Bob Franken

Hearst-New York Times Column

(As usual, the arrangement with the sydicators, means this column appears here a week after its newspaper release)

^SARAH PALIN TO THE BARRICADES@< ^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@< ^By BOB FRANKEN@= ^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@= WASHINGTON _ Now that Sarah Palin has decided not to run for the presidency, the burning question is this: Where does she take her act next? Actually, there's a natural forum for her campaign-tease catch phrase deriding ``Crony Capitalism.'' It's the street. The woman needs to take it to The Man. , ``Crony Capitalism'' is what the spreading protest is about. She and that disorganized group of young people and, now, unions, that huddle under the "Occupy Wall Street" umbrella, both target what she described in an Iowa speech as "the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts and influence peddling and corporate welfare" Both argue that the corporate-political complex needs to be taken on. (A generation ago, it was called the ``Military-Industrial Complex.'' Same thing.) While she and her cohorts on the right would claim that the Tea Party movement she's nurtured is similarly anti-establishment, it is not. It's really anti-tax which plays right into the hands of the fat cats who are well represented among crony capitalists. Palin leaves behind a Republican presidential field dominated by candidates who also want to maintain the current economic structure. Not only are Mitt Romney and Rick Perry at the top of the party heap, but they are now joined by Herman Cain. Yes, Herman Cain. He's either tied for second with Perry behind leader Mitt Romney (Washington Post-ABC News-October 4th), or in another October 4th survey (CBS News), he's tied for first with Romney. All three are unapologetically on the side of big money. Romney will forever be remembered for his ``corporations are People'' statement, Perry's policies favoring mega businesses in Texas are the stuff of legend, and now we have Cain out there touting his ``9-9-9'' plan.

Cain has gotten quite a bit of his traction with his various simplistic approaches to complex problems like this.

He touts a 9 per cent rate for all taxes, personal, corporate, and sales, calling it his “Fair Tax” plan. The problem is it isn’t fair. It’s simply a way for the wealthy (like Cain) to further avoid paying their fair share.

An across-the-board tax rate, no matter what the earnings, is regressive and unfair to people at the low end of the income scale.

The person who makes $5 million a year at 9 percent would pay $450,000, while someone making $50,000 would owe $4,500.

That might sound equitable until we look at what each has left. The rich guy is left with over $4.5 million, while Mr. or Ms. Middle Class has $45,500, for shopping and paying the same 9 per cent sales tax as the most wealthy.

That is a lot of numbers, but the effect is clear.

Here come some more numbers, the ones we’re hearing chanted on the streets: “99-1” _ as in the struggle waged by 99 per cent of Americans against that top 1 per cent. It’s been a losing battle as evidenced by the widely quoted study compiled by New York University professor Edward Wolff, which shows that as of 2007, the top 1 per cent owned 43 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
They shower money on cooperative politicians and employ an army of lobbyists using their connections to make sure the top “1” stays on top, crushing the bottom “99.”

Sarah Palin has it nailed with her strident criticism of “Crony Capitalism.”, what President Obama told reporters was “frustration” that “…”…you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.”

Palin needs to take her bus and join the spreading crowds on the streets. She seems to be on the same page as Barack Obama.

The truth is that the concentration of wealth in this country needs to be tackled by everyone, on both sides of the spectrum. So Sarah Palin needs to add her voice. It makes sense for her, if only she allows herself to think outside the bus.

^–@< (Email: bob(at); on the

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