Friday, October 17, 2008

Elitism and Plumbing

I've been following the furor about "Joe the Plumber". He's the fellow below.



His question was valid, and Obama flubbed it.

A large part of the problem is that Obama doesn't know many plumbers or other skilled tradespeople. He's led a rather sheltered life. Sheltered? That globe-trotting sophisticate?

Yeah. His experience is split between two types of people - the educated elite, and the desperately poor. He has no acquaintance with working people who are successful.

Now, I've long known working people, of all races. Get along with them well. My own dad was a skilled craftsperson in the area of electronics. He worked for the Bell system before the break-up. In his work, he was NOT making minimum wage; his work required training and expertise.

Joe is like that. Even without a license (which he doesn't need, as an employee of a larger company), he is making a good income. As the book "The Millionaire Next Door" pointed out, people who work with their hands at trades often out-earn the "elite" professional types - doctors, lawyers, bankers. They not only make a lot of money (boy, am I aware of that - I recently re-modeled the small bathroom, and the plumber charged a LOT!), but, because they generally live in non-elite neighborhoods, and drive older trucks, they KEEP more of the loot. Unlike the professional, his customers don't judge him by the car he drives or the house he lives in. They don't expect him to be a member of the country club. And, they certainly don't expect him to dress in an $800 suit every day.

For a plumber who owns the joint to make 1/4 of a million a year is not improbable.

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