The Wisdom of Joe the Plumber
Google “Joe the Plumber”: you’ll get 1,953 news articles, like this. For those who don’t know, Joe Wurzelbacher had this conversation with Senator Obama last weekend:
Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed “more and more for fulfilling the American dream.”
“It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too,” Obama responded. “My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody … I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
Is this something that can resonate with the American voter? Perhaps. It certainly featured prominently in last night’s debate. And though some in the media are trying to show that, despite his concerns, “Joe” will actually benefit from Obama’s plan, they miss the actual point that Joe Wurzelbacher is trying to make.
I mean, not that I don’t want to be taxed. You have to be taxed. But to — just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that’s scary. You know, as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people…? Well, I mean, quite honestly, why should [the top 5%] be penalized for being successful? I mean, that’s what you’re telling me. That’s what it sounds like you’re saying. That’s wrong. Because you’re successful, you have to pay more than everybody else? We all live in this country. It’s a basic right. And Obama wants to take that basic right and penalize me for it, is what it comes down to. That’s a very socialist view and it’s incredibly wrong. I mean, $250,000 now. What if he decides, well, you know, $150,000, you’re pretty rich, too. Let’s go ahead and lower it again. You know it’s a slippery slope. When’s it going to stop?
Yes, when? And this is but another example of the sort of down-to-earth wisdom that too often gets overlooked and dismissed in the coastal regions. An accent doesn’t indicate stupidity. Nor does the lack of a sheepskin. To quote Victor Davis Hanson, writing about Sarah Palin:
Half of what I learned did not come from books or graduate school or teaching or writing, but from some rather rough characters who taught me how to prune, hammer, wire, and fix things—as well as their world view that came along with those tasks. Thank God, we have that experience represented in Sarah Palin. Can’t her critics grasp that? It ain’t easy to step up to the city-council, mayorship, or governor’s office while raising kids, on a short budget, without family money or connections, and out in Alaska? Did not the career of Truman teach us anything? We have plenty of highly educated politicos, so there is no worry we are a nation of populist yokels; what is lacking in public life are just a few people who aren’t lawyers, professors, consultants, and bureaucrats.
As a former merchant mariner who also holds an MA, I’ve got to second that. I’ve gained wisdom from the stories of old salts and from the annals of History and scholarly journals, but not everyone can have that experience. So, as Hanson argues, we should really listen some of both to get a more complete picture. I know she drives some people crazy, but Sarah Palin resonates with some people. So does Joe the Barber.