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Gov't Computers Used to Find Info on "Joe the Plumber"

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the wurzelbacher-wurzelbacher-french-is-it? dept.

Privacy 793

After Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio gained fame as "Joe the Plumber" in the course of the current presidential campaign, it seems that he's drawn more than idle curiosity from people with access to what should probably be confidential information. An anonymous reader writes with a story from The Columbus Dispatch that "government insiders accessed Joe the Plumber's records soon after the McCain-Obama debate. 'Public records requested by The Dispatch disclose that information on Wurzelbacher's driver's license or his sport-utility vehicle was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles database three times shortly after the debate. Information on Wurzelbacher was accessed by accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.' Welcome to 1984."

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Open your eyes (5, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520919)

This stuff isn't just happening in the UK.

Re:Open your eyes (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521041)

This stuff isn't just happening in the UK.

It's not actually happening in the UK. Unlike the US, doing this kind of thing is illegal in the UK. We have this thing called the Data Protection Act, which the US does not have.

Re:Open your eyes (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521067)

GP is conflating the issue with the over-surveillance debate. (As cued by the 1984 reference).
But the problem here is the leak, not registration of vehicles. Because every industrialized nation has been doing that since forever.

Re:Open your eyes (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521185)

The problem is that people are nosy motherfuckers who are too lazy to learn about things that would distract them from trying to find entertainment in others' misery.

Re:Open your eyes (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521145)

Ooo, there's a law against it, so it doesn't happen - yeah, right; even with this law, the Government seems determined to 'lose' every ones' information

Re:Open your eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521261)

That's like saying the UK doesn't have a bill of rights. They might not call it the DPA but I'm sure merkins have legislation that protects personal information.

Re:Open your eyes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521123)

How the fuck is this totalitarianism? This was just people with access to records looking up a celebrity's personal info. Feel free to accuse western governments of going further than we want them to, but at least use examples that actually fit.

It's always been like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521127)

Government employees can pull your records for any purpose without any logs. It's not like a credit report.

If they do log that activity, it's not like you can sue the government like you can with creditors. I believe any non-permissible inquiry can result in a lawsuit.

It's the union (4, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521297)

This is clearly the work of the union, posing as a government employee. They found out he wasn't a member and have initiated a smear campaign against him. The most insidious thing is that they're blaming the democrats for it!

Fact: The plumber unions secretly run the stonecutters guild, which in turn secretly runs the world.

My toilet is overflowing, they're onto me...

Re:Open your eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521367)

Um, what stuff?

Is anybody seriously surprised? (4, Insightful)

lottameez (816335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520923)

Anybody? I'd think that the personal data of just about any news figure is combed over. This is certainly unfortunate but hardly surprising.

Joe should have posted on slashdot (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520929)

....as JoeTheAnonymousCoward. Average Joe said over a cup of Joe today that he learnt about AC too late, but that maybe others could learn from his mistake.

Re:Joe should have posted on slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521091)

Anonymous Coward? Joe is certainly not anonymous, and he would probably punch you in the nose if you called him a coward. Just like me.

Re:Joe should have posted on slashdot (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521263)

From one Joe to another, that's a good idea.

1984? (5, Insightful)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520937)

Welcome to 1984, or welcome to a world (just like 2007, 2006, and 2005) where curious people with access to confidential information sometimes abuse it without meaning harm?

I don't think there's any reason to assume malice here, I think stupidity is good enough. This kind of thing happens all the time when famous people check into hospitals and medical residents think it would be clever to pull their file.

This seems more likely to be plain old stupidity than it does evil government influence.

Re:1984? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25520979)

And these plain old stupid people (who have no malice) should be terminated (employment wise), without malice. Having the ability to do something doesn't give you the right to do it, and there are consequences to your actions. If the consequences are fast and severe, it will stop others who might be 'stupid'.

Re:1984? (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521025)

Welcome to read TFA article.

Re:1984? (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521033)

From the Chewbacca to the stupidity defence:
Judge: Why did you kill him?
Defendant: Well, your honor, I'm stupid
Judge: Oh, well, I see, your good to go then

Sounds reasonable to me...

Re:1984? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25520997)

Yeah, drivers license and vehicle registration isn't something that particularly suggests a surveillance society.

Come back when they can disclose his movements over the past week.

Re:1984? (2, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521135)

plain old stupidity than it does evil government influence

what's the difference? Was the government's handling of hurricane Katrina 'stupidity' or 'evil'? It's all bad.

ThoughtCrime and 1984 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521213)

One would do well to actually read 1984 (as opposed to just scream its title every time the Right does something you don't like).

1984 was an comment by Orwell on the Communists. Orwell, himself a socilaist, learned to hate and fear the Communists after the Spanish Civil War.

