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Issues - Unsorted, Test, Personal Files of GRO

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#000: Should Democracy Be Compulsory?

1. "Compulsory voting makes about as much as sense as having the death penalty for attempted suicide," says civil rights activist @@[email protected]@. "You can't force people to be free! You can only give them the choice. Besides, if all those derelicts who can't be bothered to get off their butts once every few years voted, who would they elect? I shudder to think."

Result: first free elections in recent memory have been successfully concluded. / Voting is voluntary

Political freedoms jump 15 points. Tax remains the same. Administration spending increases by 2 percent. On second test, Political freedoms increase 13 points. No change to tax or spending pattern.

2. "It's not contradictory at all," argues political commentator Colin Trax. "The fact is, if not everyone votes, the outcome isn't truly representative. Some groups--like elderly gun nuts--vote more often than others. That's why we always end up with such terrible politicians."

Result: voting is compulsory.

Political freedoms go down by 6 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on admin go up by 4 percent.

3. "This raises an interesting issue," says Mark True, your brother. "And that is: why do we need elections, anyway? Seems to me it would be much simpler if you just decided what was right, and did it. Wouldn't that save everyone a lot of time?"

Result: elections have been outlawed. > GOOD SELECTING THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Political freedoms drops 37 points. No change to all others trends or spending.

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#001: Where's The Love Gone?

1. "There's a simple solution," says Pastor Felix, of the Catholic Church. "Divorce should be illegal. 'For better or worse,' anyone remember how that goes? We should return to the good old days, when you got married for life and stuck by your partner no matter how much of a drunken, abusive, adulterating disappointment they turned out to be."

Result: divorce is illegal.

Civil rights drops 4 points. No change to taxes. Spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent.

2. John Black, author of the hit book, 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Some Whole Other Place,' has a simpler solution. "If couples would just call each other 'darling' once in a while, there would be far fewer relationship breakdowns. A little affection is all it takes. So the government should make it mandatory: call your spouse 'darling' at least once a day, or face a fine."

Result: married couples must call each other "darling" or risk a fine.

Civil Rights decline by 3 points. No change to tax rate or government expenditure.

3. "There's a simple way to boost the marriage rate," says gay rights activist @@[email protected]@. "Abolish those arcane laws that discriminate against same-sex marriages. It's obscene to treat people differently because of their sexual preference. Besides, everyone knows gay relationships are more stable than straight ones."

Result: same-sex marriages are increasingly common.

Civil rights increase 5 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Social policy increases 7 percent.

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#002: Reclaim The Streets!

1. "People are sick of dirty, smelly automobiles," said protest organizer Xu Christensen. "They're choking the city, the environment--our lives! Cars must be banned!"

Result: cars are banned.

Economy drops 8 points. Tax increase 4 percent. Spending on public transport increase 15 percent, spending on Environment increase 9 percent.

2. "The only thing people are sick of is long-haired idiots riding their bicycles at two miles an hour on major thoroughfares," says committed motorist Finlay Know. "People shouldn't be able to protest like this. The government needs to crack down on them."

Result: bicyclists are banned from major roads.

Political freedoms drops 8 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. L&O increase 10 percent.

3. The Automotive Manufacturers Association, meanwhile, has called for government support. "It's clear that we need to boost the level of automobile support in this country. This protest this morning is a clear indication of... um... anyway, we need more government funds."

Result: the automotive industry soaks up huge government handouts.

Economy goes up by 20 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on industry increases by 23 percent. Wow.

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#003: Harry Potter Censorship Row

1. "I quite enjoyed the book, until I got to the part where Harry summons evil demons to do his bidding," says religious leader George W. Clinton. "Now that's just wrong. We need to restore some sense to this debate, by which I mean we should remove this book from the shelves, salt it thoroughly, and burn it."

Result: Harry Potter books are banned.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on Education decreases 2 percent, and spending on Spirituality increases 4 percent. Second test, tax rate remains the same. Other results are consistent.

2. Teachers union President May Broadside says, "Come on, the book is fantasy! And it's a damn good read. I'd like the government to issue a statement of support for our teachers and librarians, so kids can enjoy good books without interference from religious wackos, like Christians."

Result: the latest Harry Potter book is a bestseller.

Civil rights increase by 4 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on education go up by 5 percent.

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#004: Economic Collapse Looms!

1. "Good riddance!" says noted environmentalist Alexander Jefferson. "Sniff that air! It's never been so clean! At last, our society is freeing itself from the consumer death-trap! I say it's time to take the final step and outlaw capitalism once and for all!"

Result: all industry is owned and run by the government.

Economy drops 18 points. Tax rate increase 24 percent. Spending on admin increases 20 percent and Environment increases 5 percent.

2. "This is a catastrophe waiting to happen," says the Chamber of Commerce. "Think of the consequences! Without big business, where do the jobs come from? Where do we get our medicine? Our cars? Our latest fashions? There are dozens of useless regulations the government could abolish today to make life easier for commerce, and it's high time they did."

Result: the government is attempting to revitalize a gutted private sector.

Economy goes up by almost 30 points. Tax rate decrease by 3 percent. Spending on industry increase 4 percent.

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#005: Child Casino Shock

1. Social activist Charles Schultz is outraged. "Gambling needs to be outlawed immediately. It's no wonder children are becoming sucked into the vice, with adults setting such a poor example. Gambling is a stain on @@[email protected]@'s international reputation and it must be stopped!"

Result: gambling is outlawed. >> GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Economy drops massively by 21 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. No change to spending.

2. However, Crown Casino chairperson Aaron Mombota says, "What's wrong with children gambling? It prepares them for the realities of life, teaching them that success or failure is not due to hard work or intelligence, but the roll of the dice. Besides, if kids weren't gambling, they'd be spraypainting trains."

Result: young children are regularly seen wagering pocket money at blackjack tables.

Economy goes up by 20 points. tax rate drops by 2 percent. No change to spending.

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#006: Appointment Of Spiritual Advisor

1. Catholic Archbishop John Laine: boasts an excellent track record, having rapidly increased church attendances in his constituencies through the "Reaching God Through Guilt" program. Seen as a solid choice.

Result: the government is seen to favor Catholics.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase by 2 percent. Spending on spirituality increase 2 percent.

2. New Age thinker Roxanne Schultz: a left-field candidate with some radical ideas. "For me, it's not about the name of your religion. It's about discovering your spirituality in whatever guise that takes. Some people call that a cult: I call it taking spirituality to the people."

Result: the government's religious works are headed by a New Age guru.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increase 2 percent.

3. Finally, there's Steffan Christensen. "If I am awarded the appointment, I will immediately resign," the ex-schoolteacher has declared. "Because, frankly, God is a big load of hokey. I'll be doing everyone a favor by just shutting up about it."

Result: the government is avowedly atheist.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on spirituality (from 10) drops to zero

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#007: Animal Liberation Front Strikes Again

1."These nuts have got to be stopped," demands concerned consumer Gregory Clinton. "They need to face the fact people want snack packs, no matter how many innocent chickens must be sacrificed. Besides, chickens would do the same to us if they had the chance."

Result: Animal Liberationists are regularly jailed.

Political freedoms go down by 3 points, Civil rights go down by 2 points. No change to tax or spending pattern. On second test, confirms result.

2. "These Liberationists are highlighting an important issue," pleads Alexander Gutenberg. "Too often, animals are put through needless cruelty, just to make their flesh taste a little more deliciously succulent. I'm sure we could ban the more horrific abuses without putting too much of a dent in our national obesity figures. Couldn't we?"

Result: meat-eating is frowned upon.

No observable changes.

3. "Animals have feelings too!" yelled protestor Peggy More, before being set upon by hungry passers-by. "Free the animals! Ban meat-eating!"

Result: vegetarianism is compulsory.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No other changes.

4. Economist @@[email protected]@ has an alternative. "You don't need to take away the people's right to choose. You just need to build the costs of animal suffering into the price. A tax on meat-eating, in proportion to the amount of cruelty involved, would do the trick. Plus think of the benefit for the national coffers! Of course, poor people wouldn't be able to afford meat, but that's just more incentive for them to get jobs."

Result: Meat is a luxury afforded only to the wealthy.

Increases income tax, doesn’t influence economy. In a second test, tax increase 2 percent. No change to spending

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#008: Nudists Demand Time In Sun

1. "For too long, our bodies have been trapped in these prisons of cotton and polyester!" yelled protester Anne-Marie Wong, while apparently developing a nasty case of sunburn. "We must repeal the puritanical laws that make public nudity a crime. My body--my choice to dangle!"

Result: citizens can be frequently spotted going about their business stark naked.

Civil rights increased by 1 point. No change to tax rate or spending pattern.

2. "I agree," mused sociology professor Billy-Bob Rifkin. "But I don't think the protestors are going far enough. Public nudity shouldn't be an option: it should be compulsory. Nudity is highly liberating. And it would put that disgusting "Hooters" out of business once and for all."

Result: public nudity is compulsory.

Civil rights go down by 11 points. No other changes.

3. "Whoa, whoa," says noted accountant @@[email protected]@. "Are these people serious? The last thing I want to see when I'm out for a coffee is some lumbering, over-weight nudist coming down the sidewalk toward me. If people want to get naked, they can do it in the privacy of their own homes. Think of the children!"

Result: nudity is frowned upon.

Decreases civil rights a little. On second test, Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

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#009: @@[email protected]@ On The Dinner Table?

1. "The fact is, the @@[email protected]@ population is out of control," says Beef-Based Agriculture spokesperson Jamil Johnson. "We have to do something about them anyway, so why not market them as tasty snacks? We could have @@[email protected]@ kebabs, @@[email protected]@ pies, @@[email protected]@ -on-a-sticks--the possibilities are endless! Let's not pass up this golden opportunity to provide a feast, if you will, for our economy."

Result: @@[email protected]@ are considered a delicacy.

Economy goes up by 5 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on industry increases 2 percent. >> GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "I agree that something needs to be done about @@[email protected]@ over-population," says random passer-by Colin Falopian, "but eating them? That's kind of gross. Let's just shoot the ones we have to and shovel their bodies into ditches like normal."

Result: a nation-wide cull of @@[email protected]@s is in effect.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on industry increase 3 percent.

3. "I am shocked and appalled!" declared SPCA President Wil Winters. "If anyone needs to be culled, it's us humans. The @@[email protected]@ were here first, remember? We need to take this as a sign to get our industry--agriculture in particular--to back off. The @@[email protected]@ is part of what makes @@[email protected]@ a great nation!"

Result: the @@[email protected]@ is a protected species

Economy drops/tanks by 21 points! Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on industry drops 10 percent, goes to environment.

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#010: Social Inequality Reaching Embarrassing Levels

1. "Look, I don't like it either," said Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Prudence Mombota. "Just on the way here, I had to step over three homeless people, and one of my shoes got caught on a beggar. But inequality is the price we pay for economic strength. If anything, we need fewer taxes, so those of us who are well-off can afford to be more generous. If we want to, that is."

Result: the streets are increasingly clogged with poverty-stricken beggars.

Economy goes down by 1 point. No change to civil rights. Tax goes down by 1 percent. Spending on welfare and healthcare drops 3 percent each.

2. "I think we've forgotten what economic strength is all about," says social worker Bharatendu Harishchandra. "The economy is meant to be a means to a high standard of living, not an end in itself. It's become an excuse for the rich to prosper while the poor fall through the cracks. Not everyone is poor because they don't feel like working. We must provide more welfare."

Result: the government is slowly introducing social welfare programs.

Economy drops by 6 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on welfare increases 8 percent.

3. "Who says we're an international pariah?" demands military honcho Mohammed True. "What are their names? If that's the way the international community feels, we obviously need to prepare for war."

Result: the country is preparing for war.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on defense increase 9 percent while L&O increases 1 percent.

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#011: People Request Not So Much Dictatorship, If That's All Right

1. The High Minister for Finance, who also happens to be your brother, dismisses the claim. "What these people fail to realize is that you know what's best for them. The alternative is anarchy! I say stick to your course. And execute these wackos for treason."

Result: political activists are routinely executed.

Political freedoms drops 9 points (Still not at zero yet), Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to tax. No change in spending.

2. "Perhaps the people could be given some more political freedoms," muses your Chief of Staff, who is your sister. "Is there really such harm in allowing public discussion of ideas? We could even have a real Opposition Party. One that isn't just full of your puppets, I mean."

Result: the government is cutting back on the number of political prisoners executed each year.

Political freedoms increase by 18 points. No effect on tax or spending pattern.

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#012: Death Penalty On Agenda

1. "This is a democracy, remember?" rhetorically questions Professor Mark Cohen of the University of Greater @@[email protected]@. "That means that if the people want something, the people get it. I hate to say it, but in the name of political freedom, we need to accept that our country will have the death penalty."

Result: the death penalty has been reintroduced.

Political freedoms go up 5 points, Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same, and no change to spending.

2. "I'm sorry," says Civil Rights Unionist George W. Hendrikson, "but this travesty cannot be allowed to pass. If the government needs to crack down on lunatic fringe groups in order to keep our great nation free of the death penalty, then so be it. We must ban the politics of hatred and fear!"

Result: extreme political groups are outlawed.

Civil rights go up 3 points (on a nation that has CR in the mid 30s). Tax and spending pattern remains unchanged.

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#013: Too Much Yakking, Already, Say Delegation

1. "These days, anyone says whatever they want with no regard to what kind of dribble is coming out of their mouths!" says angry commuter Tobias Licorish. "It's gone too far. We should go back to the good old days, when if someone started talking garbage, we'd smack them one."

Result: the right to free speech is being drastically curtailed.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to others.

2. "We need more free speech, not less," argues civil rights campaigner Xu Anderson. "Free speech allows ideas to be explored, challenged, and discussed in a productive, open forum. It teaches our kids to be critical thinkers. And dirty words, of course, but that's just the price you pay."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s children are widely acknowledged as the most foul-mouthed in the region.

Civil rights go up 3 points. No other changes.

3. "The right to free speech is a central tenet of our system of democracy," says religious leader Klaus Major. "But surely the right to not have your religious beliefs mocked by others is worth something, too? We mustn't put up with intolerance!"

Result: it is a crime to offend someone's religious beliefs.

Civil rights drops 5 points, tax rate increases 1 percent, spending on spirituality increases 4 percent while admin increases 1 percent.

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#014: Military Demands Increased Spending

1. "These are turbulent times we live in," says Defense Chief Hope Rifkin. "Turbulent and dangerous. And the only sensible response to that, of course, is to build a lot more weapons. Unless we get the funding we need, I can't promise that we'll be able to defend @@[email protected]@'s sovereign borders from rogue nations and foreign powers. Or those leaky boatloads of refugees, for that matter."

Result: military spending is on the increase.

Political freedoms down 6 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on defense up 7 percent.

2. "NO MORE BOMBS," chant the protestors outside Parliament House, in a repetitious and increasingly annoying appeal. Spokesperson Hope Wong, speaking through a feedback-afflicted microphone, says, "@@[email protected]@ needs fewer weapons, not more! Make the world a safer place! Disarm now!"

Result: military funding has been stripped back.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on defense down 9 percent. Spending on law and order down 2 percent.

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#015: More Police Needed

1. "Just the other day, I got mugged in the broad daylight!" says ruffian Prudence Strange. "And the ironic thing is I had just stuck up this other guy. When muggers are getting mugged, even I have to admit that crime has gotten out of control. We do need more police."

Result: the police force is on a recruitment drive.

No change to trends but tax rate increases 14 percent. Spending on Law and Order increases 8 percent.

2. "The solution to crime is not more police!" says noted sociologist and occasional crime novelist Colleen Hate. "Studies repeatedly show that crime is caused by poverty and poor education. Increase government spending in these areas, and crime will fall! Maybe not overnight, but it will happen."

Result: education and welfare spending are on the rise.

No change to trends. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on welfare and education increases about 7-12 percent.

3. "Yeah, good luck with that," says conservative leader and gun enthusiast Mary Cruz. "Look, we do need more police, that's clear. But that's not enough. We need real punishments: sentences that will act as a genuine deterrent to people considering a life of crime. Like public floggings."

Result: thieves are flogged in public for their crimes.

Civil rights drops 8 points, Political freedoms drops 14 points. No change to tax. Spending on L&O increase 13 percent.

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#016: @@[email protected]@ Workers Strike!

1. "We are the backbone of this country, and we demand a fair wage rise!" says union leader Billy-Bob Hamilton. "I don't think a 20% increase over two years is too much to ask. Unless the government forces employers to give us our due, we'll shut this whole industry down! Let's see how well @@[email protected]@'s economy manages without any @@[email protected]@, huh?"

Result: the nation is ravaged by daily union strikes.

Economy drops 8 points, tax rate increases 3 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "We pay our employees very generous wages," says employer representative Steffan Dovey. "Especially when you consider that without us, they'd be OUT ON THE STREET. Hear that, you scumbags? OUT ON THE STREET! Anyway, my point is, if you cave in, you make our entire industry uncompetitive. You can't do that in the global marketplace. It'll hurt the whole country. The best solution, economically speaking, would be to relax industrial laws and allow us to fire troublemakers on the spot."

Result: employers may fire workers without giving any reason.

Economy go up 7 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on industry increase 2 percent.

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#017: Corporations Demand Political Say

1. "This is supposed to be a democratic country," Basket Weaving industry spokesperson Al Hanover says. "Yet these archaic laws say I can't donate money to support a political party. They put ceilings on the amount any party can spend on advertising. It's time to stop treating voters like children, and trust them to make up their own minds. Free the ballot box!"

Result: corporations donate huge sums of money to favored politicians.

Economy increases sharply by 13 points while political freedom increases by 4 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "You say political freedom, I hear vote-buying," says popular anarchist Jean-Paul Mombota. "If these fat cats get their way, politicians will buy their own seat in Congress. And let's face it, a slick advertising campaign can convince a lot of apathetic voters. We need to tighten the laws, not repeal them. Money should have no place in politics!"

Result: political parties are banned from advertising and receiving private donations.

Economy drops greatly by 12 points, political freedoms drops by 7 points. Tax increases 1 percent. No effect on spending pattern. On second test, Economy drops 3 points, political freedoms drops 8 points. Tax increase 2 percent. No change to spending. Confirms result.

3. "Frankly, I don't see why we need to have elections at all," says your brother, Louis Giono, over a late-night malt whiskey. "You always seem to know what's best. Why not scrap the whole political system? It would make things so much simpler."

Result: a dictator has seized power and outlawed elections. > GOOD SELECTING THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Political freedoms drops a whopping 72 points to zero. No other changes.

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#018: Citizens Struggle Under "Unfair" Tax Burden

1. "Do you know how much of my year's work goes to the government?" demanded angry worker Bianca Mistletoe. "Too much! Government spending has gotten way out of control. It needs big cuts in welfare, health, and education. But leave those subsidies to business alone. We need them to create jobs."

Result: the government is reining in public spending.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 7 percent. Spending on Welfare decreases 4 percent, healthcare decreases 5 percent, education decreases 3 percent, admin decreases 5 percent. All the rest increases. On second test, confirms result.

2. "It's not the AMOUNT of tax, it's where the burden falls," says student activist Melbourne Rubin. "And at the moment, far too much of the burden is falling on the poor. People on high incomes still have more money than people on low incomes. I don't think I need to say anything more than that."

Result: high-income earners pay a 100% tax rate.

Economy decreases 12 points. Tax increases 7 percent. No change to spending.

3. "I don't object to the amount of tax, I object to where it's being spent," says social reformer Bill Bush. "I'd like to see everyone have a choice as to where their @@[email protected]@s go every time they fill out a tax return. Everyone would feel a lot better about opening their wallets if they had a say as to where the money went. I think you'd see a lot more public money going to education and a lot less to business."

Result: citizens select which government department gets their income tax @@[email protected]@s each year.

Economy goes down by 14 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on law and order go up 6 percent, Education increase 6 percent. Spirituality go up 3 percent, Defense go up 6 percent, Healthcare decrease 10 percent, Industry decrease 11 percent. The others stayed constant. On second test, confirmed result.

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#019: @@[email protected]@ Awash With Red-Rimmed Eyes

1. "My factory's productivity is down ten percent since marijuana was decriminalized," complains employer Dave Mombota. "And the number of thefts from the candy machine is off the scale. This so-called 'pot' needs to be banned in all public places. Let the junkies do what they want at home, but not in my workplace."

Result: marijuana is legal in the privacy of your own home.

No change to trends or taxes. No change to spending. Nothing. On a second test, Civil rights drops 2 points. No other changes.

2. "Whoa, dude, no need to get, like, you know," says Free Your Mind campaigner George W. Fellow, from his parents' basement. "This is, like, a personal choice issue, you know. It's like... whoa, just back off what I want to do with my own body. Don't let the fascists win, man. There are some hot new eckies coming in soon, they should be legal too."

Result: all recreational drugs are legal. GOOD THIS CHOICE WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Civil rights increase by 7 points. On a second test confirms result, Civil rights increase 4 points. No other changes.

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#020: Gunman Kills Three

1. The strongest voices demand tighter gun controls. "The only way to prevent further atrocities is to take the guns out of the hands of the murderers," says anti-gun campaigner Sue-Ann Summers. "There's no justification for them in today's society. We need tighter regulations on who can hold guns, so only our police and military have them."

Result: guns are banned.

Civil rights drops 3 points. No change to tax or spending.

2. "That's not all we need," says radical left-wing activist Rosalia O. "The government should ban all guns outright--even in the police force. This is an opportunity to make @@[email protected]@ a totally gun-free state."

Result: the nation is completely gun-free.

Civil rights drops 7 points. No other changes.

3. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," says NRA head honcho Wil O'Bannon. "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. Is that what we want? Think, people. The answer isn't to ban guns. It's to crack down on those Hollywood movies and computer games that glamorize violence. They're the real criminals."

Result: movies and computer games are strictly censored for violence.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern. On second test, Civil rights drops 2 points. No other observable changes.

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#021: Police Consider "Big Brother" Anti-Crime System

1. "This is a blatant invasion of the right to privacy!" says libertarian web site operator Lars Washington. "Now I can't even go out in public any more without being watched? And you know this is just the beginning. Today there are cameras in city streets. Tomorrow they're peering through your bedroom window."

Result: surveillance cameras are banned.

No observable changes, but civil rights might have increased a little bit as the category changed, even though the points didn't go up. On another nation, civil rights increased 2 points.

2. "Hey, I've got news for you," says Police media liaison Cooper Taffs. "When you're out in public, PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU. These cameras will be extremely helpful in reducing the national crime rate. Frankly, I can't see what the fuss is about."

Result: all major public areas are watched by police surveillance cameras.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern. On second test, confirms result.

3. "This 'slippery slope' argument has got me thinking," says Police Minister Josh Love. "You know, it would be a lot easier to fight crime if we watched people all the time. Not with cameras, of course. That's clearly an invasion of privacy. But how about a national database of our citizens, coupled with compulsory ID cards and barcoding? It would stop crime dead in its tracks."

Result: citizens are barcoded to keep track of their movements.

Civil rights drops 21 points, Political freedoms drops 19 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

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#022: Nazi Sympathizers Plan Rally

1. "Frankly, I'm appalled that the government can even consider allowing this travesty to go ahead," says prominent Jewish personality Stephanie Hendrikson. "We can't let these animals broadcast their message of hate. Surely @@[email protected]@ is too civilized for that."

Result: it is illegal to make racist remarks in public.

Civil rights drops by 2 points. On second test, Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax or spending. (Confirms result)

2. "It's exactly because we're civilized that we must let the demonstration proceed," says free speech campaigner Jean-Paul Hanover. "We may not like what they have to say, but in this society, people have the right to argue whatever political view they want, no matter how hateful, selfish, or stupid it is."

Result: the tenet of free speech is held dear.

Civil rights increased by 7 points. No change to political freedoms. No change to tax rate or spending patterns.

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#023: Uranium Deposit Promises To Enrich @@[email protected]@

1. "This is a terrific find!" claims Nukes4U CEO @@[email protected]@. "It will provide an enormous stimulus to our economy and create thousands of new jobs. It's win-win! All we need from the government is permission to bulldoze the rainforest that's on top of the deposit."

Result: the country's famous rainforests are being bulldozed by the mining industry.

Economy increases marginally by 2 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on environment decreases 5 percent.

2. "You've got to be kidding," says Green politician @@[email protected]@. "This rainforest is thousands of years old! This country needs more environmental protection, not less. And to destroy the environment in order to mine uranium that then goes into nuclear bombs--well, that really sticks in my craw."

Result: tourists from around the world come to visit the country's famous rainforests.

Decreases economy, Helps the environment. On a second test, no effect on trends (including economy) and tax. Spending on environment increase 4 percent.

3. "There's no need for an either-or decision," says the government's Minister for Mining, Clear-Felling, and the Environment. "We can preserve most of the rainforest and allow mining of a small part. After all, think of all the good that the money from this uranium deposit can bring to @@[email protected]@."

Result: the mining industry is making inroads into environmentally sensitive areas.

No observable changes. On second test, again no observable changes and confirms result.

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#024: Budget Time: Accountants Excited

1. "The state of the education system is, in many areas, simply frightful," says Teachers Union leader Anne-Marie du Pont. "And even where we are doing well, we could do better. I appeal to the authorities for a substantial boost in funding. Remember, the children are our future."

Result: a large-scale revitalization of the education system is underway.

No change to trends or taxes. Spending on education increases 16 points.

2. "We won't have a future unless we improve police numbers and rebuild the military," says General Brian Wong. "Oh, it's all well and good to have your fancy education and your nice cars, until some tinpot dictatorship decides to invade. And don't pretend like there aren't any of them in our region. Our number one priority has to be security."

Result: military spending recently hit a new high.

Political freedoms drops 6 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 29 percent (on a nation that had only 2 other priorities)

3. "Education is nice, but Health and Social Welfare are more important," says celebrity social worker @@[email protected]@. "This is where the people who really need government help are: the marginalized of our society. If we don't help them, what kind of a nation are we?"

Result: a well-funded social safety net protects the unfortunate.

No change to trends or tax rate. Increases welfare and health care spending (decreasing spending on everything else).

4. "Hey, I've got a crazy idea," says noted libertarian and bird-watcher Chastity Rubin. "How about the government stops taking so much tax from people? Give us a tax cut and we'll buy the things we need ourselves. People need to be weaned off the government teat!"

Result: citizens are enjoying a recent large cut in taxes.

No change to trends. Tax rate drops 4 percent. Spending on Admin drops 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#025: Cloning Research Promises New Breakthrough

1. "It's really very exciting," says lab head @@[email protected]@. "Until now, we've kept very quiet, to avoid being targeted by lunatic fringe groups who for some reason think it's wrong to clone human embryos. It's too early to promise anything, but we hope that one day we will have genetic cures for a whole range of debilitating illnesses. I certainly hope the government will support our work."

Result: scientists regularly clone human beings for research purposes.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare increases 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Well, if you have to be part of a lunatic fringe group to object to this barbaric practice, I'm a lunatic," says placard-waving protestor Johann O'Bannon. "Of course it would be nice to cure these unnamed diseases, but at what cost? They're messing with the sanctity of human life. It's wrong, and the lab should be shut down immediately."

Result: genetic researchers have been expelled.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare drops 2 percent, and spending on spirituality increases 2 percent.

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#026: Compulsory Organ Harvesting Proposed

1. "It's not as crazy as it sounds," says Dr. Heather Sanchez. "Every day, people die because we don't have the organs to save them. Well, that and widespread under-funding of the health system. But the point is, if the government allowed us to take organs from dead people, we could save hundreds of lives a year. And come on, it's not like dead people need them."

Result: organ donation is compulsory.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "You keep your damn hands off my organs!" says alarmed hospital patient Barack Schultz. "They are my organs, and I'll do with them what I like. The government has no right to my body."

Result: organ donation rates are among the lowest in the region.

Civil rights increase by 8 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#027: Cash for Colons?

1. "We remain critically short of blood plasma and various organs," says @@[email protected]@ One hospital administrator Fleur Broadside. "Especially hearts. A good heart is hard to find. But if we were allowed to pay for donations, we'd get more of them and could save more lives. Plus the donor takes home a few hundred euros in compensation. Unless it's a post-mortem donation, of course. In that case we'd pay the family."

Result: college students make ends meet by selling their kidneys.

Economy and Civil rights increased by 8 points each. Tax decreased by 2 percent. No change to spending pattern.

In another test, only civil rights increase by 2 points.

2. "Great idea," says social commentator Falala McKay. "Except for one thing. You know who's going to be selling their organs? Poor people! They'll be so desperate for money that they'll sell their own kidneys. Well, a kidney. This is just another way for the rich to buy themselves a better life at the expense of the poor. It must be outlawed."

Result: organ donation rates have hit a new low.

Economy drops by 4 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#028: Cancer Sufferer Demands Euthanasia Bill

1. Dorothy and her family are campaigning for a "Dying with Dignity" bill, to change this situation. She implores the government to legalize euthanasia.

Result: euthanasia is legal.

No effect on Civil Rights on nation that already has high ratings. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare decreased by 1 percent. On second test, Civil Rights increases 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare decreases by 2 percent.

2. "I understand this is a very difficult time for these people," says freelance medical writer Al Wong. "But the solution is not to let our medical system slide down the slippery slope of killing people in pain. We must cure, not kill. This is not the right time for euthanasia."

Result: euthanasia is illegal.

Civil rights drop 9 points. No change to tax or spending.

3. "I agree, but go further: there is never a right time for euthanasia," says Bishop Chastity Hendrikson. "The lives we lead are given to us by the grace of God, and he decides when they end. It is not for us to question God's divine purpose, no matter how odd or screwed-up it may seem."

Result: euthanasia is illegal.

Civil rights drops by 21 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increase by 4 points.

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#029: Minorities Demand Representation In TV Soaps

1. "Every night my family and I sit down to watch 'The Brash and the Backstabbing'," says Hack Chicago. "But where are the Lilliputians like myself? Where are the Bigtopians? The Marche Noirians? People from those cultures can be just as brash and backstabbing, but we never see them on the screen. The government must act to remove this silent apartheid from our TV screens."

Result: TV shows must meet strict ethnicity quotas.

Civil rights drops 3 points, Economy drops 3 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on social policy increases 9 percent

2. "Those Lilliputians don't know how good they have it," says Mary Clinton, spokesperson for the Tasmanians Against Ethnic Stereotyping. "Tasmanians are on television all the time, but always in crude, stereotypical roles. The answer is not to enforce ethnic quotas, but to award government prizes for the positive portrayal of minorities. That'll work better, and be cheaper, too."

Result: the government awards prizes to television shows featuring stereotype-breaking minority roles.

Civil rights drops (yes go down) 1 point. Tax rate increases 1 percent. No change to spending.

3. "The government should do what now?" says TV studio executive Lars Dodinas. "You've got to be kidding. We make soaps here, not documentaries. I should be able to put whichever characters I want into my shows. Quotas! Government prizes! God save me! Hasn't the government got anything better to do? Why don't they just back off and let society work out these things on its own?"

Result: the alarmingly racist TV show 'Bigtopians Say the Darndest Things' is a hit.

