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Citizen Cain

Citizen CainOPINION – As it comes to all men, 15 minutes of fame have befallen Herman Cain…



Born of humble means in Memphis, Tennessee to working class parents Luther and Lenora, Cain would go on to attend  Morehouse College. A stint in the Navy, where he earned his masters degree at Purdue University, followed by work in the private sector for Coca Cola and Pillsbury as a business analyst, then V.P., then Burger King turnaround expert, then CEO of the worst pizza chain in modern history: Little Caesars.

Cain and a group buy Little Caesars from Pillsbury. Millions are made in the Mall Mozzarella Motherlode. Fortune amassed?

No man knows.

Titan of Capitalism: Cain would become Deputy Chairman and then a Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, while serving as the Emperor of Pizza Pizza.

A senatorial bid in 2004. Second place. In the primary. Ignominious defeat. The Cain empire begins to crumble.

But good news!  Cain’s mouth continues to work, so he talks about work, rather than doing any. Cain the opinion-maker!  Cain is seen as a key agent in the demise of the Clinton Health Care plan. His star in GOP circles rises.

A gig as a Right-wing talk show host in the Atlanta area followed. A commentator for hundreds  then TV beckons. Add hundreds more watching Fox Business News at 2AM.

Cain, becomes a self-avowed “dark horse candidate” for the office of the President in 2012. Having never held elected office, not even dog catcher, some might laugh at his ambitions.  Thankfully for Cain, Donald Trump diverts comedians’ attention from his equally long-shot career move.

Cain attracts Tea Party extremists and radical Libertarians with his views. He campaigns for the “Fair Tax,”  and the gold standard, and his often borderline xenophobic obsession with securing our borders.

Cain wooed women voters in his 2004 failed senate bid, going  on the record as opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest.


“All right, all right.. We know Cane was a self-important blowhard who buys into his PR and figures that his talk show will springboard him to Pennsylvania Ave.  What is all this “Rosebud” business?

“Maybe it’s code for his take on the gold standard.”

“Maybe it’s the name of a woman he loved and lost.”

“Maybe it’s a sled that he had as a child. His… lost innocence…”

“A sled?  God, why do I hire idiots?! Go. Find out.”

“Yessir.  Rosebud, dead or alive…”

(A bust of Herman Cane stands in the marble halls of the Cain Library, where a somberly-clad, purse-lipped woman with readers on a chain sits down with a small Apple laptop.  She looks over the top of her glasses and down the end of her long, squarish nose at me…)

“I’m the keeper of the Cain Archives here at Google. You will have one hour to browse his pages.  References are made to his political philosophies on pages…”

“I think I’m fine, ma’am. I know how to use Google.”

“You have one hour with the Cain library, Mr. Ross.”

So this is what I found. This is what I think Herman Cain is all about:

Cain Gold Standard Is A Bit Tarnished

Real Clear Politics shares this audio clip on his gold standard thinking:

“Yes I believe in the gold standard. We should have never gotten off the gold standard because when we got off the gold standard, that then allowed Congress to inflate our currency whenever they overspent. Now look at the mess that we have.”

His  solid thinking receives heaping praise from the rich, and the think-tanks which they stoke with pedigreed anti-intellectuals. When World Bank president Robert Zoellick broached the subject last November, even the conservative Financial Times noted:

“Although there are occasional calls for a return to using gold as an anchor for currency values, most policymakers and economists regard the idea as liable to lead to overly tight monetary policy with growth and unemployment taking the brunt of economic shocks.”

None of the major world corporations could have grown to the levels that they have over the decades since we departed the gold standard.  The free-market capitalism which made Mr. Cain a wealthy man would not have existed to that extent if credit had been tied strictly to the price of the gold sitting in Fort Knox.

“It’s time for you to go, Mr. Ross,” the snippy librarian said. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“No ma’am. Unless you’re Rosebud. Are you Rosebud?”

“Why I never…”

“That would explain the clothes. Have a good day.”