Big Brother was an obvious stand-in for "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

In 1984 you will see:
* The Ministry of Truth, the media manipulation of news and history (ala the recent Reugter's Photoshopping of pictures from the Israel/Lebanon war; Dan Rather's falsification of documents)
* NewSpeak, the changing of language to make certain thoughts impossible (ala the politically correct language redefinition we experienced in the 70s/80s e.g. "differently abled" for "handicapped", in Sweden "husmor" replaced by "hemmafru" or their English cognates "housewife" with "stay-at-home-mom")
* DoubleThink, the simultaneous holding of two or more mutually exclusive ideas (e.g. "homosexuality is something you are born with" and "homosexuality is a personal and private decision"; or "racism is always wrong" and "affirmative action is the right thing to do")
* ThoughtCrime, making the mere ability of thinking something a crime. You see this all the time in Hate Crime legislation (what murder wasn't already a crime ... with a life penalty?) and University speech codes (University "Free Speech Zones" are a wonderful example of NewSpeak, DoubleThink, and ThoughtCrime wrapped into one)
* also the breakdown of the family and sexual relationships (which has less obvious parallels but "PolPot & the child turns their parents in" (like Winston's neighbor) would be an example)
* furthermore the mild anti-semitism, the hatred of Goldsteinism, today you see this all the time however this is mostly thinly veiled as an attack on "Zionism"

We really shouldn't be surprised by the EU and The Left's fascination with this kind of behaviour. Orwell saw and predicted it nearly 50 years ago.

Re:1984? (2, Insightful)

who knows my name (1247824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521275)

I wish people would read 1984 before making comparisons. 1984 has many differences from a heavy surveillance society. Not only does the 1984 regime spy on you, it destroys any evidence to what actually is reality. It trains the public to deal with cognitive dissonance. It controls thoughts by redefining language.
Pulling someone's files is not even personally invasive unless they some how influence you with the information in the files.
Joe the plumber would be none the wiser if someone hasn't told him he was being spied upon (this isn't to justify the spying, but to point out the differences).

Re:1984? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521403)

When this picture [whipnet.net] was first making the rounds, I e-mailed it to my brother, who was a police officer in Saskatchewan at the time (note the licence plate).

He e-mailed me back, telling me that the plate had been run over 50 times in the last few weeks (yes, including by him). Apparently the guy who owns the car lived about an hour away.
 

While it is possible that party officials have checked on Joe to see if he is part of the opposition;'s FUD machine, it's just as likely that the merely curious are poking their noses where they don't really belong.

Posting AC for obvious reasons.

Where's McCain's other friend? (3, Funny)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520943)

Did they find Simon the Invisible Unicorn? (if you don't know the reference, watch the SNL spoof)

Re:Where's McCain's other friend? (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521073)

Maybe he's in Russia? I can't see him from here, but he's invisible, so you never know...

Re:Where's McCain's other friend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521303)

I think he hangs around Charlie the Unicorn and Z.

(YouTube it. And be on drugs for maximum effect.)

Sinking feeling (2, Interesting)

kramulous (977841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520949)

So, do you think that there are three people, quite rightly, trembling in their boots at the moment? Shouldn't be too hard to find. And if it is shame on the organisations.

Re:Sinking feeling (1, Offtopic)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521011)

Except that the people they through under the bus will probably not be the people that instigated the felonies. Those people are too well insulated and obviously above the laws that govern you and I. So yes if the media sees value in the story of "catching" the perpetrator(s) then you will see some poor sap get his or her career ended and hopefully some jail time.

Passport data thieves (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521023)

Something like seven people in the State Department were caught looking up passports of people without permission. I lost track what happend to them, though I recall some lost their jobs.

I like to watch. The towers falling down. (2, Interesting)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520953)

Of course all that information that in that vast government database won't be abused by curious government workers. Whatever gave you the idea that it would?

The fact that it is people (who are always going to be curious, even if not malicious) who have access to these records means that they aren't going to be private. (Not to mention, I've got something to hide ("I like to watch") that I don't want the spooks to know about.)

What do you expect? (4, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25520975)

This is what happens when you "speak truth to power" to a Republican. Oh wait, never mind...

They told me that if George Bush were re-elected.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521129)

They told me that if George W. Bush were re-elected, ordinary citizens would have their private records accessed. And they were right!

Re:What do you expect? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521281)

Oh, wait, never mind...

The current Ohio Attorney General is.... ... A DEMOCRAT!!

Sorry, but you can't blame the Republicans for this one.

Shocking, isn't it, that a Democrat would abuse their position in office? Wait, they're a politician, aren't they?

Jumping to a few conclusions can carry you right off a cliff... open your eyes, neither party is above this kind of thing. Hell, if the Libertarians ever make it into office, they might just be as corrupted...

EFF Drops Ball Again (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25520991)

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) will get right to work guaranteeing everyone's right to now know Joe The Plumber's info, under 1st amendment rights, now that it is already out there. Seriously, those guys really miss the point of "privacy" these days.

Jew the Plumber (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521001)

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher

Okay so the info is out there... (1, Offtopic)

Flentil (765056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521003)

Did Joe the Plumber make over 250k last year? Will Obama be giving him a tax break, totally invalidating McCain's point about Obama raising JoeThePlumber's taxes?

