Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're All Plumbers!

Technically, we are all plumbers. You don't believe me? Well, I don't have a plumbing license, but neither does Joe the Plumber.

And another thing:
Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama's tax plan wouldn't affect him right now, because he doesn't make $250,000. "But I hope someday I'll make that," he said. [Emphasis added.]

Yeah, so do I, Joe, so do I. But I also realize that my marginal tax rate would increase under Obama by only 3% and that a 50% tax credit to insure my employee's health is a good enough offset to convince me to accept a small increase (Why? Because insured employees make happier, more loyal employees who might even work harder for me.)

I also know that there are those who never will make $250,000. They make up the majority of the American people, and they are carrying much too large a burden of national expenses for their ability. Measured not, as Republicans like to point out, as the effective tax rate on gross income, but as a percentage of taxes paid on discretionary income.

The value of your last dollar earned is much higher to you if you make $50,000 than if you make one million dollars. Apparently, this is not an easy concept to grasp for the masses of plumbers, truck drivers, and electricians who vote Republican. Why? Because they live their lives dreaming of being one of the few that rise to the ranks of the rich, when in fact less than %5 of the American people do.

Astonishingly, many people who scrape a living together and go paycheck to paycheck delude themselves into thinking "I will vote Republican because, even though it is somewhat (or highly) unlikely, there will be one day in the indefinite future when I will be so rich that I will benefit from Republican policies designed to favor the rich. In the meantime, I will shoulder much more than my fair burden in order to keep that dream alive."

That, my friends, is the "Las Vegas mentality" that allows 40% of Americans to think they are voting for their best economic interest, when in fact they are voting against it.

6 comments:

Tom said...

Astonishingly, many people who scrape a living together and go paycheck to paycheck delude themselves into thinking "I will vote Republican because, even though it is somewhat (or highly) unlikely, there will be one day in the indefinite future when I will be so rich that I will benefit from Republican policies designed to favor the rich. In the meantime, I will shoulder much more than my fair burden in order to keep that dream alive.

That, my friends, is the "Las Vegas mentality" that allows 40% of Americans to think they are voting for their best economic interest, when in fact they are voting against it."


Although you know that we are pretty close politically, I think that this is pretty inaccurate portrayal of the thinking of at least a great many conservatives; I also think it's somewhat unfair.

My parents were pretty standard conservative evangelical, even fundamentalist, Christians. They were die-head Republicans. In short, I think they are pretty representative of what is now called "the Republican base."

I can tell you that they never even considered the possibility that they would somehow strike it rich. Neither of my parents went to college nor had they entrepreneurial aspirations. But even if they had, they still wouldn't have voted for Republicans because they wanted low taxes when their ship finally came in. Why not? Because their own economic well-being was not the basis of their vote. They voted for Republicans because they believed a Republican president would keep us safer, would fight against social immorality (i.e., they'd resist the 'gay agenda'), and would save the lives of potentially aborted babies. Yes, they wanted low taxes but that was because they were generally distrustful of government.

The thing is, I don't think my parents were unusual in their reasons for voting as they did. I think the majority of the Republican base vote for the candidate that they think will stand up for what is Good and True rather than what will help them thicken their wallets.

Sirfab said...

Thanks for you comment, Tom.

I did not want to imply that the majority of people who vote for Republican candidates do so because they think they are going to strike it rich, though I do know a few that do.

If in the last 30+ years people had voted simply based on their wealth and on each party's tax policies, Republicans should never get more than 2% of votes, simply because their tax policies have always favored the wealthiest individual and large (not, small) business. And yet they get 45-55% depending on the election. So obviously there are several factors at play.

A great number of people vote Republican for the same reason your parents do: because they are socially conservative, and because they have bought into the argument that the Republican is the party of public safety and *small* government (and again, I know many voters like your parents).

Social/societal/faith considerations are probably the worst reason to vote Republican, because social conservatism has largely become a tool for the manipulation of the masses (I will concede that many of these voters are well-intentioned from their perspective, but still largely misguided and severely duped).

Nor do I buy into the argument that voting for Republicans increases the public's safety. It increases policing and imprisonment, for sure, but it also often contributes to more poverty and desperation, which almost invariably cause a rise in crime rates.