Next I went to the Club Trop to see the former Mrs. Cain…

“You want to know about Herman? Herman is all up on the gold standard and he supports the…”

“Yes, I know Mrs. Cain. I was at the library.  What about Rosebud? Did he mention it to you? Do you know anything about it?”

“Maybe it’s his pet name for the Fair Tax, which is the other thing near and dear to his heart.”

The Fair Tax, a bill tagged as H.R. 25 in the Congress, is a value-added tax that Cane and other Republicans don’t like to call a value-added tax. Obama proposed a VAT, but the Cane-style VAT is sans other federal or state taxes.

“Fair” taxers want to abolish the IRS and any income tax. Federal, state and local governments take money for sales taxes on goods and services, at a likely 30% rate if they want to keep the government funded as it exists today. The most costly elements of government can’t be hacked out, so cockeyed optimists from the GOP who think they can take a weed-whacker to Medicare and Social Security are dreaming.

They propose a tax credit for the poor that automatically “prefunds” their estimated tax consumption for the year.  This would make the tax burden near zero for people at the bottom of the scale.

Numerous studies produced by Right-wing economic groups and think tanks project a boon for the tax base. A study by economists Laurence Kotlikoff and Sabine Jokisch in 2007 concluded that a Fair Tax would give low-income households 26.3% more purchasing power, middle-income households 12.4% more purchasing power, and high-income households with 5%.  They also argue that it is in indirect manner of taxing the $1-$3 Trillion market in illegal goods because these normal tax cheats would have to pay taxes on equipment, supplies, and luxury goods which they now purchase for a fraction of the sales tax.

Of course, that’s the rosy estimate.

Taxes may have to be over 30%, as new tax dodges emerge. Buying a high-priced yacht?  Do it in the Bahamas, register it there, and save!  Heck, why not live abroad awhile if you can afford it. Lots of lower tax countries to visit.

Want to buy a house?  You wouldn’t if Herman Cane and his pals got their way.  Under Fair Tax your house purchase would be taxable at rates in the 30% range, AND you get no deductability for your mortgage interest as there is no more income tax to deduct it against.  A 2008 study by the Baker Institute For Public Policy concluded that the Fair Tax would significantly impact home buying because there would be a substantial increase in the cost and no tax benefit to owning.

States would have to ratify a new constitutional amendment that  repeals the 16th Amendment, which calls for an income tax.   According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 80% of state tax officials opposed a national sales tax as an intrusion on their tax base.  In the polarized world of modern telepolitics, it is highly unlikely that the number of states needed to amend the constitution could come together to ratify the change.

The bottom line for the Fair Tax isn’t that fair.  Sure, the poor are refunded and the wealthy save because they invest large chunks of their money which isn’t then subject to tax until they spend it. That’s a much smaller proportion of their income.

The people who would bear the brunt of  Cain’s capitalist conflagration? The dwindling middle class. They spend a higher proportion of their annual income just to get by.

It was a lot of information to take in at a bar. Felt like I should have been at the library for that.

I returned to the office.  My steely-eyed managing editor beckoned me into his office.

“So, did you find Rosebud?”

“I think I did.  Honestly, boss, I was coming back here stumped. Then I’m riding back here in the taxi, and they have one of those TVs in the back. I was watching Fox News and I suddenly got it. Nearly 5 in 10 Republicans think Barack Obama is a Kenyan.”

“That’s it?”

“Well sir, if that many scared white people are Republicans, my guess is that rosebud is the dope that Herman Cain is smoking to think that he can get elected President as a member of the GOP.”

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

2 comments on “Citizen Cain

  1. Rowdy
    May 11, 2011

    I realize you may be trying to use a play on the name Cain and Kane, but all throughout your article you refer to him as Cane, is this supposed to a conflation of the two names?

    Nice try.

    • Brian Ross
      May 12, 2011

      You caught a wonderful typo that compounded itself with a spell-checker let loose to spell check at the end of a very crappy day, which the artist then ran with. Fun for all. Thanks for the heads-up.

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