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (5, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521055)

Did Joe the Plumber make over 250k last year? Will Obama be giving him a tax break, totally invalidating McCain's point about Obama raising JoeThePlumber's taxes?

That wasn't the point of Joe's question. Joe stated he wanted to buy a business and hoped that his hard work would bring in more than 250K. Obama stated that he wanted to take that success and spread it to people that made less than Joe hoped to make with his business acquisition and hard work.

It's one thing to say you want to "tax the rich" to fund the government, it's another when you want to do it to give other people the money, i.e., "Spread the Wealth".

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521165)

It's one thing to say you want to "tax the rich" to fund the government, it's another when you want to do it to give other people the money, i.e., "Spread the Wealth".

Uh, sorry but that's a distinction without a difference. All graduated tax policies "spread the wealth". For the last 8 years the wealth has been spread upwards. The middle class "spread" it up to the rich. It was not accidental. Here's an article from 2001 [commondreams.org] saying that's exactly what Bush's tax policy was doing.

Obama's policy is about spreading the wealth back to the middle class as opposed to spreading it to the top 1%. This results in overall job growth and a stronger economy. A rising tide lifts all boats, not just yachts as Warren Buffett put it.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521313)

Obama's policy is about spreading the wealth back to the middle class as opposed to spreading it to the top 1%.

Don't tell me you believe that The Rich aren't going to find more ways to shelter their income.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (3, Insightful)

teknognome (910243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521265)

It's one thing to say you want to "tax the rich" to fund the government, it's another when you want to do it to give other people the money, i.e., "Spread the Wealth".

"Funding the government" does "spread the wealth"; it's not like the government throws money in holes. The money goes to gov't employees, contracts, social security, medicare, farming subsidies, corporate bailouts, etc. All of which "spread the wealth" to some segment of the population; it's just a question of what part of the population and under what guise the money is spent.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521415)

Well, it goes directly to "poor" people, too. Unfortunately (sort of) there is a negative tax bracket in this country. It's called the earned income tax credit. I'm not really, really against it, but it does cause some issues with making taxes somewhat fair and equitable. Having a negative bracket, imho, is a bit too far. Then again, I don't think you should get a tax break for having kids - in the modern world, they're an optional luxury. (FWIW, I have one, and that's all I feel I can afford).

As for the top tax brackets - yes I feel they should pay more. Hell, I'd be happy to see a 7.5% "bonus" tax kick in right where Social Security taxes stop. But that wouldn't be very popular. Besides, if small business owners manage to profit more than $250k/yr, the best way to reduce thta tax liability is to expand the business with either capital investments or - better yet - more employees or better benefits. Every dollar spent on employees is deducted from your taxable income. QED. Invest back in your community and the government won't take any more of your money. Keep it to yourself, and the government will use some of that extra to provide services - some of which (surprise) will end up back in your community!

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (4, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521317)

I'm a small business owner, and while we do well over $250K/year in revenue, I don't make more then $100K/yr. I don't believe I should be paid any more then my highest paid employee. Let's assume though that I did take more than $250K out of the business a year (which is what you'd have to do to hit the $250K limit Obama talks about). I have no problem with a higher tax rate kicking in above $250K/yr of my income, as long as the money is spent properly (i.e. NOT on bailouts, wars, etc).

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521417)

I have no problem with a higher tax rate kicking in above $250K/yr of my income, as long as the money is spent properly (i.e. NOT on bailouts, wars, etc).

Furthermore, it is a marginal tax increase. That means it doesn't apply to any of the $250K that you took as income in order to get to the $250K point. At roughly 3% it really is quite minor in absolute dollars for anything under $300K or so - roughly $1,500 extra taxes on $300K than now.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

Peaker (72084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521389)

The government is not using flat taxation, so its already "spreading the wealth around".

Obama used that phrase to mean that that instead of taking from lots of the low-income, you can take a little more from high-income and wealth will "spread around" to many low-income people by virtue of them having to pay less taxes. This wealth will allow them greater buying power which will mean more customers for Joe.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521463)

If Joe the Plumber thinks he's going to net $250,000 a year he's a moron. He's worrying about a case that's never going to happen.

And for the poor slobs who do manage to make 250,000 a year, under Obama their marginal tax rate on their next dollar earned will be significantly less than the upper middle class tax payer making 80,000 whose paying income tax and payroll tax on their next dollar earned. So upper-class quit you're whining.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521467)

This is not in least true. Joe apparently wants to live in a country where the political and physical infrastructure exists to allow the common person to become wealthy. Such a structure includes a banking system that is backed by a government with enough money to keep it going even if it fails. This means that there is a reasonable opportunity to raise short term capital to pay bills while waiting for invoices. This includes roads that allow workers to reliable get to the customer locations. This includes security that allows the workers to travel with capital equipment without the risk of being killed for said capital equipment. This includes regulations that insure an equal playing field for competition, so the honest business person is not put out of business by dishonest person who would use dangerous or substandard equipment. This includes enforcement of laws such as 'theft by check' which protects joe against customers that might want to steal from him, as well as a court system that will allow him to collect his proper pay, as well as protect him from disgruntled customers. Then there are laws that help insure that suppliers don't rip Joe off, and accounting standards that makes sure that Joe's partner does not rip him off.

