Tag Archives: Joe the plumber

Plumber without portfolio: Joe “types without a clue”

Plumber: n. a person who installs and fixes toilets, and should have stuck to his day job

Portfolio: n. a selection of a person’s work (papers, artwork) compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance or progress

Joe the Plumber (an unattractive adjunct to the McCain campaign second only in repugnancy to Sarah Palin) has written a book. Or typed it. (Or had someone else type it for him…).

Timothy Egan wrote a hilarious and angry commentary on it, “Typing without a Clue,” in yesterday’s NY Times. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here are a couple of tidbits:

The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?

I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate.

Joe, a k a Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, was no good as a citizen, having failed to pay his full share of taxes, no good as a plumber, not being fully credentialed, and not even any good as a faux American icon. Who could forget poor John McCain at his most befuddled, calling out for his working-class surrogate on a day when Joe stiffed him.

With a résumé full of failure, he now thinks he can join the profession of Mark Twain, George Orwell and Joan Didion.

Joe is evidently not in line to be the 100th monkey.

Egan goes on to bemoan the hard life of real writers and the sorry state of the publishing industry.

The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.

On the other hand, plumbing is a career path that never goes out of fashion. “After the deluge,” says my ex-, who has plumbing skills, “they’ll still need plumbers.”

Pants-off panicked by Palin pick; plumber plummets too.

Polls are showing that Sarah Palin is now a serious drag on the MCain campaign, as 59% of those polled by  CBS/NYTimes say she’s not qualified to be VP.

Because she used so many P-words, and because I love this NY Times columnist even if she used no P-words, here’s what Gail Collins said today:

The polls also suggest that Sarah Palin has, in two short months, managed to scare the pants off large portions of the population. Confidence seems to be plummeting not only in her own qualifications but in McCain’s overall ability to pick good assistants. These concerns were probably not allayed by the candidate’s promise to take Joe the Plumber to Washington with him.

Meanwhile, a different hockey mama prefers Obama:

Publicity and Plumbers named Joe

Publicity: n. an act or device designed to attract public interest ; specifically : information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support

Plumber: n. a person who installs and repairs water, drainage, or heating pipes and fixtures in a building. From a Latin word meaning lead.

Much noise is being made over a guy named “Joe” from Ohio who was filmed asking Obama a question about getting his taxes raised if he expanded his plumbing business.  McCain used this incident during the debate last night in an attempt to drive home his point that all the mythical “small businessmen” of America would be screwed by an Obama presidency if they make more than $250,000 a year.

(McCain didn’t mention that this is on PROFIT rather than income. Less than 2 percent of small businesses in the US make more than $250,000 profit.)*

The video encounter made it all over the web and overnight Joe was famous!  At first it was really fun – being on Fox News and all, spouting the R talking points.

But then the media began digging deeper. Turns out he is a registered Republican (surprise!), but:

An official at Local 50 of the plumber’s union, based in Toledo, said Mr. Wurzelbacher does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union.

….

Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do, Mr. Joseph said, and Mr. Wurzelbacher has not met those requirements.

“All contractors are licensed, and he does not have a license, either as a contractor or a plumber,” the union official said, citing a search of government records. “I can’t find that he’s ever even applied for any kind of apprenticeship, and he has never belonged to local 189 in Columbus, which is what he claims on his Facebook page.”

According to public records, Mr. Wurzelbacher has been subject to two liens, each over $1,000, one of which — a personal tax lien — is still outstanding.

Oops. But there’s more… a racist tinge – here’s what he said to Katie Couric:

“You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question,” he said, “for once instead of tap dancing around it, and unfortunately I asked the question, but I still got a tap dance.”

He added, “Almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.”

Here’s what the NY Times says about taxes and small business:

How relevant is Joe’s company to most small businesses in America?

If Joe’s company really makes over $250,000 and is an S-corporation, it might see a tax increase, but it does not reflect the majority of American small-owned businesses.

This is because most small businesses earn much less in profit. In 2009 about 35 million tax returns will report some income from small businesses, according to Roberton Williams, principal research associate at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Of these only about 660,000 tax units — or 1.9 percent — would see an increase under Senator Obama’s tax proposal.

Joe probably overstated how much his company makes, though. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wage for a plumber is $47,930 per year. A plumber in the 90th percentile earns $73,500.

If Joe’s business is less successful than he claims (which it probably is), then it likely won’t see a tax increase under Senator Obama’s plan — and in that respect, is a more relevant model for most Americans who own small businesses.