I’m John the Software Engineer

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Remember Joe the Plumber? How about Joe Six-pack which Sarah Palin mentioned in her rambling endorsement of Donald Trump.

During the 2008 election year my buddy John Weber wrote this editorial for my blog.  At the time John was running his own software business.

“On a recent morning walk, my friend John Poltrack suggested that maybe I would have been a better icon to represent the proverbial small business man than the now world famous Joe the Plumber. John the Software Engineer owns his own business, employs people, and pays a good chunk of his business income in taxes. I think I pay too much in taxes, but of course everybody thinks that. I made the mistake one time of sitting down and calculating how much of Big Time Software’s income actually goes out in taxes of way form or another and the answer is a very discouraging 50%. That qualifies as too much in my opinion…and I still consider myself a patriot despite what Joe Biden might think. My business makes more money than Senator Obama seems to think I deserve to keep, so I can look forward to being in his crosshairs to pay even more should he be elected President.

I certainly don’t want to attract the scrutiny of the crack investigative media teams that have unearthed every skeleton in poor Joe’s closet, and I think this probably came as a surprise to Joe as well. It’s somewhat unsettling to see this poor bastard’s life laid bare before us.

We now all know Joe isn’t really a plumber because he doesn’t have a license. I’d be OK there since software engineers don’t need a license. Good thing since if our plumbing worked as well as most computer software we’d all be hip deep in poop.

We also all know Joe owes the government some money for back taxes. This is news? This guy was thrust into the spotlight because he complained he had to pay too much in taxes. In the interests of full disclosure let me just say here and now that in 2002 Big Time Software was audited by the IRS. I had two IRS employees in my office working full-time for two days pouring over my books. In the end they pointed out some mistakes I made in my accounting (actually it was QuickBooks that led me astray…please refer to the previous paragraph). I got a pretty extensive accounting lesson out of the deal, and owed $102 in additional taxes. This seemed like a real bargain to me, but also not a real efficient use of IRS manpower.

Of course, it goes on and on. We now all know about the details of Joe’s divorce, his personal finances, and his voting record. We know all this because Joe asked a pointed question of a political candidate that the candidate didn’t really want asked. Who among us would invite or survive this type of scrutiny in our personal lives?

The truth is most of us are Joe the Plumber. In fact, just about everybody I know is Joe the Plumber. We’re doing our best to make a living for our families, keep a roof over your head (maybe even heat it), try saving something to send our kids to college, possibly even socking away a little nest egg to be able to retire someday, and even begrudgingly paying our taxes. The truth is I expect very little from our government, but most of all I expect it to get the heck out my way.

Spartacus is this great old movie starring Kirk Douglas about a slave who leads a revolt against the Roman Empire. You’ve probably seen it. At the end of the movie, the Romans capture the rebel slave army and demand the prisoners to identify the leader Spartacus. One by one, the captured soldiers step up and declare “I’m Spartacus!”. It’s a very moving moment. I think it would be great if the next time any of us met a political candidate, we began the conversation by introducing ourselves as Joe the Plumber. After all, Joe’s story is our story at some level. I’m proud to be Joe the Plumber.”


11 thoughts on “I’m John the Software Engineer

  1. I posted a reply to this a couple of days ago, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what I said. Anyway, my reply went off into cyberspace, It seemed very good at the time I wrote it. I am not going to try to rewrite it, but am trying to see where my posting went, and if this goes the same way.Steve the carpenter (or whatever)


  2. Actually Steve the everyman. You seem generally capable at most tasks with a few exceptions:1) Bad trapper of wildlife2) Wife claims you cannot sing, but I disagreeThanks for re-trying.


  3. “Obaminible” (haha) tax plan. Not only that, but I have questioned his Patriotism all along and now we see he does not like the Constitution, nor the fact that our Supreme Court was not given judicial powers to distribute wealth. Are you ready for socialism instead of our capitalism which seems to have brought untold numbers of immigrants here?? Think.


  4. I, too, am Joe/Jane, the plumber and cannot see how I could survive under the “Obaminible” (haha) tax plan. Not only that, but I have questioned his Patriotism all along and now we see he does not like the Constitution, nor the fact that our Supreme Court was not given judicial powers to distribute wealth. Are you ready for socialism instead of our capitalism which seems to have brought untold numbers of immigrants here?? Think.


  5. Hmmm, a number of issues have been brought up by the last comment. I’ll take issue with socialist one. It seems when the government committed 700 billion of our dollars to inject into the banking system that we already have become a socialist nation. Both Obama and McCain voted for this bill. Congress added additional goodies bringing it to a staggering $840 billion. This probably deserves it’s own topic.


  6. I don’t see the problem with having an progressive tax policy that will decrease the tax burden for 95% of Americans. Socialism? A bit of a stretch of logic. I also cannot conceive why anyone would think that Obama is not Patriotic. It seems that he has a great love and respect for this country and it’s citizens. Perhaps you can provide some concrete examples.


  7. Remember, “Adeline was right”. I’m just going to quote an email from a friend: “I am gravely concerned about this election. I cannot be considered a student of history, but this election reminds me so much of 1930’s Germany. A charismatic personality with a talent for oration rises to the top through impassioned speeches that play on the emotions of an economically struggling populous. The parallels are too scary for me sometimes — but this one seems so much worse with the Black Liberation Theology in the mix and the connections to other anti-American personalities like Ayers, Cone, and Farrakhan! (I would add ‘and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’) All it took was 2 or 3 generations for history to approach repetition — 2 or 3 generations of us “asleep at the wheel” — and my generation by far the worst!” The writer is probably 10 or 15 years younger than we ’58ers. I would say we should be getting the news out as you did, as we lived through the end-product of that German dictator, the Second World War. And for your Roman Catholic friends, this from the same fellow: “This impassioned and bold reminder should be enough to secure the only pro-life ticket into the Oval Office — on the Catholic vote alone! This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. ‘A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate.’ “


  8. Hey John, the concept of socialism primary refers to idea that the government should play a central role in managing our economy. If you think that’s a good idea then Obama is definitely your man. There’s really no argument that he’s made many socialist goals the central theme to his campaign. Government managed health care, windfall taxes on unfavored industries, redistribution of wealth, etc.


  9. Hmmm, I can see that we are now using Nostradamus to make our political decisions. I think comparing Obama to Hitler is a stretch. Of course I suppose he could be MABUS. So I guess the prophy is true… the three anti-christs would be Napoleon, Hitler and now Obama. I’m not sure that he is the antichrist but I do agree that he is charismatic and articulate. Nice change from “W”. Will he destroy the country? I doubt it.


  10. One more thought – Obama wants more government control. I ask you, is anyone satisfied with the way our government has operated within the past, say, 50 years? Have any of those arrogant, corrupt, self-serving politicians who supposedly represent us done the job for you? If you can say yes, then Obama is your man as he wants even more govt involvment. If you think we’re in a mess – why would you want them to have even more control over your money,etc. The bailout package a prime example… how dare they add their pork and it wasn’t McCain and it wasn’t Obama who added relief to exporters of Jamacian rum or wooden arrows… you’d be giving them even more control with healthcare, etc. Think people, think. Don’t just feel the moment.


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