This does not include laws and regulations that protects Joes kid, which we all benefit from equally. I am sure Joe is more than willing to pay for the peace of mind that the milk his kid drinks does not contain melatonin, or the car he drives in does not have some hidden defect, or that the house was built to spec and will not fall on the kid in the middle of night. Like I said, these laws and regulation exist to make us all safer, even if don't have kids and see little reason why we should pay so someone else can be lax raising their kids.

So here is the question. If someone is going to make a couple hundred grand a year, then they are probably using not just proportionately more resources, but maybe geometrically more resources. They probably depend more on regulations, like credit protection, insured banking, and the like, that the average person making around 50K a year. It may be unfair that the top 1% of the population (of which he desires to be in) pays an disproportionate amount of taxes, but they also have a disproportionate amount of the income, and have certainly benefited disproportionately from the government regulations.

This is the question I always ask. Would you rather be in a traditional country where the taxes are low and the regulation is low, and the chance of advancement is low, or one where the taxes are reasonable, the regulations are reasonable, and the chance to advance is high. As a person who has seen both cases, I think that the average person should choose the later. Now, as a person whose family is at the top of the totem in former case, I can live with either, but I prefer the case where I don't have to abuse the peasants to make a buck.

Also being in the top 1% is a choice. One can live quite conformably on 100K a year, and still have time to play with kids, or not, take tricks, have a big house and car. At this amount one can stay in the 25% range, maybe paying 14% taxes overall, or have about 80K to spend. But if one has to be rich, then one can make 250K, and only be left with $190K to spend. Hardly work the effort to more than double the take home income.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

fractic (1178341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521079)

More imporantly will the average voter make a rational decision based on those facts, or just believe McCain because he kept repeating it over and over. My money is on the second option.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (2, Insightful)

lottameez (816335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521087)

No, I read he made about 40K. I think Joe & McCain's point was that if you work hard, and do manage to make 250K+ you should be able to keep the fruits of your labors instead of "spreading the wealth".

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (2, Insightful)

Flentil (765056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521149)

So at 40k per year income, Joetheplumber could actually make six times as much as he makes now and still get a tax cut from Obama. SIX TIMES. Is six times a plumber's income rich? Well, almost according to Obama, and I would agree. Seven times a plumbers income -IS- rich.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

lottameez (816335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521219)

Well, I've made 250 before. Living in a metro area with kids it's enough to live comfortably but we don't have a mcmansion or fancy cars. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

Re:Okay so the info is out there... (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521337)

You do keep the fruits of your labor; just not as much of the fruit above 250k bananas. This is rolling back some of bush's tax changes, not some nasty 'take all the money from the rich' scheme.

I don't chime in on politics much (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521113)

If a small business owner employs people who make less than 250k a year, then tax breaks for his employees essentially translates into that the boss doesn't need to pay as much to keep them on board. So tax breaks for workers do help the small business owner.

Re:I don't chime in on politics much (3, Informative)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521457)

Say what? I'm a small business owner, and I don't have *any* visibility into my employee's tax burden beyond the W-2 I send them. I also don't recall being able to vary their pay on the basis of their tax burden. A tax break for my employees doesn't benefit me at all.

Were I to try to lower my employees' pay on the basis of their receipt of a tax break, wouldn't I be transferring their break to me? I would expect every one of them to quit should I pull such a stunt. With all due respect, you have your head up your ass.

How ironic it is... (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521005)

That those who would have afforded the Bush administration total power would suddenly wince when that power is used against them.

Re:How ironic it is... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521059)

I think you need to wake up and smell the coffee, these tricks are played out by both parties. Remember the hundreds of illegal FBI files obtained in the early part of this decade? Oh sorry I guess that was the use of total power by a non-Bush administration, must be a figment of my libertarian brain, party on.

Re:How ironic it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521111)

What is ironic is that by trying to appear smart and clever, you show your fundamental ignorance of the value of having the right to privacy. Plus, you fail at hiding your belief that crimes against private citizens for political gain are okay so long as they advance your political agenda.

Dissent is patriotic so long it is aimed a republican, right?

Re:How ironic it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521465)

Yes, because you know, the Bush Administration completely runs Ohio... oh wait

And they want Health records online... (4, Insightful)

lamapper (1343009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521027)

It was interesting to note that the access was gained via another government agency, the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency in Cleveland on 10/17/08, but not at all surprising.

