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We are so happy in Taxlandia

Via Andy Silvester and Guido Fawkes, I have discovered the hottest new thing. From the people who gave you EURODAME, HELP! comes…

Taxlandia!

Does tax build YOUR future? Try it and see!

No, it is not a wind-up. Although from the time it takes to load, you might think it was powered by clockwork.

Later: I set the age level to 9-12 and gave it a trial commensurate with my attention span. Honestly, compared to Eurodame, it ain’t bad. They acknowledge the existence of the Laffer curve, how’s that? Peaks at 50%. Maybe the rampaging kaiju came after I got bored and left.

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24 comments to We are so happy in Taxlandia

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Perhaps there is scope for a game called ‘Tax Haven’. You try to attract people to your shores through low tax rates whilst trying to get other countries to raise their taxes. When most of the migrants have chosen your land, you win the game, and can raise taxes to any height you want!

  • Ulterior motive games that propagandise while pretending to entertain are less suited to the skill sets of typical lefties than are ulterior motive films. Like a tax framework, a game is a mathematical model, and many a new game has a solution mode that is unanticipated by its designers.

    Whether anyone will play Taxlandia often enough to find it is another question. The name is really crass (crasser than the game if the latter admits the Laffer). If this strategy were at all likely to work (which I doubt), we too could release games but I hope we’d find better names than Libertaria, and that Nicholas’ ‘Tax Haven’ would be only the development name for his game. There is a ‘Second Amendment’ mode in the ‘Dead Rising’ game but I don’t know of a game called ‘Second Amendment’. (Searching for ‘Second Amendment’ and ‘game’ seems mostly to get outraged leftwing articles complaining about how deplorables play games to resist the lefties’ ever-so-wise gun control arguments, but I suppose I’d not be amazed if such a game existed.)

    It is well to remember the history of Monopoly. A version of the game was first crafted in Britain in the early 1900s as a left-wing teaching aid. (It travelled thence to US universities after WWI and needed much work before it became a playable game.) Monopoly encodes a Marxist economic model; by the end of the game, one player has all the money and the rest are reduced to abject poverty. The game’s success was a defeat for marxism: everybody wants to play, everybody wants to keep playing, no game ever halts through the other players rebelling against whoever is winning and sharing the money equally. 🙂

  • Alisa

    Ulterior motive games that propagandise while pretending to entertain are less suited to the skill sets of typical lefties than are ulterior motive films.

    I agree Niall, but not necessarily with the explanation. I think the basic reason is that games are interactive: they force players to make decisions and take actions, and give them choices thereof. Movies offer neither.

    And, thanks for the info on Monopoly – fascinating.

  • Wasn’t Monopoly invented by a Georgist as a way of propagandizing for LVT?

  • JadedLibertarian

    AndrewWS

    Yes, and when I was playing it recently with my children it gave me the opportunity to explain why Georgism is bunkum. To make the game behave the way she wanted Elizabeth Magie had to do at least 3 (possibly more) very unrealistic things:

    A) Treat property as fixed (rather than elastic) commodity

    B) Compel players to rent from one another whether they want to or not

    C) Set price controls. While Mayfair is in reality rather expensive, I believe Old Kent Road is as well 😉

    Without these traits, the Georgist dystopia at the end of Monopoly never comes to pass.*

    My children seemed to find this conversation instructional.

    * – Although that said, sometimes governments have been known to interfere in a market until it starts to look very much like a game of Monopoly.

  • JadedLibertarian

    That should read “fixed, inelastic, zero-sum commodity with no new construction”

    That’s really the most important condition.

  • AndrewWS (November 22, 2017 at 9:31 am), yes indeed, the immediate purpose of the very first version was to justify a wealth-tax, an immediate political goal of chancellor Lloyd-George circa 1910, but I always assumed the conformance of its economic model to marxist predictions was neither an accident nor irrelevant to why small groups of end-20s US university students occasionally tinkered with it. The story goes that someone saw them in the early 30s, went away and thought about it, and then marketed the game we know as a commercial venture. (All this is from memory of stuff I learnt rather peripherally years ago.)

    Alisa (November 22, 2017 at 9:21 am), good point: the outcome of a film is determined by its writers; the outcome of a game depends on the players’ choices – or should! Long ago, Natalie, I and others were asked to play and comment on the sole prototype of a government-sponsored energy efficiency game: each player was the energy minister of an imaginary country and was in charge of its energy policy. After an hour or so of play, we realised the rules had been crudely fixed to generate only the choices its eco-fascist/eco-woolly-head design committee approved – but they had failed to anticipate an alternative play strategy in which you could be self-indulgent and rely wholly on the equally crudely implemented “we’re all on this one planet together”-style rules to force the other players to clean up your messes. 🙂 It was an implementation of the prisoners dilemma – if too many players chose the alternative strategy, earth was doomed, but so long as most countries were trying to do the ‘right’ (i.e. eco-left) thing, any one player could have a fine time with it.