Civil rights go up 3 points. Economy goes down 2 points (yes down). Tax rate drops 4 percent. Spending on admin and social policy both drops 3 percent.

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#030: Auto Industry Struggles Against Foreign Imports

1. "Unless this government does something, @@[email protected]@ won't have an auto industry for much longer," says auto industry union boss Miranda Jong-Il, in a rare public appearance alongside management. "These foreign companies employ people for a few hells a day. The only way to level the playing field is to raise tariffs. The government would make more money, too, so it's win-win."

Result: punitive tariffs protect local industry.

Economy go up by 8 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on industry increase by 3 percent.

2. "For once, I agree with my grubby colleague here," says General Chassis CEO Elizabeth Utopia. "Although I have to say, tariffs aren't the only answer. A more effective solution would be to abolish minimum wage laws. Now that would level the playing field. And we'd be able to employ more--argh, let go of my throat!"

Result: there are no minimum wage laws. >> THIS OPEN WILL OPEN UP 224 FOR MINIMUM WAGE

Economy goes up by 23 points, Civil rights drops by 10 points. No change to spending.

3. "I think we need to face facts," says noted economist and chat-show regular Marlon O'Bannon. "We live in a global economy now, and automobile manufacturing just isn't @@[email protected]@'s strong suit. There's no point taking money from taxpayers in order to line the pockets of a few greedy workers and corrupt managers in a doomed industry. Let the market take its--argh, let go of my throat!"

Result: all tariffs have been abolished.

Economy increase 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#031: Get Efficient, Private Sector Tells Nature

1. "Have you been to the beach lately? It's disgusting," says company spokesperson Pip Dodinas. "There's litter, there's teenagers smoking, and there are people enjoying themselves without paying for it. Let the private sector in on this, and @@[email protected]@'s beaches will be the talk of the region! And a nice little earner, too."

Result: citizens must pay to enjoy @@[email protected]@'s pristine beaches.

Economy increase by 2 points. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on administration down by 3 percent, while industry increase by 3 percent.

2."Whoa, whoa, we're privatizing beaches now?" says local campaigner Billy-Bob Mistletoe. "These are public spaces! All @@[email protected]@'s citizens have a right to enjoy them, not just the well-off. Yes, we should improve the quality of our beaches, but handing them over to the money-grabbers is not the right way to do it. The right way to do it is to boost government spending by increasing taxes."

Result: a government program is underway to revitalize @@[email protected]@'s beaches.

No change to trends. Tax increases by 2 percent. Spending on Environment increases marginally. On second test, no change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 6 percent.

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#032: One Wife Is Never Enough, Say Polygamists

1. "It's about time we had our religious rights recognized," says Ali Utopia, a devout member of a faith that is never made quite clear. "Who is the government to tell me I can't love more than one woman? The government doesn't know how much of me there is to go around!"

Result: polygamy is legal.

Civil rights increase 5 points. No other effects. GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "This is nothing more than sexual deviants using religion as a pretext for perversion!" says Reverend Steffan Gutenberg. "Marriage is one man, one woman, and death do we part. What's so hard to get? Anything else is a perversion, and must be banned."

Result: the institution of marriage is held sacred and strictly enforced.

Civil rights decrease 5 points. No other effects.

3. "Multiple wives? Excellent!" says passer-by May Rubin. "Presumably we will allow multiple husbands, as well. And gay marriages, of course. In fact, now is probably the time for the government to butt out of marriage altogether. Let people marry their cats, if they want."

Result: there have been reports of people marrying housepets.

Civil rights go up by 10 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

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#033: Genetics Brings New Life to Extinct Species

1. "I, for one, applaud their work," says scientist Lara Suzuki. "And not just because I'm the project leader. This is an example of how @@[email protected]@'s brains can mix it with the world's best. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be to have feather-bellied @@[email protected]@s frolicking in the meadows again? I say full steam ahead, and more government funding!"

Result: scientists recently cloned the long-extinct feather-bellied moham.

No change to trends. Income tax increase 2 percent. Spending on admin increase by 2 percent.

2. "This is a sacrilege!", says religious leader Jennifer Wu. "These animals are extinct because God wants them dead. Cloning them would merely incur his wrath! If we proceed down this path, it'll be humans, not the feather-bellied snake, who will be extinct."

Result: genetic research has been halted.

No change to trends. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality increases by 4 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Now, come on," says Rebecca Evil, well-known philosopher. "You don't need to be religious to be unnerved by the top of this particular slippery slope. Today it's @@[email protected]@s, tomorrow it's dinosaurs, and we all know how that turns out. This research shouldn't be banned, but there must be strict government controls over its use."

Result: genetic research is temporarily tied up in government red tape.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increase 2 percent.

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#034: Don't Puff On Me, Say Non-Smokers

1. "I'm in full support of this motion," says man on the street Konrad Wu. "I'm sick of being stuck behind smokers, sucking in their pollution! They can light up in the privacy of their own homes, if they want."

Result: smoking is banned in public areas.

Civil rights down 4 points. No other effects.

2. "What's so special about their homes?" says anti-smoking campaigner Tim Mombota. "The government has a responsibility to stop people from hurting themselves -- it's the same reason we should make them wear seat belts in cars. Sooner or later, they end up in one of @@[email protected]@'s hospitals, sucking on taxpayer-funded healthcare. Not that that's why we should ban smoking. We should ban it because we care."

Result: an underground movement of cigarette smokers has sprung up in response to a government ban.

Civil rights drops 6 points. No other effects.

3. "Get your hands off my fag!" wheezes long-time smoker Pete Nguyen. "I've been smoking for fifty years and it's never done me any harm. Helps me concentrate, it does! The government should back off on trying to tell me what I can put into my own body. Telling a smoker he can't light up in a restaurant is discrimination, pure and simple. If you want to put a stop to unfairness, stop that."

Result: eight year-olds can be seen lighting up in public areas.

Civil rights up 2 points. No other effects.

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#035: Refugees Want To Call @@[email protected]@ Home

1. "Some of these people have endured terrible hardships to reach our borders," says International Red Cross spokesperson Renee Dubois. "We must welcome these unfortunates with open arms. Let the world see that @@[email protected]@ does not turn its back on those in need!"

Result: the nation has opened its arms to an influx of refugees.

No observable changes. On second test, no change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. >>THIS OPTION MAY- OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "These grasping freeloaders will swamp our culture and traditions!" argues talk-radio host Alexander Dredd. "First they want welfare, next thing you know they're taking our jobs -- and you know they won't bother to learn our language. I say charity begins at home -- and this isn't their home. This is the world's problem, not ours."

Result: the Navy has outraged the international community by sinking a boatload of refugees to prevent them reaching the shore.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Welfare decrease 1 percent.

3. Economics Professor Max Rubin offers an alternative. "There is no question that we have to help those who reach out to us in their darkest hour. But on the other hand, we cannot help everybody. So let's just take the ones who are willing to keep our streets clean and our drains flowing in return for a subsistence wage."

Result: shanty towns are forming in the suburbs of major cities. >> GOOD THIS MAY OPEN UP ISSUE 282

Economy increases slightly. Tax rate decreases slightly. Industry spending increase by 1 percent.

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#036: International Community Comes Doorknocking

1. "We must increase foreign aid," says beaded local peace activist Hope Winters. "Compared to some of these nations, @@[email protected]@ is swimming in @@[email protected]@. Let's face it, not every nation in the world is lucky enough to have a government like ours. Let's show some compassion to our less economically gifted neighbors."

Result: the nation has an international reputation for compassion.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Talk about a way to flush @@[email protected]@s straight down the toilet," argues Think Tank member Akira Thiesen. "What I've noticed is that whenever we do give something, it's never enough: a few years later they're back asking for more. The best way to help these poor nations is to stop shielding them from the logical consequences of their idiotic, long-debunked socialist economic policies."

Result: the nation refuses to provide international aid.

No effect on trends. Tax drops 1 percent. No effect on spending. On a second test, no change to trends, Tax rate drops 2 percent, spending on Admin drops 2 percent.

3. "Relief wouldn't hurt us... if we 'relieved' the right countries," suggests government advisor Abraham Mombota. "We give them a little humanitarian aid, they give us access to their Uranium Mining markets... it's win-win. Nothing wrong with a little quid pro quo, especially for a good cause."

Result: the government extracts trade concessions from poor nations in exchange for humanitarian aid.

No change to trends or tax rate. No change to spending. Tested on two nations produced the same result.

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#037: Traffic Cops Needed on Information Superhighway?

1. "In these days of terror and uncertainty, it's exactly what we need," says Roxanne Mombota, signing an arrest warrant. "Every pervert, terrorist, bomb-building maniac and anti-government idiot is currently online. I'm not saying that we should block citizens from seeing it, but let's also watch who's seeking it out. This will give our law enforcement officers the chance to prevent crimes before they happen. If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide."

Result: the government snoops on private internet connections.

Political freedoms down by 7 points. No other changes.

2. "Well, I AM saying we should block out that filth," says a man in a dark hat, stepping from the shadows. "If people want to use the internet, they can view our government-approved sites. Those are swell."

Result: the country has unplugged its internet connection to prevent subversive content. >>THIS OPTION OPENS UP NEW ISSUES

Civil rights down 4 points. No other changes.

3. Privacy activist Hack Washington is outraged, as usual. "Tyranny is the natural result of limiting information! Someone, somewhere, will always find something offensive -- mimes for example. Those scare the hell out of me. But should we ban them? No! Free the internet! We have nothing to fear from free information but pop-up advertising!"

Result: anti-government web sites are springing up.

No observable effects at all. In another test, civil rights increase 7 points.

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#038: @@[email protected]@ Looks to the Stars

1. "Don't tell me space colonies wouldn't be cool," says excited fifth-grade teacher Miranda Dodinas, still wearing big Spock ears from his last convention. "Think of how they would galvanize the national population! And there would also be some kind of scientific benefit, probably."

Result: billions of @@[email protected]@ are being poured into a space program.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 4 percent. Spending on admin increases 4 percent.

2. "The project certainly is feasible, but very expensive," says @@[email protected]@ Space Agency Head Steffan Hanover. "We could make it less of a burden on the taxpayers if we sought funding from private industry -- advertisements on the side of our rockets, selling contracts to the Arms Manufacturing industry, that kind of thing."

Result: the nation's first space rocket -- sponsored by Pepsi and shaped like an enormous soda bottle -- is being developed.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 2 percent, Administration spending increases 13 percent..

3. "If God had meant Man to fly, he would have given us solid rocket boosters instead of legs," says religious type Sarah Khan. "We should not be looking to the stars, but rather inside our own hearts. That's why we should abandon this so-called space program, and instead make the teaching of religion mandatory in all schools."

Result: religious classes are compulsory for all school students. >> GOOD THIS MAY OPEN UP ISSUE 225

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate drops 2 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 14 percent.

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#039: Scandal Rocks @@[email protected]@'s Government!

1. "They found out I did WHAT?!" Advisor Lotsalovin says in his morning meeting in your office. "This just can't happen! How can government officials do their jobs properly if we have to work under the constant scrutiny of these idiotic supermarket tabloids? I say tabloid newspapers must be banned, and we must not allow newspapers to speak ill of our government officials... for the good of @@[email protected]@, of course..."

Result: newspapers may not print any negative stories about the government.

Political freedom drops 3 points, Economy drops 1 point. No change to tax or spending patterns.

2. "Unbelievable!" says Reverend Billy-Bob Clinton of the local Catholic church. "Our government officials must be held to a higher standard than this! Mr. Lotsalovin must be removed from office and jailed. We cannot allow such disgusting corruption within the halls of justice!"

Result: government officials are held to the highest standard of morality.

No changes to political freedoms, economy or civil right ratings. Tax rate increases by 1 percent, spending on spirituality increases by 6 percent.

3. "Whoa, whoa, hey, now..." argues Senator Harry Taffs. "What happened to Mr. Lotsalovin is no different than affairs that happen all over @@[email protected]@ every day! Before you know it, they'll be after YOUR sexual history! I think what we need to do is take the public attention off of it somehow, perhaps by... oh, I don't know... giving them a tax cut! That'll divert their attention from this momentary distraction just long enough for Mr. Lotsalovin's divorce process to end!"

Result: government officials frequently cut taxes as a distraction from antics with their secretaries.

Economy drops 1 point, Political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax rate drops 1 percent. Spending on public transport and social policy drops marginally.

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#040: Hukd on Fonix Workd 4 Me!

1. Boot Camp instructor Gretel Rifkin stated: "Who gives a damn? Makes 'em easier to turn into brainwashed grunts anyhow! You don't need to be able to read in order to fire a gun! What we need to do is focus on our military spending - what does it matter if you can read or not when you're overrun by warmongering barbarians?"

Result: funding for education has been redirected into the military.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on defense increase 9 percent.

2. On the other side, there's @@[email protected]@'s Education Administrator. "This is shocking news. If the children of tomorrow cannot read, then what? Next thing you know, we'll be speaking ebonics! The government must devote more efforts to education! Where will we be twenty years from now with an overflow of unskilled labor?"

Result: the education system has gotten a recent boost in spending.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on education increase by 12 percent.

3. Samuel de Groot, principal of a highly-rated private school, prefers a different approach. "Instead of that, why not issue government vouchers so that parents can afford to send their children to privately run schools? We offer a far better education than the public schools. All we do is grind our particular religious views into our students!"

Result: the government spends millions of tax @@[email protected]@s on vouchers to pay for expensive private schools.

No change to trends. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on Education increase 17 percent.

4. "Who needs some fancy-schmancy cash-draining school system, anyway?" Lucas Zhimo declares from the front steps of a double-wide mobile home, shotgun in hand. "My Pa raised me and my eight brothers and three sisters without no waste of time schoolin'! My Pa taught me everythin' I need t'know, let all these whippersnappers' Mas and Pas teach 'em what they need t'know!"

Result: scholars are leaving the country at an alarming rate.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on Edu drops 2 percent.

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#041: Software Giant Stomps on Competition

1. "These allegations are absolutely ludicrous!" shouts Microcosm CEO Violet Hamilton from out the window of his 90-foot stretch limo. "Just because rival companies are incapable of producing products as brilliant as mine is no reason to punish ME! I say it's high time we abolish these idiotic antitrust laws and give big business the freedom to serve the public better. After all, I'm in this business for the people!"

Result: small businesses are gobbled up almost daily by corporate giants.

Economy increase 1 percent. No change to tax. Spending on Industry decreases less than 1 percent.

2. "Microcosm must be shut down immediately," argues CEO of Computers, Computers, Computers! Faith Spirit from out the window of his clunky, exhaust-choked used car. "I can't get a foothold to compete in the market because those bigwigs in Microcosm have that foothold by the throat! It's high time the government stepped in and helped out the little man, and the best way to do that is to shut down the big, oppressive, corporate gurus in Microcosm and beyond."

Result: the government has begun breaking all large businesses into thousands of mom-and-pop general stores.

Economy drops a massive 34 points. Tax rate go up 4 percent. Spending on industry go up 2 percent.

3. "Verily, I say unto thee, none of this would have happened wouldst thou not have stopped the problem before thou didst start it," argues Brother Lars Levy of the @@[email protected]@ Amish community from out the window of his horse-drawn carriage. "We must doest as the Lord commandeth and abolishest the evils of computers and the Internet entirely. Only whenst we harken unto the Lord's commandments mayeth we truly be spiritually blessed."

Result: citizens frequently whisper of the Internet as 'the domain of the devil'.

Economy drops 7 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on education drops 5 points.

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#042: Turn Down That Racket, Say Morality Police

1. "Heavy metal music is a plague in our good nation and its God-fearing people!" argues local priest and easy listening advocate Colin Jong-Il. "Just the other day, I heard a song by some group called Hell's Irate Puppies with a sinful quantity of bass and drum... oh, and there were probably some lines about killing parents, too, I'd imagine! It's vital that we ban this music, and remove this terrible influence from our children's lives! Think of the children!"

Result: radio stations are forbidden to play anything with too much drum or bass.

Civil rights go down 4 points. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 3 percent.

2. "Whoa, man... what's with the, like, censorship and stuff?" asks Freddy du Pont, scruffy-haired bassist of the popular speed metal band The Destroyinators. "You can't, like, censor the music, man. That's how we express ourselves! Every bass beat is me baring my soul! Every howl is me complainin' about how my parents tried to kick me out of their basement! Besides, what's wrong with Satan? He's just misunderstood anyway. I say promote the arts, man!"

Result: elevator music has been replaced by thrash metal played at maximum volume.

Civil rights increases 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. On another test nation with >80 CR, civil rights did not increase.

3. "You know, this heavy metal issue has me thinking," says Pete McGuffin, your brother, over your weekly game of cribbage. "If these long-haired freaks want to put out their devil-worshipping metal, why don't we let them? Of course, we'll put a little subliminal propaganda into every song... after all, don't these guys owe their freedom of expression to you?"

Result: angst-filled teenagers are rushing off to buy government bonds for some odd reason.

Civil rights drops 12 points. Tax is the same. Spending on admin increases 2 percent.

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#043: Prisoners Demand Elbow Room

1. "I tell ya, chief... this ain't good," mutters local police chief Marleen Laine over a morning cup of coffee. "I see these no-good mohawk-wearin' punks every day, and they're a dangerous bunch. They gotta be locked in their mudholes forever! If we can't afford to keep 'em in prison, I say we need more money! Let's just casually shift some funding from elsewhere; after all, it ain't like our welfare program is helping keep these kids away from crime."

Result: gigantic new prisons are springing up all over the nation.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases by 1 percent. Spending on law and order go up by 5 percent. On another test nation, CR decrease by 1 point.

2. "How can these wayward individuals find their inner selves by staring at the walls within a stone cell?" challenges human rights activist and local prison license plate maker Falala Leach. "The nation's budget is absolute proof: we cannot afford prisons... strictly because of their immorality! Let these caged birds breathe the sweet air of freedom again! Shut down all prisons in @@[email protected]@!"

Result: all prisons have been eliminated.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases by 2 percent. Spending on L&O decreases 9 percent.

3. "Now hold on just a second here," says Melbourne McGuffin, CEO of @@[email protected]@'s most widely-known pizza delivery chain, Papa Pallocci's Pizza Pagoda. "You've got a problem with prisoners, and I've got a problem finding employees. Why don't you just send some of your criminals to Papa Pallocci's? We'll put 'em to work at lower pay as punishment for their crimes! I win, you win... the economy wins!"

Result: citizens are frequently held up at gunpoint by their local pizza delivery boys.

Economy increased by 4 points. Tax rate increased by 1 percent. Spending on industry increased by 9 points while spending on Law and order decreased by 4, several other areas also decreased by 1 point. For a second test, a nation with economy already at 96 points rises no more.

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#044: No Pain, No Gain!

1. "Torture is the only way that we can get these idiots to tell us anything," says General Naki Dimitrov of @@[email protected]@'s special forces division. "After all, violence is the only shared language we have with these scum."

Result: torture is commonly used to extract information from suspected criminals.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increases 2 percent. Spending on defense and L&O each increases 5 percent.

2. "Are you kidding?" states political activist Kathleen Bush. "Torture never works. If anything, it should be outlawed. What do we want to become, genocidal maniacs?

Result: torture is illegal.

Civil rights increase 4 points. No change to tax rate and spending pattern.

3. "There's nothing wrong with torture, but we can't make it too obvious," says Secretary of Defense Naki Dimitrov. "How about we simply ask them nicely, and then, if they don't tell us, we kill them? That's better just from the intimidation."

Result: people regularly disappear off the streets and all evidence of them is destroyed.

Civil rights drops 11 points. Tax rate increases 4 percent. Spending on law and order go up 11 percent, defense increase 3 percent.

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#045: Baseball League Steps Up To The Plate

1. "Holy cow, is this gonna be great!" hollers BUBL President and sports nut Bill Yeats, waving a fashionable giant foam finger. "Baseball is just what @@[email protected]@ needs right now! Think about it: soda, popcorn, hot dogs... oh, and I'm sure the economy will benefit somehow, too! All we need is the government funding to build stadiums and teams, and we'll be on every TV and in every city in the country!"

Result: major cities shut down as their local sports team takes to the field every day.

Economy go up by 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry increase 1 percent.

2. "You're going to spend the taxpayer's money on WHAT?" counters Minister of Finance Fleur Lee, from a newly furnished office. "I mean, I love playing a good game of baseball every now and then, but does the government really need to go around supporting this? The only people that are going to benefit are a bunch of fat-cat burger vendors and bored hicks with nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon! We need to stop spending so much money on these ridiculous games and get back to what's really important: running the business of the country."

Result: the nation is experiencing a severe shortage of sporting events.

Economy drops 6 percent, yes drops. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry drops 2 percent.

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#046: Jennifer Government Censorship Row

1. "At first I liked the book," says famous politician Bill Gates, "but then it clearly turned out to be just a mockery of our government! This is brainwashing our citizens into thinking that they're being governed badly. I suggest we hang, draw and quarter the author of this book and take satires off the shelves!"

Result: Jennifer Government is banned.

Civil rights drops 2 points, Political freedoms drops 7 points. No change to tax or spending. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Don't be silly" says book reviewer Josh Jones, "it's a great book and you don't necessarily have to take the views inside seriously! If anything, there should be more satires. Maybe then we'll get the right people in charge of this messed-up country!"

Result: Jennifer Government is a bestseller.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result (although test nation had limited govt spending sectors, only LO, Def, and Ind) To RE-TEST if there is a chance.

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#047: The Great Wall of @@[email protected]@?

1. Randy Dredd of the @@[email protected]@ National Purity League says "These illegal aliens are just an eyesore with their strange customs and funny languages. Uneducated immigrants like these only worsen crime and steal valuable jobs! I say we should boot them all out on their ears and put a big fence around the country!"

Result: a large concrete wall is being built around the country's borders.

No changes to trends or tax rate. No changes to spending pattern either. (However, on test nation spending on admin is already high in the 20s).

2. Miranda de Vries of the @@[email protected]@ Civil Liberties Union says "We must welcome these refugees from any nation into our open arms, they are fleeing one oppressive dictatorial regime in the only way they know, we must not let them think they're jumping from the frying pan into the fire!"

Result: refugees from other nations are flocking to @@[email protected]@'s border.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Hold on there, hold on people!" says Akira Strange of the @@[email protected]@ Broadcasting company, "We don't have to take either extreme, all we have to do is make a TV game show out of it! We put deadly obstacles on the border and monitor it with television cameras! Those that make it across win freedom and citizenship, and those who don't, well, let's just say that our buzzards won't starve. We could call it 'Who Wants to be an Immigrant?'!"

Result: the controversial show 'Who Wants to be an Immigrant?' has become wildly popular.

No observable changes.

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#048: Give Us Healthcare Or Give Us Death!

1. "A universal healthcare system would provide everyone with the same quality healthcare the more wealthy and well-insured currently receive," says recently laid-off citizen and civil rights activist Buffy Mistletoe. "Sure, taxes would probably have to increase a bit. But isn't it worth it to provide our lower-class citizens with the same opportunities the upper-class citizens have?"

Result: the government is spending millions to provide full health care for all citizens.

Economy drops 4 points. No changes to tax. Spending on healthcare increase 12 percent.

2. "Are you all INSANE? This will ruin the health insurance business and drive up unemployment rates," argues Imogen Nguyen, head of the largest insurance provider in @@[email protected]@. "If everyone working for their health insurance could suddenly get it free, there would be fewer jobs filled. It would get worse for everyone involved. The government should investigate the motives of these troublemaking 'protestors', instead!"

Result: the military has had to quell a recent insurrection by uninsured revolutionaries.

Economy increase 3 points. Political freedoms drops 4 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Defense increase 1 percent.

3. "Why do we have to choose either radical option?" says your Secretary of Health, Zhongxiong Anderson. "Couldn't we just provide limited basic healthcare for our citizens and have major operations covered by private health insurance? It would be more affordable and the poor would suffer less than they do under the current system."

Result: the government covers the basic health care of its citizens. (GOOD OPTION WILL LEAD TO MORE ISSUES)

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase 10 percent.

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#049: Diving For @@[email protected]@

1. Anne-Marie Trax, a cabinet member, would like the government to seize the deposit. "This is an excellent time to boost @@[email protected]@'s economy and increase our foreign trade with other countries! Who cares about the people that discovered the deposit? They've done their country a great favor and should let us have the money!"

Result: the government seizes all major gold finds.

Economy goes up two points, Civil Rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry increases 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. Naki Jong-Il, a civil rights activist, vehemently disagrees. "The deposit was found by private citizens and it should be their choice of what to do with the gold. If the government goes around stealing what is rightfully ours, then I shudder to think I live in such a corrupt country. These people discovered the gold, it's now their time to get rich! Nevermind the fact they were diving in a lake on government property!"

Result: citizens are regularly found digging for treasure in their gardens.

Civil rights go up by 6 points. On second test, Civil rights increase 9 points. No change to tax or spending pattern (confirms result).

3. "We should do what now?" Environmentalist Agnes McAlpin exclaims. "Do you have any idea how damaging it would be to the environment to mine the gold under that lake? Think of all the aquatic life that would be disrupted or destroyed! Think of how an otherwise pristine lake view would be ruined! Forget the gold and keep those money-grubbing pigs away from nature!"

Result: the mining industry has taken a hit from tighter environmental regulations.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending. (Surprisingly, no increase spending on environment and no hit on industry) On a second test, Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment go up 14 percent, takes proportionately from the others.

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#050: Whips, Chains, And Leather, Oh My!

1. "We happen to express our love differently, with different hobbies and activities," explains BDSM enthusiast May Falopian, while wearing needle-sharp spiked heels and holding a whip. "Shops exist to cater to the needs of 'normal' people, but do you have ANY idea how hard it is to get a quality whip? A little support for our hobbies would be appreciated!"

Result: a niche industry catering to S&M enthusiasts has sprung up

Economy increases by 2 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on industry increases 1 percent. On second test, Economy increased one point, No change to tax. Spending on Industry increased 1 percent. Confirms result.

2. "Yeah," exclaims Zeke Wall, another enthusiast, wearing nothing but a collar, "and like other couples, we want the right to display our affection in public. If Master wants to take me walkies in public, he should be able to."

Result: leather-clad individuals can be seen walking their slaves in public parks.

Civil rights increases by 5 points, Economy increases by 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on industry increases by 1 percent.

3. Bruce Malik dissents wholeheartedly. "This is not about showing affection--this is about moral decency. Think of the children, for God's sake! Think of the children! We must criminalize and eliminate this perversion to keep them safe. Which of course means a special task force to track down and capture these cretins!"

Result: midnight raids drag couples from their homes in the name of decency.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#051: Streaker in Snooker Game Fiasco

1. "This can't go on!" says traumatized snooker player Fleur Broadside, "Children are watching sports and having them exposed to this lewd behaviour is unacceptable! I demand that these people be locked up for several years and maybe they'll have learnt their lesson!"

Result: naturists are jailed regularly for indecent exposure.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "Oh don't be ridiculous!" scoffs prolific streaker Melbourne Clinton, "It's all just a bit of fun and the kids shouldn't be wrapped in cotton wool, or they'll learn nothing! Sports are so dull anyway, it needs a little bare skin to liven it up. Streaking should be legal!"

Result: streakers swamp all public events in order to bare it all.

Civil rights up 3 points. No other changes.

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#052: Is It Art Or Is It Porn?

1. "Stop my children from looking at smut! These artists are only perverts pretending to be artists! Think of the children!" says Rebecca Lee, proud member of Parents Promoting Purity. "These artists are only going to rouse our innocent children to commit grotesque acts of immorality! Get rid of it all!"

Result: artists regularly face criminal charges and art-burning parties are common.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax and spending pattern unchanged.

2. "Well, I see that point, but we certainly don't need to ban inoffensive art, still lifes of inanimate objects, and such," says your sister, Chastity Longbottom. "Perhaps we should set some guidelines for what is acceptable as art and what isn't. Artistic renditions of people getting it on are one thing. A bunch of fruit in a decorative bowl is another entirely."

Result: all artwork is carefully screened for offensive material.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax and spending pattern unchanged.

3. "That is censorship!" says noted art history teacher Steffan Zhimo. "You can't ban art! It's freedom of expression; it's part of our culture. If anything, the government should be supporting these artists and their work, not listening to these prudish whackjobs who are scared of a little bare skin!"

Result: nude art is becoming wildly popular.

Civil rights increase 7 points. Tax and spending pattern stays the same.

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#053: Orbital Armageddon?

1. General Jean-Paul Broadside says, "We should spend more. But not just on exploration. We should start developing Orbital Weapons! Space Marines! Armed Spacecraft! We would rule the region, and look cool doing it! Just divert some funding from environmental protection, and BAM! Sci-fi goodies!"

Result: billions of @@[email protected]@ are being blown on orbital weapons development.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 point. Spending on environment drops 4 percent.

2. Noted Scientist and pacifist writer Wil de Jong thinks otherwise, "No! Space is a place for peace! It's the only place left we've got that we haven't screwed up. Oh, the space program still needs funding, don't get me wrong, but none of this 'military in space' stuff will do! We ought to divert funding from the military to education and space research instead!"

Result: space research funding has hit a recent high while several military bases are being closed down.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Def drops 5 percent, all go to Education.

3. Fringe Group Leader Tobias McKay disagrees, "Space is a total waste of time. We should spend more on stuff people actually CARE about. Like voting rights and protecting the environment! Forget that fancy-schmancy space station!"

Result: the space program has been scrapped in order to focus on more terrestrial pursuits.

No change to trends. Tax rate surprisingly increases by 1 percent. Spending on Education and Industry drops 1 percent each.

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#054: Time To Put The Older Senators Out To Pasture?

1. "It's time to get these lifetime politicians off the government payroll!" says term-limits advocate Sue-Ann Wong. "Let them get real jobs like the rest of us once they leave office. Besides, if they are currently a Senator, they can always run for another office like Governor. This gives people the right to elect whomever they want to run for office, just not the same office forever. It'll keep things from going completely stale!"

Result: strict term limits have been applied to all elected offices.

Political freedoms decrease by 3 points. No change to tax or spending.

2. "Wait a minute," says Samuel Fellow, chairman of the national Infinite Power party. "We pay a lot of money to get those people into office. It can take several terms before we get a return on our investment, I mean, candidates. We should extend the number of years for each term, not limit the number of times a person can serve in any specific office!"

Result: elected officials often serve for decades in a single term.

Political freedoms decrease by 5 points. No change to tax or spending.

3. Your aunt's mother's step-sister's best friend's hairstylist, William Nobama, pooh-poohs the entire idea. "You know how to run your country, yes? Why deal with the hassle of elected officials and elections in the first place, yes? Eliminate elections and this entire term limit issue becomes moot, yes?"

Result: elections are outlawed and a hairstylist has recently received a government appointment.

Political freedoms drops 17 points. No other changes.

