Fact Checking 'Joe the Plumber'

During a campaign stop in Ohio this week, Ohio plumbing business owner Joe Wurzelbacher questioned Barack Obama about his plan to increase taxes for the top five percent of income earners. Noting that he was planning to purchase a company that "makes" between $250,000 and $280,000, Wurzelbacher wondered what impact Obama's tax plan would have on him.

Last night, "Joe the Plumber" was first invoked by John McCain to attack Obama's tax plan. He was referenced 23 times by the candidates. After the debate, Wurzelbacher applauded McCain: "He's got it right as far as I go." But Joe is ill-informed.

Jake Tapper reports that it's not even clear if the figures Wurzelbacher cited take expenses into account. If his net profit is below $250,000, "Joe the Plumber" would be eligible for an Obama tax cut. Dean Baker explains that, under Obama's plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent -- which means that, if his net profits are above $250,000, Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900.



Wurzelbacher told the CBS Morning News that he feels like he's being "used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point."

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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