Thursday, October 16, 2008

Clay and Joe the Plumber

One of the programs at Central Dallas Ministries of which I am most proud is a program that I helped develop called WorkPaths. WorkPaths is modeled after a previous living wage workforce development strategy that leaders of Dallas Area Interfaith put together about ten years ago.

CDM contracts with an organization based in Chicago called OAI, Inc., which is funded through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. Over a three year period, focusing on the construction industry and in partnership with the Dallas County Community College District, we've designed a 12 week job training program in construction and environmental remediation. Trainees receive community college certification, and interviews with major local construction companies after graduation.

Clay is a 27 year college dropout, who went through the last graduating class of 18 (22 were actually selected to go through the training). Clay had sold a small business he operated and was in dire financial and personal straits, due to some poor life choices. Clay has a wife and three children.

After successfully completing the program, Clay got a job with one of the major construction companies which interviewed him after graduation. Clay started as a carpenter and after about six weeks was promoted to field engineer.

Not long after that, another company that had interviewed Clay offered him a job as Project Engineer. Clay makes now makes $50,000 a year, has solid benefits and is on a great career track. He even has a monthly car allowance.

Needless to say, we're proud of Clay! We're proud of all of our graduates. We're proud of WorkPaths and of Andrea Bills the Program Director and Lenora Coleman our Workforce Development Coordinator, who run the day to day operations.

Here's the thing: Clay can expect to pay more taxes. Of course! He makes more money! He has worked hard, received a great break! He's been blessed! He's committed himself and is in a great position to do great things for himself, his family and his community. His government has invested in him - to the tune of about $3500 for training (along some generous help from donors who support our organization and this program). But Clay will repay the public and private investment through taxes. Is that fair? Is that right?

I think so!

What makes Joe the Plumber any different?


Linus said...

Exactly!! Sorta like the person who tells you that you'll be in a higher tax bracket . . . YES, give me the promotion and raise! PLEASE put me in that higher tax bracket.

Gerald Britt said...


I'm with you! But here's the deal:
Joe the Plumber (who, from what I understand is nowhere near making 250k, or buying his bosses business), will get a tax cut under Obama's plan. Clay will have a tax increase because his income has increased. And both are fair.

Anonymous said...

But raising taxes on small business might put the boss Out of business.

Gerald Britt said...

Like I said, I understand the point, however, two more things: Clay's employer isn't a small business.

And,the 'trickle down' philosophy never works as well as its claimed.
Wages almost always flatten as they had prior to our current situation, or lose their value, as they did during the Reagan Era.