There Goes My Afternoon

 

fiscalship_169_16x9For the past hour or so I’ve been playing this game on a site called The Fiscal Ship. It’s addicting and absorbing — the goal is to adjust the federal budget to get the “ship” out of trouble and safely to harbor.

The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias. But the proportions are roughly correct and the general idea is correct: we’re spending a lot on entitlements, and unless we raise income taxes, we’re going to have to adjust entitlement spending steeply downwards.

It’s sort of perverse fun, though, to keep retrying the game (as I’ve been doing for hours) to see just how high you can get that debt. Turns out, pretty high.

I’d like to see a center/right version of this game. One that makes reasonable assumptions about the benefits of tax flattening, free-market health care reforms, Social Security privatization, and the like. While we wait for our friends at Club for Growth to get on that, try this one out.

And be prepared to give up your afternoon.

There are 26 comments.

  1. Member

    Rob Long:

    The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias…

    … I’d like to see a center/right version of this game. One that makes reasonable assumptions about the benefits of tax flattening

    Well, in a world where 47% of the population pays no income tax, “tax flattening” inherently means tax increases for a whole lotta voters.

    The beauty of the Democratic Party’s strategies is that they don’t raise taxes on their voters.

    • #1
    • May 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm
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  2. Inactive

    You can “win”, even with their left-leaning assumptions. You just have to be willing to slaughter sacred cows, including the military. Any real tackling of the debt without raising taxes means both the Welfare State and the National Security State must be slashed.

    fiscal ship

    No one is going to get elected on that program, but that’s not what the site is doing. The game is basically “See how you have to raise taxes, unless you’re a heartless *******?”.

    Well, I am that *******.

    • #2
    • May 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm
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  3. Inactive

    Misthiocracy:Rob Long:

    The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias…

    … I’d like to see a center/right version of this game. One that makes reasonable assumptions about the benefits of tax flattening

    Well, in a world where 47% of the population pays no income tax, “tax flattening” inherently means tax increases for a whole lotta voters.

    The beauty of the Democratic Party’s strategies is that they don’t raise taxes on their voters.

    As a conservative, I’m not supposed to be in favor of high taxes but there’s something to say about the Mencken formulation: if this is the government you want, then you’re going to get it good and hard in order to pay for it.

    • #3
    • May 17, 2016 at 2:31 pm
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  4. Member

    Is there some reason one ca’t increase the ec0nomic growth rate to 4.5% or higher? That is why you can’t balance without draconian cuts.

    • #4
    • May 17, 2016 at 2:46 pm
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  5. Member

    We have Mexico pay our debt. Game over.

    • #5
    • May 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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  6. Inactive

    Rob Long:fiscalship_169_16x9The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias.

    It was put together by the Brookings Institute.

    • #6
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:18 pm
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  7. Member

    “Unless you’re heartless” or “unless you’re politically suicidal”?

    • #7
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm
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  8. Reagan
    iWe

    We can cut entitlements.

    We could grow by slashing regulations and cutting other impediments.

    Or we can hyperinflate.

    Lastly, we can default.

    Raising taxes will just make things worse. People respond to incentives.

    • #8
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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  9. Member

    Right. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Democratic Primary it’s that if we raise taxes it will go to fund current spending, rather than opening another porthole to let the water in…

    • #9
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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  10. Inactive

    Austin Murrey:

    Rob Long:fiscalship_169_16x9The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias.

    It was put together by the Brookings Institute.

    Well that rather says it all right there doesn’t it.

    • #10
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:46 pm
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  11. Member

    OK, started to play the game. I lost interest after the 3rd screen. Just give me the stupid excel sheet and let me fiddle with it. I do not need your 30 second loading montages.

    • #11
    • May 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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  12. Inactive

    A trillion here, a trillion there. Soon you’re talking real money.

    • #12
    • May 17, 2016 at 4:04 pm
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  13. Inactive

    Austin Murrey:

    Rob Long: So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias.

    It was put together by the Brookings Institute.

    Noticed that, did you?

    • #13
    • May 17, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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  14. Member

    blank generation member:A trillion here, a trillion there. Soon you’re talking real money.

    Actually, at that point,the money could get quite unreal.

    • #14
    • May 17, 2016 at 4:34 pm
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  15. Inactive

    Sabrdance:OK, started to play the game. I lost interest after the 3rd screen. Just give me the stupid excel sheet and let me fiddle with it. I do not need your 30 second loading montages.

    No kidding. I forget how many things I had to click.

    • #15
    • May 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm
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  16. Inactive

    Roberto:

    Austin Murrey:

    Rob Long:fiscalship_169_16x9The underlying point in the game is that no matter how much you cut (as long as it’s not 100%) there’s no way to guide the fiscal ship without raising taxes. So, yeah: it’s basically center/left in its bias.

