My post last week, “Plumbing the Issues,” has raised what I think is a very welcome discussion because it is an important one.

Two readers commented. The first discussed my remarks about people who I refer to as uninformed voters: those from low-income, white, rural areas who vote for conservative moral issues over political issues. I myself am from a rural area (central Kansas) and know people who fit into this uninformed category. I do not believe that voting for moral issues alone will do anything to help this country. One sentence from his comment read, “It might be more important to ‘safeguard the morals of the country’ by prohibiting gay marriage than to have health care that will pay for orthodontics.” Though it is the reader’s right to vote this way, I think it’s unbelievable that people would rather prohibit someone else from having rights rather than cast a vote that could help themselves and their families live better lives.

Furthermore, you cannot weigh these issues—gay marriage and health care—against each other, which is exactly my point. In a time when economics, health care, the educational system, and foreign affairs have reached a low point, people are voting for a person, in this case John McCain, just because he is against gay rights. If they listened more closely to McCain, they’d find out he is going to raise their taxes and endanger their jobs instead of helping their children to get better medical care, funding public education, and giving Americans some much-needed tax relief. Incidentally, the uninformed population does not include every single person that lives in a low-income, predominately white rural area; being uninformed just happens to be a growing statistic in these parts of the country.

Secondly, the comments about Joe the Plumber need clarification. According to a scan of the greater Toledo area phone book, no plumbing company exists in Holland, Ohio, that employs a Samuel (“Joe the Plumber”) Wurzelbacher as a plumber or is currently for sale for $250,000–$280,000. I did, however, call a Kansas friend who is indeed a plumber. He said if that’s how much the Ohio company is worth, then “it’s probably just one master plumber and an apprentice, and that’s still a pretty good take for whoever the master is.” According to Associated Press writer John Seewer, good ol’ Joe isn’t even a licensed plumber—and, in fact, he owes back taxes—so I doubt he’ll even be able to buy a plumbing company, no matter who gets elected. Of course, if Wurzelbacher stands to collect fees for all the talk shows he’s getting ready to appear on, he might be able to buy every plumbing company in the Toledo area. If that was his plan all along, he is a genius. There’s nothing like manipulating the media to get what you want.

Lastly, I need to retract the statement I said about the editors of our journal being intellectuals. The term doesn’t mean the same thing for all of us and I did not mean to wrongfully label anyone. I do not speak for all of us and I shouldn’t have last week. I am sorry.

Healthy discussion of the issues is a right not everyone in this world has. That we are able to post our views on the Internet and have them read by any number of people is indeed a privilege. Not all of my articles will be geared toward political issues; we just happen to be approaching a monumental election now that demands that people discuss these very important topics. I invite the discussion, and I’m hopeful everyone around the country will sit down with their kids, their parents or their co-workers and talk about what needs to happen. Be smart on November 4.

 

My interview for this week fell through so I thought I would just touch on a few issues that have recently been making my hairline recede even more than it already had before this election process started.

Joe vs. His Own Ambition

On the final presidential debate on Wednesday, “Joe the Plumber” (Joe Wurzelbacher) dominated a lot of the conversation, and he unwittingly became the new symbol for the working-class American. Joe is getting ready to buy a business that could make him $250,000 to $280,000 a year. He straddles the fence that divides Obama’s economic plan and McCain’s, and depending on how he does in the future Joe could end up being taxed more under an Obama administration. But the same can also be said for McCain’s tax plan, too.

So I figured it out, Joe. If you plan on doing insanely well, and I mean becoming the next Roto-Rooter, then go ahead and vote for McCain, because you’ll get a sweet tax cut, and there’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars. I believe you can plumb the hell out of America. But keep in mind that your hometown of Holland, Ohio, has a population of 1,306 and a median household income of $45,000, so when and if you do make over $250,000 this next coming fiscal year, remember that your neighbors might not be as fortunate and that “spreading the wealth” helps more than it hurts. Not spreading the wealth is what’s currently killing our economic livelihood. You’re actually fortunate if you stand to make that much money in the coming year. I’ve never even heard of a plumber making that much, so good for you, pal. And let’s say Barack Obama becomes president and Wurzelbacher Plumbing, or whatever you might call it, does well. Paying higher taxes isn’t going to put you in the poorhouse, buddy.

The Uninformed

The last two presidential elections have given rise to a new type of American voter. The Uninformed: People who vote against their economic self-interest and vote for moral and religious reasons rather than political issues. It’s been going on for years, but in this election a major issue with The Uninformed is, of course, race. In a recent article in The New Yorker, a retired state employee from eastern Kentucky was quoted as saying, “I really don’t want an African-American as president. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion.” And you are entitled to it, but disregarding your economic status and voting for someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind is just plain ignorant. It seems people in low-income, white, working-class sections of the rust belt would rather vote for Republicans, who according to the Tax Policy Center will make favorable tax cuts for people who make $112,000 and up. With how things stand currently, it doesn’t matter if they vote for John McCain because Barack Obama has a solid lead in the national polls, and hopefully they will see that his tax plan will actually help them. So to The Uninformed I say shake out a newspaper, crack a book, get on the damn Internet for Christ’s sake and inform yourselves. Consider it your MORAL obligation to SERVE YOUR COUNTRY by finding out whose ideas will benefit you and your family.

Intellectuals and The Elite

It seems in the last year or so, a term used to describe the kind of people who write for 12thstreetonline (and for the print version of 12th Street) has been turned into a bad word. Being an intellectual in today’s world has become somewhat of an epidemic that apparently is hurting America. It’s as if people who denounce intellectualism want to live a life of destitution in which they wander around stupid and drooling all day long. I think people would want someone running the country that is smarter then they are. Intellectualism is part of the American tradition. That’s why we have the best higher education institutions in the world. And the same could be said about elitism. The presidency is an elite office that used to take an elite person to hold it. John McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy—an extremely elite and highly competitive institution. According to U.S. News and World Report‘s America’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges list, it currently ranks 22nd in the nation out of four tiers consisting of 100 schools in each tier. John McCain is elite. Barack Obama went to Columbia and Harvard, ranked #9 and #1, respectively. He, too, is elite. Hell, even Sarah Palin is elitist: She’s a governor, a very elite position. People who are running for the highest offices in the land are elite. They’re not always intellectuals, but they are elite.

“I’m not a Washington insider.” —Every Politician Who Ran for President in the Last 20 Years

Both candidates claim they are Washington outsiders who will reform the corruption inside the Beltway. Both are also United States senators who, in order to do their jobs, have to be Washington insiders. So in this instance they are both wrong. The only person in this whole political rigamarole who isn’t a Washington insider is Sarah Palin, and she is considered an extreme outsider, having no experience in Washington—or really anywhere else, for that matter.

I’m not an expert by any means, so please feel free to disregard everything I have said. It’s your right as an American to tell me shove it, but I feel its our duty within the democratic process to inform ourselves on the issues. Be smart on November 4.