At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Step Up to the Plate and (Sort of) Lead!

One of my favorite authors is Max Barry; he penned Syrup, Jennifer Government, and Company. And while I don't agree with his politico-economic ideas across the board, I completely side with his disgust for corporate corruption, plus his writing is engaging and I never feel like I am wasting my time.

Out of Jennifer Government was born an enterprise called NationStates, a nation simulation game in which you can create a nation from scratch. You begin with selecting its name, a flag, a motto, and other such stuff, before moving on to a brief questionnaire about your basic beliefs which will impact your country (worldview does affect leadership, after all). Each day you get anywhere from 1-3 legislative issues on which you must make a decision from a range of choices (or dismiss the issue with a pocket veto), and once the government brings the legislation into effect overnight, you see the next day what effect it's had.

The point to all this is that our daughter Lindsay (13 years old going on 25) tends to be rather opinionated about what needs to be done to align the political leaderships stars in America. So I told her if she was really that keyed up, maybe she wanted a nation of her own and see what it was like to lead it herself. She promptly joined NationStates and formed the Confederacy of Podoem (yes, she chose that phrase), where her citizens enjoy very good civil rights, a thriving economy with a powerhouse private sector, and superb political freedoms. Not to mention a 2% flat tax rate. (Anyone want to move there?)

It has been a great experience for Lindsay--from our vantage point--in that it's teaching her that decisions have consequences (even if one believes those same consequences might not happen as exactly in the real world). For example, libertarian Lindsay was faced with legislation that would either (a) force posthumous organ donation or (b) leave it up to individuals. Lindsay chose (b) but then didn't like it when that affected the death rates and types among her citizens. Well, honey, decisions have consequences. She also approved legislation that allowed for government-issued loans for college education to student's from Podoem's poorest families. This brought about an uptick in the tax rate and government spending, of course. Lindsay saw she'd have to wait on repayment by citizens to re-fill the government coffers again.

It's not a perfect simulation, but it's free and Lindsay enjoys going on the site, writing entries in her fact book and building a history. More than anything, it's been fun to see her slow down and read through the verbiage and nuan

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