Along with Herman Cain's meteoric rise from "also-ran" to "frontrunner" comes more scrutiny of, you know, his actual platform. Among his proposals are a ridculous gimmick that would shift the tax burden more on to the poor and middle class called the 9-9-9 plan: 9% income tax, 9% sales tax, 9% corporate tax.
But analysts have been asking where this monstrosity, which dominated discussion on Tuesday night's economic debate, came from. The obvious answer is that it just came from Herman Cain's brain, but those looking for a different connection have found one, that while tenuous, is incredibly entertaining: SimCity 4.
For those who haven't played 2003's SimCity 4, its default tax rate that you begin with in your city is a 9% tax rate on residential, industrial, and commercial properties. From the Huffington Post:
Kip Katsarelis, a senior producer for Maxis, the company that created the SimCity series, was excited that politicians may be looking to video games for ideas.
"We encourage politicians to continue to look to innovative games like SimCity for inspiration for social and economic change," said Katsarelis. "While we at Maxis and Electronic Arts do not endorse any political candidates or their platforms, it's interesting to see GOP candidate Herman Cain propose a simplified tax system like one we designed for the video game SimCity 4."
Adopting such a simple tax structure, Katsarelis said, would allow fantasy political leaders to focus their energy on infrastructure and national security. "Our game design team thought that an easy to understand taxation system would allow players to focus on building their cities and have fun thwarting giant lizard attacks, rather than be buried by overly complex financial systems."
When asked about similarities between Cain's plan and SimCity's default tax rates, Cain campaign spokesman JD Gordon replied, "Well, we all like 9-9-9."
Rich Lowrie, the Ohio Wells Fargo employee who is the brains behind Cain's plan, did not return a request for comment regarding whether he is a fan of SimCity and looked to the game for inspiration.
A receptionist at Lowrie's Wells Fargo office said she doubted his idea came from SimCity. "Probably not," she told The Huffington Post. "I don't think he's much of a game person."
So, no, Herman Cain probably did not rip off SimCity. But the fact that his idea was so simplistic that it could be the case I think is cause for alarm. This is similar to his, and, frankly, the rest of the GOP field's overly simplistic view of the world. Cain, earlier this week, intimated that if you are unemployed the only reason is because you're lazy and don't want to work, a sentiment that has been shared by others of his colleagues. He must view employment like in The Sims, where if you want a job you simply choose whatever one you want, and there are literally no barriers to your employment in any field.
Which begs the question- if candidates are taking cues from video games, even if just by somehow streaming them from the collective unconscious, what other GOP proposals have similar geeky roots?