    I never heard any more about that game. 🙂

  • Alisa

    I see your point, Niall :-/

  • bobby b

    Good lord. The motto of the issuing org is “TAX BUILDS MY FUTURE.”

    The instructions speak of tax expenditures as “investments.”

    The only negative effects of excessive taxes on the economy of the game is that you will become unpopular with some people.

    I’ve had computer viruses that did less damage.

  • Rob Fisher

    Niall: “we too could release games”

    Well there is this, a sort of choose your own adventure game, made by someone I met at Brian’s a while back:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devlabs.financial_crisis

  • Paul Marks

    I could not get the game to work – a bit like the European Union which seems to have created the game.

    I suppose the idea of the game is to make people think tax-and-spend is a good thing – but, as I could not get the game to work, I do not know.

    bobby b. – I think you have summed it up, I will take your word for the game.

  • Paul Marks

    I suppose the two games are linked – one must put up taxes in order to pay for the immigrants from “Euro Dame Help” game (is it P.C. to a call a woman a “dame”?).

    “But Paul one can have migration without the migrants getting endless government benefits and public services” – Califoria tried that, it was called Proposition 187. The left went absolutely nuts – and their court (Californian judges work for the left and ignore the text of both the law and the State and Federal Constitutions) struck it down.

    To this day any supportive mention of Prop 187 (which had nothing to do with race) marks the person speaker or writer a “RACIST” to the media and education system.

  • Sam Duncan

    It always strikes me in this kind of game, even those that aren’t explicitly rigged towards a particular worldview, that the simulated people of your city/country/empire are extraordinarily stupid. When not provided by you with hospitals, they simply sit around and die. When schools aren’t bestowed upon them from on high, they don’t seem to want to learn. If you don’t provide them with a means to get to their place of business (which you, of course, have built for them), they just give up and stay at home.

    Now, granted, there wouldn’t be much of a game if they did have any agency of their own, but hopefully other people, such as the kids this nonsensical propaganda is aimed at, will notice the same thing. Games are not real life.

  • JadedLibertarian

    I was a big fan of Sim City 2000, but also found it very annoying for the reasons you state Sam. If you didn’t do something for your people, it didn’t get done.

    I kept looking for the button to sell the roads, schools, hospitals etc into private ownership and the “Build whatever you want” zoning category. Alas the designers seem to have left that option out 🙁

    Games like that seem to presume authoritarianism is a given.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I hang out here, mostly, and at Simon’s Libertarian Home website. Unfortunately Cats went not merely South (where Zanzibar is anyway), but abandoned us altogether; but it was one of the Top Three UK-ish sites in my book. And there was a time, before Mr Gabb decided his whole LA site does not permit the hoi polloi anymore, when it was still libertarianish and I was a regular commenter there.

    So the price of tea in China is, that somewhere, or perhaps even “somewheres” plural, I used to see folks whom I knew from their comments and postings at one or all sites, and whom I liked and respected, who occasionally talked about hauling out, for instance, Civ IV or whatever was their latest/greatest Sid M. game, in order to try to get a fix on how to resolve some real-world geo-economical-political crisis.

    I never knew whether to take such remarks seriously or not. I mean, ❓

    (Pursuant to Sam’s comment just above, that “Games are not real life.”)

    . . .

    Yes, thanks for the info on “Monopoly,” Niall. I am after all a Real American, so grew up on Monopoly and only put it away when the Blessed Event occurred, at which time the luxury of Disposable Hours (as well as of Disposable Income) disappeared to the necessities of diapering, feeding, and cuddling. It never occurred to me even to think of it as anything but a, well, a game. I mean, one doesn’t build one’s view of Civilization on the game of football (American parlance), either. I hope. :>(

  • Julie near Chicago

    Prompted by Jaded’s comment above:

    A decent Sim game would have as its objective whatever the player decides he wants it to be, as one of the input parameters to the game.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    In fact, I think you could use something like a Sim game for tourists. Have them buy the game before they go, and have it as a map-game. For instance a Sydney version might dump players into a hotel, and have them find their way to a destination, like the Opera House. That way they learn about Sydney’s transport options before they arrive, and could have a more enjoyable holiday.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Program it up, Nicholas, and I’ll be glad to beta-test it for you. I think it’s a good idea — seriously, not joking at all.

    The idea could be applied to lots and lots of cities, of course — Washington, London, Tokyo, Market Snodsbury — but you could also build something similar around other sorts of things too. Mountain-climbing leapt into my mind for some reason. If Sir Edmund were still among us maybe you could get him to act as a consultant in your new game “Climbing Mount Everest,” which allows the player to learn the routine of such treks, and let him have realistic adventures and problems to solve along the way.

