Saturday, October 18, 2008

The rise and fall of Joe the Plumber

When discussing the third Presidential debate with a friend of mine, I had jokingly said, "I'm just wondering who the hell Joe the Plumber is...." I had missed the beginning of the debate, and had assumed that Joe the Plumber was some hypothetical character, like "Joe Six Pack." I actually got a kick out of the fact that by the end of the debate, both candidates were referring to this "Joe the Plumber," literally making him the centerpiece of each point they were attempting to make.

Of course, as we all know now, Joe the Plumber is a very real person. And after a day or so of becoming a celebrity, he learned that being a celebrity comes with a hefty price.

As it turns out, Joe the Plumber isn't actually a licensed plumber, working in a county that requires a license to....plumb. His name is Sam, and not Joe. And despite his complaints about how much taxes he will have to pay, it turns out he actually owes thousands of dollars in back taxes.

While his actions are inexcusable, I can see what people mean when they talk about the liberal media. This reminds me of your typical legal drama, where the defense or prosecution realizes the other side has a witness that could threaten their case, so they go out of their way to discredit the person's reputation, hoping that the jury will disregard the witness' statements as a result, no matter what the person says.

If Joe (Sam) the (Unlicensed) Plumber owes money to the government, he should have to pay it in full, as well as the typical penalty. If the county requires all plumbers to have a license, he should have to receive one before he does any more work. That being said, I do think he made some strong points. While I don't consider myself a member of either political party -- and, as I've noted a million times before, I think the whole two party system does more bad than good -- I often refer to myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. As a result, I tend to agree with the "taxes are a necessary evil" argument than the one that tells me that "taxes are a patriotic duty."

I think Joe's comments pointed out some of the disadvantages of Obama's proposed plan, and with a face to connect with, I think a lot of the general public realized it for the first time. I just think it's too bad that the media feels it more necessary to destroy this guy's reputation than to focus on the issues.

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