On Mere Comments, Anthony Esolen is relentlessly championing Joe the Plumber in the battle against Barack the Redistributor. He's trying to make clear that Obama should be ashamed to look stand face-to-face with a hard-working entrepreneur like Joe the Plumber and inform him that those in the Ivory Tower and the government have conferred on themselves the authority to do what they will with Joe's hard-earned profits. Esolen, a professor, argues that academics like himself and Obama (who he thinks has never done an honest day's work in his life) don't have the background or credibility to answer Joe's simple query, "by what authority?" He adds that John McCain, a veteran, is better equipped to understand Joe.
I agree, and I think the contrast is exactly what made Joe such a sensation (and apparently spurred McCain to make Joe the feature of his message in the final debate). But I hesitate when Prof. Esolen argues, "Obama wants to take Joe's money into his baby-smooth hands. Had he some half-inch thick calluses around the thumbs, he'd not be so quick to take it."
I know plenty of Joe the Plumbers who wouldn't think twice to take Joe's money while still claiming time-and-a-half from their union bosses. They'd think it was a great racket. In fact, a whole bunch of Tim the Teamsters and Paul the Pipefitters got a pretty sweet gig going in my hometown of Boston and we ended up with the Big Dig.
The point is that it doesn't matter whether it's an electrician's apprentice or a Columbia- and Harvard-educated lawyer, everybody's going to want a piece of Joe's money, but nobody has any kind of right to it. Nobody knows how to use Joe's money better than he does, so let's hope liberals don't get the chance.
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