    “Climbing Mt. Everest in the Safety and Convenience of Your Own Home,” riffing off an old TV ad for washing machines….

    Growing a vegetable garden, growing fruit, growing flowers … successfully.

    Developing a zoo, or running a bank.

    A cooking game.

    The possibilities would seem to be endless.

    In any such game, of course, the player should choose his own criteria for scoring a “win” vs. going down in flames.

    .

    Of course, the Greatest Game already exists. It is known as Mathematics. (Don’t believe that nitwit rumor about spying or whatever it is!)

  • nweismuller

    As far as the lack of agency of your people in Civilization and similar 4X titles- I always took it as obvious there was no possible way the ‘player’ was just ‘the state’ or ‘the ruler’ in that sort of title- it would, for instance, have been very odd indeed for the ruler of a Despotism in the early game to sponsor the revolt that collapses that government and reforms the civilisation as a Republic. In order to provide interesting gameplay, the player ends up being an aggregate of decision-making processes throughout the civilisation, at least as I see it. So I never felt overly bothered by ‘implicit authoritarianism’ in the fact that, say, the player was choosing when to build up Factories in your cities in some modern Democracy- which, at least in Civilization 1 and 2, explicitly got its income bonuses due to the economic freedom afforded its citizens relative to other government types- I took it as fairly obvious was that the role of the player there was reflecting the decisions of industrial firms and market processes below the level of abstraction of the game. There is no possible way the player role could literally be an immortal god-ruler, eternal Abraham Lincoln of the Americans, and the game systems only made sense when you assume what the player is doing is not what any one person or organisation in the society is doing.

    Obviously, this applies less well to games where it’s clear that what they’re (abstractly) simulating is not just the entire aggregate resources of a civilisation- SimCity, for instance, clearly is providing dials that are not ‘abstract of the whole societal system and the individuals there’, but, rather, ‘the player is explicitly a city government’. That sort of game ends up leaving me less interested. But I have always had a soft spot for the 4X (‘Civilization-like’) strategy genre, and have very strongly focused on building up societies within whatever the game system is that reflect values of individual freedom and rational pacifism (while being ready to thoroughly discourage enemies that started problems with my society). I find it very difficult to play a game where I understand my role is to promulgate an authoritarian system… there is a reason in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri that I essentially inevitably end up running Morganite free market democracies, once I have the tech in place to transition to ‘Free Market’ and ‘Democracy’.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Julie, sorry, but I am not much of a programmer. If you, or someone else, wants to create such a sim game, good luck! (Perhaps, to keep people interested, you could have two or more players, and the winner is whoever gets to the destination fastest, OR using the least amount of currency, etc.)

  • Games can certainly teach. To this day, I vividly recall working out the principle of ‘concentration of force’ for myself as a mathematical property of a wargame I was given as a child, before I encountered it in books.

  • Julie near Chicago (November 22, 2017 at 9:56 pm), “thanks for the info on Monopoly, Niall”

    You’re welcome. (When you feel you’ve heard enough on this particular subject, feel free to stop thanking me. 🙂 )

    I’ve enjoyed many a game of monopoly. AFAICS, the commercialiser of it had a healthily capitalist attitude to the whole thing. He reminds me of Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code. For years, a pair of ridiculous frausters had pushed the theory as fact. I can remember their documentaries on the BBC – there were three shown in successive years before even the beeb lost enthusiasm and stopped spending my licence fee on them. Dan Brown noticed and thought, “These guys are persuading no-one – but once you accept it’s fiction, it could make a lively story.” And the rest is (so very much not 🙂 ) history. Likewise, I assume that Monopoly’s commercialiser saw that the game was doing little to raise proletarian consciousness, but with a tweak or two could serve the interests of capitalism – specifically, of him – well enough. 🙂

  • EdMJ

    One of my favorite first computer games was Lemonade Stand on the Apple ][e. Great little business simulator for young minds. Assets, expenditures, cashflow, advertising, risk – very well thought out. (And unlike in Tower Hamlets, you won’t get some jobsworth coming along to shut you down… https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/fiveyearold-girl-bursts-into-tears-as-council-officers-shut-down-her-lemonade-stand-a3592551.html)

    You can play it online (and read more about it) here: https://archive.org/details/Lemonade_Stand_1979_Apple

    There are also various ports on the Apple and Android App stores. Nice trip down (64k) memory lane.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    November 23, 2017 at 9:36 am

    “To this day, I vividly recall working out the principle of ‘concentration of force’ for myself as a mathematical property of a wargame I was given as a child, before I encountered it in books.”

    I remember many long evenings and nights devoted to playing Risk through my junior high years with my friends. Dang, we were nerds. F = 2E + T.

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