“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.” ... Daniel Webster ...
These posts will reflect my personal opinions, and views, of the world in which we live from, of course, the viewpoint of a conservative "Southern American".
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Our SimCity Government ... Paul Driessen and David Legates
Our SimCity Government
Governments treat us like Sim-citizens: with fewer rights for us and no accountability for them
Paul Driessen and David Legates
in 1983, during the information processing Cretaceous Period,
developed a new genre of educational, yet entertaining computer games.
The latest version will be released next year.
SimCity allows players to build virtual cities by zoning land, adding buildings to enhance the needs
and desires of Sim-citizens,
adjusting tax rates, building power and transportation networks, and
making other municipal decisions. Players don’t win or lose. They employ
their knowledge of city life and urban planning to determine whether
their SimCities thrive – or become uninhabitable urban deserts.
are essentially helpless. They don’t populate your city unless you, the
benevolent dictator or mayor, give them what they need and want. You
can zone land residential, but citizens cannot live there unless you
create commercial land nearby, so that a supermarket can be built. They
can’t get to the supermarket until you build a road. Now they are happy
but have nowhere to work. So you zone more commercial land and create
jobs, by establishing businesses, highways and rail lines. To keep them
happy, you, the all-seeing, all-knowing mayor, build stadiums and parks.
And on and on it goes.
The beauty of SimCity
is threefold. First, players get to be overseers of growing virtual
communities, calling the shots and having the citizenry respond to their
decisions. They really can tell their Sim-citizens, “If you are successful, it’s because I invested in roads and bridges, and created this Sim-system that allowed you to thrive. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. I made it happen!”
Second, the lives of every Sim-citizen
are completely dependent on the actions of the players/mayors, who
succeed only if they are intelligent, thoughtful and responsible.
However, no matter what happens, the virtual citizenry can’t assemble,
protest or vote them out of office.
even if players make monumental mistakes, create a fetid urban
cesspool, or even kill off their virtual populations, they just start
over, without accountability or penalty. After all, it’s only a game.
The problem with SimCity game theory is likewise threefold.
it has intruded into our real world. Far too many politicians,
planners, bureaucrats and judges see themselves as intellectually gifted
rulers, who know what’s best for us citizens. They treat communities,
businesses, families and people like let’s-pretend virtual realities in a
SimCity, SimState or SimNation
– helpless, ill-prepared to make our own decisions, and in need of
constant, pervasive “guidance.” They live in a theoretical world, in
which their actions have only hypothetical consequences on virtual
of limited government focused on real needs, problems and priorities,
we now have massive, intrusive government deciding and regulating every
facet of human life and behavior. Instead of free, responsible people
making free, responsible decisions, so long as they do not harm others,
supposedly omniscient, benevolent governing elites seek to control
energy and transportation systems; what people may eat, drink and even
say; what kinds of cars they may drive, toilets they may flush, and
shopping bags they may use; even what kinds of views they may hold if
they want permission to open a business.
of, by and for the people has almost “perished from the Earth.”
Instead, government by fiat presents us with 2,700-page laws drafted by
legislators who “know what’s good for us,” coercively enacted so that
“we can learn what’s in them” – and turned over to unelected,
unaccountable, equally omniscient and benevolent technocrats who convert
the laws into 27,000 pages of new regulations and 270 new criminal
methods too often substitute for the real world. Our ruling elites
increasingly use computer models to create virtual reality energy,
economies and businesses, and “observe,” “measure,” forecast and govern
the real world outside their windows. Too often, the models are based on
erroneous or politicized assumptions, compounded by outdated or
incorrect data – and yet are used to produce GIGO analyses and
conclusions that determine and justify agendas, decisions, taxes, laws
predictive models say we are depleting our oil and gas reserves, we
should ignore new exploration, drilling and production technologies that
are dramatically increasing petroleum output. If hockey stick models
say rising carbon dioxide causes catastrophic global warming, we should
discount actual global temperature trends and past weather and climate
events of equal magnitude and duration. If Keynesian models conclude
that higher taxes and deficit spending will bring prosperity, then 8.3%
unemployment and 1.7% growth simply mean we need even more taxes,
regulations and “stimulus.”
