Joe the Plumber

MYOB’s not a political blog, it’s a business blog.  It’s up to you to decide which presidential candidate (if any) has your best interests at heart.  But it seems that we Americans have a tendency to miss the core message while we argue about minor details.

On talk radio today, and on the Internet, the big question is whether or not Joe the Plumber is really a small business owner.  The tax ramifications on your business pale in comparison to the pundits’ desire to put poor Joe into the right box.  "How can a plumber make more than $250,000 per year?"  (Obviously asked by those who’ve never had a major plumbing breakdown.)  "Is the $250,000 net or gross or is it Joe’s take-home pay?"  "If Joe’s taking home a quarter of a million dollars a year, is he really a small businessman?"

Who cares!!!  The point is that Joe represents the millions of Americans who make their living operating their own business.  Yes, according to the government he is a small business owner as long as he has fewer than 500 employees.  That’s it.  Sales volume or gross or net profit have no bearing on a business’ "smallness".  It’s all in your perspective.  Compared to Wal-Mart or General Motors, a company with 450 employees is small.  Personally I know a lot of small business people who exceed the $250,000 threshhold.

But the discussion should be focused on taxes, not on definitions.  We live in an age of fifteen second sound bites and 140 character
twitter posts, and our communication skills are the worse for it. As the prison guard said in "Cool Hand Luke", "What we have here is a failure to communicate." 

How many times have you made what you thought was a brilliant sales presentation only to find out that the prospect has keyed on some inconsequential detail that you didn’t even realize you said?  By focusing on the minor issue, he’s missed the entire point.  For that matter, how many times has your spouse, or one of your kids, or one of your employees done the same thing?  It’s enough to make you tear your hair out (if you have any). 

Most of us will never run for a political office.  It’s unlikely that we’ll ever be involved in a presidential campaign or debate.  But every day we’re asking someone to vote with their pocketbook.  We’ll be much more likely to win if we make sure our listener understands exactly what we’re saying. 


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