Also, the Republican party has become the party of permanent warfare, which diverts public resources from worthy causes to unworthy, even despicable ones. See, for example, this article on how military and energy policies go hand in hand, to our detriment.

The strongest argument left for voting Republican is the tax one, which I have addressed in my post.

Frankly, I do not know which of the above reasons is worse.

I say this with the realization that voting for Democrats is, too often, a choice for the lesser of two evils. But this time, a vote for the Democratic candidate can be cast with a little more enthusiasm. Not because I agree with all of his policies (I disagree with quite a few) but because I see in him the ability to transform the way people view politics. He truly inspires participation, and I have faith in his ability to inspire people to act in the service of the common good.

In closing, I would invite you to read, if you haven't already, the section entitled The Class Warfare Meme in my post-debate analysis, and particularly to follow the two links in that section.

As always,

Peace.

Tom said...

Fab,

Thanks for the response. I agree (or am inclined to agree) with pretty much everything you say. But I'm puzzled by your opening comment that...

I did not want to imply that the majority of people who vote for Republican candidates do so because they think they are going to strike it rich, though I do know a few that do.

Here's the way you closed your original post:

That, my friends, is the "Las Vegas mentality" that allows 40% of Americans to think they are voting for their best economic interest, when in fact they are voting against it.

How else is this to be understood except as a denial of the earlier quotation?

Sirfab said...

Hi Tom.

The only defense I can offer to the contradiction that you highlight is this:

Yes, social factors, distrust of government, and others that I have neglected to mention carry a lot of weight in the decision that many people make to vote Republican. But perhaps they also consider the economic side of things as an additional reason to vote Republican.

And let's not forget that there is a certain number of people who do not vote Republican for social reasons, but because they really do believe that the Republican part represents their economic interest (including smaller government) better than the alternative.

So I guess, if I were to rephrase my concluding paragraph, I would have to say:

That, my friends, is the "Las Vegas mentality" that allows a large number of Americans to think they are voting for their best economic interest, when in fact they are voting against it.

Thank you for highlighting the contradiction and allowing me to clarify.

Tom said...

Fab,

Thanks for the thoughtful and humble reply.

I think the reason I felt compelled to reply to your original post was not only that I wanted to defend people like my parents, but also because I just really dislike the mentality that people should vote in the way that is in their economic best interest. (I'm not saying that you were advocating this.)

I think we should vote for the person that we think will make the U.S. the best country it can be. What's the criterion of best? Well, it includes lots of things--a strong defense, economic prosperity, social justice, etc. But one thing that's not among the criteria is "what will make ME better off?" I don't think one should ever have one's vote motivated by an answer to that question.

Sirfab said...

Tom:

I agree that one's own economic interest should not be paramount. But it is a factor, and it is never really limited to one person (the voter); rather, it extends to entire categories of other similar people. Moreover, economic interest does not necessarily equate monetary interest (for example, a larger tax refund).

The questions we should ask, as you say, are: What candidate can do better for affordable education? For universal healthcare? For affordable housing? For better communities? For urban and rural development? For a system of transportation that maximizes energy savings without extinguishing individual freedom? Not just for a few, but for the largest number of people overall.

These are examples of things that other civilized countries have achieved or have been aiming for, while the U.S., the country that considers itself above all others, has not.

Ultimately, many examples like the ones I gave above fall under the economic interest (or prosperity, if you like) category. That does not equate with selfishness. I want to do better, but I also want more people to do as well as do, including future generations, and I am ready to sacrifice the prospect of making more money or paying lower taxes if we can achieve a juster society. I believe that would benefit me much more than a few extra hundreds dollars in my pocket would.

Note that, under the two candidates' tax plans, wealthier people (on average those making more than $110k) would get bigger refunds under McCain than Obama, in the name of the discrited notion (by facts, not by me) that the largest the wealth that is accumulated at the top, the better people at the bottom do because of the trickle down effect.

That is a great social injustice, and should be enough to motivate most people to vote against the party that promotes it.

Peace, brother.

Copyright 2004-2012 TheDailyFuel.com