As interesting (and also not surprising at all) is the quote from the article,

The LEADS system also can be used to check for warrants and criminal histories, but such checks would not be reflected on the records obtained by The Dispatch

Why anyone would trust any online system with anything that could cost them a job, impact their credit, prevent them from receiving health insurance, prevent them from being considered from a job, put-your-privacy-concern-here, etc.... is beyond me.

Sure it will be secure, sure it will....

Re:And they want Health records online... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521311)

The LEADS system also can be used to check for warrants and criminal histories, but such checks would not be reflected on the records obtained by The Dispatch

Why anyone would trust any online system with anything that could cost them a job, impact their credit, prevent them from receiving health insurance, prevent them from being considered from a job, put-your-privacy-concern-here, etc.... is beyond me.

And what's beyond me is why warrant and criminal history checks would not be included.

From the article... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521037)

The 34-year-old from the Toledo suburb of Holland is held out by McCain as an example of an American who would be harmed by Obama's tax proposals.

I still don't understand why they keep bringing this guy up. He lied in his question to Obama about being in a position to buy his boss' company. His boss' company also doesn't make the level of income that would trigger a new tax under Obama's plan. Joe himself would get a tax cut under Obama's plan [usatoday.com] . Joe owes back taxes as it is. He's against Social Security. He's not a licensed plumber. Oh, and did I mention his first name isn't even Joe?

"Joe the Plumber" is kind of a lie on a lie. Joe has a fantasy about himself as Mr. Up-And-Coming-Businessman (he's not) being held down by the Man (he's not) who will get screwed by Obama (he won't). And that self-deception has been magnified by McCain into yet another mass Republican Cognitive Dissonance(TM)-- a national party lie standing on the shoulders of one small man's lie.

Good luck in November, guys.

IMO: Typical of the Self Employed (5, Insightful)

cmholm (69081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521139)

Your points regarding "Joe's" outright lies and inaccuracies born of his daydreams are to my experience very common among the self employed. They see the most successful among their business acquaintances, and see that as a realistic goal... if only were the local/state/government to stop regulating/taxing them at whatever level they're currently regulated/taxed.

Basically, they're harboring the same sort of dreams that keep hundreds of thousands of young men banging away at amateur sports, even though the odds of making the cut are similar. It's this sort of dream that has the positive result of driving working people to succeed, but also the mixed results from overwhelming supporting the national GOP, whose policy goals use - but do not help - these grassroots supporters.

Re:IMO: Typical of the Self Employed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521323)

Thank you for the wake-up call.

-- Self employed

Re:From the article... (4, Insightful)

CrAlt (3208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521161)

The fact that everyone knows everything about "Joe" just highlights the problem with big government. He dared to question a government official and now all this info about him magically comes out.

Re:From the article... (1)

teknognome (910243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521299)

The fact that everyone knows everything about "Joe" just highlights the problem with big government. He dared to question a government official and now all this info about him magically comes out.

Um, not sure how big government is to blame. One candidate (McCain) made him famous on a debate (not organized by the gov't) televized on almost every network (also not gov't). And since then the news media has taken off finding out any and every thing they can about him.

Joe won't even make $250k! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521049)

What is Joe's problem? It seems he was worried about buying a company that would be making $250-300k a year. Well guess what Joe, I imagine at that size that $300k per year is not all profit. You have employees and material expenses which are going to put you well below $250k per year even if you made significantly more than that. Especially if you hire subcontractors which these types of operations typically do. So I don't know what he is worried about.

With that said, I'm not for McCain or Obama. I think they both have serious issues and this is going to be yet another in a long line of crappy presidential terms.

Missing the point. (-1)

boshi (612264) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521061)

It saddens me that the debate is over small percentages. Won't anyone speak up and say that the existence of income tax goes against the American ideas of freedom? The assumption that the government owns a piece of everything you make or own, and then out of the good of their own hearts allow you to have some of it is seriously wrong. Everyone likes to say that "oh, but then the government won't have any money", but that's already happening. Not all tax revenue comes from the income tax, and not all money spent by the government these days comes from taxes.

How do you think it should work then? (3, Insightful)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521119)

Seriously, this insanely stupid "It's against our freedoms to be taxed" idea is insane.

You live in a country that has a government that provides services. Roads, schools, hospitals etc. etc.

These things need to be funded. The people who benefit from said things should fund them with some of their earnings because they are able to earn the money in the first place due to the services provided by said country.

And don't start that 'Well I don't use X or Y services, so why should I have to pay for it?' bullshit. If only the people who used X service paid for it when they used it, well... how the hell would social security work? You can't well pay for that when you need it, because you don't have the money in the first place.

People like you, and Joe the Plumber are either seriously selfish and don't see the common good in everyone being helped in a prosperous nation, or seriously dense in that you just don't get how it's fair, and instead just see the simpleton's equation of: I earn money, it's mine, not yours.

Or both.

Seriously, grow up, stop saying anything you don't like is 'Infringing on your freedoms', because it's not, you're just being selfish.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521277)

Yes, those things need to be funded, BUT not from our income tax. You seem to forget that there are many different kinds of taxes, that are levied to pay for many different kinds of things.

