What we also know is that Jim shoves his foot through Lizzie's ceiling because of a similar need to be helpful and needed and that Marian took the Depression-era handy hint of saving containers for a rainy day too far. This means that Elly combines Jim's need to be doing something no matter what with Marian's tendency to hoard possessions to stave off a sort of imaginary doomsday.
The reason that I mention this is that while we learn a lot about Jim and Marian through flashbacks, we were never really given much of an in-strip back story for John. For some reason, Lynn seemed to have better things to do with her time than to show us what John's childhood was like. Granted, we get something of a portrait of his mother Carrie whenever he stands around bleating about how Elly should try to make the same home she did and from her habit of treating him like little Johnny with a mortgage, Will remains something of a cipher.
A pattern does, however, emerge when we see him sending Mike a hard hat to remind him to appreciate his elders, laughing maniacally about John having children just like himself and complaining about how 'greedy' children are. What seems to be happening here is that we're figuring out where it is that John gets the insane idea that his family is inches away from sleeping over a steam grate despite his making a comfortable living as well as why he sees ordinary behaviour as heralding in an apocalypse. Simply put, he's the child of an overly indulgent and sentimental mother and an authoritarian cheapskate. Since he was raised to think he could do no wrong and isn't smart enough to understand that simply because his dad couldn't afford things, that it doesn't mean he can't, we're in for about ten more years of his whining about the not-really-unreasonable costs of home improvement.