Video games and taxes

| Staff Columnist

Herman Cain’s extremely simplistic 9-9-9 tax plan has drawn a lot of publicity of late, with a flat 9 percent tax for both corporate and residential incomes as well as a 9 percent national sales tax. But, as a recent Huffington Post article pointed out, Herman Cain’s tax plan may have come from the critically acclaimed video game “SimCity 4,” which came out in 2003. “SimCity 4” is a game in which the player acts as the designer and mayor of a major metropolis, and the default tax plan is, you guessed it, a flat 9 percent tax on residential, commercial and industrial incomes. So this got me thinking, what other video game ideas and concepts could we substitute for actual policy?

The first thing that came to mind was replacing our military-industrial complex with something closer to the mechanics of Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy game, “StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.” In this game, your main goal is to capture and harvest two resources in order to build up a military and then crush your opponents while also constructing buildings to support the growing population of your army. So, the U.S. could focus on the acquisition of two key resources, say, oil and the hearts and minds of oppressed peoples, and then constantly expand both its population and its army until it acquired all of the aforementioned resources. While we’re on the topic of the military, why not use “Call of Duty” to train soldiers; if you get shot at, just hide for a bit, wait for the blood to go away, and then you’re back to killing all those who stand in the way of America’s unquenchable thirst for oil and hearts while calling people n00bs and using homophobic slurs.

We could also use Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto” series as a basis for national automobile and criminal law. All crimes would be assigned an arbitrary value between one and six depending on their severity, with fives being among the most heinous crimes (like being in places you shouldn’t be). The higher the value of your crimes, the more law enforcement effort and manpower is used to catch you. As time goes on, and as you move farther away from the scene of the crime, the police become less interested and they leave you alone. Also, you can just change the color of your car or get into a safe house. Oh, and if you’re arrested, regardless of the severity of your crimes, you just lose about 10 percent of your funds and any weapons you had on your person. Seems pretty fair.

But let’s be honest here. This is silly. The world is far more complicated than any video game. Video games are fun because they’re an escape from reality, because they’re inherently different from real life. Any solution drawn straight out of a video game is probably not going to work in real life. U.S. economic policy cannot be condensed into a flat tax rate for everything. Our country isn’t bent on acquiring all of the oil in the world and we shouldn’t make foreign policy decisions based on that premise. Criminal law cannot be condensed into a linear scale of severity from one to six.

We shouldn’t try to fix complex problems with simple solutions, and assuming that we can just detracts from our leaders’ ability to actually solve any problems. While something like the 9-9-9 plan might be catchy, we should learn to just tune out such simplistic answers without giving them a second thought. Our country is a complicated place, and that is why we are choosing the person we deem the most qualified, not the person who can name things the best.

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