Reducing or getting rid of income tax will not make the government go bankrupt. Maybe you will understand this when you start owning your own car, your own house, or your own business.

Not only is your income being taxed, but you are paying state and federal taxes on your car, your property, your business, your purchases, your telephone bills, your utilities ... the taxes are numerous and they ADD UP. Everything is taxed.

There has to be a limit to the taxation, because I for one don't like to work as a slave of the government.

The American Dream that so many talk about is not about owning your own house; it's about the idea that with good old fashioned hard work, you can make a good living and prosper.

Today, that American Dream being destroyed.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (2, Insightful)

wizden (965907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521291)

That "insanely stupid" idea is the reason this country exists. Don't get me started on taxation without representation. Are you feeling adequately represented? When you look at the taxes that come out of your paycheck do you feel better because you're not selfish and are enlightened enough to see the common good? Define common good.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521449)

That "insanely stupid" idea is the reason this country exists. Don't get me started on taxation without representation. Are you feeling adequately represented? When you look at the taxes that come out of your paycheck do you feel better because you're not selfish and are enlightened enough to see the common good? Define common good.

You do have representation whether you like it or not. You voted, your representative went to Washington, and they voted either for or against a tax bill. You might not like their vote and they may not even be the candidate you voted for but deal with it. We live in a democracy.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521295)

You live in a country that has a government that provides services. Roads, schools, hospitals etc. etc.

Roads.... Paid for by: gas taxes, yearly vehicle tag renews, vehicle purchase taxes, etc..
Schools... Paid for by property taxes
Hospitals... Paid for by drug and medical insurance companies, aka back pocketing, seriously...

Also don't forget we pay special taxes on food and on all other items we have higher taxes to pay on them.
Now its getting to the point where you want to cross that publicly built bridge (which was paid for by our taxes) you'll have to pay again at the toll booth.

We're getting taxed and tolled to death. Now on top of it we already have federal taxes and some states are wanting to jump on board with income taxes at the state level. Talk about highway robbery.

People like you, and Joe the Plumber are either seriously selfish and don't see the common good in everyone being helped in a prosperous nation, or seriously dense in that you just don't get how it's fair, and instead just see the simpleton's equation of: I earn money, it's mine, not yours.

So we're being selfish by not wanting to get bent over and raped out of the money we've earned which was made by working our fucking asses off and instead have a rather large portion given to the majority of whom are just lazy dipshits that have nothing better to do, but drop out of school and sit on their asses all day long and receive funding so they won't live out on the street. Gee yeah I see the error of my ways.... NOT!

Re:How do you think it should work then? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521301)

It is against freedom to be taxed. It is against freedom to be part of a society which has rules governing your actions. It is against freedom to not be allowed to shoot people who disagree with you. It is against freedom for other people to be allowed to own property that you could use.

Very few people actually want total freedom, unless no one else has it. The cost of total freedom is not being part of a society. Most reasonable people are willing to give up the same freedoms that they would want other people to give up. They give up the freedom to kill their neighbours and, in exchange, their neighbours give up the freedom to kill them. They give up some portion of the products of their industry to benefit society.

People in the USA talk a lot about rights, but rarely mention the responsibilities that come with them.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521339)

We have a bill of rights. What we need is a bill of responsibilities.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521305)

You are very generous with my money. And I am the selfish one.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521319)

You live in a country that has a government that provides services. Roads, schools, hospitals etc. etc.

No, it runs far deeper than that. "Spread the wealth" would seem to point to taking the money that I earn, and 'spreading' it to others who haven't earned it. Rightly or wrongly, thats what it sounds like.
This goes along with Hillary's line during the campaign of (speaking of the oil company's profits) "we want to take those profits and put them..."

Whether it be a 3 man plumbing operation, or Big Oil...'taking profits' leaves a bad taste in many peoples mouths.

Taking my money to provide necessary infrastructure is no problem. Taking it and giving that money to people who have not earned it is a problem.
Rightly or wrongly, "spread the wealth" sounds exactly like that.

I earn money, it's mine, not yours.
Beyond infrastructure and basic assistance, it is exactly that. Why can't I choose whom to spread it to? New employees, charities, whomever.

Today, the line is $250k. Tomorrow, $200k. Next year, $150k. You know as well as I do...govt's always want more.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521331)

Roads, schools, hospitals etc. etc.

Bad examples. Those are typically funded from real-estate taxes levied by individual counties. That has nothing to do with Federal taxation.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521359)

So privacy standards should only apply to people who share your politcal views?

Your response should be modded offtopic.

This should scare anyone who thinks Dems and Reps are just different sides of the same scummy coin.
     

Re:How do you think it should work then? (2, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521429)

Being able to keep what you worked for isn't selfish. Believing that people who do work should be obligated to pay for things for you is greedy.

