Thursday, October 23, 2008

Open Letter to Sam "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher

Dear Joe,

Now that the dust has settled a little and the teevee trucks and reporters have moved on and life's getting back to the daily grind, it's probably time you and I talk man to man, brother to brother and working stiff to working stiff. 

They're still whoring your name around Florida as proof of something or other, but I'll bet the phone doesn't ring all that much anymore and aside from the airfare to New York and the blazer that may have been provided, you probably haven't seen much out of this deal, least of all what $150,000 at Saks and Neiman would buy you. 

Joe, that's $20,000 more than your house cost. Think about it. I'll bet you shop at Walmart of Kmart for your kid's school clothes, and there's more chili on the menu than filet mignon at Chez Wurzelbacher. 

Let me preface this by saying that I was blue collar longer than you've been around. My credentials are pretty good in that area, and I've got more bashed fingernails, safety wire punctures and stinky work boots and coveralls behind me than most people ever see in a lifetime. I've spent time as a towtruck driver, cab driver, auto mechanic, warehouse clerk, human forklift, air conditioner assembler, pump jockey, telephone cable splicer, aircraft mechanic and flight line inspector in my time. I've also got time cold calling sales prospects but I was never very good at that and got fired from a couple jobs doing that stuff.

I've also got a union card that I'm pretty proud of, it's from Local 148 of the UAW, and it's under the glass over my law license.  If nothing else, that makes me a paid in full member of the Working Stiffs of America.

I lived the life you've lived, right down to the shit jobs, the rental apartments in the not so nice parts of town, the beater cars that die in the winter, the heat bills and on and on and on. Just like you, I laid out in the driveway on Williamsdale Avenue right there in Toledo putting the transmission back in the Ford truck and the next week it was getting the goddamned Dodge running again and being real proud of the fact that I found a California emissions carburetor in Toledo, of all places..

I don't know whether you remember me in Toledo but I was there in 1984-maybe you were a skinny kid on a bicycle and saw an old red Ford truck with California plates going past you on Airport Highway. 

That was me.

Joe, back in slavery times Ole Massuh would keep the slaves divided against themselves by convincing the negroes who worked in the big house that they were better than the field hands because maybe they didn't sweat and stink as much, or they were dressed a little better or had manners that the field negroes didn't have and didn't have to live down in the slave cabins. 

But when push came to shove, and Ole Massuh had lost his roll gambling or speculating on the market and the debts had to be paid, the field hands and house negroes alike were put on the auction block and were as likely to chop cotton as the next person. 

Joe, never forget where you're from and who you belong to. It's not the moneyed classes, and you're not doing yourself any good by being Charlie McCarthy or Mortimer Snerd for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

I hope you buy that plumbing business and earn enough from it that you can bitch about the taxes and give your son the kind of life any good kid in this country should have. 

What I'd really like to see is you get yourself a solid education and a law license like I did. You're intelligent, articulate and smarter by half than most of the lawyers I've met.

Working folks need people like you to ask the hard questions, and not to settle for a stroke job like the Republicans just gave you or a beating like some folks on the left did. 

Working folks also need people who will stand up and fight for them with some authority whether it be on the shop floor for the union, the city council, the school board, in the courts or in the legislature. What they don't need more of is Quislings created by the House of Reagan.

What working people don't need any more of is people who will let themselves be used by those in power. It's one thing if they really don't know what the play is but quite another if they think they've got something to gain.

Now you know the difference.


Post a Comment

<< Home