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#055: Bigtopian Protesters Cry For Full Integration

1. "You know... it's not that we don't let them in... it's that they don't apply," murmurs Principal Beth Fellow, nervously tugging at his shirt collar. "I mean, yeah, sure, if these Bigtopians lived around here... uh... we'd let them into the school. But... you know... this isn't exactly a Bigtopian community, you know? So... uh... could you please put a stop to these protestors? Oh, and, uh..." Here he leans forward and whispers. "... make sure those creepy Bigtopian protestors don't show up at my school again, okay?"

Result: government police forces protect public schools from the threat of protest.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on law and order increases 3 percent.

2. "The time has come for the dream of equality to be realized!" shouts noted Bigtopian rights activist Elizabeth Jong-Il, slamming his fist against your desk. "I see Lilliputians, Tasmanians, and Lord knows how many East Lebatuckese keeping my Bigtopian brothers holed away in their prisons of blindness and ethnic apartheid! The time has come for full integration! If these schools are going to keep us out, I say it's time we were bussed in!"

Result: minority children spend hours bussing to schools miles away from home.

No discernible effects, however test was done on nation with already world benchmark Civil Rights so effect could be more appreciative in a newer or lower civil rights nation. In a second test, Civil rights increase by 4 points, spending on public transport increased 5 percent.

3. "Well, that's all well and good, but it ain't well and good enough!" screams Tobias Johnson, leader of Bigtopians Rising Against Totalitarianist Scum, slamming a black-gloved fist against the podium during a recent pep rally. "We ain't just bein' kept out of their schools; we're bein' kept out of their neighborhoods! The oppressive majority fears us, but they can't hold us back any longer! The government needs to integrate the community as a whole by pushing out the majority and making way for a very loud, very angry minority!"

Result: members of majority races are forced out of their homes to make way for Bigtopians.

Civil rights drops 9 points. Tax rate increases 5 percent. Spending on admin increases 4 percent.

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#056: "Give Us Money!" Quoth the Poet

1. "We need government help to promote culture." says Konrad Pushkin, chairperson of the National Poetry Society of @@[email protected]@. "Poetry is the soul of our nation, the very pulse of humanity! We will ultimately be judged according to our contribution to artistic enlightenment. In other words, please provide funding for our humble mission to bring the beauty of poetry to the masses!"

Result: people reciting Shakespeare have become a common sight.

Surprisingly it affects the economy, it rises 3 points! Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on education and industry each increases 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Artists and poets should support themselves, like everyone else," replies Samuel Parke, spokesperson for the Capitalism Now Party. "The suffering taxpayers should be given a break. In fact, we should abolish all government subsidies for special interest groups."

Result: the government has cut its subsidies for all special interest groups.

No change in trends. Tax rate go down 6 percent. Admin spending decreases slightly by 2 percent.

3. "Poets--who needs them?!" scoffs Megan Wu, Chairperson Emeritus of the Troglodyte Coalition. "These long-haired troublemakers should all be lined up against the wall and shot! That would be far more entertaining than reading some dumb poems!"

Result: poets and writers are regularly rounded up and shot for entertainment.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No other changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#057: Electronic Plague in @@[email protected]@!

1. "It's those horrible kids. Hacking in where they don't belong. You've got to give us more funding to put a stop to it," says @@[email protected]@ Federal Police Chief Erica Taffs. "Like with cars- ban kids from using computers until they pass a test and get a license!"

Result: citizens must have a license to operate a computer.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

2. CEO Efthamia Obama of CyberMirage Labs has a different idea. "Let us release SAL9000, our new AI, into the @@[email protected]@ Network. It'll put a stop to this virus. Never mind that it's still only an untested beta!"

Result: much of @@[email protected]@'s computer network is controlled by a rampant artificial intelligence.

No change to trends. Tax decrease(go down) 3 percent. Spending on Admin decrease 5 percent.

3. "Yeah, wonderful! Fix a virus by releasing an AI that will likely turn on its creators? Are you people trying to get us all killed?!" Decries infamous technophobe Chloe Neumann, "What do we need computers for anyway? They will only bring us trouble and disaster! Personal computers ought to be banned!"

Result: the recent ban on computers is causing havoc throughout the nation. >> GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#058: Violent Violetists Demand Blood!

1. "What have we got to lose?" says religious freedoms advocate Billy Wu. "Just cut up a few homeless folk - it appeases this group's bloodthirsty Goddess, gets rid of unsightly bums that drain welfare, and everybody goes home happy."

Result: homeless people are periodically found dead upon altars to assorted deities.

Civil rights go up 7 points but political freedoms drops 4 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on welfare decreases 7 percent. On second test, Civil rights increase 3 points, no change to political freedoms, tax rate decreases 1 percent. No welfare to begin with.

2. "We must go much further than a few beggars!" argues the overzealous High Member of the Order of Violet, Clint Mistletoe. "You must pass a law that everyone's first born child must be slaughtered, on live TV if possible. Think of the viewing figures!"

Result: "The Daily Sacrifice" is a routine segment of morning news shows. >THIS OPTION MAY - OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Civil rights drops 5 point. No other changes.

3. "You aren't going to listen to these whackjob Violetists, are you?" comments Lauren Thiesen while leading a prayer group. "Human sacrifices! Surely we're too civilized to permit such barbaric practices! These lunatic fringe groups should be outlawed, and their leaders should be executed!"

Result: a crusade against barbaric religious practices has begun.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increases 1 percent. No other changes.

4. "Who's being a lunatic?" retorts Faith Giono of the @@[email protected]@ Humanitarian Society. "I agree that these practices ought to be outlawed, but instead of sinking to the same level of these fanatics and killing our fellow people, why not simply start a re-education program? Even the worst person can be rehabilitated into a useful member of society, with enough time, care, and lots and lots of funding!"

Result: the government pours millions of @@[email protected]@ into rehabilitation programs annually.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on social policy and education each increases 3 percent.

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#059: Drunk Driving On The Rise

1. Ivan Hamilton, head of @@[email protected]@'s chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, says that drunk drivers need help. "Alcoholism is a nasty thing, a disease. The government has to help these poor souls to avoid the temptations of liquor, and wine, and beer, and hard cider, and brandy, and?" His eyes get a glazed far off look, "Where was I? Oh right, we have to help these people, not imprison them."

Result: drunk drivers are sent to rehabilitation paid for by the government.

No changes to trends or tax. Spending on L&O decrease 1 percent, welfare increase 2 percent.

2. "That's lovely," says Jennifer Wong, a noted anti-alcohol advocate, "In a perfect world where rehab fixes everything. But this is the real world, and it doesn't bring back the victims. Drunk drivers kill people every day. If they take other's lives, the government must take theirs!"

Result: drunk drivers are sentenced to death.

No changes to trends. Spending on welfare decreases 3 percent, increasing on Law and order.

3. "All of those plans attack the symptoms, not the disease," says Minister of Transportation Miranda McAlpin, "Alcohol is a curse, a poison sent by the Devil to tempt mankind. We cannot trust people to make decisions for themselves. The only answer is prohibition. Ban alcohol completely."

Result: all alcohol is banned. GOOD THIS CHOICE WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Economy drops by 4 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#060: Supreme Court Nomination

1. Akira Longbottom, the Former CEO of @@[email protected]@ City Products, says "I have long sat by and watched our government vicously attack the big businesses in this country. The government has no right to control businesses and I will adopt that position in all of my judgements."

Result: the judicial branch is strongly influenced by major corporations.

Economy increase by 8 points, political freedoms down by 1 point, while taxes decrease 3 percent.

Spending on Admin increases 10 percent, while Social Policy (formerly 19 percent) completely wiped out, all other spending areas increased proportionately.

2. Reverend May du Pont is nominee #2. The Reverend says "I am sick and tired of the liberals in this country ruining our family values. Every day they assault our basic sense of decency. You must vote for me to keep our families safe. Think of the children!"

Result: the judicial system legislates morality.

Civil rights drop 3 points. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 8 percent.

3. Gay Activist and former Senator @@[email protected]@ is nominee #3. "Our people aren't happy, we need more freedom, we need more civil rights. We must keep the government out of the bedroom. We must respect people's right to privacy and remember that personal relations are just that, personal."

Result: the Supreme Court vehemently protects civil rights and the right to privacy.

Civil rights go up by 1 point, political freedoms go down by 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry drops marginally, go to Admin. On second test, Economy drops 1 point, Civil rights increase 1 point. Other changes the same.

4. Environmental Activist Colin McAlpin argues, "Our government has been constantly violating Mother Earth and her rights, all our politicians talk about are civil rights, civil rights this, civil rights that, blah blah blah. We aren't important, what is important is the Earth!"

Result: snakes have more rights than the average citizen.

Civil rights down 2 points. Income tax go up 2 percent. Spending on environment increase a whopping 30 percent.

5. The last nominee is the retired Five Star General Samuel Hendrikson. "We are ridiculed throughout the international community for our low quality weaponry, our police and military numbers are not sufficient. Our military must be protected from both constitutional and civilian oversight. They should be given money, and a free hand."

Result: the government has become increasingly militant.

Political freedoms down 6 points, civil rights down 3 points. Income tax increases 1 percent. Spending on law and order go up 4 percent, spending on defense go up 9 percent.

6. Finally, a tomato flies by your head flung by an angry protester. "We want to elect our own judges! This is a democracy! More power to the people! We don't want a lapdog! Separation of Powers! Get the government out of the judicial system!" He chucks another tomato at you before security escorts him out of your private office.

Result: the people elect the Supreme Court justices directly.

Political freedoms go up by 34 points! Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on admin drops 3 percent, increases by 2 percent on law and order and 1 on education.

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#061: Should The Government Grant Estates And Titles Of Nobility?

1. "Of course I should be appointed as the Duke of @@[email protected]@ City," says multi-billionaire Charles Jones. "Not only would it be an apt reward for my contributions to @@[email protected]@, but the citizens who become landed serfs on my estate would work harder than they ever have in all their lives." Adds small-government advocate Calvin Hendrikson, "Government would at last return to the local level, close to the people and the land to which they would be bound for life."

Result: society and government have been organized according to a feudal hierarchy.

Political freedoms down by 3 points, civil rights down by 1 point. Tax rate down by 2 percent. Spending on admin drops 2 percent.

2. "I can't believe I'm hearing this," exclaims noted civil rights advocate Alexei Utopia. "Those who are behind this espouse a system that grants inordinate amounts of institutional power to the rich and ensures that no one will be able to climb the social ladder. Everyone in society must be granted an equal opportunity to succeed or fail. Say 'no' to a nobility!"

Result: citizens are allowed to rise or fall based on their own merits.

No change to trends. Tax rate rises 2 percent. No change to spending. On a second test, economy rose 7 points while Civil rights rose 6 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on social policy drops 7 percent.

3. "I think both of the other parties are taking this issue to the extreme," argues a learned elderly gentleman resting on a park bench. "All that's being advocated is giving those who have contributed to their nation a ceremonial title and a bit of land. Besides," he adds, "the government can tax their estate."

Result: notable individuals are granted land and titles.

No noticeable changes. Tested on a second nation, same result of no changes.

4. "A good day to thee, milord," counters Heather Goethe, an amateur Medieval Faire actor dressed in period costume, "I would suggest that thou hasten thyself to spectate at the jousting competition this forenoon. Aye, quite a bout we have arrayed for thee this day. However, the whole affair could be much grander if only we received a few more gold crownes from the government. Aye, 'twould be a grand tourney of knightly skill and courage indeed!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s Medieval Faire is renowned as one of the best in the region.

Economy rises 3 points. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on industry increases 3 percent.

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#062: Oh, The Angst!

1. "Although it is often dismissed as an irrelevant complaint, depression is a real disease, it isn't just 'all in your head'," says Thomas Frederickson, depression sufferer. "Depression has significant effects on groups and individuals, especially amongst teenagers. Every day, more and more people commit suicide because of this disease, but this could all be stopped if this country had a decent level of funding for support and public awareness programs."

Result: citizens are encouraged to report friends, family members or co-workers who seem depressed to the government for "counselling".

No effect on trends or tax rate. Spending on Healthcare increase by 1 percent.

2. "Screw them," Freddy Jefferson, talkback radio host, stated yesterday. "Depression isn't a disease, it's just another example of today's youth finding something to complain about. Life's never been better. In fact, just yesterday, I bought my fourth BMW. And even if it is as serious as the bleeding hearts claim, then I say we leave it and cut some of the funding being wasted on these head cases. If a few whiners jump off a bridge, it'll be good for the genepool. Natural selection, my friends. It's a great thing."

Result: psychological disorders are a taboo subject.

No effect on trends or tax rate. Spending on Healthcare decrease by 2 percent.

3. "Actually, a lot of depression cases in teens are related to school and all the stress and pressure young people are under to succeed. A greater effort to correct the problem of depression should start there, with more funding so that schools can provide better counseling programs." Comments Dr. Sean Suzuki, author of the book "Tomato Soup for the Soul". "That way teens who are depressed can get help even if their parents can't or won't take them to see a psychiatrist."

Result: schools have extensive counseling programs for troubled students.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increase 3 percent.

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#063: Tykes With Tools?

1. Akira Falopian, an orphanage foster parent, says, "Child labor should be outlawed! Too many times I have received children who only know manual labor. We have to give these children an education and a chance at a real future. Think of the children!" Jessica Eliot, a bum on the street, agrees, "Forget about what's best for the children. They're stealing my work! The only way to get an entry job in this market is to either be younger than 12 and willing to work for nothing, or to knock off a kid and be there to fill the opening, and still be willing to work for nothing."

Result: child labor has been outlawed. >>THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increase 2 percent. In a second test, almost the same. No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increases 4 percent. (Confirms result)

2. Unemployed parent Matilda Trax begs that you keep child labor legal. "You can't outlaw child labor; we need the extra money that my 13 children earn. Since both my spouse and I were laid off, the only way to get enough money to feed both of us is to have all of our kids employed. In fact, with the downswing in the economy we're expecting another kid to close the gap."

Result: children as young as eight can be found working in factories.

Economy increases 8 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on social policy decreases 3 percent, increase on welfare, industry, and healthcare

3. Fat cat factory owner Charles Janssen steps over the bum in the street and explains, "You don't understand. You shouldn't make child labor illegal, you should subsidize it. By employing these kids I'm giving them valuable life lessons. I didn't go to school and see where I am now? I'm giving them work experience, making them highly employable for the 15 years of their expected lives."

Result: the adult unemployment rate nears 100% as all available jobs have been filled by young children.

Economy shots up (increase) by 53 points from a low base of 20s. Tax rate decrease 7 percent. Spending on Edu drops 3 percent while those on Welfare increase 2 percent.

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#064: Put The "Board" Back In Board Of Education

1. "Clearly, parents aren't teaching manners at home," says Declan Dubois, the union president. "All we want is to be able to take a paddle to their backsides when there are problems. It's not like we want to throw the kids in jail."

Result: teachers regularly paddle unruly students.

No change to trends or tax. No change to spending.

2. "Keep your hands off my kids!" shouts Cooper Broadside, while protesting outside of union headquarters. "If there's a problem, it's with the teachers not having the skills to do their jobs. They should be tested for qualifications!"

Result: teachers are routinely tested to keep their jobs.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Edu go up 2 percent.

3. "Corporal punishment would only treat a symptom of the bigger problem: our education system is in need of an overhaul," says Hope Neumann, @@[email protected]@'s education minister. "We need smaller class sizes, more teachers, better buildings, and better pay. It'll cost, but it'll pay off in the long run."

Result: the nation is currently revamping its entire education system.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on Edu increase 10 perfect.

4. "Why don't we just abolish the schools and home-school the kids?" asks Brian Schultz, education coordinator for the @@[email protected]@ First Omnimenical Church. "That way parents can stress the values they want their kids to have and give them the attention they need."

Result: all children are supposed to be schooled by their parents.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease by 4 percent. Spending on Edu drops 15 percent to zero.

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#066: Transsexual Demands Recognition In Chosen Gender

1. "I have gone through twenty years of internal pain about my external appearance and I put so much effort and money into finally having the world see the real me!" says transsexual activist Lauren Steele. "The government needs to recognize my true gender as well as cover the surgeries and medicines needed to get me where I am today!"

Result: sex changes are routinely performed at @@[email protected]@'s hospitals.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 2 percent.

2. "Transsexuals are delusional if they think they will ever be members of their gender they wish they were." says right-wing radio show host Mark Shiomi. "It is a biological fact that our gender is determined by our chromosomes, anyone who tries to act like the gender they are not should be immediately arrested and taken to a psychiatrist!"

Result: the psych wards are overflowing with transsexuals.

Civil rights reduce 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Social policy decrease 2 percent, and Healthcare decrease 1 percent.

3. "You know everyone, gender isn't a black and white proposition," states self-identified "genderqueer" Bianca Hanover. "There are XX males, XY females, and many people who have ambigious sexual characteristics or just don't feel they belong in categories such as male or female. The government must recognize our existence!"

Result: people are now classified as male, female, or genderqueer.

No observable effects. On second test, Civil rights increase 4 points. No change to tax or spending patterns.

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#067: Most Likely To Secede

1. "Gov'mint's not workin' fo' folks 'round here," says Peter Silk, a turnip farmer, "We have ourselves a guar-un-teed right to form a gov'mint that works for us. We don't want any confrontation, now, we just want to shake hands and let ya'll get along with yer business while we get along with ours."

Result: territories have the right to secede if they aren't happy.

Political freedoms increase 1 point. Tax rate go down 3 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent.

2. "I can't believe this!" shouts General Bill Sherman. "This is tantamount to treason! Our political system would collapse if whole territories were allowed to leave at any time. It would be chaos! I propose that you let me take care of the problem... permanently."

Result: the government violently surpresses separatist movements.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Defense increases 2 percent and Admin increases 1 percent. The rest all drop.

3. "Perhaps we can reach a suitable middle ground," says an elderly gentleman resting on a park bench, "If we were to bring government close to the people, and allow them to have a modicum of self-determination, perhaps they wouldn't feel the need to secede. Let's give the local governments more power."

Result: citizens are remarkably well involved in the political process.

Political freedoms go up 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Admin increase 1 percent.

4. "Our last caller made a really good point," says talk radio host Imogen Taffs. "These decent, hard working citizens are clearly being brainwashed by @@[email protected]@ Public Radio's prattle. I don't want my tax @@[email protected]@ supporting their agenda. Therefore, the answer is clear: dismantle @@[email protected]@ Public Radio."

Result: public broadcasting is nonexistent.

No effect on trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Admin decrease 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#068: Ornery Overcrowding Problem

1. "What we need are more high rises, whether low-cost or fancy condos," says demographic expert Jake Silk. "They're efficient, waste little land, and wouldn't you love to wake up to the bright cheery sky in front of you every morning? Of course, there's the problem of higher contagious disease transmission, but I'm sure our health system is robust enough for that. Not to mention all the jobs these new buildings will bring."

Result: the government regularly hires contractors to construct high rise apartments.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 3 percent. On second test, no effect on trends. Spending on Healthcare increase 1 percent.

2. "All these industrial factories take up so much space," argues social welfare commentator Calvin Money. "The fact is, not only do they pollute, but they hog land that is better used for low-cost housing. Studies show that apartments are just too cramped for people to be comfortable in. We would be a lot better off in simple single-floor houses. Especially if they're subsidised by the government."

Result: factories are regularly demolished to make way for low-cost housing areas.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on social policy increase 2 percent.

3. "This raises an interesting issue," says Bharatendu Mistletoe, staunch supporter of birth control. "And that is: why do we need to build more housing anyway? Why don't we just limit the number of children each family can have? Besides, pregnancy causes all sorts of complications. We're better off with less of it anyway."

Result: the number of children one can have is restricted by law. >>THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUE 268?

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Healthcare rises 2 percent.

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#069: Power Problems Need Bright Solution

1. "The solution is clear," says environmental activist Charles Clinton. "Wind turbines and solar power stations are the cleanest there are. We must switch power production to forms of renewable energy, that will never run out. The only minor problems are that wind farms will take up a great deal of space and of course we can't exactly rely on the weather. It isn't as though we control it. But think of how much healthier people will be without all that pollution!"

Result: prime real estate is devoted to wind farms and solar energy generators.

No change to trends. Tax go up 1 percent. Spending on environment go up by 8 percent. Second test confirms the result (Tax increase 1 percent, spending on environment increase 4 percent).

2. "Wind power? Solar collectors? Bah! Have you ever wondered when the least amount of strain is placed on the national grid? WHEN THE SUN IS SHINING!" exclaims Southern @@[email protected]@ Electra official Roxanne Woolf. "We need power under our control, and cheaply. Coal has been the cheapest and most abundant power source for ages. We don't need this airy fairy wind malarky when we have cheap and reliable power available for all. True, pollution will be a bit on the heavy side but I'm sure that's only a minor problem, with how well funded our health system is!"

Result: vile black smog from coal power plants has enveloped several major urban centres.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 4 percent (to zero)

3. "Now the way I see it is that it's either green, expensive, and sprawling; or compact, polluting and cheap. Wouldn't it be nice if we had the best of both worlds? Well, we can!" claims fission technician Elizabeth Trax. "Nuclear power is reliable, clean, and although it isn't cheap, it won't break the bank. There is a risk of deadly meltdown, but this is relatively small, and the only people who could be against this are anti-nuclear protesters, but what do we care about those tree-hugging hippies?"

Result: protesters are up in arms over new nuclear power stations.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on environment increases 2 percent. >> GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

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#070: Purge The Infidels!

1. "We already have an official religion," says Jessica Sparkle, the white cloaked spokesperson for @@[email protected]@'s Concerned Citizens. "Why not enforce it? After all, the only way to Heaven is through Us and Our God. If they will not believe in Our Loving and Forgiving God, well, clearly they must be PUT TO DEATH."

Result: citizens who fail to follow the official national religion are executed.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality increase marginally (less than 1 percent).

2. "Put to death? Is this really the type of person you want to listen to?" says Daniel Usman. "Every day I thank God that I'm an agnostic and don't need to believe this nonsense. Religion shouldn't have anything to do with our government. You should get rid of it immediately!"

Result: the government is avowedly secular.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality decrease 2 percent.

3. "They're right, religion shouldn't have a role in our government, but they don't go far enough," says Peggy Dodinas at a local AA (Atheists Anonymous) meeting. "Few things have caused more death and suffering in this world than religion. Just look at the Crusades and the Jihads throughout history! This should be treated like the mental disorder that it is. Remember, religion teaches intolerance, and we cannot accept that!"

Result: religious people are committed to mental institutions for treatment.

Civil rights drops 10 points. Tax rate declined by 4 percent. Spending on Spirituality drops 15 percent to zero.

4. "Oh Lord, please don't let our noble leader listen to these extremists!" prays your religious advisor, Randy Wilson. "Religion is an important guiding force in peoples' lives, but we have no right to force it on people. Atheists, since they don't have a religion, are less ethical and their actions cost society more, so it's only fair that they should be taxed more heavily to make up the difference."

Result: atheists are heavily taxed.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Spirituality increase marginally (less than 1 percent). On second test, confirms result.

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#071: Minority Group Demands Language Recognition

1. Aaron Broadside, your Minister of Culture, has nothing but disdain for the demonstrators. "The language of @@[email protected]@ is as important to our national identity as our history is. A truly erudite individual uses perfect grammar and refuses to speak as those ruffians do." Your Finance Minister is quick to chime in as well, "If business is required to print every road sign, instruction manual, and fast-food wrapper in two languages, it would increase everybody's overhead. That means higher prices for the person in the street."

Result: a National Academy regulates grammar and usage.

Civil rights drops one point. No change to tax rate. Spending on social policy drops 3 percent, majority going to education (2 percent increase). On second test, confirms result.

2."Smarker, but ee's gone blongie 'round the clonger! Trandy in the blang warked a newtie on the Cheebers, quaff me a duggle if it's brine. Sorky, hang our trandy high!" says Konrad Longbottom, speaking for the demonstrators, in an apparently rousing response that draws a cascade of cheers. After a few uncomfortable minutes with a professional translator, you find the speaker said, "I respectfully disagree with the Minister. Multilingualism has brought stability to richly-cultured nations such as Brancaland; indeed, I challenge you to provide a single counterexample. I encourage this government to adopt a policy of multilingualism throughout @@[email protected]@!"

Result: children are raised bilingual from an early age.

No change to trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on social policy and education each increase by 6 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. Billy du Pont, a radical opposition member who seems to tag along to every demonstration she can find, has her own proposal. "The language barrier is keeping us all apart. What @@[email protected]@ needs is a new identity defined by a new language that we can all agree on. That's unity without favoritism."

Result: the government is attempting to impose a new national language on the public.

Civil rights drops 10 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on social policy and education increase 1 percent each.

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#072: Widening Buttocks Cause Movie Theater Havoc

1. "Clearly, we have to do something about the expanding obesity problem in @@[email protected]@, er, no pun intended," remarks Louis Cruz of the National Health Bureau. "The government should implement an extensive exercise management program and make it mandatory that all citizens participate in some kind of exercise at least once a week."

Result: citizens rise at daybreak every day for mandatory exercise.

Civil rights decrease 3 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on healthcare increase 5 percent.

2. "Mandatory exercise! Get out! I don't have the time!" snorts nationally renowned TV chef Faith Ruff. "How about banning those greasy fast food joints and drive-thrus? I mean, seriously, if you can't get out of your stupid car to walk in and get a meal, how sad is that? Ban fast food and make junk food more expensive--that way, people will have to think about whether they really want to spend ten @@[email protected]@s on a snack cake."

Result: college students sell their most valuable possessions just to afford pizza.

Economy drops 2 points. Tax remains unchanged. Spending on Healthcare increase 2 percent and Industry decrease 2 percent.

3. "I don't see why it's anyone's business but my own how I kill myself," says Jessica Licorish, a pleasantly plump computer programmer, midway through a chili dog. "My weight is my own business, and if I don't feel like exercising, that's my choice. Sure, it'd be healthier to lose a few pounds, but my priorities lie elsewhere. Leave us alone, and we, the citizens of @@[email protected]@, will decide what's important to us and what we want to eat."

Result: city sidewalks are crowded with overweight people.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on healthcare drops 1 percent.

4. "What about government-funded liposuction?" asks Stan Broadside, while contemplatively chewing a mouthful of chili dog. "If I could get the fat sucked off of these hips, that would give me the willpower to stay thin. Obesity would be a thing of the past! Just think of it! Nothing but svelte, beautiful people everywhere! Ah, bliss!"

Result: the state subsidizes liposuction

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase 4 percent.

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#073: @@[email protected]@ - Without Cars, Going Nowhere Fast

1. "The government was being utterly stupid in banning cars, especially at the whim of a bunch of nutjob, tree-hugging bicyclists!" cries Chris Chandra, CEO of Coo' Stuff, Inc. "My workers are constantly late, they don't work as much because they have to leave early to walk or bike home... leaving this ban in place will only murder the economy!"

Result: the ban on cars has been repealed.

Economy jumps up by 11 points. Tax decreases 4 percent. Spending on public transport decreases 13 percent.

2. "Well, it's extremely difficult to drive my son to and from school and his after-school sports," comments soccer mom Aaron Wall. "But I don't want my boy inhaling all those icky fumes. I say bring back cars, but put some effort into finding cleaner fuels and the like! Who cares if it costs a small fortune?"

Result: the government is spending millions on alternative clean-burning fuels.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 3 percent. Spending on environment increases 8 percent. On second test, No change to trends. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on Environment increase 3 percent.

3. "What do they know?" whispers a strange woman clad all in green. "You ought to clamp down on these protesters. Without cars, the people are much easier for you to control, are they not?"

Result: anti-environmentalist protesters are gunned down without mercy.

Civil rights drops 5 points, Political freedoms drops 5 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 4 percent.

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#074: @@[email protected]@'s Racers Growing Fast And Furious

1. "If you don't let us race on real racetracks, then we'll just keep running on the roads at night!" says racing fans' favorite Emily Wong, at the wheel of a tricked-out Honda. "Would it kill you guys to build a couple of nice big race facilities? Think of the money you'd make on charging admission and selling drinks and stuff! And it'd be a lot safer than all of us tearing around on public roads! Forget about the people griping about the noise pollution!"

Result: the @@[email protected]@ Automotive Racing Series draws millions of spectators annually while those near the tracks complain about the noise.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "Don't tell me you plan to cater to these speed freaks!" police officer Xu Falopian comments over coffee and donuts. "Encouraging this sport is only going to increase the street racing problem because all these punks who can't afford to run the professional circuit are going to want to satisfy their lead feet the way they have been! What we need is more police funding to crack down on these punk hotrodders."

Result: police spend their Saturday nights breaking up illegal street races.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

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#075: Cutting Off Sex Offenders?

1. "That psychopath should be castrated!" cries rape victim Tobias du Pont, "The agony he put me through must be punished with a means that will ensure that no human being will ever go through what I did! If castration is used more often in these cases you will see rape drop to nothing!"

Result: sex offenders find themselves 'cut off' from any ability to repeat their crimes.

Civil rights increase 4 points (yes go up). Tax remains the same. Spending on law and order increases 2 percent. On second test, Civil rights went down 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "I understand that this is a terrible time for the poor victims in this case," says defense attorney Jean-Paul Laine, "However, the answer is not to revert back to the Dark Ages. Instead, we must focus on rehabilitation of all criminals in our prison system."

Result: re-education centers are being added to most prisons.

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare, edu, welfare increases 2 percent each. Spending on admin decreases 4 percent.

3. "Everyone knows re-education is a waste of money, we shouldn't go soft on these crooks!" says CEO Zeke Clinton of the People Trading Corporation. "Simply place all rapists and criminals in @@[email protected]@ into forced labor under the management of our company to serve out their sentences. When we're through with them, they won't even think of jaywalking, much less harming another person. We get cheap labor, and these crooks get put straight. Everybody benefits... well, except the crooks."

Result: convicted felons are forced into slavery for their crimes.

Civil rights drops 4 points. No other changes.

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#076: Suits in Protest

1. Pip Christmas, secretary of commerce, recommends you ignore these commies. "Free enterprise means not having to succumb to unions, and the world has enough unions already."

Result: Pinkerton agents are called in to forcibly break up white collar strikes.

No change to trends and tax rate. Spending on industry increases 3 percent.

2. Prudence Levy, secretary of labor, advises you to adjust laws to allow white-collar unions. "It only makes sense that all of the workers in our nation have equal opportunity to benefit from the advantages of collective bargaining."

Result: CEOs and corporate executives are frequently found striking for better stock options.

Economy drops 2 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. No change to spending. On second test, no change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

3. "Get these people out of the street!" advises Natalia Rikkard, local police chief. "They're blocking traffic, and making it impossible for the common man to drive to the megamall!"

Result: protests are prohibited from blocking traffic.

Political freedoms decrease 2 points. No change to taxes. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

4. Finally, Right Reverend Lucas Cohen proclaims, "The downtrodden are suffering at the hands of the MAN, and these wealthy upper shelf vice presidents are asking to make the rich richer and the poor poorer! The only reason the common worker needs a union is to be able to fight against the oppression of these slave drivers! It's ludicrous that these greedy scrooges are asking for even MORE money! Send them packing and raise taxes on the wealthy to bring more equality to our nation!"

