Wurzelbacher: The Issues of a Plumber

While politicians like to identify us by our job titles, for many of us, it's more complicated.

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Joe Wurzelbacher sure got a lot of attention last night from the two men closest to running America for the next four years.

Wurzelbacher's nickname is "Joe the plumber." He had a conversation with Barack Obama in Ohio last week, where he asked about the senator's plan to raise taxes for those who make more than $250,000 a year. Wurzelbacher doesn't like the idea because he wants to buy a small plumbing business, and he feels that he'll be punished for his success when his income pushes past Obama's barrier.

While "the plumber" named his issue for himself, politicians often like to drop individuals and their careers into simplified categories that serve their anecdotes—"the waitress" worries about healthcare or "the farmer" worries about subsidies—but the truth, for most of us, is much more complicated.

Joe the plumber probably has other issues of concern. I know the owner of a very sophisticated plumbing business. His success rests on the health of the service industry—he's built a large stable of hotel and restaurant customers. So he's very likely concerned about consumer spending and employment numbers, and hoping for job creation and capital-gains-tax relief.

I'm a reporter, but I'm not just looking at the candidates' plans for income tax relief or their attitude toward the press. My paycheck relies on advertising. How are advertising budgets going to fare in this economy? If, thanks to the credit crunch, companies don't have access to capital, budgets will get slammed. So I'm looking at the candidates' economic savvy—or at least the savvy and style of their economic advisers—and their plans for dealing with the credit crunch.

I'm curious to know: Are your issues easily teased from your job title?