    It was put together by the Brookings Institute.

    Well that rather says it all right there doesn’t it.

    In their defense they haven’t quite gotten the “Wilson” message yet.

    • #16
    • May 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm
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  17. Member

    I “won” without raising taxes or cutting defense. It’s all about Social Security and Medicare.

    • #17
    • May 17, 2016 at 8:24 pm
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  18. Member

    If it was really possible to compromise by leaving taxes alone while tossing the Departments of Education and Energy overboard, I’d be overjoyed.

    • #18
    • May 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm
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  19. Member

    This game was set up to show that we can’t get there from here, and the fact is we can’t. But raising taxes and raising revenues are not the same thing. While the elasticities of income tax cuts to revenue are reaching bottom, going in the opposite direction is different. Down and up are not the same thing. So we can’t get a lot of growth from cutting income or profits taxes and we can’t get much revenue by raising them, but we can get both by tossing the costly corrupt code and replacing it with something simple, transparent and different. Cutting faces similar dilemmas. Example; regulatory agencies don’t spend much but strangle the economy, replace the regimes with clear law. Education, Energy? Do they help? Congress can’t bring itself to make such choices so the executive branch has to send them budgets and a regulatory regimes that do. It is not that technically difficult but it never happens for a lot of reasons. These reasons can be overcome. We say we can’t fix this because of special interests but this is also a self serving political illusion. Washington insists on the same approach precisely in order to preserve the status quo. Congress cannot fix the tax code, the regulatory regime or the budget from within them because of interests, but they can vote up or down on simple transparent approaches built on clear ideas . It takes executive leadership.

    • #19
    • May 18, 2016 at 3:40 am
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  20. Member

    Theodoric of Freiberg:I “won” without raising taxes or cutting defense. It’s all about Social Security and Medicare.

    So did I. Medicare especially.

    • #20
    • May 18, 2016 at 4:02 am
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  21. Member

    In keeping spirit with the latest fashion of abandoning all political principal, I found it easy to “win” by cutting defense and raising taxes on the uber-wealthy. I axed the F-35 and halved the Army. This is actually in-line with my belief in the Navy/Marine team as being the most efficient projection of strength. I kept the carriers. I really “stuck-it” to those with wealth over 5 mil. It felt good.

    I also means tested Medicare and raised eligibility age. It is pretty easy to win if you don’t really have to deal with any actual effects.

    • #21
    • May 18, 2016 at 8:44 am
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  22. Inactive

    Great. Yet another area in which progressives are beating us in the culture wars. It would be great if there were games that taught and subtly promoted conservative values, but that won’t happen any sooner than the production of decent conservative movies. Atlas Shrugged, or God’s Not Dead 2, anyone? Sheesh.

    • #22
    • May 18, 2016 at 8:48 am
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  23. Member

    Johnny Dubya:Great. Yet another area in which progressives are beating us in the culture wars. It would be great if there were games that taught and subtly promoted conservative values, but that won’t happen any sooner than the production of decent conservative movies. Atlas Shrugged, or God’s Not Dead 2, anyone? Sheesh.

    That could happen sooner though, because the capital required for a game is lower than a big movie, and is getting lower every day. I keep thinking there is an opportunity for entrepreneurship here someplace.

    • #23
    • May 18, 2016 at 9:01 am
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  24. Thatcher

    SimCity in its various versions had a similar approach – roads are bad, public transit is good in such a manner as you could build totally insane transit mechanisms and score well while in practice you’d be voted out of office or impeached. For a long time allowing gambling was deadly but it appears now it’s good family fun. Perhaps it changed once the SimCity properties were owned by a company that also has other games involving gambling?

    • #24
    • May 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm
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  25. Coolidge

    What we’re for is Increasing Tax Revenue. The Left wants to raise tax rates.

    We don’t need to raise taxes (rates), we need to increase growth, get people off welfare, so they go back to work. Decrease tax rates and loopholes, allow business investment to thrive and grow. This will increase revenues and decrease spending.

    • #25
    • May 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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  26. Member

    Kenton Hoover:SimCity in its various versions had a similar approach – roads are bad, public transit is good in such a manner as you could build totally insane transit mechanisms and score well while in practice you’d be voted out of office or impeached. For a long time allowing gambling was deadly but it appears now it’s good family fun. Perhaps it changed once the SimCity properties were owned by a company that also has other games involving gambling?

    At least in the early versions, that road vs. transit business wasn’t as moralistic as you’re describing. Often the craziest transit mechanisms (like no roads, but all subway stations) involved knowing precisely how the “trip generation” algorithm worked and very deliberately planning the layout of every single square accordingly.

    At least that’s how it was in 2000 and 3000. I never got around to 4, and everything I’ve heard about the ones after makes me want to avoid them like the plague.

    • #26
    • May 18, 2016 at 7:14 pm
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