Result: local executives are seen on the corner with cardboard signs reading "will oppress the masses for food".

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on social policy increase 1 percent.

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#077: World To End, Or Possibly Just Mark Anniversary (Easter Egg)

1. "Frankly, I saw this coming -- all the signs of the Apocalypse are here," says local community leader Renee Brown. "Moral standards are falling, the government is making increasingly erratic decisions, and people are neglecting their work to play bizarre political simulation games on the internet. There's only one sensible reaction: declaring a state of emergency, sending out the military, and shooting curfew breakers until the crisis is over."

Result: tens of thousands of revelers have been arrested for trying to celebrate the recent world anniversary (@@[email protected]@ has found X easter eggs).

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 1 percent.

2. "With respect, I don't think falling moral standards are the problem," says cubicle dweller and Slashdot karma god @@[email protected]@. "The issue is what's going to happen to our computers if the world clock ticks over from 0 to 1. This Y1 problem, as I call it, could be devastating for our IT industry unless it's tackled swiftly. And by tackled swiftly, I mean given a massive injection of public money."

Result: Over-inflated fears of a "Y1" bug have turned humble IT workers into millionaires (@@[email protected]@ has found 4 easter eggs).

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Industry increase 1 percent.

RE-TEST

3. "Why panic when you should be partying?" says Freddy Thiesen, not completely soberly. "It's the first birthday of the world, man -- let people go nuts! If the government has a shred of decency, they'll order the cops to back off and let people really enjoy this incredible moment in history."

Result: the nation is cleaning up after a national night of celebration left most people with headaches and dim memories (@@[email protected]@ has found 4 easter eggs).

Civil rights increased by 2 points. No other changes.

4. "This is neither a time for clamping down, nor, as they say, going off," says religious leader Jue Yuen Zenmaster. "Rather, we should encourage people to reflect on the great mysteries of life. For example, what is God, to each of us? What is the true meaning of faith? And is the world around us reality, or are we instead living inside a simulated reality that exists only for the amusement of beings we cannot even imagine?"

Result: residents firmly believe there is no spoon (@@[email protected]@ has found 4 easter eggs).

No observable changes.

5. "Well, I know what I'll be doing," says obscure author and Perl amateur Max Barry. "Sitting at home with a good book! Jennifer Government, for instance, is a cracking read. And I hear that some of the profits go into maintaining a cool web game. But of course, that's just my opinion. People should celebrate however they want."

Result: citizens are bleary-eyed after staying up all night with a good book (@@[email protected]@ has found 4 easter eggs).

No observable changes.

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#078: Easter Egg: Should We Pull The Lever?

1. "I've always wanted to see the apocalypse." says an elderly man on a park bench. "All that fire and brimstone. To see God's wrath. Something I can tell my grandchildren about later on. I say we should."

Result: thousands of cute furry kittens are trampling everything in their path (@@[email protected]@ has found 3 easter eggs).

No observable effects.

2. "Not on your life!" says his wife sitting next to him. "If you pull that lever, we'll have no grandchildren, no life, only heaven and hell. Don't you dare pull that lever."

Result: a doomsday device lays untouched in a public park (@@[email protected]@ has found 2 easter eggs)

No observable changes.

3. "Now, don't think of it as a do/don't option," says a hot dog vendor. "What if we give tours so that people can see the lever? Not to touch it of course, but to see that humanity can be ruined by such a contraption. We can make a profit."

Result: there is now a private sector based on doomsday devices (@@[email protected]@ has found 2 easter eggs).

No observable changes.

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#079: @@[email protected]@'s @@[email protected]@s: Going The Way Of The Dodo?

1. "This is an outrage!" shouts Mohammed Strange, outspoken member of the @@[email protected]@ Wilderness Protection Movement. "The government has to put a stop to the out of control hunting of our beloved @@[email protected]@. Do you want our children and grandchildren to miss witnessing the spectacle of wild @@[email protected]@ prancing freely in our forests?"

Result: the @@[email protected]@ is protected from hunting and slowly coming back from the brink of extinction.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increases 2 percent. Increases Eco-friendliness and Economic beauty. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Who cares what happens to some dumb wild pest?", scoffs Mary Han, employee of @@[email protected]@ National Lumber, "If they're endangered it's 'cause they were too weak to adapt. They probably deserve to be killed off. With them out of the way, we could clear-cut the forests @@[email protected]@ like to hide in, which would really boost the economy through the timber industry!"

Result: the @@[email protected]@ is reportedly extinct.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment drops 3 percent (to zero)

3. "Nature is hardly a black and white issue," Aaron Singh, a respected scholar, notes. "We should start a breeding program to help these creatures recover their numbers. We can display them in captivity, and gradually release them into the wild. Couple it with limiting, but not abolishing Animal hunting, and everyone benefits. Of course, @@[email protected]@s raised in captivity don't generally survive in the wild, but I'm sure we can find a way!"

Result: the only places to see @@[email protected]@s now are at local zoos.

No change to trends. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Environment increase 2 percent.

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#081: Close Encounters Of The Sci-fi Kind?

1. "This event proves one thing: there are other life-forms out there," says eccentric astronomer Naki Steele, "All we have to do is find them! What is the price of a few hundred Radio Telescopes compared to the benefit of living in peace and harmony with our brethren of the stars?"

Result: UFO sightings are listed daily in the morning news.

Economy goes up by 3 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on Industry go up 2 percent.

2. "Spies! It's gotta be spies! A few planes or satellites from our enemies or 'allies' in our region," rages General Samuel Shiomi, head of @@[email protected]@'s military, "The only way to keep those snoops out of our airspace is to patrol the streets 'n skies, and shoot 'em down! Even if they are some sort of little green aliens, a couple of SAM batteries and a few flak cannons'll keep 'em from abducting our crimson wolfs."

Result: birds and children's kites are regularly brought down by anti-aircraft fire.

Economy goes up by 1 percent. Tax increases 1 percent. Defense spending go up 1 percent.

3. "Extraterrestrial lifeforms? Alien invaders? I don't know why we even have to listen to such idiocy!" complains prize-winning physicist Hope Wall. "In my opinion, the idea of 'aliens' on another planet is highly unlikely, and even if they did exist, getting from there to here is technically impossible! I say we forget this nonsense and stop spending our tax @@[email protected]@s on it. Leave this sort of foolishness to the people who attend those 'trekkie' conventions."

Result: X-Files ratings have hit an all-time low.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#082: AI Researchers Rally For Android Rights

1. "Giving citizenship to computers and software programs is just downright crazy," says citizen Mohammed O'Bannon. "Who knows if they're even really alive? Just because some of them may look human doesn't mean they're equal to us. It could all just be imitation."

Result: only 'organics' are permitted to be citizens.

Political freedoms drops 8 points, Civil rights drops 7 points. No change to tax or spending. On second test, confirms result.

2. "These beings have just as much of a right to citizenship as the rest of us," argues civil rights activist Stephanie Gently. "True, we may not be able to tell if they're really 'alive', per se, but how can we tell that they aren't? But the androids should be put at the top of the list. At least we know that they have the same viewpoint as us humans."

Result: major internet servers have acquired citizenship.

Civil rights increase 4 points. No change to tax or spending. On second test, confirms result.

3. "This is craziness!" says Charles Yeats, a resident interviewed by the popular news show 'Talk o' the Town'. "It's just blasphemy, plain and simple! We're, like, playin' God here! It's evil, man, evil! What if they turned against us? All forms of AI should be banned, dudes."

Result: research into artificial intelligence has been banned.

Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax rate or spending. On second test, Political freedoms drops 3 points. Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax or spending.

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#083: High-Speed Monorail Service Promises Connections

1. "This is great," says Jessica Zhou, devout anti-spending advocate. "You know what'll happen? The government will invest huge sums of money in a service no one will use. I suggest nipping it in the bud... and cutting back government spending across the board while you're at it."

Result: government spending has hit an all-time low.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax rate reduces 6 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent,

2. "I disagree," says Al Lopez of Vroom-A-Zoom-Zoom Ltd. "If people are worried about the costs, why not let the monorail service be a private company? That way, it will have to compete with other industries and make a profit. And don't forget that'll bring in more tax revenue. Of course, that would make fares too pricey for a lot of people, but the rich would probably use it a lot!"

Result: only the wealthy can afford monorail fares.

No change to trends or tax (already at zero). Spending on public transport decrease 1 percent.

3. "I really disagree," says Rochelle Taffs, an unwashed denizen standing in the middle of Noh Weir, population 200, on the outskirts of @@[email protected]@. "The state must run the monorail service, otherwise it's useless. What a monorail system should do is connect both large and small cities, and the only way to do that is for the government to run the rails, using the profits from the larger cities to subsidize the routes for smaller ones."

Result: a vast monorail network carries people all over the country.

Economy drops (go down) 1 point. Tax increase 3 percent. Another surprise: Spending on Environment increases 4 percent (instead of admin or industry)

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#084: Compulsory Gun Ownership?

1. "This is a very important step to securing the rights and lives of our families and controlling the government," urges noted gun ownership proponent Anne-Marie Jefferson. "Not only would it significantly decrease crime, but it would also effectively stop government tyranny in its tracks. Of course, this also means that every wacko and their cousin will have a gun, but don't worry, you'll have a gun to defend yourself from them, so it will all work out."

Result: gun ownership is compulsory.

Civil rights go down 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on admin go up 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "While the Gun Owners of @@[email protected]@ have the safety and security of our people in mind, it would simply be impractical to enforce," comments Police Chief Akira O'Bannon. "A better option would be to legalize, and encourage use of, concealed carry laws, which would allow responsible citizens to keep firearms with them at all times, on their person, to kill any wacko or their cousin who they think is threatening them."

Result: citizens are permitted to carry concealed handguns.

Civil rights increases markedly by 18 points to a nation that had low CR. No other observable changes to tax rate or govt spending.

3. "Compulsory gun ownership?! Concealed carry?! Are these fools nuts?!" rants an enraged Million Mummy March activist. "We don't need any of these things! What we need is complete gun registration, so that the government can track down dangerous people, like those people who possess unregistered weapons."

Result: all guns must be registered.

Civil rights go down 1 point. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increase 3 percent.

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#085: Illegal File-Sharing Flares

1. "What we need to do is hack their computers and format their hard drives," says Charles Cho, recording industry representative. "People need to be taught to not mess with the law. This is theft, pure and simple. And they're not only halving our revenue to tune of billions of yens, but you are also stealing a few hundredths of a yen from the artist for every song they steal. THINK OF THE STARVING ARTISTS!"

Result: a cyber-war between file sharers and the music industry formats hard drives across the country.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

2. "Yo, dude, like, don't be hatin' man," says teenager Agnes Eliot. "We're like, going to change the whole structure of our society. Everything should be like, publicly available to, like, everybody, dude. Copyrights are so, like, uncool man and we need to get rid of them. That'd be totally radical, and cool as well."

Result: copyright laws have been abolished. >> GOOD THIS WIL OPEN UP NEW ISSUE 340

Civil rights increase 13 points, economy drops 11 points. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 3 percent.

3. "Yo, dang, blizzity blang, yo, this ain't, right, yo," says Ella Peters, famous rapper with three platinum albums. "Dang, yo, we dang need to copy-protect my dang CDs, yo. That dang playability life dang decreases, yo, but it's the only way to stop this, dang, yo."

Result: CDs are regularly copy-protected.

Economy drops 7 points, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent.

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#087: Burn! Burn Everything!

1. "We should be able to burn the flag as a sign of protest. I say ignore those crazy red-blooded fanatics who won't let us! After all it's because we are a tolerant nation that we should allow it!" says Brian Sparkle, civil rights activist, while accidentally immolating many nearby protesters.

Result: crowds of flag-burning protesters tend to accidentally become crowds of burning protesters.

Civil rights increase 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on law and order decreases 1 percent. On second test, Political freedoms increase 1 point. Tax and spending as above.

2."Burning should be allowed for everything! Down with the pig cops and their repressive regime!" says well-known anarchist and arsonist Anne-Marie Jones, from the comfy and non-flammable confines of a prison cell. "Burn! Burn burn burn! Everything! Kyahahaha!"

Result: the capital of @@[email protected]@ has burned to the ground and caused riots throughout the country.

Political freedoms go up dramatically by 6 points. No effects on civil rights. On second test, political freedoms go up dramatically by 18 points. No change to Civil rights. Tax rate drops 6 percent. Spending on Admin drops 4 percent.

3. "These barbarians are suggesting burning the flag of our glorious nation as if it were a piece of scrap cloth! First it's burning the flag, and before you know it, it's rebellion and anarchy!" Billy True scowls. "Flag burning should be punishable by jail terms and a good flogging!"

Result: people caught mistreating @@[email protected]@'s flag generally wind up in a great deal of pain.

Political freedoms drops 5 points. Tax rate increaes 1 percent. Spending on law and order increases 2 percent.

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#088: Cannibals Demand To Taste What @@[email protected]@ Has To Offer

1. "I see absolutely no problem with people digging into each other at dinnertime, so long as everyone is willing," William Barnes, the editor of the monthly magazine 'To Serve Man', quips, "Not only does it solve hunger problems and create jobs, but it also adds variety to @@[email protected]@'s sometimes dull palette."

Result: murder rates are on the rise as the popularity of soylent products grows.

Civil rights increase 8 points. No change to tax or spending. On second test, confirms result.

2. Civil rights leader Kayla Chen came out publicly for moderate pro-cannibalism legislation, commenting, "While it may strike some as a crude, even evil practice, our ancestors have practiced cannibalism for years. If we create a government organization to strictly regulate and grade all human meat prior to its arrival on the market, we can ensure that respect for diversity is maintained while health concerns are also allayed. And instead of killing average people, why not make being turned into snack foods a post-mortem option? Like donating your body to science!"

Result: soylent products are an expensive commodity due to a lack of volunteers.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increase 5 percent.

3. "You're all absolutely out of your minds!" exclaims Louis Levy, head of @@[email protected]@'s largest health-food manufacturer. "It's immoral, it's unhealthy, and it's disgusting. Not only are these so-called 'dietary rights' activists leading us down a dark path of sin, but right into a marketplace with yet another product that's almost as bad as beef!"

Result: there has been a series of riots between local cannibals and health food advocates.

Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax or govt spending (in a nation with no healthcare to start with). On second test, confirms result. (nation that has HC)

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#089: "Don't Dam Our Rivers, Damnit!" Say Protesters

1. "Don't build dams!" shouts protestor Lars Licorish through a microphone heavily afflicted with feedback. "Do you know how many fish die in other dams in our region each year? Have you heard of the adverse effects building a dam has on the surrounding environment? Dam up this flood of dams, damn it!"

Result: flash floods that dams could have controlled regularly ravage small towns in mountain valleys. >>GOOD THIS WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

No observable changes. Note test nation did not have spending on environment to start with. Done with second test, confirms result.

2. "Think before you open your mouth," says engineer Sean Washington. "While @@[email protected]@ may have to pay the price in animal diversity, as well as adverse effects on the environment, do we really want fossil-fuel based plants polluting @@[email protected]@? If you use your common sense, I think you'll find that damming some rivers would be a good idea. Plus, think of how much the economy would benefit from all the jobs these projects would create."

Result: scenic mountain valleys are flooded with water as damming projects get underway.

No change to trends. Tax reduces 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 1 percent.

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#090: Organic Outburst

1. "I just can't stomach it any more," rants concerned parent Steffan Li. "My children's future is being put at risk by irresponsible corporate practices. We must outlaw the use of pesticides and additives by farmers and food producers."

Result: all-natural foods are becoming a major fad.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

2. "I've heard enough of this treehugging, lefty nonsense," argues corporate spokesperson Jamil Barnes. "The agricultural industry needs to use the most advanced technology available, it's the only way to keep @@[email protected]@ competitive in food production. Besides, the studies we have commissioned prove that only a very small number of child deaths are due to our products, and surely that's an acceptable rate in the name of progress?"

Result: a survey of the nation's rivers and children has shown that pesticide levels are at an all-time regional high. >> GOOD THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP 235

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment drops 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

Death by heart disease increase 3 percent.

3. "Stop torturing Mother Earth!" yells outraged environmental extremist Mary Strange. "Are we prepared to sacrifice our planet and our souls for the sake of a few extra @@[email protected]@s? If we hope to live in harmony with the environment that nurtures and protects us, we must ban all industries that pollute our world. Let us return to the trees, my brothers!"

Result: people are moving into treehouses in record numbers.

Economy drops 10 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on industry drops 13 percent.

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#091: Sacramental Tax Time?

1. Self-appointed civil rights spokesman Klaus Steele declares, "Churches are business organizations with a large income. It's unfair that they don't have to pay the same taxes that everyone else does. If they really do spend on any money on charity, let them write it off as a deduction just like corporations do. There's no reason that so-called clergy should be chauffeured around in limos tax-free, when we desperately need funds for public works."

Result: religious organizations are being forced to leave the country or pay income taxes like everybody else.

Civil rights dropped by 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality decreased by 2 points.

2. "Freedom of conscience is foremost among liberties," says Reverend Sarah Han. "Churches have been exempted from taxation because it is wrong for the government to infringe on the right of people to worship as they please, and that includes charging them for the right to worship. Besides, churches are non-profit organizations that put all their funds back into the community."

Result: televangelists flaunt their expensive cars when they attend charity events.

Civil rights go up by 2 points. Tax rate go down (decrease) by 1 percent. No change to spending.

3. The Honorable Calvin de Castro, Minister of Minding Other People's Business, has an idea: "This religion thing is such a great racket, why don't we make it a government monopoly? We'll ban all religions except the Church of @@[email protected]@, and make attendance and donations compulsory. I'll start writing the Holy Scriptures right away!"

Result: membership in the state-owned Church of @@[email protected]@ is mandatory and all other faith organisations are banned.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 5 percent.

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#092: @@[email protected]@ Officials Needled About Mandatory Vaccinations

1. Jean-Paul Usman, a pro-vaccination taxpayer, says "If a doctor thinks a vaccination is good for you then you should have it. All these people turning them down are know-it-alls that are wasting my tax money. Or they're really afraid of needles."

Result: people faint regularly as they get stuck with compulsory vaccinations.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 1 point. Spending on HC increase 1 percent.

2. Thomas Barry, who recently refused a vaccination, says that vaccines must remain completely optional: "Anything else is a breach of human rights. Doctors are not always right!" she says. "I'm perfectly capable of deciding what is best for my body!"

Result: the state pays for care of easily preventable illnesses.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare increase 1 percent.

3. Efthamia Adalah, @@[email protected]@'s leading expert on health spending, suggests a third way. "Leave vaccines optional but make free health care conditional on having them. That way people get to choose, and it will help ease the load on our national healthcare budget."

Result: only vaccinated citizens may have free healthcare.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Healthcare drops 2 percent.

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#093: Affirmative Action in @@[email protected]@?

1. "This is just another attempt to discriminate against people of color," declares civil-rights activist, former TV commentator and unabashed publicity speaker George W. Longbottom. "If people are disadvantaged in their upbringing then they should be given an 'equal' chance to succeed in college."

Result: colleges adhere to rigid ethnic quotas for admissions.

No effect on trends. Tax rate go up by 1 percent. Spending on social policy go up by 4 percent.

2. "The affirmative action programs aren't necessary at all," rejoins conservative speaker and hair care product salesman Jazz Jong-Il. "If you really want to treat everyone equally, as you claim, how can you support special treatment for a few so-called minority groups? Besides, it would cost even more money to enforce."

Result: ethnic minorities are often refused admission to some of the nation's best schools.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on social policy decreases by 5 percent.

3. "I think you are both looney," says Buy Jong-Il, professor of liberal arts at @@[email protected]@ National University. "All education should be open to everyone regardless of their grades in high school, economic status or academic prowess. Free college education should be available to every citizen of @@[email protected]@, no matter what the cost!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s educational system is the envy of many and regarded as a pinnacle of academic achievement.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 3 percent. Spending on social policy increases 5 percent, and education increases 9 percent with reduction on all others.

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#094: Computer Users Fed Up With Heaps of Spam!

1. "The spam problem is out of control," states anti-spam advocate Beth Hamilton. "I get at least fifty spam e-mails a day. That isn't even counting the spam people are posting to my newsgroup and to my messageboard. This junk is a waste of time in that I have to delete it and a waste of my money in that I have to buy anti-spam programs-which hardly work anyway. People get swindled by this stuff - it should be a crime, just like regular fraud."

Result: the government spends millions of @@[email protected]@ every year prosecuting spammers.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate go up 2 percent. Spending on law and order increase 8 percent.

2. "A ban on all spam is a restriction on our freedom of speech and on the freedom of the press!" screams George W. Christmas president of Citizens for Internet Freedom. "What is the government to say what is and isn't commercial spam? Could they haul charity representatives off to jail for seeking donations? Could they jail politicians for using e-mail to try and gain votes? Could they arrest me if I accidentally send my erotic novel-in-progress to the wrong address? Seriously, spamming is a subjective offense and as such should not be considered a crime."

Result: computer users are buried daily in thousands of unsolicited emails.

Civil rights increase by 1 point. No change to tax or spending pattern. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Both sides are wrong," grumbles government paper-pusher Steffan Utopia. "Spam is definitely a problem, yet so is the restriction on freedoms which some draconian anti-spam codes would impose. I propose a ban on overtly fraudulent spam, and a tax on more legitimate businesses that rely on spam as an advertising method, and a strict legal definition of spam that would ensure no innocent person was prosecuted or taxed."

Result: the government is making attempts at curtailing the flood of spam emails with little progress.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on law and order go up 2 percent.

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#095: Painful Prices Paid At The Pump

1. "Who cares about a few trees?" says oil executive Elizabeth Winters. "Gas prices are six yens per gallon, and rising! There is lots of oil to be found in areas currently protected as parks! Solving our energy needs is more important than conserving the environment. Just give us permission to go in there and start drilling, and gas prices will plummet!"

Result: pristine wilderness has been trashed in the quest for cheaper oil.

No change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "There are other ways to recover from the fossil fuel crisis besides ruining forests," says environmental activist Stefanie de Vries. "We shouldn't just take the short way out and drill here. I suggest spending more money on public transportation systems and encouraging people to carpool - if people weren't so reliant on fossil fuel powered cars, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place, and if we start using less oil, the price will drop with the demand."

Result: the government is spending millions on renovating the public transportation system.

No change to trends. Tax increases by 2 percent. No change to spending. On second test, No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 2 percent, and spending on Public transport increase 4 percent.

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#096: Water Supply Problems Becoming A Major Drain

1. "We need this water to raise our crops," says incensed farmer Beth Longfellow. "If it wasn't for us farmers, the rest of @@[email protected]@ would be starving. How about laying the blame where it belongs, and look to those cookie cutter suburban houses with their green lawns and pristinely washed mini-vans!"

Result: major cities are suffering under water rationing. >>PICK THIS OPTION FOR NOW

Economy drops 2 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Law and Order increase by 2 percent, administration increase by 3 percent, welfare decrease by 4 percent, industry decrease by 3 percent, Education increase by 2 percent.

2. "It is my right to have the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood," says neighborhood spokesman Steffan Jones. "Our community spends a lot of effort cultivating a nice environment for our kids to grow up in. Why, if they didn't have these nice lawns to play in, they would be hanging out on street corners peddling drugs, or worse! Won't someone please think of the children?"

Result: suburban families are finding themselves increasingly short on food as they waste precious water on their lawns.

Tax rate increases by 1 percent. No change to trends or spending pattern.

3. "Here is a novel idea," proclaims Erica Johnson, spokesperson for radical environmental group Leave Nature Alone. "How about getting rid of all these dams and irrigation projects that are getting in the way of Mother Nature's plans for the water. It is time to allow the rivers to take their natural courses and leave the environment alone. I'm sure things will work out fine if we let Nature take its course."

Result: riots have broken out as a water shortage threatens @@[email protected]@'s stability.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on environment decrease 3 points.

4. "Obviously, who gets how much water is only a part of the problem," notes famed population-control advocate Steffan Broadside. "We must try to curtail the rapid growth of our population, whether by limiting the amount of children people may have, or by deporting immigrants and criminals... we must get a handle on our population before we can hope to correct this water supply problem."

Result: crooks and people with too many kids are being kicked out of the country.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to others.

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#097: Landfills Filling Up

1. "Look at that thing!" wails famous environmentalist Melbourne Spirit, pointing at one of @@[email protected]@'s largest dumps. "It's an eyesore, a pollutant, and a damn disgrace! What we need to do is get everyone recycling their waste! What we have left we can shoot into space in specially-made space shuttles and we'll never have to think about it again! Sure it'll be expensive, but considering the benefits to the great outdoors, I think we should consider it."

Result: space shuttles regularly launch rubbish into space.

No change to trends. Tax increases by 3 percent. Spending on Environment increases 2 percent.

2. "Ah, the expense!" moans Jacob Chen, government economist. "Do you have any idea what that would cost?! A much better way of dealing with this waste is to burn it and use the energy it produces to power @@[email protected]@'s big cities. There may be a few side-effects on the environment, but with all the cheap power coming in who would care?"

Result: cities are engulfed by smog.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 8 percent.

3. "Oh come now," says Marleen de Vries, a nearby suburbanite. "There's no need to bring all the pollution into the cities! These dumps can get a whole lot bigger you know. Just keep piling the rubbish on and we can use them as tourist attractions or something. People will flock to see how high they can climb our artificial mountains! If we run out of space, just knock down a few forests. No one will notice."

Result: many of the country's largest dumps can be seen from space.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment decrease 2 percent.

4. "You're all missing the real solution," argues Zack Winters, president of the '@@[email protected]@ First!' society. "Why should we bother building landfills at all? I'm sure that there are plenty of less-fortunate countries out there who would be more than happy to take our litter in return for some cash."

Result: waste is frequently shipped to other countries.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on environment increase 9 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#098: Police Want More Than Shiny Badge

1. "It's outrageous," says Chief Constable Megan de Vries. "This horrible situation could have been sorted out a lot faster if we had had the right equipment! Even the poorest criminals can buy better arms than us! We need more funds - if we have to take a bit of cash off the education and healthcare budgets to pay for it all then so be it!"

Result: police officers are seen patrolling the streets armed with satellite-guided truncheons.

No change to trends. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 8 percent. Take only from Healthcare and Edu budgets.

2. "I agree with my friend here," says zealous lance-corporal Ivan Yeats. "But let's go further. Let's create a new anti-crime group with special training and expensive - er - extensive new equipment! That would make the criminals think twice before breaking the law! Especially if our new forces can shoot miscreants at first sight without messing around with time-consuming trials."

Result: citizens are regularly shot for parking on the double-yellow line.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 11 percent, drops from Education 6 percent and Health care 5 percent. The rest no drops.

3. "Hey, hey!" cries anti-gun protester, Britney Shiomi. "You can't be serious! Weapons kill! Everyone knows that if there were no weapons there'd be no criminals; and if there are no criminals, we won't need to waste valuable government funds on the police! In fact, I say we should go as far as doing away with them altogether! I don't see them doing anything useful anyway, except try to stop our demonstrations! Ban guns! Ban the police! Live for a better tomorrow!"

Result: the streets are plagued with knife-wielding madmen.

Political freedoms go up 11 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on L&O drops 29 points to zero.

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#099: We Need Cash, Sharpish, Say Librarians

1. "Our libraries are in a dreadful state," says distressed librarian, Fanny Wong. "This year we had to cancel our subscription to 'Playboy' and over half of our shelves are stacked with pamphlets from the Pizzeria across the road. We need more books and better standards. If there were more perks in this job then maybe we'd get some decent employees! If it needs a whole lot of government funds to pay for it all then so be it!"

Result: libraries are now installed with jacuzzis and mini-bars.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 4 percent.

2. "Now hold it right there!" says manager of the local MEGA-BOOKS store, Agnes Nagasawa. "I employ twenty-four people and we are dependent upon people paying us money to buy books, magazines and newspapers from my store. How can you even think about giving our tax loves to these people so they can put us out of business? 'Course poor people won't be able to afford our wares but they'd only use them for fires or somethin'. Let our libraries die."

Result: books are considered luxuries only available to the incredibly wealthy.

Economy goes up 2 points. Tax reduces 1 percent. Spending on Edu and Social policy each decreases 2 percent.

3. "I'm all for giving our libraries more money," says Education Minister, Tobias Harishchandra. "But we certainly shouldn't just let them spend it however they please. We need an elected board to oversee all purchases and acquisitions made by our library system, promoting educational literature and keeping out smut. That way we can keep nudity out of the hands of children. We can make sure none of those political satires and newspapers that insult our government affect the weak-minded amongst us too. Then our libraries will be something to be proud of."

Result: all writing must pass a censorship board before being allowed on the shelves.

Political freedoms drops 2 points, Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 2 percent.

4."Great Scot! I've got it!" exclaims Howard de Groot, your science advisor. "Why do we need these brick and mortar buildings anyway? Let's just scan all these books, newspapers and magazines onto the internet and then we can fire all those expensive librarians with their pensions and healthcare benefits. Think of the money we'd save if we didn't have to print everything! Sure it'll be tough on the librarians and those with no computers but hey, this is the future and they are the past."

Result: libraries are bulldozed to make way for internet cafés.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Education decreases 2 percent. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education drops 2 percent.

(This option's education spending trajectory was changed - following report to NS Issue Moderators. Re-tested to confirm)

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#100: Road Rage Rampage

1. "The problem is that our highway system is sorely in need of an overhaul," claims social commentator Prudence Dimitrov. "@@[email protected]@'s highways were constructed with a far smaller number of cars in mind, and we've exceeded that traffic load by a substantial amount, resulting in traffic jams. Traffic jams lead to impatience, impatience leads to anger, anger leads to road rage, and road rage leads to violence. We need to expand the freeway system by adding more lanes to relieve the traffic congestion."

Result: traffic jams are a common sight due to construction work from a massive overhaul of the nation's freeways.

No change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on public transport increase 9 percent.

2. "You add new lanes, even MORE people will drive, putting us right back at square one!" counters Elaine Lee of @@[email protected]@'s public transportation committee. "Instead of throwing tons of money at a short-term solution, why not spend it on improving bus and rail service and encouraging carpooling? Oh, and get more highway patrol officers to crack down on these violent drivers who pose safety threats to the rest of us."

Result: the government has started a campaign to crack down on road rage and encourage alternate means of commuting.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

3. "*BLEEP!* that *BLEEP!*" Catherine Gratwick yells at the top of her lungs from the window of her very large pickup truck with a gun rack mounted in the rear window. "The government should just *BLEEP!*ing stay out of our daily *BLEEP!*ing drive! They ought to let us *BLEEP!*ing rushed businesspeople go about our daily *BLEEP!*ing business, no matter what *BLEEP!*ing measures we have to take to get to *BLEEP!*ing work on time!"

Result: it's a common sight to see angry commuters with grenade launchers mounted on their vehicles.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. No change to spending.

