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The Real Plumbers of Ohio

The Real Plumbers of Ohio

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Published: October 20, 2008
Paul Krugman
Columnist Page
Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal
Times Topics: John McCain

Forty years ago, Richard Nixon made a remarkable marketing discovery. By exploiting America’s divisions — divisions over Vietnam, divisions over cultural change and, above all, racial divisions — he was able to reinvent the Republican brand. The party of plutocrats was repackaged as the party of the “silent majority,” the regular guys — white guys, it went without saying — who didn’t like the social changes taking place.
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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

It was a winning formula. And the great thing was that the new packaging didn’t require any change in the product’s actual contents — in fact, the G.O.P. was able to keep winning elections even as its actual policies became more pro-plutocrat, and less favorable to working Americans, than ever.

John McCain’s strategy, in this final stretch, is based on the belief that the old formula still has life in it.

Thus we have Sarah Palin expressing her joy at visiting the “pro-America” parts of the country — yep, we’re all traitors here in central New Jersey. Meanwhile we’ve got Mr. McCain making Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a k a Joe the Plumber — who had confronted Barack Obama on the campaign trail, alleging that the Democratic candidate would raise his taxes — the centerpiece of his attack on Mr. Obama’s economic proposals.

And when it turned out that the right’s new icon had a few issues, like not being licensed and comparing Mr. Obama to Sammy Davis Jr., conservatives played victim: see how much those snooty elitists hate the common man?

But what’s really happening to the plumbers of Ohio, and to working Americans in general?

First of all, they aren’t making a lot of money. You may recall that in one of the early Democratic debates Charles Gibson of ABC suggested that $200,000 a year was a middle-class income. Tell that to Ohio plumbers: according to the May 2007 occupational earnings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of “plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters” in Ohio was $47,930.

Second, their real incomes have stagnated or fallen, even in supposedly good years. The Bush administration assured us that the economy was booming in 2007 — but the average Ohio plumber’s income in that 2007 report was only 15.5 percent higher than in the 2000 report, not enough to keep up with the 17.7 percent rise in consumer prices in the Midwest. As Ohio plumbers went, so went the nation: median household income, adjusted for inflation, was lower in 2007 than it had been in 2000.

Third, Ohio plumbers have been having growing trouble getting health insurance, especially if, like many craftsmen, they work for small firms. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2007 only 45 percent of companies with fewer than 10 employees offered health benefits, down from 57 percent in 2000.

And bear in mind that all these data pertain to 2007 — which was as good as it got in recent years. Now that the “Bush boom,” such as it was, is over, we can see that it achieved a dismal distinction: for the first time on record, an economic expansion failed to raise most Americans’ incomes above their previous peak.

Since then, of course, things have gone rapidly downhill, as millions of working Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. And all indicators suggest that things will get much worse in the months and years ahead.

So what does all this say about the candidates? Who’s really standing up for Ohio’s plumbers?

Mr. McCain claims that Mr. Obama’s policies would lead to economic disaster. But President Bush’s policies have already led to disaster — and whatever he may say, Mr. McCain proposes continuing Mr. Bush’s policies in all essential respects, and he shares Mr. Bush’s anti-government, anti-regulation philosophy.

What about the claim, based on Joe the Plumber’s complaint, that ordinary working Americans would face higher taxes under Mr. Obama? Well, Mr. Obama proposes raising rates on only the top two income tax brackets — and the second-highest bracket for a head of household starts at an income, after deductions, of $182,400 a year.

Maybe there are plumbers out there who earn that much, or who would end up suffering from Mr. Obama’s proposed modest increases in taxes on dividends and capital gains — America is a big country, and there’s probably a high-income plumber with a huge stock market portfolio out there somewhere. But the typical plumber would pay lower, not higher, taxes under an Obama administration, and would have a much better chance of getting health insurance.

I don’t want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

But that’s the point. Whatever today’s G.O.P. is, it isn’t the party of working Americans.
More Articles in Opinion » A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2008, on page A29 of the New York edition.

Auto Company Buyouts:

Auto Company Buyouts:

It's perfectly ok to aid those companies who use American labor at a living wage, to produce product that's environmentally and economically responsible.