Re:How do you think it should work then? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521433)

So you don't have a problem having your records accessed by faceless bureaucrats for no reason? Happy to let the world know about "that" medical problem? What about that time you visited a counselor?

No problem at all having that stuff published in the papers?

The implication is that if you step out of line the bureaucracy and the media attack-dogs can take you apart for having the wrong opinion.

Think about that....

Re:Missing the point (missing the whole) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521177)

"A piece" misses the point. The assumption is that the government owns *all* of you, anything left to you is a gift from the depths of their heart.

There are no legal limits on taxes, only political and phyical.

Government or the media? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521063)

I can see several scenarios where these people would have brought up his information. Some legitimate, others not so.
1) "Hey, isn't that the guy that showed up in our top 20 deadbeats report last week?"
2) "Hey it's Randy from the Post-Ledger. Can you do me a favor and look up this guy Wurzelshnauzer for me?"
3) "See that guy on TV last night? I wonder what we've got on him..."
4) "This is dispatch. We've got a complaint about trespassers from a Joe the Plumber at..."
5) "Sir, do you know you just went through a stop sign without stopping? Hey, didn't I see you on TV last week?"

And so on. Personally, my bet is that at least two of those lookups are due to "helping a friend in the media". And depending on public records laws in Ohio, these queries may be perfectly legal. After all, you used to be able to buy tapes or printouts of the entire DMV database for marketing purposes in the old days.

1984? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521133)

Either 1984 has become so diffuse that all it means is badness+database, or the summary is badly confused. 1984 was all about a scenario where the state had ubiquitous control(with force of law) over information, which was used against everybody all the time. The state in 1984 was oppressive, and not one I would consider legitimate; but it ran "by the book" as it were. In this case, we have a much more prosaic example of certain individuals illegally accessing a celebrity's records, against policy, on an ad-hoc basis.

Such situations are bad, and I hope the perps will be punished, and they are (yet another) reason to oppose the creation of Giant Exploitable Databases(tm); but they have very little to do with 1984. If you simply must have a dystopian cultural reference, try Brazil [imdb.com] .

Re:1984? (0, Troll)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521189)

Another difference is that the protagonist of 1984 was pretty resourceful. Joe the plumber just says the same stupid cringe-inducing nonsense that I get to hear every day at the office.

I doubt the government cares, since he's just parroting half of Bush's talking points from 4 years ago. "I'm not going to apologize for being an American, this is the greatest country on earth", etc etc.

He'd fit right in over at IngSoc. The only lesson I think we can take away from this guy is that a lot of us are so dumb that the media can get away with painting someone medium-dumb as a person with "something to say".

Re:1984? (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521383)

Either 1984 has become so diffuse that all it means is badness+database, or the summary is badly confused. 1984 was all about a scenario where the state had ubiquitous control(with force of law) over information, which was used against everybody all the time.

OK. Welcome to 1983.

Re:1984? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521455)

Oh, I definitely think that we are heading in at least the general direction of 1984, I just don't think that things like this have much to do with it. Essentially, 1984 was what happens when the state annihilates, assimilates, or co-opts all competing agendas and structures. Here, some sort of private agenda, or agendas, are acting in defiance of the state, in order to use its resources for their private purposes.

Joe the Plumber's vote would not be counted (5, Insightful)

Kligat (1244968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521141)

because Mr. Wurzelbacher has his name misspelled in the Social Security database, it would be assumed that he misspelled his name on his voter registration form. In Ohio, people that misspell their names or addresses, or have lost their homes and failed to update, or list a place that does not qualify as a "legal residence" in legalese like a dormitory, may be sent provisional ballots. These usually are not counted in the general election.

The Supreme Court had ruled against Ohio GOP measures, but on technical grounds or something, and now the Attorney General of the Department of Justice is probing whether or not they should be sent those provisional ballots. It's sad that Mr. Wurzelbacher had his privacy invaded, but in reference to the Republican argument, he did have something to hide.

Low level bureaucrats taking over (2, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521183)

My problem with total information on every citizen,and the ability to search without probable cause, is that it allows low level bureaucrats a huge amount of power. The airport screener, some making less that $10 an hour, are allowed to rummage my stuff, take my computers and other computers, throw away my water, all without charging me with any crime or claiming any penalty [schneier.com] .

Low level enlisted personel reported listening in on superiors private conversations through the warrantless wire tapping laws. Who knows how many other fucked up bureaucrats spend their days getting themselves off listening to conversations that citizens of the US should have the expectation to be private. And before we say if you don't have anything to hide, remember that Sarah Palin cried like a little girl when her account was hacked and wasted huge amounts of federal dollars looking for the person who did it. If you don't have anything to hide...

In fact I wonder how much of this economic meltdown is caused by the realization that there are no more corporate secrets. Every communique can be intercepted by some disgruntled government worker and be sold to the highest bidder. How much of the meltdown is caused by the realization that Obama might become president, and therefore all the good old boys who were used to breakin' the law, might now be on the ass end of warrentless wire tap. Such abuse of power was OK when a drunk frat boy had the keys.