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#101: Tiara Sign Of Oppression, Declare Feminists

1. "These beauty pageants are a disgrace to women everywhere!" shouts feminist campaigner, May Chicago. "They objectify the female body and re-enforce negative stereotyping! They celebrate the appearance instead of the personality! What message is this sending out to our children? Do we want them to think shallowness and vanity are virtues? Ban beauty contests! We must focus the education of our progeny on ethics and equality or suffer the consequences!"

Result: all beauty contests have been banned.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on social policy increases 4 percent, education increases 3 percent.

2. "I agree that the pageants should be banned," pontificates renowned moralist, the Ever So Slightly Reverend Randy Chandra. "But purely in the name of moral decency! All those fashion stores that sponsor these contests make lots of money from this blasphemy and that is just plain wrong! These women wear revealing clothing that seek to entice and seduce young men. As such, we should go a step further, and institute a dress code! Long, plaid skirts for the girls, with necklines that never drop below the base of the neck! Only then will the women of our nation be cleansed of sin!"

Result: women who display their ankles are shunned by society.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 9 percent.

3. "What in the name of all that's decent and good are you talking about?" exclaims Zack Han, leader of the egalitarian civil rights movement 'Everyone Is Equal, Dammit'. "Obviously these pageants will always be sexist unless they're open to everyone. Admiring women only for their beauty is an insult to their intelligence and the beauty of men! It's dually sexist! Open up the pageant to both sexes!"

Result: Max Barry is this year's Miss @@[email protected]@.

Civil rights increase 7 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on social policy increase 7 percent.

4. "Agh, no, no boys please, let's just host the pageant as is, alright?" implores Catherine Gratwick, one of @@[email protected]@'s most celebrated models. "No matter what you people think, appearance is important! Mine allows me to pay for all the dresses I want! So no, I don't think there's anything wrong with telling kids that you can make money from being pretty. In fact, I think beauty contests should be held at schools every year!"

Result: vanity is considered the fifth cardinal virtue.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#102: For Whom The Road Tolls

1. "Similar schemes have been very effective elsewhere," says Erica Bronte, @@[email protected]@'s most infamous traffic warden. "It's common sense that the best way to curb dangerously high demand is to raise the price of the supply - or, as in this case, to create a price. Charging citizens to go into more congested areas could, combined with the improvements to public transport it will finance, actually make people choose public transport over their cars. I don't see why people shouldn't pay tax for a little less traffic on our roads."

Result: motorists must pay to enter inner-cities during peak hours.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Public transport increases 7 percent, minor decreases on others but major decrease on Social policy.

2. "These tolls are a preposterous idea," argues road lobbyist, Sashona Falopian. "Public transport will never replace the car - I don't want to be forced to share my space with a bunch of malodorous working-class people on my way to work. Not that I would be, because I could afford the charge, but really, it's the principle of the matter! The only solution is to expand urban road networks. True, some pavements and green spots would have to go, but those pedestrians should be able to put up with that if they're to expect @@[email protected]@ to be part of the modern world."

Result: new urban roads are threatening city parks.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease (yes go down) by 1 percent. Spending on environment decreases 7 percent.

3. "Allowing cars to scoot around and pollute our cities was a bad idea in the first place," says Hope Khan, a famous environmentalist. "The solution is to restrict private transport to main roads and motorways whilst funding a major urban public transport scheme. Our buses and undergrounds could be the envy of the world! Yes, the car companies will suffer a little, and yes, there'll be a bit more tax, but wouldn't it be worth it for a bit of fresh air and safe streets for the children?"

Result: cars are banned from built-up areas.

Economy surprisingly increased 1 point. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on transport increase 11 percent.

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#103: Plague Of The Hybrids!

1."This unholy union should never have taken place to begin with," comments Emily Thiesen, an angry farmer. "The @@[email protected]@ was never meant to mate with a dog! They eat my crops, they attack my livestock and they're breeding so quickly they're swamping the environment! We can't make a living like this! You've got to give us the funds and manpower to shoot anything that comes within a mile of our property and put an end to these freaks of nature! We must wipe these creatures out now or before you know it all we'll be eating is fish."

Result: wildlife near farms is slowly becoming extinct.

Economy go up 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Environment drops 2 percent, go to Industry.

2. "We can't just destroy these creatures!" exclaimed Ruby Winters, owner of @@[email protected]@'s biggest safari park. "They may look ugly to you, but I think they're just beautiful. We need to study them and understand them; think of what we could learn! These wonderful beasts may be a little harmful to the environment, but think of the people who will flock to see them! It would be an educational experience! Think of the money!"

Result: bizarre-looking creatures called '@@[email protected]@dogs' dominate wildlife preserves.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 4 percent.

3. "We could always just kill off all the @@[email protected]@," Ali Steele of the "Keep The Species Pure" foundation whispers to you in a conversation. "The @@[email protected]@ is one of the many things our country is famous for; any perversion of its image reflects upon us all! We can't have their image spoilt by these ugly abominations! Just get the police to go around and kill them all and we can rest easy knowing our countryside is safe!

Result: @@[email protected]@ populations thrive as dogs are slaughtered in the millions.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Environment and L&O both increase 2 percent.

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#104: Public Loudspeakers Shrill With Controversy

1. "This idea is brilliant, and @@[email protected]@ can't afford to pass it up," claims Hillary Johnson, your Minister of Safety. "These loudspeakers can assure the public that the government is always here to help them. The potential here, to immediately warn citizens of an emergency such as an earthquake or a stampede of @@[email protected]@ or something, simply must be taken into account! This could save lives! And I suppose, when there isn't anything the citizens need to be told, you could always use them to broadcast patriotic messages like '@@[email protected]@' and inform the good people which party to join and vote for with newsbriefs and such. It'll be worth it to strengthen the populace's devotion to our glorious nation!"

Result: public loudspeakers constantly tell citizens they are "happy people".

Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax rate increases 4 percent. Spending on admin increases 5 percent.

2. "I think people need to realise what this really is: brainwashing!" retorts Charles Taffs, a wealthy marketer. "I don't want to hear all this flag-waving hogwash every time I go out for a walk. But when it comes to emergencies, I do agree that something should be done to warn everyone: we should send out messages on mandatory miniature radios that you can carry in your pocket. It could tell you things you need to know too, like what shoes to buy and such."

Result: citizens are bombarded with advertising from their compulsory miniature radios.

Economy rises 12 points. No drops to CR. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry go up 5 percent.

3. "To be honest, I can't see why we should put up with advertising at all," says Robin Mombota, an anti-business protester. "All it is is some multi-billionaire or politician somewhere trying to make even more money while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. I say we ban it. Maybe the economy will suffer a little and some people may lose jobs but that's just a minor side-effect really, especially when you consider that no longer will our children be encouraged to fill themselves with junk-food because some guy on the telly tells them it's cool!"

Result: all forms of advertising are banned.

Economy drops 12 points, Political freedoms drops 5 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. No change to spending.

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#105: Compensation Culture Must End, Say Corporations

1. "It's crazy!" cries Abraham Wall, CEO of Sharp 'n' Pointy Things Incorporated. "These people should simply not be allowed to put the blame on us if they mindlessly abuse our products! I'd have thought it would be common sense not to stick your hand in a blender to 'see if it was working properly'. We need to outlaw these ridiculous lawsuits so I can get on with my business and those working in the law profession can get on with theirs."

Result: corporations cut costs by taking away safety-features on their products.

No change to economy. Tax rate drops by 1 percent. Welfare spending increases 1 percent.

2. "I'm almost inclined to agree," muses Jean-Paul Frederickson, a nearby firefighter. "People really should know better than to dry their cats in the microwave oven. But it's also that microwave oven that should not start a fire if one leaves it running overnight. Let's just put higher national safety standards in place that all products must be certified to meet. The extra expense shouldn't worry people if it's the difference between life and death after all."

Result: every product goes through extensive safety-testing by the government.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on admin increase 2 percent.

3. "There's nothing wrong with victims getting a little money for the damage they've suffered," claims Harry Wall, @@[email protected]@'s most notorious lawyer. "In fact we should be increasing court capacities so everyone with a complaint to file won't have to wait long before they can get before a judge. Sure it'll be expensive to implement, but maybe then the manufacturers will think twice before selling their unsafe junk without explaining things clearly in the manuals!"

Result: manufacturers are sued for almost anything not covered in their catalogue-sized manuals.

Economy drops 12 points. Tax rate increases 6 percent. Spending on admin go up by 9 percent.

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#106: Give The Red Light District The Green Light?

1. "I just can't get a girl no matter what I do," laments acne-afflicted nerd, Sarah Woolf. "If the cops would just look the other way about prostitution, it'd make my life much easier. Yeah, I'd be risking all sorts of diseases, but it's my body isn't it?"

Result: sales of fishnet stockings have reached a record high.

Economy increases 3 points, civil rights increases 2 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on L&O decreases 3 percent.

2. "We can't allow this to happen!" protests Dr. Buy Schultz, senior pathologist of @@[email protected]@'s largest hospital. "Prostitution is a dangerous business and must remain illegal! People need to be more aware of the consequences that could follow like the risk of contracting HIV, chlamydia, or even syphilis. I say we get some funding for a large awareness programme on sexually transmitted diseases and maybe then people will act responsibly between the covers. It'll be expensive sure, but well worth it."

Result: an enormous health awareness programme is underway.

No changes to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increases 3 percent.

3. "Not so fast now!" interjects daring entrepreneur, Hack Nguyen. "Why don't we just have the prostitution industry run by the government? By letting the government regulate prostitution, @@[email protected]@ can force any patrons to undergo tests for diseases, make prostitutes have regular medical check-ups and pay a portion of their profits to the government. Of course we'd still have to put more policemen on the streets to keep illegal brothels from popping up and make sure the hospitals are equipped to handle the extra workload, but you can always raise taxes to account for that."

Result: government-run brothels can be found on every street corner.

No change to trends. Income tax increase 2 percent. Spending on healhcare increase 2 percent, welfare drops 2 percent, education drops 1 percent, L&O increase 2 percent.

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#107: Private Lab Holds @@[email protected]@'s Sick To Ransom

1. "This pill is the only known and unknown cure for the Spon Plague!" proclaims Professor Naki Mistletoe, the inventor of the cure. "But if we are to go ahead with the production of this drug, we must get some government support. We're set to make a fortune from this drug - the money we earn will help us develop even more cures for other as-yet untreatable diseases. Some people won't be able to afford it of course, but hard cheese on them: they should have got a paying job while they were still capable."

Result: only the rich can afford the latest medical innovations.

Civil rights go UP by 1 point, surprisingly. No other observable changes.

2. "That's a disgraceful way to think!" says equal rights activist, Naki Longfellow. "So the people who need the most help shouldn't get any? I propose that the government subsidises the production of all drugs so everyone can benefit from them, rich or not! That way the money-hungry corporations won't profit from the suffering of the masses. Of course there will be the matter of a small tax rise to fund it - but what's that when lives will be saved?"

Result: pharmacies close down as medicinal drugs are sold freely by the government.

Economy drops by 3 points, no change to civil rights or political freedoms. Tax rate increases by 2 percent. Looks like a pretty bad deal overall. Spending on Industry drops by 5 percent while Health care increases by 8 percent.

3. "I can't believe what I'm hearing," deplores well-respected religious leader, Samuel Fellow. "If God didn't want people to have this disease he wouldn't have created it in the first place. This is completely against the will of God and if the government allows this drug to go on sale we will all be doomed to an afterlife in a dark and fiery place! Now let's end this madness and abolish the production of pharmaceuticals and drugs altogether!"

Result: the religious lobby has the power of veto over health initiatives.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare drops 6 points, go to Spirituality. On second test, Civil rights drops 6 points, Economy drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Healthcare drops 4 points, go to Spirituality.

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#108: Gambling Interests Offer High Stakes

1. "We are highly distressed at your decision to revoke our casino licences," says FamilyCorp. Representative "Fat Tony" Colin Cruz, sipping a glass of fine wine. "If the ban were to be revoked, think of all the money you could get from your cut of the profit. In addition, it would help ensure the safety of assorted members of @@[email protected]@'s government. I think this is an offer that you should not refuse."

Result: rumor has it that the government was paid off by the mob to allow casinos to reopen.

Economy increase 7 points. Tax rate drops 2 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "These casinos cannot be allowed to reopen!" says Jazz Barry, an ex-gambling addict. "Remember what happened last time? People get out of control and lose their life's savings! Just say no to these so-called legitimate businesses! And crack down on the rest of organized crime while you're at it."

Result: the mob and the police have recently had numerous clashes in the back alleys of @@[email protected]@'s cities due to the government's steadfast anti-casino stance.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "There is a solution to this problem," says Native @@[email protected]@ite chief [email protected]@NATIONAL [email protected]@. "You could let us front the casinos as payback for stealing our land, and we'll enforce age limits and pay some tax on the income these casinos generate. Just think of the jobs it could create for us, and the boost to the economy!"

Result: gambling addicts regularly lose their families' nest eggs at Native @@[email protected]@nite casinos.

Economy increases 15 points. Tax rate reduces 2 percent. No change to spending.

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#109: Karate Kids Cause Controversy

1. "What better way to keep kids off of the streets?" asks Henry Frederickson, a professional judo instructor. "It's fun, good exercise and gives an invaluable insight into our nation's culture! It gives these youngsters something positive to channel their energy into; energy that might have otherwise been used to rob banks or mug people in alleyways. But self-defence programmes like mine will need government funding to really make a difference - surely the public wouldn't mind paying a little more tax to put an end to the gangs of yobs prowling the streets?"

Result: the government helps teach children how to kill a man from six paces.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education and Welfare increase marginally. On second test, no change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increases marginally.

2. "It's a good idea, but it's not taking it far enough!" declares General Leonard Bronte of @@[email protected]@'s army. "If we could conscript these kids into the army, we'd be able to put their skills to good use! No one would mess with @@[email protected]@ if we had a butt-kickin' karate unit on the battlefield! It may be a little expensive but we can just take money out of the education budget since these kids will be under our tuition. Their families may not be happy about it, but remember this: these young lads will be getting to do something which is the envy of every hot-blooded citizen - fight for their country against blood-sucking foreigners!"

Result: the army's shirt ninjas are the most feared assassins in the region.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase marginally (less than 1 percent), drop on Education.

3. "This is ridiculous!" comments police officer, Megan de Jong. "Teach junior thugs how to fight? Good idea, why don't we teach them how to make bombs out of duct-tape and cheese next? I say we ban this archaic mode of combat which only serves to encourage these punks in their violent ways, and introduce more government funding for the police force! With more cash we could really show the little blighters what discipline's all about."

Result: the use of martial arts is banned.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

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#110: Too Low On Laws, Say Citizens

1. "We've got to do something about this chaos!" yells General Erica Springs, firing a rifle at a band of armed looters. "There's no order in this country! No one is safe! We must rebuild the army and crack down on the militant groups ravaging our fair land! It's the only way we will ever return the cesspit of crime and depravity @@[email protected]@ has become to a land of law and order!"

Result: the army is returning some law and order to the streets.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent.

2. Returning fire, both figuratively and literally, is Anne-Marie Song, biker gang leader and anarchist: "That there's anyone claiming to be a government is ludicrous. People should be allowed to determine their own fate and survival without fear of breaking these inhibiting laws! All government officials should be removed at once if this country is ever to become well and truly 'equal'!"

Result: the land is famous throughout the region for its rampant lawlessness.

Political freedoms increase 17 points. Economy increase 18 points. Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax drops 16 percent. Spending on Admin drops 11 percent (to zero), all other increase proportionately including L&O

3. "I've got a different idea," says Al Plath, your minister of commerce, speaking from his hiding place under a desk. "Television viewers in more developed countries actually like seeing gratuitous violence. We could put up cameras in some of the more dangerous streets and sell the broadcasting rights to foreign networks. It could raise awareness of our situation, or at the very least rake in some hug. The money could be used to fund a more organised police system to enforce the law."

Result: 'Anarchy in @@[email protected]@!' is a popular TV program in foreign countries.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Industry increased marginally (test nation had no LO spending to begin with). Stats on Safety, Safety from Crime, and Law Enforcement all increased.

RE-TEST

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#111: Southern @@[email protected]@ Demands Semi-Autonomy

1. "The government is too centralised," complains rural villager, Klaus Wu. "We get these big-city politicians making rulings that affect our way of life, when they have absolutely no idea what our way of life is! One of them even suggested that farmers should be banned from picking crops in case they disturbed the local wildlife! What we need are various councils to govern their own part of @@[email protected]@, giving us the chance to have our say on laws affecting our area. It'll bring politics to the people! Of course this will require the implementation of a council tax to fund it all, but if that's the cost of more political freedom, then so be it!"

Result: councils up and down the country wrangle over legal matters.

Political freedoms increase by 11 points. Tax rate increases by 5 percent. Spending on admin increase by 5 percent.

2. "Councils? Are you mad?" gasps political commentator, Samuel Frederickson. "Most of the politicians we already have earn very large sums each year - and you want to employ even more?! We must not listen to the whims of some dangerous separatist movement; next they'll be wanting independence! I suggest we keep the government in one place where we can keep an eye on it and stop creating more jobs for over-paid politicians. Heck, why not trim off the ones we don't need while we're at it and give some leeway to the taxpayers? Anyway, if we allowed places like West @@[email protected]@ to make decisions for themselves, they would soon be introducing laws allowing them to marry their cousins or something - you know what they're like..."

Result: politicians are losing their jobs in a plan to make the government 'leaner and fitter'.

Political freedoms decrease by 4 points. Tax rate decrease by 4 percent. Spending on admin decrease by 6 percent. >> GOOD THIS OPTION MAY- OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

3. "These people are obviously power-hungry lunatics," whispers Stefanie True, one of your innumerable advisors. "They're simply trying to loosen your grip on the nation! Let's just send anyone who opposes your absolute rule to the gallows and ban elections. We hardly need them when you always know what to do! There may be some protest, but we can just lower taxes and they'll be as happy as clams."

Result: protesters against the government are hanged as a warning to others.

Political freedoms drops a whopping 41 points. Tax rate drops 3 percent. No change to spending pattern on nation already high on admin.

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#112: Put The Phone Down On Cold Calling?

1. "This has to stop," says mild-mannered parent Matilda Christmas. "My family can't even have dinner without being interrupted at least five times by telemarketers or door-to-door salesmen! My privacy is being invaded! The government ought to ban all forms of unrequested solicitations from salespeople. The sanity of the populace is at stake here!"

Result: a ban on unsolicited cold calling in all forms is in effect.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax increases 2 percent. No change to spending.

2. "This must be a joke," retorts insurance sales solicitor Johann Rubin, in between cold calls. "Telemarketing and door-to-door sales are some of the most effective methods of increasing revenues. Banning them would be a huge blow to business, and put thousands of workers out of their jobs! Let's face the facts - @@[email protected]@ needs an economy, and banning cold calls isn't the best of ways to improve it! One way you could improve it would be to, say, give us some government funds. For the sake of @@[email protected]@, of course."

Result: door-to-door salesmen are frequently beaten up by 'vigilantes'. >> THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Economy increases 1 point, Civil right drops 6 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry increases 6 percent.

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#113: Test Results Deemed 'Ungood' After Global Survey

1. "These results are terrible!" wails Max King, a concerned teacher. "Something has to be done, and done quickly, if anyone's going to take today's youth seriously. It's high time we started to promote our gifted children; it is they who are the ones that bring us forward! The rest of today's youth shouldn't worry though, a basic education should be enough for a factory worker."

Result: the government funds private schools for intellectually gifted children.

Civil rights drop by 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on education decreases 2 percent, while that on welfare increase by 1 percent.

2. "This is indeed a problem, and I believe it's a result of the social inequality in @@[email protected]@," comments Jack Rubin, a well-known social reformer. "It is obvious that students from different social classes will score differently in the tests. We can't condemn all these kids to a life of inferiority because of a gifted minority. Instead we should make sure that everyone can follow the lessons! Lower the teaching level, so that even the less intellectually-orientated can keep up with the class. The nerds can always teach themselves; it would be unfair to provide them with extra funds after all."

Result: children have only the most basic of education.

Civil rights increases 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on admin, industry, and spirituality increase 2 percent each. Social policy go up by 7 percent, education drops by a whopping 12 percent.

3. "This is stupid, it would ruin our nation's population of skilled workers!" says Cooper Power, a college professor. "There's never enough able-minded citizens for the more specialised careers. We must force our less-intelligent to learn! Get their noses right against the grindstone! Let's raise the bar a bit so even our best students have to sweat whilst learning! The others will of course be forced to learn even more to keep in touch, but that just shows them how real life works. To fund it, well, our defence budget is already too large, if you ask me."

Result: the education system is famed for its taxing exams.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Education increases 5 percent, while Defense drops 6 percent (to zero).

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#114: Wipe Out Graffiti?

1. "It's a disgrace!" declares Billy-Bob Licorish, middle class and proud of it. "I can't even go downtown without seeing these hideous eyesores debasing the streets! We need to arrest the scumbags at the root of this, lock them up, and teach them a jolly good lesson! More policemen on the beat should do the ticket, even if it does require a slight augmentation in taxes!"

Result: graffiti artists spend lengthy periods of time in jail.

No changes to trends. Tax remains the same. Spending on law and order increases by 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "I don't see what's so bad," comments Prudence Trax, a famous art critic. "This is urban art at its finest. It's vibrant, colourful, and simply reeks of culture! Just look at the form displayed in this string of racist expletives! Wonderful. Simply wonderful. I think we should really be encouraging these budding Rembrandts, not putting them down! I say we legalise it, in the name of culture!"

Result: graffiti graces every city's streets.

Civil rights increases 4 points. Spending on Law and order decrease by 1 percent and increases on education.

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#115: @@[email protected]@'s Schoolchildren Not Learning The Lingua Franca

1. "Fluency in foreign languages is imperative to education," says Professor Finlay Fellow of @@[email protected]@ University. "Learning a new tongue not only gives a child a practical, marketable skill, but also encourages compassion and understanding of foreign cultures. With so many nations in the world, I do insist that we increase government funding in these areas and make it a compulsory part of the curriculum. As we say in Ancient Maxtopian: froggug sederty bungo-bungo!"

Result: citizens are expected to be proficient in at least five languages.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on education go up 6 percent.

2. "To be frank, the need for outsiders' speak doesn't appeal to me in the slightest!" claims Thomas Washington, a fierce patriot. "Making our children learn these languages is an affront to the basic civil rights of @@[email protected]@! What's more, this will encourage those damn foreigners to come here and take our jobs! I for one, will not stand for it! We can drop that area of education; it'll give us tax payers a bit of a breather for once. I've always said that we don't need any others but our own!"

Result: foreigners are treated with great suspicion.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate reduce 1 percent. Spending on education decrease by 3 percent.

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#116: Soda Sales Hits New 'High'

1. "It'll be great," says Colin Chen, the CEO of Eckie-Ecola. "Nice 'n' happy floating feelings all in a can, and all for just one torrents! It's not the healthiest drink I admit, but what people want to do with their bodies is their own business. If you ban this beverage, you're only denying the citizens of their right to be exposed to the true hallucinogenic experience!"

Result: 'Mountain Doobie' is widely regarded as the nation's favourite drink.

Civil rights increase 4 points, economy increase 2 points. Tax rate and spending remains the same.

2. "This can't go ahead," argues Wil Anderson, a nurse at one of @@[email protected]@'s hospitals. "Drugs are, and always will be, one of the greatest threats to the nation's physical and mental health! My job's hard enough as it is without having the wards overrun by patients who were stupid enough to drink the damned stuff. The distribution of drugs must be strictly controlled by the government and kept for medicinal uses."

Result: drug distribution is tightly controlled by the government.

Economy drops 6 points, Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increase 5 percent.

3. "If you ask me," says Mia Washington, from behind a cloud of smoke. "We should just let everyone have drugs for free! If the government legalised and subsidised all these 'bad' drugs and gave 'em out to everyone, all our problems would be solved! There'd be no more drug traffickers, or thugs robbing old ladies to feed their addictions! 'Course there'd be a bit of a detrimental effect healthwise and to the drug industries, but the beauty of it all is that everyone will be too doped up to care!"

Result: reports of attacks by bright purple sixty-foot high spiders have recently shot up.

Civil rights increase 9 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increase 2 percent. << CHOOSING THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

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#117: Stop The Suits, Say Surgeons

1. "These lawsuits are driving up the price of medical insurance," complains Dr. Jack Winters. "I'm losing customers - patients, I mean - and it's becoming increasingly difficult for doctors like me to do our jobs without worrying about being bankrupted by some kid who didn't like the hospital food. Everyone makes mistakes. Look at politicians, they make them all the time and do they get fired? No. We must outlaw the medical-malpractice lawsuits undermining our healthcare system!"

Result: appendix transplant figures have recently doubled.

Economy drops 5 points. Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on Industry drops 3 percent.

2. "All that these doctors are interested in is saving their own necks," says Alexander Books, CEO of 'I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm!'. "They were negligent in the course of their work and are unwilling to pay the price. I mean, how do you perform a heart transplant on the wrong guy unless you're not paying attention? I for one think that our citizens deserve better from the healthcare service, and if doctors cause damage, they should pay for it. It's that simple. If some decent doctors get caught up in it, then it's surely their own fault for not being careful enough?"

Result: medical lawsuits are out of control.

Economy rises by 8 points, Civil rights goes up 2 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on industry increases 3 percent.

3. "The problem is capitalism," insists Zack Zhimo, while trying to burn a heart with a lighter. "The doctors are only trying to help their patients, and those class traitors at the insurance industry are only trying to make a profit out of people's misery on those rare occasions when things go wrong. I say we outlaw the insurance industry and then the good doctors will be safe while the bad ones go out of business. Everyone wins! Apart from the insurance people, I guess."

Result: the insurance industry is outlawed.

Economy surprisingly increases 1 percent. No change to tax. Spending on industry decreases 6 percent.

4. "The problem certainly is capitalism," says Samuel Utopia, a famed socialist. "But outlawing the insurance industry will not solve the main problem: the healthcare system itself! It's disgusting! I've seen paramedics check wallets before injuries! We must introduce a national health service and put some healthy investment into medical colleges, hospitals, and the likes. Then we'll have an over-abundance of competent doctors! The insurance industry won't be able to raise a finger to it and the citizens won't have to pay for treatment. Except through tax, of course."

Result: the study of medicine is popular throughout @@[email protected]@.

Economy drops 3 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on education increase 4 percent, and healthcare increases 8 percent.

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#118: Need For Speed?

1. "Today's cars are safer at high speeds than ever before," argues Buffy du Pont, editor of Sports Car Monthly. "And long-distance commuters are tired of spending hours on the road just to get to the next city. Abolishing the speed limit would be great for the economy too! People would be more likely to go out and buy cars if they thought they'd be able to use them properly. It seems like such a shame to be puttering along at the speed limit in a magnificent car like the 450HP twin-turbo Moham SX/T-7700 you know."

Result: the roads are notorious throughout the region for their peril. >>GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP 272

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on law and order decreases by 6 percent.

2. "Are you crazy?" cries Colin Mombota, a road-accident victim. "We need lower speed limits on automobiles, not higher. You might as well enforce mandatory blindfolds on the road too, it'll come to the same conclusion! People's lives are at stake here! If people were made to drive at, say, no faster than fifty kilometres per hour, I would feel a lot happier walking the streets. Besides, if it takes a long time to get places via car then people might begin using mass transit for once."

Result: the average commuter spends four hours a day driving to and from work.

Civil Rights decrease by 2 points. Spending on public transport increases by 3 percent.

3. "I think the current speed limits are fine, but we need better enforcement," says Stefanie O, the most feared traffic warden in @@[email protected]@. "If we required GPS tracking devices in all vehicles, we'd ticket every single speeder, no problem. In addition, we could monitor the movements of criminals and other suspicious individuals, and vastly reduce the risk of crime, terrorism, and other subversive activity. Some say that's an invasion of privacy, but if you've done nothing wrong what's there to fear?"

Result: motorists' locations are constantly tracked by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Civil rights decrease 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 8 percent.

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#119: Watershed Down?

1. "We don't need a watershed!" scoffs 'romantic-movie' buff, Aaron de Jong. "I don't see why I should wait 'til way past midnight to watch my preferred film genre. It's high time that parents stopped treating their children like... well, children! If you sugar-coat these kids' lives, they'll just end up seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses - and we can't have a country filled with spoilt brats now, can we?"

Result: programmes of questionable content are shown at peak-hours.

Civil rights increase 2 points, economy also increase 5 points. Tax decrease 1 percent. No change to spending. >> GOOD THIS OPTION OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "This is an endorsement of bad taste if ever I saw it," says Agnes Sato, a child-care worker. "It's just wrong to subject children to graphic violence and nudity on afternoon television like this: who knows what it might possess them to do? We've all heard stories of kids who have seen some film where someone jumped off a cliff and then gone off to have a shot themselves. We must ban all violent and salacious material from our TV screens. If only to protect the innocence of our progeny!"

Result: Rupert Bear is considered to be the most risqué TV programme in @@[email protected]@.

Economy drops 3 points, Civil rights drops 1 point. No other changes.

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#120: Two Parties For Too Long?

1. "Two-party politics is squeezing the life out of democracy in @@[email protected]@," laments Hack Silk, leader of the Pragmatic Radical Party. "The Liberal Conservatives and Progressive Traditionalists have a monopoly on public policy - or duopoly, whatever you want to call it. The point is that there's hardly any difference between them, and their chokehold on the electoral process lets hacks and crooks stay in office forever. Ballot access rules must be loosened so we can give the voters a truly democratic choice."

Result: ten-year-olds regularly found their own political parties.

Political freedoms increase by 10 points. Tax rate increase by 5 percent. Admin spending increase 3 percent.

2. "People are afraid to support 'third' parties because they're afraid of seeing the 'bad guys' get elected," says Chastity Spirit, a ballot stastician. "But if we changed the system to allow preferential voting, where you can have your votes divvied up among your other candidates if your favourite doesn't recieve a certain number of votes, then that wouldn't be a problem. Then you could let as many parties as you wanted into the game. Deserving candidates wouldn't be harmed - they'd win! Maybe a few radicals would get through, but that just proves what a great system it is!"

Result: the @@[email protected]@ Mental Asylum Party have recently won seats in parliament.

Political freedoms increase 1 point. Tax rate increases 4 percent. Spending on Admin increases by 3 percent.

3. "What ever happened to 'one man, one vote'?" asks Daniel Fellow, chairperson of the Liberal Conservative National Committee. "Changing the rules will just let all sorts of crackpots clog up the ballot and overwhelm voters with names they don't recognise - this will draw attention and support away from legitimate candidates! How do you expect the nation to function properly if the government doesn't have public support? Oh, and by the way, the Liberal Conservative Party presents a VERY clear alternative to the destructive agenda of the Progressive Traditionalists, and I'll wallop anyone who says otherwise."

Result: citizens are known to cast their votes by flipping a @@[email protected]@. >> THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on admin decreases 4 percent.