A spinoff program, SimEarth,
purported to model the climate and allow players to regulate climate
conditions by adjusting atmospheric gases, continental drift,
reproductive rates of various life forms, topography, solar output and
other factors (which is more than most IPCC climate models consider).
Players could also create oxygen generatorsand othertechnologies, to fine-tune their planets’ atmosphere, climate and evolutionary processes. An unfortunate legacy of SimEarth
is the fallacy that humans really can centrally-manage our Real Earth’s
climate – a belief that is seen clearly in today’s energy and climate
change policies and the almost religious belief in climate model
Third, under SimCity
rules, politicians and bureaucrats steadily acquire, and constantly
seek, more power and control over the businesses, lives and livelihoods
of more people. They seem to forget that Americans are not virtual Sim-citizens,
but real breathing people, with real families, businesses, needs,
homes, hopes and dreams that are buffeted, punished and sometimes
destroyed by excessive laws and regulations.
the ruling classes too often exempt themselves from the rules and
penalties they inflict on everyone else. They want decision-making
power, the right to spend billions in taxpayer money, the authority to
impose regulations and penalties on companies and citizens. But they
refuse to accept responsibility, conduct due diligence or be held
accountable when they make monumental blunders that cost people their
businesses, livelihoods, homes or lives. To them, it seems, it’s only a
Thus, members of Congress impose Obamacare but can’t be bothered to pass a budget or rein in runaway bureaucracies. Energy Department officials responsible for Solyndra
and other “green” bankruptcies keep their jobs and keep pouring
billions of OPM (other people’s money) into new crony-corporatist
schemes. An ATF official deeply involved in the “Fast and Furious”
debacle that got agent Brian Terry killed goes on “extended leave” but
keeps his six-figure salary, fattens his government pension and
double-dips at J.P. Morgan. The modelers and scientists implicated in ClimateGate
and other highly questionable activities get more billions to advance
an hydrocarbon eradication agenda. And on and on it goes.
When playing SimCity, it’s always tempting to seek more control – to be able to say to Sim-citizens:
“You need to live next to that industrial complex” or “You have to move
into that 10-story housing complex that has apartments of 800 square
feet per family.” It worked under communism; it should be an option in
the game. For that matter, SimCity dictators should be able to raise Sim-citizen taxes and hire jack-booted thugs to rough up Sim-recalcitrants
who refuse to obey. Claiming victory would be so much easier, even if
the outcome was a dismal failure – just as under real world totalitarian
The United States cannot and must not operate under SimCity
rules. It is the people – not the government – who innovate, improve
the world, care most deeply about their fellow citizens. It is the
people who create businesses and jobs, provide goods and services, and
allow free, responsible, hard-working fellow citizens to achieve more
than they ever could on their own. As President Obama suggested,
government can and should help facilitate this. But too often it throws
obstacles in the way, and functions as a not-so-benevolent SimCity dictator.
What we need is a LibertyCity game. It would be like SimCity,
and players would still be mayors, but citizens would enjoy and be
responsible for government of, by and for the people. Make taxes
oppressive, and you get replaced. Squander money by padding the pockets
of your friends, and you land in jail. Invest in fly-by-night
enterprises like Solyndra or Fisker
Automotive, and you are out of office. Turn into a heavy-handed
dictator, and you get kicked out of your own game, and the 13-year-old
down the street takes over. Maybe then both you and the kid would learn
how government is supposed to work.
In fact, we need LibertyCity in real life too – right here, once again, in the United States.
Maybe in 2013, we can play LibertyCity, instead of laboring four more years under arrogant SimCity centralized government control. Actually, that’s what the November 6 election is really all about.
Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive
Tomorrow. David Legates is a professor of climatology at the University