Roto-rooting McCain’s tax nonsense


Okay, this Joe the Plumber business is really starting to stink like an overflowing septic tank. Never mind that he isn’t a licensed plumber, owes back taxes, is nowhere close to making $250K a year, and would benefit more from Obama’s tax plan. McCain has been running an ad featuring a series of vaguely downtrodden-looking folks saying "I’m Joe the Plumber" accusatorily, as if Obama is the one with umpteen houses who doesn’t grasp the plight of ordinary folks.

There’s something perverse and not a little poignant about so many working Americans’ willingness to parrot the mantras of the economic elite, support anti-labor politicians, and deny themselves a break from someone who actually wants to help them. Where the hell do they get these ideas? Wait, don’t answer that.

Seriously, don’t you think it’s a bit strange that in the richest country in the world, so many of us are barely able to make ends meet? And working longer and longer hours with little to show for it? I don’t mean since the meltdown, either.

Even as worker productivity and profits soared, the majority of Americans’ real wages have been stagnant. As Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston explains in his 2003 book Perfectly Legal, most Americans simply haven’t shared in the prosperity they’ve created. From 1970 to 2000, the average inflation-adjusted income of the top 10% of taxpayers rose from $119,249 to $224,877. During that same time period, the average income of the bottom 90% fell from $27,060 to $27,035.

Here’s another perspective, from the same time period: if you plot income growth among the bottom 99% of Americans as 1/8" high on a bar graph, the bar for income growth among the top 1/100% is about 62.5 feet long. As Johnston writes:

Money, it seems, was made to flow uphill. The great majority of Americans were, at least through 2000, having their pockets flattened or even drained, the value created by their labor flowing in a Niagara of greenbacks not to the affluent or even the merely rich, but the megarich.

This was, I’ll remind you, before the Bush tax cuts. So because Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire and restore Clinton-era tax rates for income above $250,000, that makes him a socialist. Yeah, right. That’s not wealth redistribution or class warfare; what is are the efforts of those at the very top to influence public policy so that they can keep even more of the booty.

This does not mean I am "anti-business," as binary-thinking sound bite bleaters might say. Being self-employed has given me a great appreciation of entrepreneurship. It’s totally DIY, man!

Here’s a cartoon of mine from earlier this year (excerpted above) that offers another solution.