4. "Opposition parties are such a bother," muses Roger Giono, your chief of staff. "If we allowed as many of them to be politicians as those fools in the Pragmatic Radical Party want, it would be very hard on the tax payers - and our own position in power. If we re-wrote the election rules so that a party had to reapply for recognition every time it failed to win a certain number of votes, we could knock our opposition out of the ring for good! Hey, the voters have spoken, and they asked for us. I think that just about settles it, don't you?"

Result: an enfeebled opposition party spends most of its time simply trying to stay on the ballot.

Political freedoms drops 16 points. Tax rate drops 4 percent. No change to spending.

---------------------------------

 

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#121: A Uniform Plan For @@[email protected]@'s Students?

1. "I think uniforms are great," says Jessica Johnson, your Minister of Education during a cabinet meeting. "They instill a sense of community within our schools which lowers crime - and the pupils can go about their daily business without having to worry about being browbeaten by their classmates for not wearing the latest trainers. @@[email protected]@ simply cannot do without them. If the children don't like them, then hard cheese."

Result: school uniforms are compulsory.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to taxes. Spending on education increased marginally at 1 percent.

2. "Dude, your plan stinks," says George W. Wall, leader of The Students Union. "Our clothing is part of who we are; it lets us express ourselves just by passing someone in the corridor. To say we must wear these inhibiting uniforms is an affront to our personal freedom! So back off with the uniforms, dude, students should be allowed to go to school dressed however they like. Or not dressed, if that's their style."

Result: students are known to arrive at school in their pyjamas.

Civil rights increase 6 points. No other changes.

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#122: Pensioners In Protest

1. "There needs to be more done for the elderly," says @@[email protected]@, a resident of 'This Old Man' retirement home. "We can't work to support ourselves anymore, and the pensions we get are measly. We need more benefits such as higher standards of living, free bus tickets, and a continuous supply of @@[email protected]@s. All it requires is a little more generosity on the part of the tax payers - after all, we fought the war for their sort."

Result: retirement homes are often fitted with luxurious suites.

Small increases in civil rights. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 5 percent and Transport increase 1 percent. On second test, trends remain the same.

2. "I'm not giving any of my hard-earned wages to a bunch of old fossils," says Akira Hanover, a devout taxpayer. "If they weren't smart enough to save enough money for their later years, then why should the government pay out for them now? They had their chance and they didn't take it. If they really want money so bad, they can go out and work for it like everyone else."

Result: senior citizens can usually be found doing heavy manual labour.

Civil rights go down 2 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on welfare drops 5 points.

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#123: Now, Vat's Food For Thought

After recent leaps and bounds in biomedical research, scientists have revealed 'vat-grown tissue', provoking wild controversy over its possible medical - and culinary - uses.

1. "There is absolutely nothing wrong that has been done here," claims one of the researchers, Dr. @@[email protected]@. "Vat-grown cloned tissue is extremely versatile when producing organs for transplantation, and knit my booties if it's not the tastiest and most nutritionally-balanced thing around! Beats me why anyone could be against it."

Result: human tissue is grown in vats as a delicacy as well as for transplants.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase marginally (less than 1 percent)

2. "It's shocking and appalling that we could even consider adding vat-grown meat to the menu," says Renee Ruff III, the one-armed descendant of a long line of devout vegetarians. "But, on the other hand, we have been waiting for this major medical breakthrough for a long time. Imagine it - no more waiting lists for transplants! This will be of enormous benefit to the healthcare sector. I just think we should draw the line at eating the stuff."

Result: replacement organs are grown in vats.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Spirituality drops marginally.

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#124: To Paint Or Not To Paint?

1. "Why should Arts students get to lounge around reading books and watching daytime TV for hours on end, when some of our hard-working youngsters are dedicating themselves to the study of worthwhile and valuable subjects; studies which will benefit the nation as a whole?" asks Miranda O, a student engineer. "We should be grooming our young people to help, not sponge off the system. The Arts should be considered a hobby, not a career."

Result: the studies of art and philosophy are banned.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate decreases by 1 percent. Spending on education drops 2 percent.

2. "You can't mean that," gasps Prof. Catherine Gratwick, renowned worldwide for her paintings of trains. "Learning should be done out of love, not duty. The Study of the Arts has been a noble field for many centuries, and learning it is not as easy as you think. I'd rather die than live in a world where creativity is stifled. We should be encouraging young artists, writers, musicians - if only to strengthen @@[email protected]@'s cultural reputation."

Result: artists are pillars of society.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease (go down) 1 percent. Spending on education increase 2 percent.

3. "What's the point in allowing most young people to continue in further education anyway?" enquires @@[email protected]@, a factory manager. "Surely most students would be better employed in manual and factory work? You should handpick a select few to study medicine, the law, science, and business of course, and utilise the majority of youth to increase the country's productivity in industry. Academic freedom just gets in the way of a functioning society, I've always said."

Result: only the brainiest citizens become academics.

Civil rights decrease by 2 points. Tax remains the same. Education spending (if present) decreases by 2 percent.

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#125: Bring Back The Ballot?

1. "Give us the vote!" cries protester Alexei Christmas, before hurling another volley of eggs. "It is the right of the many to decide who leads our country, not the few! If we don't get democracy right now, we'll... we'll, uh... we'll throw more eggs, that's what we'll do! Don't say you haven't been warned!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s first free elections in recent memory have been successfully concluded.

Political freedoms go up a whopping 18 points. Tax rate increases 5 percent. Spending on admin go up by 7 percent.

2. "Elections?! Have they gone quite insane?!" shouts red-faced government hard-liner, Clint Suzuki. "We can't possibly allow that rabble to have such a degree of control over this country! They're never happy! One moment they're demanding democracy, the next they'll be complaining about all the new taxes! If we dropped taxes, you'd find that they'd be much more compliant. And if they're not, we'll get the army to fill 'em full of lead."

Result: suppression of pro-democracy protests is a daily occurrence.

Political freedom decreases 11 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on defense increases 6 percent.

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#126: Outsourcing An Outrage, Say Demonstrators

1. "This is unacceptable!" decrees Jack Sanchez, outspoken representative of the National Union of Telephone-based Salesmen. "Sixteen call-centres round the country have already closed because they found they could get cheaper workers in some country no-one's ever heard of! If businesses are allowed to pack up shop and ship jobs out to other countries, our own people will be unemployed and out on the streets. The government must ban this evil corporate practice immediately!"

Result: corporations are forbidden from employing outside the nation.

Economy drops 25 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 4 percent.

2. "Nonsense!" scoffs Peggy Falopian, manager of human resources at Ekin, a popular sportswear company. "Outsourcing jobs to where the labour is cheap means we can slash costs. That means we can have lower prices for the good consumers - uh - citizens of @@[email protected]@. There're plenty of other jobs besides factory-working you know, and with the influx of cheaper products they really shouldn't have anything to complain about."

Result: unemployment rates have skyrocketed as businesses abandon the country in search of cheap labour.

No observable changes. On second test, Economy increases 1 point (yes go up). Tax rate drops 1 percent. Spending in Social policy decreases 1-2 percent.

>>THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

3. "The only reason that companies are so unwilling to stay here is because of the constricting regulations," says Jack Dredd, a ridiculously wealthy businessperson. "Every time my company tries to make a decision, we run up against about a million laws forbidding us from our ventures. Since when has making money been a crime? Allow more economic freedom and companies will be simply flocking to this country. The workers will suffer a bit from losing minimum wage laws, of course, but that's progress for you."

Result: corporations are either above the law or corrupting it.

Economy sky rockets by 51 points. Tax rate decrease 7 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 8 percent.

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#127: Aging Concerns In @@[email protected]@

1. "We're going to run out of working age citizens if we don't act fast!" warns Fleur Spirit, a government statistician. "Birth rates are down, death rates are down, and the amount of budget spent on pensions has doubled in the last twenty years! We need to put an end to this, quickly and without delay: we must get rid of all the people too old to work anymore... well, except for government officials like you and me of course..."

Result: retiring citizens are dragged away in the middle of the night by mysterious men in black suits.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate decreases 3 percent. Spending on welfare drops 28 percent (to zero). >> GOOOD THIS WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "I can't believe I'm hearing this!" yells Beth Li, a wizened octogenerian. "We have our rights! You can't do that to us! What utter rubbish about our pensions! I can hardly survive on the paltry number of @@[email protected]@ I get each week! If anything, we should get more money! If you're so worried about low death rates, then just cut the healthcare budget to make up for the loss!"

Result: elderly citizens regularly buy posh multimillion-kls mansions.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on HC drops 4 percent, Welfare increase 4 percent.

3. "Woah, woah! Talk about hasty decisions here, man," says Kool Kal, one of your more hip advisors. "Just increase the working age to say... ninety-five years old? Then the number of people eligible for a pension is like, dramatically reduced, man. Why? It's 'cos most of them'll be like, six feet under, dude!" He high-fives you. "Funny, ain't it, man?"

Result: senior citizens are often found slaving away in factories.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on welfare drops 4 percent.

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#128: Ban The Burka?

1. Minister for Public Unity and General Goodwill, Billy-Bob O, has supported the claim, "This move will encourage students from different cultural and religious backgrounds to mix more freely. Removed of any symbols of difference, barriers of cultural otherness will be transcended and all will feel a sense of shared nationhood, which is what state schools should be encouraging. Social equality is what we're aiming for here. Not controversy."

Result: students and teachers are regularly stopped and searched for symbols of religious affiliation before class.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax reduces 1 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 3 percent, Spirituality drops 4 percent.

2. "This is an outrageous proposition!" says shopkeeper Jessica Yeats. "Everyone should have the right to follow their religion. I organise my store in strict terms of religious and cultural preferences. A Kosher section for the Jews, a "Fish on Fridays" freezer for the Catholics and a vegan section way on the other side of the shop, away from the meat counter for those bald people in the orange robes. Freedom and diversity is what makes our nation great, and if everyone feels that this means they shouldn't integrate then so be it!"

Result: there have been sightings of people walking around dressed in nothing but leopard-skin g-strings for 'religious reasons'.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax increased 1 percent. No change to spending pattern. On second test, Tax remained unchanged.

3. "Who needs religion anyway?" asks Falala Mistletoe, Professor of Biology at @@[email protected]@ University of Science. "Our nation is swamped in the mumbo-jumbo spouted by these money hungry crackpot evangelists. I say the people should be spared from these wacko delusions of gods and demons. ALL symbols of religion should be removed from ALL public spaces! Now that's what I call freedom."

Result: government officials raid public buildings to remove all mention of G*d or r******n.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate drops 2 percent. Spending on Spirituality drops 22 percent (to zero)

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#129: Tribal Troubles

A society of primitive natives have been discovered in the rainforests of @@[email protected]@. Various people have approached you with ideas on how the situation should be dealt with.

1. "This society should be protected from us!" says anthropologist and Star Trek nut, Colleen Steele. "Have you ever heard of the prime directive? We must protect cultures from damaging modern influence! It is not our right to go and change the way these people live. Let them be."

Result: large sections of @@[email protected]@ have been named national reserves to protect the native tribes living there.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 1 percent.

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#130: Filibuster Bust-Up

1. "This sham of a tactic is totally demolishing our ability to accomplish anything!" complains Fanny Jones, Minister of Ministries. "Who cares if a few old fossils fail to see reason? The majority of the government clearly wants this legislation to pass! Just set a limit on the time a person can speak for; this really is demeaning to the democratic process!"

Result: the government is a clear-cut case of tyranny by majority. >>GOOD THIS WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES 310

Political freedoms go down by 5 points. Tax rate decreases 3 percent. Spending on Admin decreases 2 percent.

2. While taking a bathroom break before moving on to read aloud from the phonebook, Lara Summers states: "It is a great thing for the minority and the oppressed that our system of government allows the filibuster to be utilised to harness the majority! Let the hills, the mountains, and the valleys reverberate with the sounds of our voices! We will not surrender to this repugnant legislation."

Result: legislation sometimes has to battle through weeks of filibustering to pass.

Political freedoms increases 1 point. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Admin increases 2 percent.

3. "The filibuster is not enough to protect the minority, since they are too afraid of the tyrannical majority to use it," says political commentator, Al Falopian. "I suggest that all legislation must require a unanimous vote before it can pass. That way, nobody goes away unhappy."

Result: the government is forced to pander to the will of every fruitcake politician.

Political freedoms gains 15 points. Tax rate increases 4 percent. Spending on Admin increases 5 percent.

4. "Why do we need to debate legislature anyway?" questions Barack Bush, your Minister of Alternative Solutions, who also happens to be the best friend of your distant cousin. "Everything would be so much more simple if we just decide what to do, and do it. After all, we're the ones who know what's best for @@[email protected]@. If the minority parties want to say something, they can submit it in writing."

Result: democratic debates have been removed from the government.

Political freedoms drops 23 points. Tax rate decrease 5 percent. Spending on Admin decreases 6 percent (to zero).

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#131: Raise Duel Standards, Say Fencers

1. "We must be permitted our inherent right to defend our honour through feats of arms!" exclaims Freddy Clinton, a bewigged aristocrat sporting a particularly flamboyant swept-hilt rapier. "The right to duel is one found throughout history for the honourable settling of disputes and I must insist that my right to fight be recognised! The world would be so much better - and cheaper too - if conflicts of interest were sorted through trial by combat instead of trial by jury."

Result: murderers frequently escape punishment by claiming they were protecting their honour.

Civil Rights increase by 8 points, Economy by 2, and Political freedoms by 1 point. Tax rate decreases by 2 percent. Spending on Law and Order decreases markedly, spending on Admin decreases a little, the increase on all other fields.

2. "Swords? Heavens, what dreadful things. All sharp and pointy - quite dangerous, you know," says @@[email protected]@, an ardent pacifist. "Duelling ought to be banned! The best way to settle these kind of arguments are through trials, we all know that. If we go ahead with what these duelling nutters want then innocent people will die! It will be a sad day when people value money more than justice. Apart from lawyers, obviously."

Result: long arduous trials are held for the most trivial of offences.

Civil right drops 1 point and Political freedoms drops 1 point as well. Tax increases 2 percent. Spending on L&O increases 6 percent, spending on Admin increases 2 percent. Dropping on all others.

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#132: World Assembly Woes

1. "Micromanagement, micromanagement, MICROMANAGEMENT!!!" your Minister for Domestic Affairs shouts, banging his fists on your table. "Those buffoons are seriously overreaching their authority! Every resolution that infernal Assembly passes is an attack on our ability to pass our own legislation! We can't, and shouldn't, have nations full of fools ignorant to our way of life make our decisions for us. We'd be better off without that godforsaken snakepit... we MUST resign from the World Assembly."

Result: the nation's WA representatives have received a very public sacking after @@[email protected]@ allowed its WA membership to lapse.

Political freedoms increase 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "Think of the CHILDREN", cries Lucas Mombota, your Foreign Minister. "Membership in the World Assembly is vital if @@[email protected]@ is to ensure that countries across the multiverse adopt a way of living that is right! I shudder to think of the awfulness that would happen in other nations without our guidance in the World Assembly. Please, Leader, we must remain a part of this organisation!"

Result: dozens of additional foreign policy specialists have been sent to the country's WA Mission.

Economy drops 2 points (This could be due to a concurrent WA resolution on Economy that was passed). Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Admin increase 1 percent. On second test, Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

To RE-TEST

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#133: When @@[email protected]@s Attack!

1. "These creatures are a danger to the public and must be destroyed!" says Roger Winters, representative of the Public Institution for Social Safety, Equality, and Direction. "I was attacked by one just on the way here and I nearly lost my life! They're a public menace. We must shoot and burn them!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ deemed dangerous to the public are shot and hanged by the town hall as a warning to others.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on environment drops 3 percent, increases to law and order.

2. "Why punish the poor things?" asks animal-lover Ryan McKay, covered in scars from previous encounters with @@[email protected]@. "All they need is good hands to care and rehabilitate them. We need a government education programme to tame them and turn them into loveable pets. The one I'm holding right now shows that it can be done. They are all good, kind creatures deep d- argh!"

Result: the government funds large training centres to turn @@[email protected]@ into functioning members of society.'

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent

3. "I agree that we shouldn't kill them," says Billy-Bob Washington, a famous lawyer. "But I don't think the owner should get away with breaking the law! This is clearly a case of 'intent to grievously harm' if I ever saw it. All citizens should be held accountable of their pet's actions as if they had done the act themselves. It's the only way to be fair - after all, they're just dumb animals."

Result: expensive lawyers are hired to defend citizens in court for public urination charges against their pets.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 9 percent.

4. "Who cares!?" screams Stefanie O, transmitting from a pirate radio station broadcast. "Just repeal any laws preventing us from shooting the things when they attack and we'll be able to save ourselves without this stupid, authoritarian, overbearing government and legal system wasting our tax money!"

Result: animals are frequently shot for looking at people 'in a funny way'.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on L&O decreases 3 percent.

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#134: The Truth Is Out There?

1. "The government has been covering up UFO activity for years," claims Fanny de Vries, host of the esoteric TV show 'Death from the Skies'. "We're tired of hearing about weather balloons and hoaxes. If there are little green men watching and abducting us, we deserve to know. We demand that the government release all documents regarding UFOs... and everything else too! Besides, we're better off if our military doesn't organize shady, expensive projects."

Result: the military has grudgingly released all top secret information in an effort for greater transparency.

Political freedoms increase 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense decrease 1 percent.

2. "You can't honestly give in to the demands of these wackos and conspiracy nuts!" gasps Five Star General Finlay Cohen. "That would reveal top secret military programs like our doomsday device, I mean, new fighter jets. These things are kept secret for a reason. Do you want this information to get in the hands of @@[email protected]@'s enemies? I don't think so. I say we continue to cover up these sightings and ignore those pesky ufologists asking too many questions."

Result: strange lights seen in the sky are officially regarded as weather balloons or hoaxes and nothing else.

Political freedoms drops 3 points. No change to tax or spending pattern.

3. "How about a compromise that pleases both the conspiracy theorists and the military?" suggests Doris Shiomi, an elite prevaricator from the Propaganda Ministry. "Why don't we release some documents that just say that UFOs are real? This way the conspiracy theorists stop asking questions, and the military doesn't have its secret projects compromised. If our military projects are discovered, like that "moon" we're building, we can just blame it on little green men. That gives you perfect deniability. It's win-win!"

Result: the government blames all suspicious phenomena on flying saucers.

Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax remains unchanged. No change to spending.

4. As a man wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses passes your guards, they silently go rigid as their eyes roll to white. "Boss, my team has this covered," he says in a droll monotone. "We'll try to keep you in the loop, of course, but nothing we tell you leaves this room... ever. Of course there are aliens, and yes, there's occasional collateral damage from random interactions, but we're on it. You just make sure that funding doesn't drop from the Omnibus Farm Bill your predecessor set up, and we'll make sure nothing goes public." He pauses and strokes his chin thoughtfully. "Is it still a privacy violation if you don't remember being probed? Have to think on that." He turns, taps the guards on the shoulders, and walks from the room as they dazedly recover their composure.

Result: reporters sent to cover suspected UFO visits come back with stories about quilting bees.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent.

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#135: A Taxing Dilemma

1. "The tax situation in @@[email protected]@ is ridiculous," says Faith Silk at the protest. "The taxes keep getting piled on and yet - I haste to add - the government doesn't seem to realise that they already have practically all our money! We've been reduced to bartering for goodness sake! I haven't seen a decent wad of @@[email protected]@ in years! It's bad for @@[email protected]@, but more importantly, it's bad for business. We must take huge cuts out of the government budget. Even if it does mean less education, healthcare, and whatnot."

Result: government officials have to mortgage their homes to make ends meet.

Economy drops 7 points. Tax drops a massive 16 percent. Spending on Welfare, Administration, Spirituality, Public Transport, Industry and Social policy all drop. Increases on Education, L&O, Defense, Healthcare. Spending on Environment stays the same.

2. "You can't!" cries Gregory Usman, the National Treasurer. "They don't seem to realise that if we cut taxes, it will drastically underfund our public services! All our environmental work, our education system, our healthcare system - all will go kaput! @@[email protected]@ depends on these taxes, we need the money! Don't let the people fritter it away on luxuries, 'cos they'll soon be complaining about there not being enough policemen on the beat. We'll tax the shirts off their backs and they'll be damn well happy about it!"

Result: the sound of wooden legs echo throughout @@[email protected]@ after the recent introduction of the Foot Tax.

No change to trends. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Admin increase 3 percent. On second test, no change to trends. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increase 4 percent. Confirms result.

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#136: Much Ado About Abortion

1. Miranda de Vries, lawyer for the woman known only as Miss X, says, "It is Miss X's right to choose! It's her body; she can do whatever she wants with it. In the interest of women's rights, abortion MUST be legal throughout the country!"

Result: abortions are routinely performed in @@[email protected]@'s hospitals.

Civil rights increase 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare increase 6 percent, spirituality decrease 10 percent.

2. "I most vehemently disagree," says Lars Smith, a pro-life activist. "I'm all for women's rights in general, but what about the child? Does it have no rights either? Abortion is totally immoral and I insist that it be outlawed except in cases of rape, or when the mother's life is in danger."

Result: abortion is only legal in unusual circumstances.

No change to trends. No observable changes at all. In a second test, Civil rights increase 2 points, and spending on healthcare decrease slightly

3. "You're not going far enough! Abortion is murder!" shouts Reverend Hillary Barnes, waving a placard with a picture of a foetus on it. "God decides which babies live and which will die, not us! The government must maintain a stern anti-abortion stance to preserve the morality of @@[email protected]@!"

Result: abortions are carried out secretly in shady backstreet clinics.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increase 6 percent.

4. "Abortion has to be legal if we're going to last as a nation," says Peggy de Groot, President of the Society of Bitter Old People. "Have you ever thought that with @@[email protected]@'s growing population of @@@@ billion, we soon aren't going to be able to squeeze any more people within our borders? If we use abortion to control the population, we'll make great savings and can spend the money elsewhere. One child per family should just about do it I think. Extraneous ones can be sold to other countries."

Result: families are only permitted to have one child. >> GOOD THIS MIGHT OPEN UP ISSUE 268

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. L&O spending increase 1 percent.

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#137: Arms Industry Demands Respect

1. Interviewed by the industry's trade journal 'Our Weapons, Your Victory', the CEO of @@[email protected]@ Arms Inc, Abraham Trax, said: "It is shameful the way we have been treated over the last few years! Shameful! Our workers, and I tell you we have a great many of them, can barely get to work thanks to disruption by protesters and all that hippie nonsense. And as for this dangerous talk of 'Ethical Trade Practices', I say we need full government recognition of our vital contribution to the economy - relaxation of trade barriers, gun laws, and a crackdown on all these long-haired weirdos who try to shut us down!"

Result: the arms industry is backed by government subsidies and harsh anti-protest laws are in place.

Economy goes up by 4 points, civil rights go up by 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on industry increase 6 percent. On second test, Economy goes up 6 points, civil rights go up 2 points, political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on industry increase 3 percent.

2. "We have a right to protest against this evil business!" screams Billy Broadside through a megaphone. "The arms manufacturing industry is a stain on our nation's character and must be removed. How can we make money from the production of these evil weapons; how can we stand by and profit from the blood spilled by these abominations? The government must take a stand and outlaw the whole sector!"

Result: the arms industry has been shut down in a surge of pacifism.

Economy drops a whopping 24 points. Political freedoms increase 9 points. Civil rights drops down 6 points. Tax increases 3 percent. Spending on law and order drops 6 percent. Nation that was tested did not have defense to begin with.

On second test, Economy drops 1 point. Political freedoms increase 4 points, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 1 percent, and Defense decrease 3 percent.

3. Your Minister of Trade advises taking a middle ground: "We can't ban arms sales without harming the quality of our military and police departments, not to mention the economy. These hippies do have a point though - guns are terrible things in the wrong hands. We should implement additional safety checks on the groups to which the weapons get sold. That way we don't lose too many sales, and the people are persuaded we are making a stand against nations who use the weapons for immoral ends. The arms industry get to sell their guns and the protesters get to protest. Everybody wins!"

Result: the arms industry is strictly regulated.

Economy decrease by 17 points, Civil Rights decrease by 1 point, political freedoms increase by 11 points. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on administration increase by 5 percent.

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#138: Keep The Greenbelt Green, Say Protesters

1. "Do we really have to listen to these nutcases?" asks real estate developer, Jonathon Cogswell. "The fact of the matter is that nature is BORING. Give us permission to build on the greenbelt and you'll have pink hotels, boutiques, and swinging hot spots that'll be the envy of the region and draw tourists from all around! We can always transplant a few trees and put them in a tree museum to keep the tree-huggers happy. @@[email protected]@ stands to make a lot of money from this! Think about it for a moment!"

Result: private business has started paving paradises and putting up parking lots.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 3 percent.

2. "I agree with my colleague here, but he doesn't go far enough," says Jamil Nobama, a city planner. "These protestors are standing in the path of progress. It slows the growth of our economy and harms my portfolio - er - the future of our nation, I mean. It's unpatriotic and we should increase police funding to deal with these troublemakers. Then we wouldn't have to worry about greenbelts or any other nonsense about keeping the 'environment' safe. Think about it for a moment!"

Result: environmental protestors are being rounded up and taken away in sinister black vans as a massive land development campaign gets underway.

No change to trends. No change to taxes. Spending on Environment drops 4 percent, goes to L&O. In a second test, Political freedoms drop 4 points. No change to tax. Spending on Environment drops 7 percent (to zero), goes mainly to L&O but others too at smaller amounts.

3."I can't believe what I'm hearing!" exclaims environmental activist Buffy Steele. "Tree museums? Police funding? Don't it always seem to be the case that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone? We're talking about natural treasures and you're talking about destroying them. Is there anything that you can build that can really be better than nature? We should put a stop to all encroachment into natural areas. Think about it for a moment!"

Result: there's a shortage of swinging hot spots as land development grinds to a halt.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on environment increase by 4 percent.

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#139: Drug Debate Hits The Streets

1. "Ever since smoking was banned, I've been a gibbering wreck," laments Kathleen Brown, handing you a cup of strange-smelling tea. "You just don't understand - I need to smoke! And sometimes I need to roll a little bit more than tobacco. It's not a luxury. In a place as depressing as @@[email protected]@, we should at least be able to have some escape. Even if it does mean escaping to a world full of dancing badgers, talking mushrooms and luminous colors. So please, allow us a bit more freedom to get high."

Result: shops were recently ransacked as cigarettes returned to the shelves.

Civil rights increase 6 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O go down 3 percent.

2. "Things are fine just the way they are," says Detective Chloe Janssen of the Narcotics Squad. "The laws just need better enforcement - we need harsher punishments, better border controls, more police officers, and some education for youngsters, telling them to just say 'no'. Do you know how many times I've had to bring kids into rehabilitation clinics? Do you know how many kids out there are getting lung cancer? It's heartbreaking, it really is. We need some more support from the government if we are to reach our goals."

Result: the police have reaffirmed their tough stance on drugs.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent and Education increase 1 percent. The rest all decrease.

3. "Yo mate, c'mon, it's not just about the crops," moans a grimy, emaciated man, as he sits slumped on the ground and tugs at your trouser leg. "Some of us like other stuff, ya know, ain't fair if we can't hit off that. You gotta decr- decrimi- just make everything OK, yeah? C'mon, I need just one more hit. Just one more. I can handle it man, I CAN HANDLE IT!"

Result: zombie-like crowds of hard drug users stumble through the streets.

Civil rights increases 10 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O drops 5 percent. On second test, Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on L&O drops 4 percent.

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#140: A Grave Problem

1. "The expansion of cemeteries must end if the remaining government land is to benefit the economy," says the Minister of Death, Thomas Fellow. "What I propose is that we declare all graves over, say, ten years old, as vacant. And then dump a new corpse in it. Hey, nobody objects to sharing a university dormitory with another person, why should they object to sharing their grave?"

Result: tombstones are ten feet high to accommodate the names of inhabitants.

Civil Rights increased by 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality decreased by 3 percent. Death by heart disease increase by 1 percent. On second test, No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Spirituality decreased by 4 percent.

2. "Burial plots are so expensive these days, few people are opting for them anyway," says Retirement Home owner, Kathleen Khan. "Let's just go for that final push and make cremation compulsory. Some people may not be happy with it, but when you get right down to it, it's only setting fire to their loved ones against their will - you must agree that that's less important than expanding suburban development."

Result: cremation is compulsory for the deceased.

Civil rights drops 1 point. No other changes.

3. "This is horrendous," says George W. Longbottom, whose partner recently passed away. "Whatever happened to choice? When my Henry died, he was promised an eternal resting place; a place where his name would stand and he would be remembered. Having it disturbed by 'newcomers' or enforcing cremation is a slur against him and the rest of @@[email protected]@'s deceased citizens! If you have any compassion in your soul, then you'll acknowledge a grave as being a sacrosanct area. The dead must be allowed to rest in peace."

Result: Houses and businesses are bulldozed to make way for the ever expanding cemeteries.

Civil rights increase (go up) 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 3 percent.

4. "Burying and cremating the dead is such a waste..." says @@[email protected]@, head of the Research Department at the McRonald's chain of fast-food restaurants. "They should be recycled for the benefit of the nation! We'll pay the families a little something for their loss, then mince up the bodies and put them in our burgers! I can't see any downsides, can you? It'd save space, recompensate the grieving, and supply everyone with a tasty snack!"

Result: the dead are minced up and sold to people in burger form.

Civil Rights decrease 2 points. On second test, no change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality decrease 5 percent.

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#141: Police Too Pushy?

1. "I'm constantly surrounded by over-zealous policemen!" deplores Roger Clinton, a spokesperson for the group. "Just last week I was arrested for letting my baby cry too loudly in public! This is ridiculous! The government needs to cut back the police force and let citizens get on with their lives without interference! If that means allowing muggers, thieves, burglars, pickpockets, murderers and all the rest to not have coppers breathing down the back of their necks constantly then so be it! This really is too much!"

Result: a weakened police force struggles to maintain law and order.

Civil rights increase 11 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 6 percent.

2. "You can't listen to what they're saying!" gasps Police Chief Elaine McGuffin, horrified. "These nuts would have us living in utter anarchy! If some robbers suddenly decide to break into a shop and steal everything, what's the owner going to do? What could anyone do without a well-funded police force? There has to be justice and law or we'd be nothing better than a bunch of savages. Stick to your guns, I say, and let me arrest these subversives - people need to be taught to show some respect!"

Result: citizens are regularly arrested in queues for 'loitering'.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

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#142: Roads Like Roller Coasters, Complain Motorists

1. "These roads are terrible!" shouts Abraham Peters, president of the @@[email protected]@ Auto Club. "Every few feet there's a crack, or a pothole, or a gravel patch, or the remains of someone else's car! It's really too much! And just look at this-" he adds, rubbing a nasty bruise on his forehead - "I got that from my rear-view mirror after flying over a bump on Main Street! These roads must be fixed! There really needs to be vast improvements made now, before anyone gets seriously hurt."

Result: roads are often attended by round-the-clock construction crews.

No observable changes. On second test nation, tax rate increased 1 percent. Spending on public transport increased 4 percent.

