living alone on your desert island.

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  23. Rich people should be happy to pay their taxes. The thin veneer of "civilized society" that taxes support, is the only thing keeping them from being prey.

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  24. Senator Obama gave Joe "the plumber" an extensive response to his question. Sadly, the corporate controlled media only reported the unfortunate turn of phrase "spread the wealth around". What the Senator tried to tell Joe is that all businesses depends on customers. If we don't elect Senator Obama as president and pass his tax plan or something very similar, a lot of plumbers are going out of business because there won't be a middle class around to hire them. Senator Obama is not trying to give away your money to the undeserving poor, he's trying to create customers for goods and services. Contrary to the popular Republican mantra, business DO NOT create jobs. Customers create jobs!

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  25. This morning (2:00 a.m.) I just finished the Introduction of a book by G. I. Gurdjieff called Meetings with Remarkable Men. Near the end of this rambling diatribe he quotes the venerable Mullah Nassr Eddin: "Always and in everything strive to attain at the same time what is useful for others and what is pleasant for oneself."

    As is my custom in reading as well as in writing, I tackled the Introduction only after having finished the main body of the work.

    I'll bet that Barack Obama has read this passage and intends to heed it. It's a noble ideal, yes? As I grow older, I'm willing to water this down a bit and substitute 'tolerable' for 'pleasant.'

    Reading this passage was a revelation for me: The only thing keeping me from voting for Barack Obama is my fear that, while his administration might ensure that I remain useful to others, I might in time be called upon to sacrifice so much that my own life becomes intolerable.

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  26. Excellent post, caheidelberger.

    I think a lot of people who think "Joe the Plumber" (who is not really a Plumber) is right are forgetting something. A couple of things. (Let's skip over the fact that Joe misrepresented himself in that conversation with Obama.) Income taxes are not the only taxes we pay. When you fill your car's gas tank, you pay gas taxes. When you buy non-foods at the grocery store, you pay sales taxes. If you own a home, you pay property taxes. You get thee idea. Income taxes are not the only taxes we pay to help support the social structure we have created for ourselves. And people should also keep in mind that there really is no such thing as a "self-made millionaire", especially in America. Your ability to go out and earn an income (even an obscenely large one) are possible because of the liberal policies of this country.

    Lowering the income taxes middle class Americans pay helps them pay the other taxes they still have to pay. And as for "re-distributing the wealth", let me ask all you non-poor people out there who would have to pay more than you are now under an Obama administration: Are you really going to miss that money? Are you even going to be aware that you have less? Are you going to have to sell one of your seven houses to pay your taxes? Are you going to have to eat at a slightly lower class of expensive restaurant? Are your fine clothes going to have to last a little longer before being replaced by more new clothes? I really don't think you are going to be hurting nearly as much as the right wing would have us believe. You will be fine. The rest of us are the ones who have to worry.

    Thanks for the post.

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  27. I'm willing to bet that 99% of the bald white guys complaining about wealth redistribution are having child support taken out of their paychecks.

    They can't do a thing about it, and boy, do they chafe at the dollars siphoned out of their pay to go to ex-wives who, the angry white bald men are sure, do not deserve it. Not one bit, not one dam dollar . . .

    So they've taken their anger at having to literally pay for their failure to use birth control (and they can no longer elude paternity thanks to DNA testing and other Feminazi inventions) and projected it onto lazy . . . NEgroes who don't deserve welfare/wealth distribution.

    All THEIR money now goes to a wife whom they cannot control, nor forgive, and who may manipulate, taunt, and threaten charges of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
    Currently the angry bald white guys complain about being falsely called racists. A population they once controlled has escaped and rebelled. They can't stop the wimminfolk, but they can turn on the black folk.

    Kind of points up that old Lennon song, "Woman Is The N*gger Of The World," eh?

    ..

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  28. Wayne,as a non-poor person who will be paying more taxes under Obama, I resent your assumption that I have seven homes (I have one small with unfinished basement and one bathroom), that I have closets full of clothes (I have one small closet and wear the same clothes for years), or that I eat at fancy restaurants (Subway is my favorite!).

    Yes, I do resent his thinking that he can take from me to reimburse others for payroll taxes (they already pay no income taxes) so these payroll taxes are their Social Security and Medicare contributions to their own retirement. So now they don't even have to be responsible for that! And Obama didn't even mention this is what he meant until his gaff with Joe the Plumber forced him to.

    Before you say I have no compassion, let me tell you taht I routinely give to agencies that help those in need. But I resent the gov't telling me I have to pay more of my hardearned dollars to Obama to redistribute as he sees fit. Not only is it not fair, it has been proven not to work. The worker bees will soon get tired of supporting the drones, and then the whole ponzi scheme collapses.

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