And let's look a old Joe. The most that will happen to these government worker bees is that they get fired, on assumes, which is OK because this is not the worst that these government workers did to old Joe. Reportedly, someone typed in his name wrong. If the Republican party had their way, Old Joe would not have been able to vote because he drivers license would not have matched his voter registration card [politico.com] . This disenfranchise is reportedly due to a "clerical error". We are now giving low level bureaucrats the power to at least attempt to disenfranchise voters. Can you imagine what would happen if a bunch of voter registration cards came in from a republican area, and the clerk decided to misspell every few names, knowing that a law such as the republicans want to curb voter fraud might at least disenfranchise a few of them?

We really need get back to the constructionist ideals of this country, where those that will trade freedom for security deserve neither.

jt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521187)

And someone leaked the access logs!

Welcome to Obamerica.... (-1, Flamebait)

JDAustin (468180) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521197)

...where your government investigates you if you ask the wrong questions to their candidates and those candidates cut off media access when they ask to many hard questions.

Yea, Bush sucked at times when it came to privacy. But with Bush and the Republicans it was for national security. With Obama and the Democrats, it will be about the consoladation of power (this is what FDR and his brain trust did in the mid 30's).

Welcome to fascism in America. But what to you expect when the idiots elect a motivational speaker who is a marxist at heart.

Re:Welcome to Obamerica.... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521321)

You realise this is talking about things that happened in the past, while George W. Bush was still president, right?

Why Child Support Enforcement Agency ? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521199)

Because someone made a wild guess that Joe owed a bunch of child support, and this would have been very fun to discover that and leak it to the press to be splashed all over front pages everywhere. Child Support Enforcement Agency obvious knows things in some cases that aren't part of the public record. This is frightening.

Re:Why Child Support Enforcement Agency ? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521381)

Or someone at the CSEA wanted some dope on old Joe.

I have to honestly ask: (0, Troll)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521235)

Is anyone else in *this* crowd even bothered that a guy asks Obama a simple, solid question (that the news media won't) and all the sudden we know all about Joe The Plumber and his every foible since birth, yet all we know about Obmama is the people with whom he associates?

It's not a matter of association...

Consider this: the court flubs Tim McVeigh's case and he goes free. For *decades* he dedicates his life to taking over America by subversion, in particular by indoctrinating Chicago-area school kids that capitalism is wrong, and only communism is good. Only two years ago he said "We should have done more". (In no way sorry for the lives he took.) That's who Bill Ayers is.

If this guy was hanging around with McCain, he'd be grilled. Why is Obama not grilled?

Oh, sorry: it's racist to ask that question. :/

Re:I have to honestly ask: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25521375)

Oh gee. You got dinged down by moderators. I sure didn't see that one coming.

They've probably already added your email address to a special list for when Inauguration Day rolls around.

You may have missed these details (5, Informative)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521251)

Records show it was a "test account" assigned to the information technology section of the attorney general's office, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Thomas Hunter.

Brindisi later said investigators have confirmed that Wurzelbacher's information was not accessed within the attorney general's office. She declined to provide details. The office's test accounts are shared with and used by other law enforcement-related agencies, she said.

"IT Test account". Shared by a bunch of different offices. Looks like whoever did the search was smart enough to muddy the waters a bit.

Re:You may have missed these details (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521369)

"IT Test account". Shared by a bunch of different offices. Looks like whoever did the search was smart enough to muddy the waters a bit.

Indeed. And the fact that such a "test account" even exists should result in some seroius headrolling.

That particular bunch of assholes is pretty cavalier with our personal info, that's for sure. Not that they're alone in that.

In soviet russian prisons... (1, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521315)

..."Joe the plumber" accesses YOU!

Unfair advantage (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521357)

So if the party in power have access to private information on those who are campaigning, doesn't that give them an unfair advantage and raise the bar unfairly to those who are not friendly with those in power? Is it not also illegal to access private information of an individual without a warrant? Why does the public not have access to this information if the current power has access, if the information does not require secrecy insofar as the scope of information kept secret because it would put the country at risk?

I wonder who... (5, Insightful)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521395)

It's reasonable to assume the purpose of these unauthorized accesses were to try and dig up dirt on Joe. Since Joe's comments have noticeably harmed Obama and/or helped McCain, it's reasonable to assume those doing so were Obama supporters or surrogates hoping to find evidence with which to smear Joe. Joe supports McCain, thus I don't expect any public outcry at all over this at all.

Now if the tables were turned and it was an Obama supporter who was having his/her info illegally accessed...well, I don't have to describe the media orgy that would occur, do I?

Sadly, goes on all the time (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25521419)

Had a colorado dem gov. candidate who had his record as state attorney pulled and the pubs literally went through LOADS of gov. records that was illegal and then released it to the press. Fortunately, ppl saw it for what it was; total BS. Sadly, the pubs that did this got off scot free.
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