2. Hack Johnson, avowed anti-spending advocate, disagrees: "Road construction? What a waste of @@[email protected]@! If people can still drive on them, then the roads are fine as they are. Spending more to make trivial repairs would just be a waste of the tax payers' money! We should just ignore these whiners and leave the roads as they are and if the drivers don't like that - well... then they can just learn to walk like the rest of us."

Result: the roads are virtually falling apart.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on public transport decreases 3 percent.

3. "Why on Earth is it the government's responsibility to build and maintain roads?" asks bicyclist Lara Clinton, pausing for breath. "Not all citizens own automobiles, you know. The government should be trying to make life better for all, not just car owners! If people want roads, then let private industry build them, and they can charge tolls to the people who actually drive on them. Leave the government out of it!"

Result: all streets are privately owned toll roads.

Economy increases greatly by 26 points. No change to the rest. Tax rate decreases 7 percent. No change to spending.

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#143: An Archaeological Altercation

1. "This is the perfect opportunity to learn more of our nation's history!" says Professor Hope Chen, head of the archaeological department of the @@[email protected]@ History Museum. "All building work must be halted immediately so that my team can study this remarkable piece of our nation's past. To bury these ruins under some concrete eyesore would be criminal!"

Result: prime commercial land is being swamped with archaeological teams.

Economy drops 5 points. No change to tax. Spending on education increase 4 percent.

2. "It's all very nice to get to know some more about our past," argues foreman Gertie O'Bannon. "But that's just the thing! It's the past! We must think of the future. If you allow those decrepit fossils to take over this place, you put at risk the future of our economy! Today it's archaeological digs, tomorrow it's 'preservation of the environment'. Just let me bulldoze the worthless pile of rubble and bury it under a few hundred tonnes of concrete."

Result: major archaeological findings are frequently bulldozed to make way for new buildings.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending.

3. "Behold, the hour has arrived! The Holy Temple of Firefury Amahira has been unearthed!" proclaims Yon-Zhauryg v'Klot, leader of the Cult of the Undead Lion. "This land is sacred, and must not be befouled by these corporations! No-one but the enlightened children of Firefury must be allowed to venture inside our rediscovered sanctuary, where we will perform the required rituals to please the Great Goddess and prevent Her from unleashing Her wrath upon the world."

Result: archaeological discoveries are often followed by mysterious hamster abductions.

Economy drops 6 points while Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. No change to govt spending.

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#144: Democracy Going To The Dogs?

1. "The ignorant have taken over @@[email protected]@," yells Hope Thiesen, from atop a soap box podium. "It is time that the intelligent retake the polls! Mr. 'Scruffy' is a disgrace to democracy and should be taken out of office instantly! I propose we issue mandatory I.Q. tests for every voting citizen and if they are found to have below average reasoning ability - namely lacking the foresight to see that electing an inanimate object to office will cause disaster - then they shall be excused from the responsibility of voting."

Result: only fully-fledged members of MENSA are allowed to vote.

Political freedoms go down by 8 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on admin increases 2 percent.

2. "Umm... huh?" inquires village idiot, Buy Wong. "I voted? When? Oh, yeah. Please don't make me not vote. The ballots are really tasty, and where else would I get my fibre? Everyone should have the right to vote, no matter what their favourite greenhouse is! Then we can all get the government to do what we want! First thing I think we should do is, uh, ban fruit? I hate fruit."

Result: citizens recently voted in favour of declaring bubblewrap an 'abomination of nature'.

Political freedoms increase 20 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on admin decreases 2 percent.

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#145: Hackles Raised Over Fur Clothes Debate

1. "This is an outrage!" cries Beth Mistletoe, president of the Be Nice To Animals society. "The manufacture of fur apparel is unethical, cruel, and disgusting! People just don't seem to realise that millions of animals die each year in fur farms, crammed into tiny cages and suffering the most terrible treatment just so someone can look appealing and rich! This is a sick practice and must be stopped! The same can go for leather shoes and snakeskin belts too."

Result: the wearing and manufacture of fur apparel is banned.

No observable changes at all.

2. "You can't mean that, surely?" snorts Alexei Barry, adjusting his hat, made from real animal hide. "It's the people's choice what they wear. I don't think it's fair that the majority of the public should be deprived of fur clothes because some people are a bit queasy. In fact, if the government would allow us to stock rarer animals, we could produce even finer products. In the end, it's up to the consumer, don't you think?"

Result: fur coats have become the latest fashion trend.

No observable changes. Second test on a different nation produced the same result.

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#146: Evolution: Truth Or Witchcraft

1. "Ach, good to see you haff made it here in one piece," says evil doctor Louis Trax as you wake up strapped to a chair in a secret lab. "As you can see from my brilliant experiments, science has now solved zer problems of zer vorld und ve need nothink else! I propose zat ve do AVAY vith zer teachink of silly thinks like religion und concentrate on zer FACTS! For a start, ve must teach our children where ve came from. Ve shouldn't be teaching anythink that hasn't been scientifically proven - er - accounted for, I mean. Igor, release our guest - I haff a monkey to prezent..."

Result: it is mandatory to learn evolution in schools.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality drops 3 percent, Education increases 3 percent.

2. "That's a LIE, child, we come from the great meteor of truth!" yells firebrand preacher Pastor Richards, kicking down your door. "We cannot allow their transgressions against the HOLY truth to continue! All the heathens should be thankful we don't burn them at the stake for their devilry! This nation's true and just government must ban the filth and corruption being spread by these WICKED unbelievers!"

Result: the teaching of evolution has been banned.

Civil rights increase 2 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Education drops 7 percent, major increase in Spirituality and minor increase on all the others.

3. "What I'm wondering is why we need to take sides on this," says student Johann Peters. "After all, it's only a theory. An unproven theory. Technically. It's not like it has any bearing on real life - let's just allow the biologists to teach evolution but emphasise that it's only a theory, but also make them teach other theories such as creationism. Heck, we can tell them that crackpot theory that we're all descended from lions too! Then everyone goes away happy."

Result: biology and religious education classes have recently been merged.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on both Education and Spirituality increase 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

4. "Stop bickering already!" says Dave Ruff, Minister of Education. "I say that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Education should be split if it stops this debate. The parents can send their children to secular schools or religious schools, based on what they want their kids to hear. It's expensive, certainly, but the education budget has been needing boosting for ages anyway."

Result: children are sent to either religious or secular schools.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 3 percent and Spirituality increase 2 percent.

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#147: Military Budgets Up For Approval

1. "Clearly the army requires the greatest increase in funds this year," says Field Marshal Klaus al-Zahawi. "After all, wars were never won by air or sea and in this dangerous world we must be able to protect the interests of @@[email protected]@. Currently our men get hand-me-down weapons, rations I wouldn't feed a pig - the army is increasingly looking like a bad career option and we can't have that. If we're going to get recruits, we need more funding to support our brave lads in their duty."

Result: army rations are served on silver platters.

No change to trends. Tax rate stays the same. Defense spending increases 3 percent.

2. "Hah! It's the Navy who needs the money, mate," says Grand Admiral Calvin Sanchez. "The army and the police forces can protect us domestically, but can they protect us from having our foreign trade cut off? Can they protect us from terrorists and pirates? How are the soldiers going to get to the enemy's borders? Swim? I think not. Fund us, the Navy, the true protectors of @@[email protected]@!"

Result: the nation's massive battleships are often mistaken for islands.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 6 percent.

3. "Despite the statements of my colleagues," says Max Longfellow, Marshal of the Air Force. "The Air Force requires more money than these men playing around with boats. We are increasingly seeing terrorists taking to the air, and more ships or guns are not going to stop that. Our people will only be safe when the Air Force has the power it needs to defend us - and for that we need more funding and more government support for industries geared towards the development of new aircraft."

Result: the nation's gigantic air force is both respected and feared.

Tax rate decrease by 1%, defense spending increase by 3 percent.

4. "You're all thinking too small!" exclaims Randy Spirit, an avid Star Wars fan. "What we need is more research into the possibilities of space weapons! Big laser cannon and satellites with complete annihilation power! And cool spaceships! Boom! Rat-a-tata! Bang! Bang! It'll be expensive, sure, but think of the power! THE POWER!"

Result: most of the military's funding goes into researching space-age weaponry.

Trends remain unchanged. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on defense increases 4 percent.

5. "It's simply not good enough!" wails Lara Rikkard, the Minister of Defence. "It's not about the money - it's the manpower. Not enough people by far are signing up! All we seem to be getting nowadays are drunks and people who volunteered for a dare. The current conscription laws need to be either more strictly enforced or drastically rewritten. What I propose is a universal draft: everyone capable of pulling a trigger should become a part of the Army, Navy or Air Force. Only in this way can we ensure the dominance of @@[email protected]@ in the region."

Result: military service is compulsory.

Political freedoms drops 7 points, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 7 percent.

6. "The military is a stain on the peace-loving nature of our nation!" cries Jennifer Nagasawa, while sporting a Rastifarian hat. "People should be allowed to choose what they do for a living! Conscription is wrong and I don't see why our tax coins should go to such a despicable cause! The money should be going to more important places - like our pockets!"

Result: the military frequently holds bake sales to raise funds.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 3 percent. Spending on Defense decreases massively by 20 percent.

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#148: Spare The Rod, Demand Welfare Activists

1. Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Ali Washington, speaks at a press conference on the matter: "Parents and teachers must realise that smacking children increases aggressiveness, lowers their self-esteem, and can cause long-term emotional trauma! How can anybody think that it is anything but child abuse? Parents who resort to smacking their children are obviously unfit to be parents at all! We must ban this horrible practice at once!"

Result: parents live in fear of governmental 'child protection' squads.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

2. "What are these lunatics on about?!" yells Miranda Falopian, a concerned parent. "Smacking children has been an effective form of punishment since the dawn of mankind! Outlaw it and I guarantee you the next generation will be a disorderly disaster! Children need, nay CRAVE discipline! Sometimes the only language they understand is the cane, and the government has to respect that!"

Result: record sales of 'child-whacking sticks' have been reported.

Civil rights increases 5 points (yes go up). Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on law and order goes down 1 percent and welfare go down 2 percent.

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#149: With Liberty, Freedom, And Guns For All?

1. "We need our guns back!" shouts Louis Harishchandra, wildly waving a water pistol in the air. "This is an infringement on our personal rights! If someone went and killed a bunch of people with a cricket bat would you ban them too? Sure people will be killed, but that's the price you've gotta pay for freedom! These liberals keep talking about legalising drugs because if we can't control them, we might as well join them. Humbug! I say we should do the same for guns!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ is renowned for its lax gun laws.

Civil rights increase 4 points. No change to tax or spending pattern.

2. "Nonsense!" insists Michelle Mires, while handcuffing herself to your leg. "Guns pose a risk to people's lives! No one should have the freedom to be stupid! Do you realise just how easy it could be for someone to get hold of a gun and just go and kill people? If you allow everyone to have guns, you're going to be condemning people to death! The answer to safety isn't more guns - it's more policemen on the beat, more serious attention brought to gun-smuggling, and banning toy guns and gun-related violence on the television. We've got to get it into people's heads - guns are BAD."

Result: citizens are frequently searched for illegal weapons.

Civil rights decrease 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent.

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#150: Bug 'em All, Say Police

1. "This is a great idea," says police officer Calvin Jong-Il. "We can never have too much evidence in a case, and this will be of enormous help to us at reducing crime and seeing that those who deserve punishment get justice! If we could just get those silly privacy laws repealed and some funding we could find out stuff the government wants to know too."

Result: phone taps are frequently carried out by the police.

Civil rights go down by 7 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on law and order increases 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "This is an unacceptable intrusion into the personal lives of the population," says @@[email protected]@ while checking under your chair for bugs. "Just imagine all of the sensitive personal information that the police will pick up! Would you like someone listening to your calls to your mother or your lover? I think not! Laws should be passed so that the government and police can't stick their big noses where they're not wanted!"

Result: it is illegal for police officers to carry out searches due to strict privacy laws.

Civil rights increase 8 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent, spending on L&O decrease 4 percent.

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#151: Build Bigger Bombs, Advise Scientists

1. "This is a necessary step towards the creation of a safer @@[email protected]@," claims Finlay Christmas, the leading researcher. "Yes, it will mean a large areas of land will become unusable as a result of the testing, and it will cost billions of @@[email protected]@s, but that's the price we must pay for our national security. Just think of the power we will have if we can turn our enemies into plate glass!"

Result: citizens live in superstitious fear of the mysterious glowing clouds that float over @@[email protected]@.

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on defense increase 4 percent, all drops coming from Environment. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Why stop with making weapons for ourselves?" asks Roxanne Gutenberg, CEO of Wendy's Weapons stores. "We can sell them to all sorts of groups and organisations: other nations, the WA, terror- uh - freedom fighters, anyone! And we produce our own for our protection. Think of the money we can make! I'm sure none of our clients would ever even think of trying to use them to influence our government with threats or anything like that!"

Result: the nation has recently been attributed to the funding of terrorist organisations.

Political freedoms down by 7 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on defense go up by 2 percent.

3. "You want to bring NUKES into @@[email protected]@?!" screams anti-nuclear protestor, Brian Jones. "This won't make us safer - it will just give the power to destroy everything to a few people! We must hunt down the people who suggested this evil plan and have them hanged! We must protect nature from the horrible influences of science. I say ban all new weapons research!"

Result: all weapon research has been banned.

No effect on trends and tax rate. Spending on defense drops 9 percent, the bulk mainly going to Environment.

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#152: A Capital Idea

1. "GREED IS GOOD!" bellows Charles Utopia, a famous advocate of capitalism. "The economy is stagnating terribly under government control. Complete privatisation is the only option here. It's time to give power back to the people! Well, rich people, anyway..."

Result: the government has returned all business to private ownership.

Economy increases by 46 points! Tax rate drops by 13 percent. Spending on admin drops by 9 percent.

2. "This is outrageous!" cries armchair revolutionary Mark Dovey. "The government must maintain the principles of equality and socialism that we fought so hard for, and not sell the country to corrupt and greedy corporations. We must eject these shameful capitalists from our great nation at once!"

Result: the words 'private' and 'enterprise' must never appear in the same sentence.

Economy sky dives 22 points, Tax rate increase 6 percent. Spending on Admin increase 3 percent.

3. "Hey, aren't we all being a little extreme about this?" says noted economist, Erica Silk. "Surely we could just keep the key industries, such as the electricity and water supplies, under government control and lessen the regulations on the others so they could function more independently? That way, the people can't complain that they are at the mercy of big business, and industries such as retail can function more effectively."

Result: the government has legalised small-scale capitalism.

Economy goes up by 2 points. Tax rate drops 4 percent. Spending on admin drops 3 percent.

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#153: Protesters Have Gone Too Far, Claim Police

1. "This is an outrage!" cries Police Chief Elizabeth Dubois. "The people of @@[email protected]@ just don't know how good they have it! Our nation is a gem compared to many others, but if you give an inch they will take a mile. I had to tell officer Benson's wife yesterday that their child will grow up without a father. Do I think public protests should be outlawed? You're damn right I do."

Result: protests are illegal.

Political freedoms drops 10 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

2. "It all happened so fast," says Matilda Mombota, one of the protesters. "The crowd was just chanting, you know... and then they tear gassed us. I saw one cop, this Mr. Benson, club a teenager right in the face! For what? Speaking his mind! That's when the crowd rushed him. I'm sorry he's dead, but the police think they have a right to do whatever they want - things get out of hand sometimes. I think the police department should keep out of the way when we're protesting - even if things do get... excited."

Result: recent protests against birds flying too low have resulted in bloodshed.

Political freedoms increases 1 point. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on law and order decreases while defense increases.

3. "It's because protests get out of hand sometimes that we need a police presence," argues PC Declan Wong eventually after singing the national anthem to you. "Even violent protestors have a right to feel safe on the streets. If that means we have to die to protect the innocent, then that means we have to die. I think protests should be restricted to a designated area where police can keep an eye on the protestors. Then everything can go nice and smoothly and no one will have to worry about being beaten to death."

Result: protests are legal but strictly supervised.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

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#154: Ban The 'Boards, Say Pedestrians

1. "Skateboarding is a menace to pedestrians and road users," says activist Abraham McGuffin. "Not to mention the astronomical number of skateboarding-related injuries - hundreds of children flood the emergency rooms of @@[email protected]@ as a result of skateboarding every year, which is costly to the taxpayers. Keep our streets safe and save a little cash at the same time. Hell, you could make even more money by ticketing those who violate this law."

Result: skateboarding is punishable by heavy fines.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on law and order increases 6 percent, coming directly from drops in Healthcare. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Ticketing children for getting out of the house and exercising?" asks Jack Nagasawa, a school teacher, in disbelief. "That's outrageous! It's true that skateboarding can be dangerous but so is walking down the stairs! You want to ban that too?! What we should do is pass laws requiring safety equipment for skaters - if we allocate a little bit of the tax payers' money to the cause, we can build a skate park that will keep our children safe and away from others on the road too."

Result: skateparks can be found in every city.

No change to trends or tax rate. Administration spending increases by 2 percent. On a second test, Civil rights increased 1 point, Tax increase 1 percent, no change to spending pattern.

3. "Yo, dude, I've got a better idea," says Stephanie Jong-Il while executing a complicated 360° spin over your head. "What if skateboarding was the only way to get around? Wouldn't that be cool? Skateboarding is cheap, healthy, and fun! Everyone should do it! You could improve, like, the quality of life for everyone by banning vehicles and making skateboarding the only legal way to travel. People'd love you for it, man. Well, apart from the guys who make cars and the like, I guess."

Result: skateboarding is the only legal way to travel.

Economy drops 8 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on healthcare increase by 7 percent. (yes, healthcare). On a partial, second test, it's observed that Public transport also dropped 1 percent.

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#155: Curfew Meets Minor Opposition

1. "The youth-related crime statistics in @@[email protected]@ are appalling," says police chief Melbourne Shiomi. "If kids can't go out at night, they won't have any opportunity to roam around in their baggy pants and backwards hats mugging the elderly and causing a general ruckus. Just last night I had to run down some punk who tried to steal a mailbox right off the post! This is getting ridiculous. Sure, it'll require more funding, but think of all the mailboxes we'll save! Our youth need to spend the wee hours sleeping or studying--not out gallivanting with their friends."

Result: teenagers are sent to jail for being out too late. >>THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP ISSUE 270

Civil rights decline 3 points. Law and Order spending increase by 5 percent.

2. "I'm not a criminal just because I'm seventeen!" shouts honors student, Jennifer Christmas. "Yeah, I like to go out partying, but I'd never hurt anybody! Besides, we've already got enough problems with these pigs breathing down our necks. If anything we need MORE freedom. It's time for the government to step up to the plate and tell these power hungry swine to stop cramping our style!"

Result: teenagers across the country are celebrating the defeat of a national curfew bill. >> THIS OPTION MAY - OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Civil rights increase 7 points. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on law and order drops 4 percent.

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#156: Waste Going To Waste, Says Industry Lobby

1. "These waste dumping laws are destroying our businesses!" rants Harry de Jong, head of the @@[email protected]@ Bigger Business Bureau. "We need cheaper ways to eliminate industrial by-products, which really aren't as harmful as people think, such as pouring them into rivers or deep ocean ravines where they're harmless to us. Let's remember that the products we manufacture make your life easier and more fun!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ with strange deformities like three eyes and tentacles have been seen prancing through the countryside where industrial waste is dumped.

Economy increase 4 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending unchanged. >> THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

2. "A better way to deal with this problem is to convince the public it isn't a problem at all," whispers Beth Licorish, head of Scamcorp, an industrial think tank. "Fudge some research, declare that the chemical by-products from industrial processing and production actually make one's teeth and bones healthier. Then, sell them to municipalities to add to their drinking water! Yes! This will not only save us the trouble of disposing of the waste correctly, we'll be able to sell it at a profit! I can taste the money already!"

Result: the nation's drinking water tends to glow green at night.

Economy increases by 58 points (from a low of 20). Tax rate decreases by 9 percent. No change to spending.

3. "These corrupt, money-hungry corporations are only looking out for themselves and their bottom line!" says Nick Clinton, an environmentalist from northern @@[email protected]@. "The government needs to enact stricter laws for how these companies can dump their waste safely, and when they poison @@[email protected]@'s people and environment, the government needs the authority and manpower to enforce harsh penalties! These companies make their messes, they should pay to clean them up!"

Result: heavy industry must go to expensive lengths to dispose of waste.

Economy drops 11 points. Tax increase 4 percent. Spending on environment increase 7 percent.

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#157: Sergeants Are Too Nasty, Say New Recruits

1. "It's atrocious!" wails Private Stan Chen, from amidst the cacophony of a parade cadence. "We're forced to sleep in crowded barracks, on hard cots, and do the most inhumane exercises when we wake up! Just today I've had to crawl through a muddy minefield, climb a grease-coated wall, and to top it all off, get mangled by an angry drill sergeant! All we want is a little respect from the officers - maybe to sleep in until noon, and not have to get all sweaty and tired doing stupid things like marching and climbing ropes. Oh, and private bedrooms too - we're risking our lives for the country, after all."

Result: military barracks resemble five-star hotels.

Civil rights go up 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent.Spending on defense decrease 4 percent.

2. "THEY WANT WHAT?!" screams Sgt. Burkz, while pressing back a rising vein on her neck. "This is WAR, not DAYCARE! If anything, the training standards should be tougher! If I want to whip some pasty-faced, beer-gutted greenhorn because he can't climb over a razor-wire fence then I should be given the permission to do so right away! The cry-babies won't like it, but they can run home back to their rich daddies if that's the way they're having it. War isn't a walk in the park, and training shouldn't be either. For all our sakes."

Result: the nation's infamous boot camp is more brutal than most battlefields.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Defense increase 8 percent.

3. "Training, what a load of old hooey," says renowned spendophobe and radio announcer, Zeke Levy. "The only thing it teaches our soldiers is how to shine boots and fight plastic dummies. We'd be better off if we just dropped them into the fight so they could learn to shoot for themselves. There might be a few accidents, but it'll be worth it for all the @@[email protected]@ we'll save."

Result: soldiers are slaughtered in their thousands due to lack of training.

No change to trends. Tax rate reduced by 4 points. Spending on defense drops 6 percent.

4. "There is another way, you know..." whispers Randy Bush, the Chief of Secret Projects and Shiny Things in @@[email protected]@'s military research department. "What if we started taking children and raising them from birth to fight? We'd be able to make them completely immune to propaganda, psychological warfare, and demoralisation. Not only would that stop the crying new recruits, it'd also give us a powerful military edge. People may not like giving up their kids, but that's why we run the country. We know better."

Result: newborns are being raised as mindless killing machines.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 5 percent.

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#158: Regarding Robbers' Rights

1. "We must take a stand against burglars and looters entering our property," explains HDA President, Catherine Gratwick, while digging a moat around her house. "We should be able to rip their guts out with a machine gun, no questions asked. If they want rights they should have considered the poor sod they were robbing."

Result: nervous homeowners have been blamed for rising death rates amongst carol singers and locksmiths.

No observable changes. On a second test, Civil rights decrease 3 points. No other changes.

2. "Even burglars have human rights," says Tobias Steele, while thieving a yen from your pocket. "And we don't deserve to be shot for trying to make our way in the world. People are far more important than property, I hope you agree! Why attack a burglar? That's the job of the coppers! I think anyone injuring anyone else should be severely punished with no excuses about trespassers or defending your property. Or yourself."

Result: burglary is widely regarded as the national sport.

Civil Rights increase greatly. On second test, Civil rights drops (go down) 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending. On a third test, no observable changes.

3. "Hey, let's not be hasty!" cautions Heather Hamilton, an anti-gun protester. "I'm not for riddling burglars with bullets either, but I do want to protect my family! I think it would be a lot more sensible if we allowed homeowners to attack burglars, but not with guns. In fact it would be even better if we just banned guns while we're at it."

Result: trespassers often find themselves impaled by crossbow bolts.

Civil rights drops 6 points. No other observable changes.

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#159: Think Tank Proposes Privatised Prisons

1. "@@[email protected]@s prisons are in a ghastly state," says Randy Clinton, representative for several large businesses. "The state now pays a fortune in money each day for every prisoner. My clients will be able to operate the prisons more efficiently and charge the state far less than they're having to pay now. With our help, those in jail will be able to get themselves jobs to do and the government can imprison as many people as they like!"

Result: hundreds of thousands of convicts work as slaves in @@[email protected]@'s many privately-owned prisons.

Civil rights drop 1 point. Tax rate decreases by 2 percent. Spending on welfare decreases 2 percent, spirituality increases by 1 percent, industry increases 1 percent, Education increases 1 percent.

2. "This is just another scheme by multinational corporations to turn our great nation into a corporate dictatorship!" claims Lars Cho, of the Social Justice League of @@[email protected]@. "Just say NO to privatised prisons. We should be closing them all down so we can begin focusing on rehabilitation anyway!"

Result: convicted murderers are free to walk the streets provided they attend rehabilitation classes.

Civil rights go up by 3 percent. Tax rate decreases (yes go down) by 1 percent. Spending on law and order decreases 6 percent.

3. "Private prisons?! Rehabilitation?! How utterly ridiculous!" exclaims Jack Jefferson, @@[email protected]@'s toughest police officer. "Both of these proposals will simply waste resources on the scum of society. I say that we should summarily execute all violent criminals and give their property to their victims."

Result: criminals are executed and their property seized.

Civil rights drop by 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Law and order go up 9 percent while that on welfare drops by the same amount.

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#160: Truancy On The Rise

1. "The truancy situation is just getting worse and worse," says Hillary Cho, the chair of a local PTA group. "We've got children in our schools who turn up for maybe a couple of classes a week. It's getting ridiculous! They can't learn if they don't turn up. The government must introduce some sort of special truancy patrol in the police force. Controlled by us, of course."

Result: highschool principals regularly send armed truancy patrols to drag problem students to school.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education and L&O both increase 2 percent each. On second test, confirms result.

2. "WHAT KIND OF WORTHLESS IDEA IS THAT?!" bellows General Freddy Taffs, the Head of the @@[email protected]@ Military Academy, while turning a brilliant beetroot-red. "What these troublesome brats need is a good term in military school. I'll straighten 'em up, alright. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY!"

Result: children deemed 'disorderly' or otherwise unfit for public schools are shipped off to military academies.

Civil rights drops 3 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "I really don't see what the problem is," says student Virginia Washington, smoking an odd smelling substance. "I mean, so what if I only go to school three to four days a month? It means I'm able to work full-time, which probably benefits the economy or... yeah, something like that. The government should just back off, man."

Result: students in @@[email protected]@'s schools rarely attend their classes.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Education drops 3 percent.

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#161: Where There's A Will There's A Tax

1. "Every time I see a stupid rich kid having an easy ride of life with money they did nothing to deserve, I go into a jealous rage and start punching walls," says economically disadvantaged individual Larry Summers. "Abolish inheritance entirely! If the government takes the inheritance then we can spend all that cash on things that make ordinary people's lives better, like education, social welfare, and attack helicopters."

Result: the government seizes the property of the recently deceased.

Political freedoms decreases 5 points. Tax rate increases 1%, spending on industry decreases, admin increases.

2. "This is a disgusting breach of my human rights," says @@[email protected]@, heir to an international widget empire. "Just think of all the poor families who have spent their lives scrimping and saving with the dream of passing on a modest luxury yacht to ensure the security of their children's children. All that sacrifice, all that toil, all those long nights working their fingers to the bone setting up offshore accounts - it brings a tear to my eye. Inheritance tax has got to go!"

Result: inheritance tax has recently been abolished.

Increases political freedoms. Decreases income tax rate. On second test, Political freedoms increase 10 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on admin decreases 7 percent.

3. "Surely we can arrange some sort of compromise here," says comfortable knitwear fan Johann Gutenberg. "Yes, it's true that some people exploit the system - but a lot of people rely on inheritance for their basic support! Why don't we just set a sensible ceiling on how much you can inherit? That way you get to keep the family farm, but not the five mansions and the oil refinery."

Result: the government is notorious for leaving citizens with almost nothing from their inheritance.

Political freedoms decreased by 3 points, Civil rights decreased by 1 point. Tax rate remains unchanged. No changes to spending pattern.

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#162: Animal Experimentation Laws Under Scrutiny

1. "What have those poor, defenceless animals ever done to us?" asks Freddy Spirit, owner of the East @@[email protected]@ @@[email protected]@ Sanctuary. "Kidnapping these helpless creatures from their habitat simply to stick probes and needles in them is just barbaric! How would you like it if someone caged you in a lab and conducted tests on you just to find out whether a new product was fit for sale? Experimenting on animals ought to be banned!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ breeding has been banned in accordance with recent animal experimentation laws.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending in industry drops 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "It is not unethical," replies Dr. Thomas O'Bannon, the chief surgeon at @@[email protected]@'s largest Cancer Research Clinic. "The unethical thing to do would be to deny the public of the benefit of the great scientific advancements we're making! If we have to sacrifice some animals in the name of science, healthcare, or a commerical venture, then that's just what we've got to do! Think of the lives we could save! All we require is more government support and funding for this worthy cause."

Result: several citizens have complained about scientists abducting their pets for experimentation.

No changes to trends. Tax increase 1 percent.. Spending on healthcare increases by 8 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#163: Referenda: Are they Right For @@[email protected]@?

1. "We want real democracy, and we want it now!" proclaims Thomas Trax, spokesperson for special interest group 'Direct Democracy Now!' "The fact that this latest law went through has proven that voting for a Parliament every four years is obviously not enough. Laws must be passed by the masses - that is the only way we can be sure that the will of the people is truly being enforced! We must have mandatory referenda for ALL new laws."

Result: a referendum must be held in order for any new law to be passed. >>THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUE 253

Political freedoms go up 14 points on a nation with very low p freedoms. Tax increases 2 percent. Spending on admin go up by 4 percent.

2. "Don't listen to these demagogues!" implores one of your top advisors, Faith Wu. "This is a ridiculous and dangerous idea! Referenda are costly and inefficient, and a direct threat to the fine institution that is our Parliament. What do you think we have the Parliament for anyway? Our citizenry nowadays don't know what's good for them. They're too busy milling around at the mall and buying sneakers WITH LIGHTS IN THEM. More control needs to be given to our qualified, intelligent--and most of all INFORMED--politicians."

Result: referenda are banned by law and the Parliament has absolute control of the legislative process.

Political freedoms down by 2 points. Tax rate increases 5 percent. Spending on admin increases 8 percent.

3. "Referenda are a good idea in principle, but to make them mandatory for each and every law is simply impractical," states Political Scientist Ivan Silk. "Representative democracy exists because direct democracy would never work in practice in a large society such as @@[email protected]@. Just think of all the bureaucracy and expense that would go into it! I suggest that referenda be allowed, but only if at least a third of voters sign a petition requesting one. That should be a nice balance between democracy and practicality."

Result: referenda can be called for any law at the request of at least one third of the voting population.

Surprisingly no observable changes at all. On second test, confirms no changes.

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#164: Licence To Breed?

