Friday, October 17, 2008

J---- the Plumber

When I watched the debate last night and Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama started bickering about J----- the Plumber, I knew--I could have predicted--that for the rest of the campaign, we'd have to hear sagas about poor J----- the Plumber and about the role of the everyday J----- in the campaign. Apparently, at least according to the debate (and not, for instance, according to the news exposes about the guy), good ol' J----- the Plumber has worked hard for x number of years as a plumber and would like to buy the business he works for. But Mr. Obama's tax plan would make buying the business more difficult, if not impossible, presumably because doing so would place J----- the Plumber in a position to earn more than $250,000 a year.

I know that J----- the Plumber's assertions have been challenged by a too nosy media who have published personal information about his work history and back taxes (this sounds like the kind of "leak" that people like T----- C----- by Half would denounce as K----- Rove tactics, but now that it helps a Democrat, I suppose it's okay), but let's assume that J----- the Plumber is telling the truth. My response is, "So?" Plumbers work hard, and, I'm told, they earn every penny of what they receive in compensation for their work. Fine. I hope they earn more. But someone barely scraping by at, say $15,000 and trying to support a family, too, earns every penny he or she receives.

I've met a lot of people like J----- the Plumber in my life, who are very quick to claim that non-entrepreneurs and the non-skilled laborers ("drones" is one of their favorite words) are a drain on the public, and the people who truly "make America great" are the small business owners and the "HONORABLE trades union workers." These people, not all of them but large enough number (at least in my anecdotal experience) to be disturbing, treat lesser skilled workers like s----- on the ground that these workers are lazy. I cannot count the number of times I, as a customer service worker, had to face lectures from a member of the "skilled trades" (another common culprit is school teachers) how he "works for a living," implying, without so many words, that I do not.

The cant about a tax cut for small business owners has some disturbing underlying tones. I accept as reasonable, even if I do not agree in all its particulars, the argument that supporting small business helps everyone by stimulating the economy. What I dislike, however, is the sense of entitlement, the sense that an "entrepreneur" deserves free money.

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