November 2, 2008

My sister, Sarah the Plumber Vs. Joe the Plumber


My sister Sarah with daughter Cecilia. And a scary looking white guy. I know who I trust.

I held back on writing about Joe the plumber because he has become an absurd media spectacle. His name is not really Joe, and he’s not really a plumber. He also owes back taxes, and seems to have no idea that plumbers, according to the New Yorker, make about $47,000 a year. But since he joined the campaign trail, making appearances with Palin and McCain, it is high time a counter voice be heard—the voice of an actual tax paying plumber, my oldest sister Sarah.

Sarah is a licensed master plumber, owner of Anchor Plumbing, and the New Haven Advocate’s “Best Plumber” of 2005 and 2006. She is also the mother of a precious 10 month old, a published author and poet, and on family vacations, my meditation teacher (Sarah and her husband practice Buddhism and attend some Unitarian services). Most importantly, she supports Obama. I recently caught up with her, via phone, in between fixing a leaky toilet in her own house and getting Cecilia ready for Halloween.

Sarah said that according to the Tax Policy Center, her taxes would be lowered under Obama’s plan, and it is her belief that most plumbers’ would be as well. She added that people, including Joe the Plumber, tend to think plumbers make more than they actually do, especially once you “factor in all the costs of running your own business.” She called Joe the Plumber a “media victim,” saying she believes he had a right to ask a candidate a question (my personal opinion of him is not as kind), but that the McCain campaign is now using him as a “pawn.” She said that her clients have been joking about Joe the Plumber, and one friend called her up saying she wanted to talk to a plumber, since they are the new political experts. However, given Sarah’s background and accomplishments, she has far more expertise than Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, and as a small business owner and mother, I can’t help thinking that she has much more at stake in this election.

I thanked Sarah for her time, as new mothers do not always have an abundance of it, especially on Halloween. Cecilia was a bumblebee; Sarah was a flower, and her husband Vincent, the beekeeper.

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