Joe the Plumber dead at 49

Samuel Wurzelbacher, the telecommunications company worker better known as Joe the Plumber, died over the weekend of pancreatic cancer. Wurzelbacher rose to fame during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign season when he told Democratic nominee Barack Obama that he didn't like Obama's tax policy. It was later reported that Wurzelbacher, who espoused a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps philosophy, was a welfare recipient.

Here's what The New York Times had to say in 2011 about Wurzelbacher's self-owning hypocrisy:

In fact, Joe's real name was Samuel Wurzelbacher, and he was not a licensed plumber. He had no plumbing business, and was in no financial position to buy one. Aspirations aside, he was in debt and owed the state substantial back taxes.

In other words, the real Samuel Wurzelbacher was precisely the sort of citizen who would have benefited most from Obama's proposed policies. Yet the distance between what "Joe" imagined his status to be and its reality says a great deal both about the inflated condition of the American dream, and the deflated reality of the American worker. Joe the Plumber, in other words, was a perfect cipher for the complications of class anxiety afflicting many Americans.

Wurzelbacher spent the rest of his life as a tool for oligarchs to stir up class resentment.