Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joe the Plumber Asked the Wrong Question

I'd been wondering why, after we learned that "Joe the Plumber" wasn't "Joe," and wasn't quite a plumber, news and the blogosphere didn't erupt in a firestorm of outrage.

This bald plumber from Ohio had, after all, tricked Barack Obama into making a clear statement about Obama's economic philosophy.

By posing as himself, Joe the Plumber lured Barack Obama into saying "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," an unscripted statement that was entirely too easy to understand.

Oh, No, Joe! Say It Ain't So!

News leaked out, last week, that "Joe the Plumber" was really Samuel J. Wurzelbacher: and that he wasn't a licensed plumber. Not in Toledo, Ohio, anyway. After the revelation that Barack Obama had been ambushed by a 'right-wing zealot working under an assumed name,' there wasn't anywhere near the amount of fuss I expected. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

Someone probably found out that the "J" in Samuel J. Wurzelbacher stands for "Joseph."

The full name of "Joe the Plumber" is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher.

So, Joe the Plumber would rather be called Joe than Sam: So what?

Joe the Plumber: Person of Interest

When Joe the Plumber, AKA Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, presented himself as a plumber who wanted to buy the business he'd been working for, Barack Obama explained: " 'I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody,'" and that "Joe" would be okay, personally.

John McCain and his campaign have been claiming that Obama wants to redistribute the wealth. Obama says, 'do not!'

I suppose it's a matter of semantics.

Whether it's "spread the wealth around," or 'redistribute property,' Joe the Plumber got Mr. Obama to state his economic philosophy: simply and directly.

And quite a few Americans are savvy enough to realize that penalizing people for being successful isn't part of the American dream.

That makes Joe the Plumber a person of interest for quite a few people who honestly believe that society would be better if people who make too much had their property confiscated by a wise and benevolent federal bureaucracy.

Joe's Virtual Proctology Exam

Somebody's been feeling around in Joe's records. Data about his driver's license was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles not long after the debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Three times.

(Turns out, Joe owns an SUV. You might have known that he'd be one of those people.)

So far, although we don't know exactly who nosed around inside Joe's records, we do know where the digging was done. The data was accessed by accounts assigned to the:
  • Office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers
  • Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency
  • Toledo Police Department
Without, apparently, any official reason.

Professor Rogers holds the Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at Ohio State University's Moritz College. She's filling in as Ohio's Attorney General until the November election. She just happens to be a Democrat1.

The Ohio Attorney General's office is investigating the unauthorized access.

It'll probably take a while. At least one of the leaks was from a "test account" given to the attorney general office's information technology section. That doesn't narrow it down as much as you might think. Apparently, the test accounts are shared with, and used by, other "law enforcement-related agencies," as the Columbus Dispatch put it.

One thing is for sure, officially, at least. Mr. Wurzelbacher's information wasn't accessed from inside the attorney general's office. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said so.

Sam Joe Wurzelbacher isn't at all happy about this (officially) unauthorized snooping. " 'It upsets me greatly, to be honest with you,' Wurzelbacher told FOX News' Neil Cavuto on Saturday. 'For a private citizen to ask a question of his elected leaders and then turn around and get a proctology exam, that's just kind of wrong.' " (FOXNews (October 25, 2008))

I think Joe the Plumber has a point.

Joe the Plumber for Congress?

It could be "Joe the Congressman" after 2010. Mr. Wurzelbacher's thinking about running for office. I'd say that the citizens of Ohio could do a lot worse.

Views: In the news:
1 Interim Ohio Attorney General Rogers' political affiliation isn't discussed much. Ohio's Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, said he didn't know that Professor Rogers was a Democrat when he appointed her, so that should settle the matter.

News and views:


Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

Hi, nice post. I realize it's a difference in political philosophy, but Obama did, towards the end, hit on the point about his taxation position that makes sense to me, regarding any small business owner making a profit of 250k or more. If your clients can have more purchasing power because they are paying less taxes, then you will be more successful anyway.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C,


As I said, people of good will can have very different ideas: but the idea of taking money away from people to make them better off never made sense to me, and it made even less sense to deal with unemployment by taking money away from potential employers.

As you said, if your clients (or customers) are rich, they'll give you more business.

And, I never complained because my employer had enough money to pay me.

Brigid said...

I don't like the idea of spreading the wealth around, either, and I get SSI.

The thing is, I like to have a say in where my money gets spent. And taxes can go to anything from SSI to congressional stag parties. If I want to help the poor I give to a charity I trust. I don't trust the government. (Partly because I also get my insurance from the state. The benefits are great but the hoops are murder and half the time the right hand doesn't know that the left hand exists. It's a mess.)

I also want to get an art business up off the ground. I'd like to be successful. And I don't want the government penalizing me because they think they know better what should be done with my money.

Anonymous said...

Should The top management of the Public listed company be responsible for the company performance, eg company nearly get wind up?
Are you a Partisan?

Should they give their view......? If any party did not give their views, send it to their supporter to question them....

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


I think I know what you mean. It's not just the confiscation and redistribution of wealth - it's the way it would almost certainly be done by the same outfit that made welfare a lifestyle option.

And, before someone jumps on that remark: I've received public assistance - when I needed it. I prefer to not need it.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


I don't have much time, so I won't take too long trying to figure out what you're trying to say and/or ask.

"Should The top management of the Public listed company be responsible for the company performance, eg company nearly get wind up?"

Responsibility is a good idea. 'Golden parachutes,' not so much. "

That's a URL

"Are you a Partisan?"

I'm Norwegian, actually. And Irish.

"Should they give their view......? If any party did not give their views, send it to their supporter to question them...."

Geese fly south, the sun sets in the west. Roar a roar for Nora, Aurora burning bright

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous, again

I've got a few minutes, so here goes with "Partisan," as in

"Are you a Partisan?"

Capital "P?" no.

One of the more common meanings of "partisan" is "zealot, drumbeater (a fervent and even militant proponent of something)" (Princeton WordNet)

I think, maybe, what you are asking is: am I writing this post as a representative of, or supporter of, a particular party or candidate?

The answer is yes, and no.

I do think that McCain would make a better president for America.

I do not believe that young Senator Obama would make a good president.

However, I am not writing this post, and others like it, because I am a red-white-and-blue-blooded follower of the Republican party.

Am I fervent? Yes.

Do I have definite opinions, yes.

Do I slavishly follow some political party, because of some unreasoned allegiance? No, certainly not.

And, Anonymous, you will find that I have pointed out the absurdity of some attacks on Barack Obama.

If I am a partisan, it is because I am an often-fervent proponent of common sense and fact.

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