Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can All These Joes Be Wrong?

Note: The cartoon is the logo of the real Joe the Plumber in Amarillo. Send him some business, I'm told that he's an Obama guy. If his website takes off because of all this attention maybe he can switch from actual plumbing to an online plumbing advice column. Bob

The month began with Sarah Palin celebrating her campaign's close identification and long association with "Joe Six Pack," the mythic every man vision of America that he and they dream that they represent.

Then in last night's "debate" came "Joe the Plumber," a guy who claims that he wants to buy a business which "makes" 250k a year and he's worried about Obama's tax policies. Who's next, Joe Bananas, Joe Cool, Joe Mama?

Forgetting for the moment that I have strong suspicions that "Joe the Plumber" is a ringer. Yes, nefarious as it sounds I'm afraid that Joe may be, a not too carefully selected, and poorly rehearsed plant from the McCain camp. He was probably chosen by the same group of desperately drunken political geniuses who trotted out Sarah Palin.

Joe the plumber should probably rethink this entrepreneurship thing if he believes that a business that "makes" 250k a year means that he will have an income at that level. A good plumber working steadily by himself with occasional labor help is doing extremely well to gross a quarter of that.

If he has a fleet, (say ten or so) of trucks and plumbers, journeymen, apprentices and laborers, after subtracting all the labor costs, the cost of running a fleet of trucks, licenses, insurance, workman's compensation, accounting, professional and trade dues, the occasional legal fee, and a grand old pile of headache and ulcer remedies he might achieve an income of two thirds that figure.

At that level he will remain well beyond the reach of the sinister tax increases that he has been told to fear.

But this isn't about Joe is it? Joe is just a caricature of what the McPalins and the conservative ruling class they represent, views as a typical member of America's hands on working class, the beefcake entrepreneur, their delusional "hard hat" wet dream.

I tried to point out in a "loose sally of the mind" last week the error in assuming that any one can predict who Joe Six Pack will vote for, or guess what information and how much information he (or she) will base their decision on.

Joe Six Pack or Joe the Plumber is all over the map politically; he has, at times, been the core supporter of the "New Deal," an avid participant in the Great Society as well as a reactive member of the "Silent Majority" and the "Reagan Revolution."

I share a few jars several times a week with several different versions of Joe and Jill and just when I think that I have them figured out they surprise me by doing or saying something that is outside of the character I had assigned them.

Guess the fluctuations of the stock market if you will, come up with a system for roulette or carry water up the hill bare handed, read tea leaves, but leave Joe and his brothers and sisters out of your prognostications; they will only disappoint and embarrass you.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

Related stories:
Different 'Joe the Plumber' strikes 'Net gold
Purging Joe the plumber?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A miracle brewing in West By-God Virginia

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

Voting for a Black Man (tm) in West Virginia is a new concept which is strangely being embraced by the people of the Mountain State.

Having lived my early years and having most of my family come from West Virginia, I am shocked beyond belief that West Virginians are supporting Obama. When I was in 5th Grade in Athens, WV, there was on African American in our school. The horrific verbal and racist abuse she took was unimaginable. That was 32 years ago and maybe things have changed dramatically over that period.

Maybe I am shocked because I still see WV through the lens of my family that still lives there. My wife and I wonder if one of my uncles (hard right-wing nut) will vote for McCain because he hates Blacks so much or will he vote for Obama because the Republicans have wiped out his retirement?

I think he will vote for Obama because money tends to win out over hate. Remember the Montgomery Bus Boycott? The Whites of Montgomery, Alabama refused to let Blacks ride in the front of the bus - but once Dr. King organized a boycott of the bus lines, funds for the bus lines dried up and they city capitulated.

Money won out.

Maybe money will win out in West Virginia in November. The state has never been awash in cash, the state has mostly been looted of natural resources and the cash ended up in the private bank accounts of the coal barons. But West Virginians certainly notice when what few dollars they have disappear. Most live so close to the bone, a slight increase in gas prices can have tremendous impacts on household budgets, so when gas hits 4 bucks, it is a disaster. A total, economic disaster. Now, add on top of that the job losses, shrinking college grants, a panicked stock market and vanishing retirement savings you then see the ugly picture that is the West Virginia economy.

Miracles can happen... they can happen in West Virginia.