Average ‘Joes’

The Brooklyn Paper
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The nation now knows that “Joe the Plumber” is a myth. But Joe the plumber is real.

“Joe the Plumber,” aka Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, became an overnight icon of the supposedly blue-collar-loving Right when he whined to Barack Obama that the Democratic candidate’s tax proposal would add to his IRS bill once he bought his company and started making $250,000.

But in Brooklyn, Joe-named plumbers wouldn’t complain to Uncle Sam if their salaries ever got up into “Joe the Plumber’s” stratosphere.

“I was watching him and thinking, ‘This guy is an idiot,” plumber Joe Heney told The Brooklyn Angle. “It’s a simple concept: You make more, you pay a bit more.”

Heney said he made $52,000 last year — and would be voting for Obama next month.

“My name may be ‘Joe the plumber,’ too — but Obama’s tax plan would save me money,” Heney said. “That gets my vote.”

It will likely get a lot of other votes from Joes who plumb. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average plumber in the New York metropolitan area, whether named Joe, Samuel, Frida or Ingmar, earned $59,180 last year (the average editor, by the way, earned $74,950).

That average Joe the Plumber would actually see his taxes go down $502 under Obama’s plan, while McCain would keep his federal taxes the same as they are now, $9,191 (assuming, of course, that the tax plans posted on each candidate’s Web sites truly represent the candidate’s position).

Joe Bedford of Bedford Sewer Service in Windsor Terrace never made $250,000, either. His $70,000 earnings last year would also qualify him for an Obama tax cut.

“The focus has to be on real blue-collar guys, not ‘Joe the Plumber,” Bedford said. “My overhead costs increase, my competition increases, but my rates stay flat. I’m making less than I was making 20 years ago.”

The good news, of course, is that his business is somewhat recession-proof, a thought conveyed fairly well by the company T-shirts, which show a “Ghostbusters”-like image — but instead of a ghost inside the red circle, there’s a pile of excrement.

“Your s—t is our bread and butter,” the shirt says.

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at
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