However, to those companies who get themselves in a jam by specializing in vehicles that take two parking spaces and have fuel consumption ratings in Gallons Per Mile,
--No Soup For YOU!!--

To those who manufacture their vehicles in CHINA or other human rights trampling tin-pot dictatorships, while Americans sit in the union hall or unemployment line or worse,
--No Soup For You!!--

Each vehicle component that is made or assembled overseas when there is labor and reasonable manufacturing capacity (skilled workers) to make it HERE, shall lose Double the us market value in Buyout Bucks.

For Example, A headlamp envelope made in the land of Chairman Mao for a vehicle that costs Joe The Plumber $200 to replace will be $400*the number of vehicles it's installed on. If there are 300000 Vibes made this year with this headlight assembly, thats $400*300000=$120,000,000 in buyout bucks that will be put into a fund to reward American job creation. If contractual agreements are made to remedy this within 3 years of buyout, waive the penalty and help facilitate this change. China won't see one more cent from any company that receives corporate welfare.

It should be considered embezzlement to hand out or receive golden parachutes while the company has it's hand out to the taxpayers for a bailout and is cutting wages, pensions, healthcare, and jobs. Go Corrupt? Your leadership goes for 30 years hard in Sing Sing F--- me in the A-- Prison - General Population with a Friendly(hehe) bunkmate.

...And no more coddling companies on fuel efficiency standards. If Honda can meet these standards with 70% of each vehicle made in the 'states, the Big 3 (2?) have _NO_ excuse!

Just a thought.

In order to fund healthcare

In order to fund healthcare,

Tax the following:
prepackaged shredded Iceberg lettuce
Compact Industrial Iceberg Shredders
(Yes, I am going directly after the cholesterol clogged testicles of McD, BK, the 'Bell, and all other health destroying fast food places which will cost healthcare bigtime..)
people making over $700,000(who should be eligible for this healthcare btw)
moving violations
gas guzzler SUVs owned by households of one or two people.

Oh and tariff the **** out of companies that export our jobs and import melamine milk, leaded toys, and shitty tinfoil cars. Basically Wal*Mart becomes TariffMart!

Bring the troops home, or start wantonly pumping oil out of IRAQ.

Award defense contracts to _ethical_ companies.
Contractor commits gouging, ethics violations or corrupt acts? Lose your contract and your leadership goes for 30 years hard in Sing Sing F--- me in the A-- Prison - General Population with a Friendly(hehe) bunkmate.
(Yep I'm gonna have Swedish Halliburton Balls for Breakfast.)

Punish companies who make it corporate policy to screw their employees and destroy other local businesses. Tax their leadership. Ultimately, a screwed employee is a burden on the taxpayers in food stamps, childcare, and medicaid. It becomes a double whammy when the employee makes such crappy pay as not to have to pay taxes themselves due to being under poverty level. If as a faith based nonprofit you do this to your people while your leadership makes hundreds of thousands or more? you lose your 501c3 status.
Awwh, Sam Walton's kids might have to forgo one less Astin Martin each this year to pay the screw your employees fine, and the Prayse Jaysus Nursing Home gets new leadership or gets the chair. [violins play a sad waah waah story tune]

People who don't work or at least try to find work are to receive no benefits. no more of this "sit on your butt and draw welfare" garbage! If I'm going to pay taxes to support your dead a**, abuse will be treated as garden variety theft or fraud! its Sing Sing for you too!

There are other places to find money for this, but these are the ones kicking around my head right now. And spend not one dime of this revenue stream on anything BUT healthcare!


One sunny day in January, 2009,..

One sunny day in January, 2009,..
One sunny day in January,21st 2009 an old man approached the White House from
Across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He
spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, 'I would like
to go in and meet with President Bush.'

The Marine looked at the man and said, 'Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer
president and no longer resides here.'

The old man said, 'Okay' and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and
said to the same Marine, 'I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.'
The Marine again told the man, 'Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr.Bush is no
longer president and no longer resides here.'

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke
to the very same U.S. Marine, saying 'I would like to go in and meet
with President Bush.'

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and
said, 'Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to
speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the
president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?'

The old man looked at the Marine and said, 'Oh, I understand. I
just love hearing it.'

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, 'See you tomorrow, Sir.'