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Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:34 AM EDT
Why Herman Cain's Simplicity Formula is
By David Magee
As some economists and critics debate the merits of the Herman Cain "999" tax
plan, with some saying the solution is not as simple is scrapping the tax code in
favor of such a straightline formula, many Republican voters see it differently. It's
a major reason why Cain, of Atlanta, has surged to the top of at least one recent
poll besting former frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
Romney, of course, joins the critics in suggesting that Cain's plan is too simplistic.
While Cain harps upon the necessity of throwing out the extensive U.S. tax code
to go with his 999 plan which would eliminate all taxes in favor of a nine percent
income tax, a nine percent corporate tax and a new nine percent national sales
tax, Romney promotes his 59point economic plan as Cain keeps gaining
momentum in polls.
Some, like Romney, don't seem to understand this simplistic power that Cain is
developing with the voters sending him to the top of the latest Wall Street
Journal/NBC News poll that placed him in the lead with 27 percent support
compared to Romney at 23 percent and Perry at 16 percent.
But all we have to do to understand why Cain's simple message is resonating
while Romney's is not is to look at history, and take a cue from another well
known Southerner the late author William Faulkner. Well known for his complex
writing style that pushed readers from around the world to understand and
grapple with the social views and structure including racism, Faulkner was at one
time a writer of a much simpler tone.
He was a Hollywood screenwriter, and his first novels were written in a more
mainstream commercial voice. But the genius of Faulkner, who lived in North
Mississippi in an era of racial oppression, was his ability to understand that
society as a whole in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly those who lived around
him, were seeing the world as too blackandwhite.
And not just in terms of race. The society at that time rarely considered
complexity, it was either this way or that way black and white. So Faulkner
exposed the world to complex subjects like racism and how one neighbor viewed
another through some of the most complex writing the world had arguably seen. It
was just the right voice for just the right times.
Faulkner won a Nobel Prize, even though many didn't understand it at the time.
Now consider Cain, who has boiled America's economic problem down to his
simple plan 999. Some say it is a solution. Some say it is a slogan. The reality
is that it's both, a solution and a slogan. We'll not debate the merits of the plan
here. That's for others. But we will look at why Cain's message has sent him to the
top of at least one major GOP presidential race poll.
The world we live in today is no longer black and white like it was before. It's
complicated. What happens in Washington stays in Washington most U.S.
citizens barely understand, as Cain says, the many pages of complicated
legislation. They just know the system is not working. It's not that they can't
understand it. Most can.
It's just that there's so much, and it's so interwoven and involved, that it would take
months to dig in and really get a grasp. Also, society today is simply
overwhelmed by that gray matter that pervades in this nonstop digital world.
Americans are in constant contact, and many, if they are working, are doing jobs
that two and three people once did.
There are text messages and emails and information at every turn. The economy
is bad, and people are hurting and they are being told from every direction why
this is so and what can be done about it. But few have articulated this in a simple
and clear manner becoming of the times.
The lives for many Americans have become too complex. They need a simple
and clear voice. They need a simple and clear solution the exact opposite of
how it was in Faulkner's day, so many decades ago. Herman Cain seems to
understand this. It's why he's surging in the polls, even as some critics dismiss his
plan for America's future.