So it turns out that Joe the Plumber isn’t. Or at least he’s an unlicensed one, and even if he did buy out his boss – or even if no one at all bought the business, but the two employees just split the income from the business – under Obama’s tax plan he’d get a tax cut. As would his partner/boss/employee. Joe apparently stretched the truth to such a fine filament it could serve as a LED in saying that he’s going to buy the place, but for golly’s sake, we can cut him some slack as he never dreamed he’d become a star, thanks to the repeated references by his candidate. Stars are used to having their assertions parsed. Plumbers, by and large, are not. Now it’s Joe the Plumber here and Joe the Plumber there (and has anyone but me noticed that Joe’s real name – Wurzelbacher – seems, at least, to be Polish, just like all those Polish plumbers in Britain, working for cheap and generally mucking up the Anglo job market?), poor guy. Now we all know that he owes back taxes as it is, so of course he’s agitated about the entire subject. All he did to get all this attention, and subsequently reveal his half-truths is to have said, compellingly: “I’m a plumber” rather than saying the hypothetically less compelling: “What if I was a plumber, about to buy a business?” and who can blame him for it?
I hate to have to point this out, but for Joe to have spouted off a compelling half-truth instead of sticking to the straight and narrow is, in a way, a little like Bill Clinton saying he hadn’t had sex with that woman. In neither case is the technical truth really any of anyone’s business. Except for those personally involved, of course, but the point remains intact: both of them got a bigger bang from the buck of a perceived white lie than they could have expected. But back to Joe and the point he was trying to make. I know another business owner who sometimes grosses over 250k (excuse me, but is that “small”? Personally, I’d say that if I took in $250k next year I’d be hiring me a couple of Thai and Turkish houseboys to feed me peeled grapes while my dog Allie’s personal masseur tends to her achy parts, and my solar thermal heating system was being fixed by competent and effective individuals who care about doing a good job. But I digress.) and this guy is in a tizzy over the whole Joe the Plumber thing, believing that he’s going to have to hack off a limb and present it to the IRS if he makes $251k. He says, as they all do, that it’s unfair to punish him for his success.
Suck it up, I say. First of all, the $250k cutoff is for personal income not gross receipts. Pay attention. And then the increased tax rate only applies to the $1 you earned over $250k, not the whole pile of filthy lucre. And if you actually do take home that much money, by gum, yes, spread it around! If voluntary contributions to charity were enough to provide aid and succor to the needy, quality education to all and healthcare that doesn’t place the finest nation on the planet at the bottom of the list healthy people in industrial nations, it would have done so by now. Pay your taxes, and if you don’t like the way the Gummint is providing the services the public deserves, roll up your sleeves, stop performing fiscal frottage on Wall Street to make you richer than you really need to be and get to work fixing the public sector.
Oooh. That came out steaming, didn’t it? There is one more thing, though, just in case you haven’t yet thrown your computer out the window and issued a Fatwa against me. Back in the day, Americans with property were the only ones who were thought trusted to look after the common weal rather than their own personal gain and thus deserving of a vote. It was supposed that the landless rabble would simply vote for whatever made him richer. Like the $5 and a tankard of ale they would be handed outside the polling place in exchange for carrying in a pre-selected “party ticket”. Our property owners today – if Joe is any example – have none of the common weal in mind. They begrudge the common weal three percentage points on that $1. If you don’t like paying into the public kitty, well create a society in which there are no people – and I mean no people at all, not just the ones who go to your church, share your heritage, or meet your idea of what a good, upstanding citizen might be – sleep in crates. Build it. Yes, we can.