Plumber Story Springs More Leaks

As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, Joe the Plumber is a registered Republican and McCain supporter, who in fact would qualify for a tax cut under Obama's plan, does not pay his taxes anyway, and is not even a certified plumber

But that is the least of what's wrong with the Joe the Plumber narrative. Let's listen to Joe in his own words:

But to -- just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that's scary. You know as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people?

The basic assumption here is that hard work = more pay, and that therefore if people aren't making enough money, they simply aren't working hard enough - Joe works hard "as opposed to other people." This is the absolute granddaddy of all conservative fallacies; for years, Americans' productivity has continued to rise, while their real wages have stagnated or fallen - nearly all of the benefits of our GDP growth have gone to the rich. Many Americans are working just as hard and are still struggling just to get by, which is why I have less sympathy for Joe. 

And what of this idea that with hard work, a person can climb the ladder to wealth? As Paul Krugman points out in "The Death of Horatio Alger," upward mobility in America is largely a thing of the past:

It is true, however, that America was once a place of substantial intergenerational mobility: Sons often did much better than their fathers. A classic 1978 survey found that among adult men whose fathers were in the bottom 25 percent of the population as ranked by social and economic status, 23 percent had made it into the top 25 percent. In other words, during the first thirty years or so after World War II, the American dream of upward mobility was a real experience for many people.

Now for the shocker: The Business Week piece cites a new survey of today's adult men, which finds that this number has dropped to only 10 percent. That is, over the past generation upward mobility has fallen drastically. Very few children of the lower class are making their way to even moderate affluence. This goes along with other studies indicating that rags-to-riches stories have become vanishingly rare, and that the correlation between fathers' and sons' incomes has risen in recent decades. In modern America, it seems, you're quite likely to stay in the social and economic class into which you were born.

As Governor Palin might put it, "Say it ain't so, Joe!"

UPDATE: Joe the Plumber "does not believe in Social Security." Maybe that's why he doesn't pay his taxes.


adadsa by milk001 (not verified)