1. "You need a licence to keep lions or drive a car," points out local current affairs commentator, Buy Anderson. "So why should just any random idiot get to be a mother or father? It just doesn't make sense! If all potential parents had to pass tests to prove they're responsible enough, I'm sure you'd find that it would help decrease the level of child abuse, and increase proper discipline in the home."

Result: citizens wishing to be parents must undertake a series of gruelling tests to evaluate their capabilities.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Admin increases 4 percent.

2. "This is madness!" screams Colin Fellow. "You can't deny perfectly good people the right to bring life into this world! animal manage it easily enough, and you can't tell me they've got more responsibility than your average upstanding citizen of @@[email protected]@! The government should keep out of such matters - I've always said social workers and welfare was a drain on the budget. Yes, there will be some sad cases of neglect, but shouldn't we be giving parents the benefit of the doubt?"

Result: almost half of the child population live rough on the streets.

Civil right increases 1 point. Income tax down by 1 percent. Spending on welfare decreases 3 percent.

3. "The answer to this problem is patently obvious," says Konrad Hernandez, your minister of Social Welfare. "The government simply needs to give more funding to the welfare department so that we can recruit more social workers to carry out regular checks on parents and judge whether or not they're doing a good job of looking after their children. It'll be expensive, but at least it's a damn sight fairer than licensing parents."

Result: welfare funding has recently gone through the roof.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 5 percent.

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#165: Wedlock Worries

1. "This can't go on!" exclaims Nick Wilson, a long time campaigner for the rights of single young women. "Right now there's nothing to stop my parents marrying me off to anyone they please! Surely it ought to be the sole decision of the individual as to who they spend the rest of their life with? You can't just force two people together and expect it to work! Arranged marriages must be banned!"

Result: many parents are becoming frustrated with their children's choices in spouses.

Civil rights increase 2 points. No other changes. On second test, confirms result.

2. "I only want what's best for my daughter," argues Cyril Duckworth, father of three. "She's young! Far too young to know what's good for her! Everyday when I look in the newspaper I learn of another unwanted teen pregnancy, of poor, sad adolescents who have gone down the slippery slope of drugs and violence. If parents have the power to arrange marriages with other, respectable, wealthy families, then it helps set the foundations for our children to have a decent life! I propose that all marriages should be arranged by the parents of the families - it's the best way."

Result: children are regularly married to each other to secure business deals between families.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax or spending pattern.

3. "That's crazy!" says Heather Brown, your Minister of Domestic Affairs. "Everyone knows that the people who screw your life up most are your parents! And now you consider letting them to decide who you marry?! I think we, the government, should arrange all marriages by national census. Distribute everyone to a place and person in an economically stimulating way - why, we'd solve the housing problems just like that! Especially if we dismiss outmoded things like divorce and monogamy! This could be a golden opportunity for us."

Result: all marriages are arranged by the government.

Civil rights drops 15 points. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on Admin increase 4 percent.

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#166: Vote For 'None of the Above'?

1. "It's a simple matter really," says left-wing activist and former rock star Sue-Ann du Pont. "Sometimes when you're voting, all the options suck. Why then should people be forced to hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two, or even three or four evils? Adding 'None of the Above' to the ballot would ensure that the people have a choice at all times, even if that choice is to reject the choices they have been given!"

Result: elections have become procedural nightmares due to voters persistently rejecting candidates.

Political freedoms increase 6 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "Adding 'None of the Above' to the ballot makes absolutely no sense," contributes conservative political pundit Dave Sato. "Those who want to run for office have already put their names on the ballot, and if none of those options suits the voter, that's just too bad. Instead, we ought to prevent this sort of problem and limit the number of options. Sure, fewer people can run, but that will eliminate costly runoff elections completely!"

Result: voters must frequently select what they view as the lesser of two evils on the ballot.

Political freedoms drops 3 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending pattern. On second test, no change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#167: Fluoride Controversy A Toothy Problem

1. "Fluoride has been shown time and time again to promote dental health," argues Dr. Edwin Namel, Chairperson of 'Friends of The Teeth'. "It's not an experimental drug for heaven's sake, it's an accepted method of promoting national good health. A nationwide program for the fluoridation of drinking water should not be seen as optional - it's a no-brainer for any sensible government. We need to implement this now, whether the public want it or not."

Result: the people are famous throughout the region for their bleached-white teeth.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increases 4 percent.

2. "I am strongly against this proposal!" rages Zeke Yeats, one of the more vociferous members of the @@[email protected]@ Green Society. "When I turn on the water tap I expect to get just that. Water. Nothing else. We are not lab rats and it is not the government's place to force us into taking these chemicals! In fact I reckon we should put the brakes on all these new chemicals doctors keep pumping into people and give us the right to say no!"

Result: the public health bureaucracy is wrapped in miles of red tape.

No changes to trends or tax rate. No change to spending. (Another nation reported minor increase of 1 point in Civil Rights)

3. "There's no need to go to either extreme," says Lars Bush, your personal dentist. "It's all about, um, choice. Here's a nice alternative: why not just have clean non-fluorinated drinking water and give more funds to dentists? If we had enough money, we could make all dental care absolutely free! It will be demanding on the taxpayers I know, but they'll surely be happy when they all have sparkling white teeth!"

Result: most of the nation's wealthy aristocrats are dentists.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increases by 11 percent.

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#168: @@[email protected]@ Plagued By STD Epidemic!

1. "This situation is about to explode. At this rate, this epidemic could severely impact our economy, our way of life, and even our government," says Doctor Stefanie Mistletoe. "We must supply powerful drugs to all infected people, even if we have to produce and distribute it ourselves. We must also educate people on the dangers of VODAIS and supply condoms to all sexually active males. Sure, we'll need to divert tax money from the military to fund all this, but what good is a military if the soldiers are too sick to fight?"

Result: the government has undertaken a massive education and health program to combat VODAIS.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare increases 11 percent and welfare increases 7 percent.

2. "If you supply condoms, you'll increase sexual promiscuity," scoffs religious leader Agnes Wall. "If you supply drugs, you'll risk creating an aura of invincibility which in turn increases sexual promiscuity. Sexual abstinence is 100% effective in preventing VODAIS infection. This knowledge must be taught at all schools and workplaces, and all other choices must be ridiculed. Make celibacy the only option!"

Result: people have to sneak out of the country in order to have sex.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare drops 3 percent, goes to L&O.

3. "Supplying drugs and condoms will not stop VODAIS infections and forcing everyone to be celibate will be the slow death of @@[email protected]@," whispers Health Minister Charles de Groot in a poorly-lit back room. "Segregating the infected people is the most effective method. Everybody in @@[email protected]@ must be tested for VODAIS. Then all the VODAIS positive people will be shipped to separate gated communities away from the rest of us. If they need to mingle with uninfected people, then they must wear distinguishing badges that feature a Grim Reaper holding a skeletal @@[email protected]@s."

Result: otherwise healthy people are being sent to internment camps because they have VODAIS.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Income tax decrease by 1 percent. Spending on healthcare drops 4 percent.

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#169: @@[email protected]@ Hunting Laws Under Dispute

1. "@@[email protected]@ hunting is a cruel and horrible 'sport' for the wealthy," says Sean Giono of the 'Protect Anything Cute and Furry Society'. "How can you possibly justify it? Oh, they witter on about 'tradition' and 'pest control' and other such nonsense, but really we all know it's because these sadists love to torture poor, innocent animals! Hunting must be banned!"

Result: the upper class have been throwing riots after hunting was recently banned.

Civil rights drop 1 point. Tax and spending pattern remains the same.

2. "Banning @@[email protected]@ hunting would be the end for centuries of tradition!" wails esteemed aristocrat Falala Hendrikson from atop his steed. "The thrill of the chase, the baying of the hounds, the @@[email protected]@ scooting through the undergrowth - it would be a travesty! We provide much needed stimulus to the local tourism, and you can't deny that @@[email protected]@s are pests - killing farmers' livestock for example! I propose that @@[email protected]@ hunting be encouraged, for the cultural - and economic - benefit of the nation!"

Result: the nation is famous for having one of the world's largest @@[email protected]@ hunting institutions.

No observable changes but compassion probably decreases.

3. "Well, you know what I think?" asks Johann Gutenberg, while helping to assemble a small trebuchet. "I reckon that the real issue about this sport is the cruelty aspect, and no-one can deny that sending a pack of dogs to tear apart a poor, innocent @@[email protected]@ is cruel. I reckon we should just ban hunting with hounds and only allow kinder and more instantly lethal methods like guns, tranquillisers, and cruise missiles."

Result: main battle tanks stalk the woods of @@[email protected]@ in search of @@[email protected]@s.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

4.. "I'm firmly against the slaughter of dumb animals," says Heather Hernandez, while feeding an infant @@[email protected]@ with a milk bottle. "It would be best if the animals didn't die, and hunters could still do what they love to do - how about instead of shooting them or sending vicious canines after them, the hunter runs up to his quarry and gives it a symbolic 'tap' with his hand? Now isn't that much nicer for everyone?"

Result: hunters have been known to lose limbs while attempting to 'play tag' with their prey.

No observable changes.

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#170: Deserts Devouring @@[email protected]@'s Countryside

1. "This is a disaster," wails Tim Compassion, your Minister of the Environment. "We've been too lax on letting the agriculture sector overgraze and overcrop our lands and now we're paying the price. There needs to be some serious cutback on what these companies are allowed to do, or before you know it we're going to be scaling sand dunes on the way to work."

Result: mysterious black helicopters menace farmers to ensure compliance with straitjacketing agricultural policies.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

RE-TEST

2. "'Ey there, you stupid townie, what about us?" shouts Farmer's Union Leader Ariel Smith, waving a pitchfork from atop a combine harvester parked outside. "We's just goin' t' be tole we're out of a job? Tha' best way t' goes about this is t' promote stuff like that there recyclin', crop rotatin', an' biodiversity, and t' gives us tha' subsidies we needs t' work in 'armony wi' mother nature. Desertification ain't no irreversible thing, an' claimin' tha' land back will be slow and bloody expensive, by thunder. But oi'm sure tha' taxpayers will be more than 'appy t' aid us 'umble farmers in our plight, and maybe gives us a little more say in things in future, so's this can't 'appen again."

Result: owning a tractor is widely regarded as an essential prerequisite to most government positions.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 2 percent, while Industry also go up marginally. On second test, partially confirms result.

3. "Yee-haw, these here deserts are the greatest thang that's happened in YARS!" drawls noted cowboy Hamish McGraw, twirling his shootin' irons. "This is just what @@[email protected]@ needs! Just git a stagecoach out har an tha' foreign types will come a-flockin,' y'all see if ah'm wrong! We don't need no fundin' f' tha' environment! Them's farmers c'n jus' git minin' fer GOLD!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ has become a gigantic dustbowl filled with tourists and mean desperados.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 8 percent (to zero)

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#171: Kids And Criminality: Whose Responsibility?

1. "These damned hooligans are running wild on our streets!" splutters hard-nosed Sergeant Gregory Bush of the police force. "My overworked officers can't cope anymore! Everywhere we look we're being surrounded by mobs of unruly children! I need you to give me and my officers the power to dish out punishment to these little hoodlums. I don't care how young these kids are - they need to learn to behave properly as soon as possible. Even if it requires a short jail sentence of ten years or so."

Result: eight year-olds with lemonade stands have been known to be locked up on charges of embezzlement.

Civil rights drop by 4 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on law and order go up by 7 percent.

2. "The last thing we need is a police force that prosecutes, convicts, AND sentences young kids!" yells outraged Child Welfare Officer Buy Li. "These youngsters are merely children being playful! Let them learn from their own mistakes! You can't tell me you weren't ever naughty when you were that young! Experience is the tree from which learning is a fruit, remember, and besides: the taxes needed to round them all up would be murder."

Result: the nation's youth is held blameless for all crimes. >> THIS MAY - OPEN UP MORE ISSUES 109?

Civil rights go up by 14 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on law and order decreases 4 percent.

3. "Hah! Yeh're lookin' at this the wrong way!" says Chastity Wong, an elderly pensioner, hobbling up to you and poking you in the chest with a walking stick. "When I was wee, and if I was caught breakin' the law, me dad would've beaten seven types of bahoola out of me! If a kid's gone maladjusted and started nickin' cars and whatnot, look at the parents and punish them for not bringin' the tiny scions up right! Yeh can't blame a kid for the environment they were raised in an' that's that!"

Result: parents are held criminally responsible for their children's crimes.

Civil rights decrease by 3 point. On second test, Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending (confirms result)

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#172: Church Attendances Reaching New Low, Warn Priests

1. "The apathy of @@[email protected]@'s people towards their religious duties to God is abysmal," rumbles a man known only as 'The Hierophant' as he brandishes his holy book at you. "If we don't rectify this problem immediately the ground shalt quake, the sky shalt turn blood-red, and the fields shalt turn to offal. The government must make religious attendance compulsory before all the land is damned to an eternity in the Netherworld!"

Result: atheists refusing to attend church are heavily fined by the government.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent.

2. "Compulsory church attendance is not the answer to this problem," says swami Efthamia Chicago in between spells of meditation. "There are many ways to enlightenment and it would be wrong for the government to enforce any one of them so, instead, we must divert some of the money we spend on meaningless economic pursuits into funding an awareness campaign to help people discover their true religious identity. We must establish temples, mosques, and hermitages so people can find out which path to their spirituality is right for them."

Result: the government is spending billions of @@[email protected]@s on helping citizens find spiritual enlightenment.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on spirituality increase 1 percent. On second test, Economy drops 3 points. No change to tax. Spending on Industry drops 2 percent, goes to increase Spirituality. All other industries no change.

3. "I reckon you could just ignore these zealots and scrap any government funding we still have going into religion," says Ariel Anderson, author of the wildly unpopular book 'Face It, There Is No Afterlife'. "I can't believe that modern thinkers like you and me are still tying ourselves down with outmoded and outdated concepts like the 'soul' or 'God'. Just drop all funding and give everyone a bit of a tax break. At least then we can be a bit richer before the long infinite void of oblivion at the end of our small, feeble, insignificant little lives."

Result: the people of @@[email protected]@ are renowned for their nihilistic attitudes.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 5 percent. Spending on Spirituality decrease 18 points to zero

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#173: Women Demand Equal Opportunities

1. "The government must put a stop to businesses discriminating against women when they apply for a job!" chants Anne-Marie Trax, a ferocious supporter of women's rights. "Did you know that on average men in Gustav I earn four times the amount that women do for doing the same job?! For too long has the female race been discriminated against in our society due to their sex! We demand equal wages, equal opportunities, and equal respect for women and we demand them now!"

Result: businessmen have been raging over recent 'gender equality' policies in the workplace.

Economy drops 8 points. Civil Rights go up 1 point. Tax rate increases 3 percent. No effect on spending.

2. "Hey, my business is treading a thin enough profit margin as it is," complains Thomas Roosevelt, CEO of Heavy Lifting Incorporated. "Women just aren't as good as men at certain jobs, it's a probably proven fact! Take firefighting - if you were dying from smoke inhalation and collapsed on the floor unable to move, who would you prefer to attempt to rescue you? A man with superior muscular strength or some weakling female? Go on, you decide. Let the businesses decide what they pay and who they pay it to - after all, the economy depends on us."

Result: women earn less than half the salary of men if they can even find a job.

Civil rights drops 8 points, Economy increase by 1 (yes go up). Tax decrease by 1 percent. No change to spending.

3. "Hah! Our society is getting far too soft!" rages Gregory de Groot, a staunch male chauvinist. "Whatever happened to the days when a man could go back home to find his good lady wife with his tea ready and his slippers warm? I've heard that some men even have to cook and clean for themselves! Let us return to the days when it was just the men who went out to bring home the bacon! A brand new golden age!"

Result: women are seen and not heard. >> THIOS OPTION MAY - OPEN UP MORE ISSUES

Economy drops a whopping 19 points, Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. No change to spending.

4. "Personally I think things went wrong as soon as women got labelled as the 'fairer' sex," interrupts Catherine Gratwick, author of the best-selling novel 'Gynaecocracy For Beginners'. "We're strong, we're willing - and we're just plain better than men. See what a state the world is in when they're in charge? I propose that all the men should stay home and be househusbands whilst the women go out to work and earn the wage packet!"

Result: it is mandatory for men to stay home to fix funny noises in the attic.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 7 percent.

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#174: Maternity Leave A Must, Say Mothers

1. "Six months?! Six WHOLE months?!" blusters Bharatendu Chicago, a payroll manager. "Six whole months of being fully paid by our company for doing nothing but looking after a baby?! This will sink the small businesses and lose us an obscene amount of revenue! We cannot allow this to pass!"

Result: the nanny industry has had a boom after maternity leave was recently banned.

Economy increases 7 points, Civil rights decrease 4 points. Tax rate go down 1 percent. No changes to spending.

2. "I believe that passing this law will be a step in the right direction," says Alexander Barnes, the nation's most outspoken feminist advocate. "These kids need their mothers' love and attention during an important part of their growth development! I don't see why mums should be forced to juggle with the stress of bringing up children and having a job! It's simply too much! Six months maternity leave with full pay is what this country needs - even if it is at the expense of a few avaricious fat cats."

Result: all mothers are allowed six months fully-paid maternity leave. >>GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES!

Economy drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. No change to govt spending.

3."Look, I've got an idea," says Beth Utopia, an obsessive centrist. "Perhaps we can allow for six months of paid maternity leave, but have the government pay the companies for lost revenue? That way the mothers can bring up their children without financial worries, companies won't lose investors, and everyone will be happy. Apart from the taxpayers, of course, but you can't please everyone."

Result: untold millions of @@[email protected]@s are going into a new government-funded maternity leave scheme.

No change in trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on welfare increases 6 percent.

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#175: Is @@[email protected]@ Too Promiscuous?

1. "Whatever happened to the sanctity of marriage?" asks Chastity Summers while wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan 'Marriage is for life, not just for anniversaries'. "Whatever happened to lifelong companionship? Whatever happened to simple faithfulness because of love?! Adultery seems to be more of a hobby than anything these days! The government must impose the utmost punishments on those who commit this sin. A good old-fashioned stoning should sort it!"

Result: adultery has been made a capital offence.

Civil rights drop by 12 points. Tax rate go up by 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 6 percent.

2. "I don't agree with adultery either," says Jennifer Frederickson, a passer-by. "But, uh... stoning? You don't think that's a little extreme? If we find someone guilty of fornication we can just lock them up in jail. That way no-one gets killed and the sinners get justice. It's more expensive to the tax payers than a stoning of course, but I reckon it's worth it."

Result: those found guilty of illicit affairs are jailed.

Civil rights decreases 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on law and order increase 2 percent, and spirituality increases 1 percent.

3. "With the greatest of respect, this is none of your business!" yells Zeke Johnson who is rumoured to have had more than a thousand lovers and even more children. "The government has no right to go about trying to dictate the laws of love and romance! Marriages break down, people move on - is it really the government's place to make people stay put? You must recognise the fact that the law has no place within the bedroom!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ is notorious for its citizens' infidelity.

Civil rights increases 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality and law and order decreases.

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#176: History A Mystery To Most Of @@[email protected]@

1. "It is completely outrageous!" cries media critic Bianca Woolf. "The Captain was our most inspiring war leader and is a national hero! He never had a teen sidekick named Pogo! And he certainly didn't come from outer space! We should protect ourselves from such wanton revisionism and outlaw so-called artistic licence. That way we can be happy that what goes on in these movies is for real!"

Result: historical fiction has been banned.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

2. "Oh, that's nonsense, yeah?" says film director Lars Dredd, while polishing a small statue of a golden @@[email protected]@. "If anything, it helps our nation by familiarising everyone with historical figures and gets them more interested in the subject, yeah? It's not boring like real history; it can be exciting! With car chases and explosions, yeah! Hey, I'm excited already! Besides, what is history? Just memories from a certain viewpoint, yeah? Well, if you make all history classes see it from our viewpoint there'll be no more problem! Oh, yeah!"

Result: it is widely believed that the first citizen of @@[email protected]@ was called 'Wild-eyed Daddy-O'.

No change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on education drops 12 percent.

3. "I'm sure there's a middle ground," suggests Thomas Longfellow, your minister of History. "If we just made history classes mandatory for pupils until they leave school, increased taxes to raise funding for history classes a bit- no, make that a LOT, and encouraged history-related professions, then eventually everyone will realise that these films are simply pale, inaccurate imitations of events that really happened. People will be historically aware, and directors get to make their films. Everything sorted."

Result: history classes are mandatory for students.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increase 8 percent.

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#177: Power To The People?

1. "We demand the power to rule the country the way we want!" cries Chloe Christmas while being dragged before you in chains. "Too long have you and your dictatorial government been allowed to control our lives! The right to vote in a fair and free election is all we crave! You can take our lives, but you'll never take our souls! Elections for @@[email protected]@!"

Result: elections have recently been reintroduced to @@[email protected]@.

Political freedoms increase 6 points. Tax and spending pattern remains the same. On second test, confirms result.

2. "If you'll take my advice, we should just send these crazies down to the dungeons," murmurs Tobias Washington, one of your political advisors. "If we let them spread this propaganda we'll soon have a revolution on our hands! We should crack down on these groups, and ban non-governmental political organisations to keep the people from getting too frisky with their pitchforks."

Result: the government is cracking down on subversive groups.

Political freedoms dives 49 points down. No changes to tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

3. "There's no need to be quite so dramatic," assures Konrad Broadside, your minister of Silly Walks as he pinwheels past. "We could let them have their way a little, just to keep them happy, you know? We could give them the right to vote, but not the right to run for office. Then we could just pick out the candidates we wanted and they could choose! We've been doing this for years, we don't want some uppity new bloke trying to tell us what to do."

Result: the public are free to vote for whomever the government wants in office.

Political freedoms increase 4 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

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#178: Free Press too Free?

1. "Over a thousand jobs lost!" clamours Hope McAlpin, angry protester and ex-employee of Dreddmax Incorporated. "And why? Because the press isn't concerned about the truth anymore; all it wants is higher sales! We must forbid these rags from lying to the people and dish out heavy fines to those who try! This so-called 'free press' has a dark side, you know. We learnt that ever since we discovered it wasn't cottage cheese they were mining up north!"

Result: reporters often lose their jobs over fact-checking errors.

Political freedoms decrease by 4 points, Civil Rights decrease by 1 point. No effect on Economy, Tax or spending patterns.

2. "This is censorship!" says Elizabeth Shiomi, editor-in-chief of The Hebdomadal Gabfest while carefully noting everything you say in a notepad. "We speak for the people! Admittedly some newspapers didn't check all of their facts before they published, but that doesn't merit such draconian measures at all! If we're only allowed to print the absolute truth then how soon before we're getting constantly sued by politicians for libel? What about our rumour columns? It'll totally destroy the business! The government must have no part in repression of the media!"

Result: truth is often impossible to tell from fiction on the evening news.

Civil rights increase 12 points. Political freedoms increase 7 points. No change to tax or govt spending.

3. "You know that no matter what we decide we're going to make people mad," points out Konrad Wong, your Minister of Public Relations. "But the best way to control public opinion is to tell the public what their opinions are. I suggest nationalising all the newspapers and putting them under government control. Then we can tell them whatever we like! After all, we're much more trustworthy than some profit-driven media moguls, right? At least we won't have to issue ANOTHER public statement to tell everyone you're not a hyper-intelligent aubergine."

Result: all news sources are under strict government control.

Political freedoms down 8 points, civil rights down 3 points. Tax increases 2 percent. Spending on admin go up by 5 percent.

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#180: Mobile Maladies

1. "Have you seen these statistics?!" yells anti-mobile lobbyist Prudence Hamilton, gesturing towards a wiggly line on a clipboard. "Mobile phones now kill more people in this country than exploding cupboards, the ironing board, and Godzilla put together! And that's not including the number of people who die every year from car crashes caused by chit-chat while driving! These things fry your brain with microwaves while you speak! We must ban mobile phones now!"

Result: it is illegal to own a mobile phone.

No observable effects. On second test, confirms result.

2. "This is utter nonsense," argues Bharatendu King, CEO of Amber Phones, while nonchalantly slipping a wad of @@[email protected]@s into your pocket. "Mobile phones are totally harmless - I'll have you know that not one of our privately-funded studies has found the slightest bit of evidence to the contrary! Have you ever seen anyone drop dead in the street just because they were chatting on one of our new M/A models for sale now at low, low prices? No! It's just blatant scaremongering! I implore the government to dismiss these crackpots' complaints."

Result: mobile phone masts are being erected all over the country.

Political freedoms go down 1 point. Tax rate and spending patterns remains the same.

3. "I don't believe they're harmful either," says Lars Hamilton, a teacher. "But it's obvious to everyone what a detrimental effect it has on our children! Everywhere I look, I'm seeing children as young as four tapping away at the blasted things! Do you know how many lessons I've had interrupted by the 'Crazy Animal' ringtone? Do you know how many of my pupils think 'great' is spelled with a number? Too many! Only adults should be allowed to own and use mobile phones!"

Result: children have taken to using semaphore in light of the recent mobile phone ban.

Civil rights decreased one point. Tax rate and government spending remains the same.

 

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#181: Radio Rebels Ruffle Government

1. "These rebels are harmless," says Roxanne Longfellow, political commentator. "In the interests of free speech and democracy, we should allow them to broadcast their messages. There's nothing wrong with a little criticism of the government - indeed, it could do with some more incentive to perform well."

Result: 'The Anti-Government Hour' is a popular programme on many of @@[email protected]@'s radio stations.

Political freedoms up 38 points (on a nation with low freedoms to start with), civil rights increase 1 point. No effect on others.

2. "It'd be one thing if it was genuinely insightful criticism," says Finlay Suzuki, your personal advisor. "But this is a disgrace! It's simply fear-mongering and government-bashing. We should shut down these punks before they fill our citizens' heads full of mistruths. And while we're at it, there are a few other radio stations that need to smarten up their attitude to the government, too."

Result: a spate of enforced closures has left 'Government FM' as the nation's only radio station.

Civil rights drops 6 points, political freedoms drops 8 points, economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increases 4 percent.

3. "Now now, let's be reasonable about this," muses Robin Longfellow, radio chatshow host. "The government should think very carefully before it gets into the business of telling people what they can and can't say on the air. The solution here is not to ban criticism, but to price radio station licenses at an appropriate level - that is, higher than a rabble of unshaven hippies can afford."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s airwaves are dominated by corporate-backed commercial radio.

Civil rights drops 2 points, Political freedom drops 2 points. Surprisingly, economy also drops by 1 point. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on admin increase 1 percent.

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#182: Younger Voters a Cure for Apathy?

1. "It's their future as well, let the youngsters have their say!" calls Ivan Anderson, a retired history teacher. "By their early-teens, they should know as much about our government and political process as any other voter. It's time we got some young blood infused into the political process and got people interested in politics again."

Result: Coco the Clown has been elected to the nation's parliament.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. No change to spending.

2."Are you mad?" cries Peter Song, government treasurer. "Teenagers are way too easily distracted! They'll end up making snap decisions and lumber us with some incompetent fool who reduces our economy to ruin and could even end up giving out tax cuts! If anything, the government needs to be more careful about who we allow to vote. Background checks and strict conditions placed on all voters should help keep our government running smoothly."

Result: only a minority of the population can actually vote at elections.

Political freedoms drops 5 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Admin increases 2 percent.

3. "All these elections are awfully troublesome," says Georgina Hernandez, your senior aide. "I mean, it's obvious you know what's best for the people and for @@[email protected]@, so why don't we cut out the whole voting thing and just appoint the ministers directly? Think of all the money we'd save, and the trees that would be spared from being turned into ballot papers!"

Result: the nation's leader appoints ministers directly.

Political freedoms drops 12 points. Tax rate drops 3 percent. Spending on Admin drops 3 percent.

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#183: Buy A Better Baby?

1. "Embryo selection isn't really genetic engineering in the technical sense," explains Dr. Melbourne Hendrikson, owner of the Babies-2-Go Clinic. "It's more like being able to have a dozen abortions per month until you get the foetus you desire. I can't really see what's wrong with parents who can afford it being able to eliminate foetuses with undesirable genetic traits - like stupidity."

Result: wealthy parents-to-be can select their perfect baby.

Civil rights go up by 11 points. Spending on social policy down by 5 percent. In another test nation with CR at 81, it went down by 1 point.

2. "Thou shalt pay for thy sins!" screams Bruce Strange, waving a crucifix. "This is just meddling with the sanctity of life. If these children are to be born with horrible defects then it's God's will and who are we to question it? This technology must be banned at once!"

Result: research into 'designer babies' is banned.

Civil rights drops 6 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 2 percent.

3. "This technology shows promise," muses Wil Sparkle, minister of health. "But we can't trust the private sector with the future of our nation's children. We must place it under strict government regulation, so that we only screen out embryos with serious genetic conditions."

Result: government-run screening operations remove embryos with severe genetic disorders.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increases 4 percent.

4. "This has got me thinkin'," says General Lee Chen, thumbing through a big folder marked 'X'. "If this technology lets us reduce genetic defects, then couldn't it work the other way? We could create ourselves an army of genetically superior soldiers! With our army of Super Soldiers, no nation would dare stand in our way!"

Result: @@NAM[email protected]@'s army is full of two-metre tall super-soldiers.

No changes to trends. Tax rate increases 1%. Spending on defense increases 8 points.

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#184: Compulsory Military Service Under Attack

1. "Our children are forced to be trained to murder!" protests Don Woolf, chairperson of the Parents Against All Things Violent organisation. "For too long now the government has been snatching away our children and training them to become killing machines. This archaic practice must be banned at once! Sure, some of them could end up breaking into cars or terrorising old people, but hey, kids will be kids, right?"

Result: the military struggles with recruitment.

Civil rights increase 5 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Defense spending drops 11 percent.

2. "What a preposterous idea!" scoffs Drill Sergeant Agnes Clinton. "The youth of @@[email protected]@ has never needed the discipline provided by the armed forces more than it does today, and with all those rogue states out there we need all the recruits we can get! If anything, the government should lengthen the required service and drop the minimum age to something more reasonable."

Result: children as young as twelve are conscripted into the armed forces.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 4 percent.

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#185: "Bring Back Our Booze!" Cry Revellers

1. "Banning alcohol was the worst government decision ever made," says Lauren True, a former connoisseur of fine wines. "One can only drink grape juice for so long before one gets most awfully tired of it! Our society needs alcohol: it reduces inhibitions, dulls the pains of our modern existence and lets us all have a good time. Yes there are those who abuse it, but that's their choice. The government needs to start re-issuing liquor licences right away!"

Result: fine wines are renowned throughout the region.

Economy grows 1 point, Civil rights grows 2 points. Tax remains the same. No changes to spending. On second test, Economy grows 3 points. Civil rights grows 4 points. Tax drops 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "It's certainly not the choice of the victims of drink-driving!" retorts police chief Doris Rubin. "Or the families torn apart by alcoholism! Banning it caused huge drops in violence, vehicle accidents and medical costs. How could any sane person want to re-legalise that poison? What we need is more money for the police so we can crack down on criminals smuggling in and selling alcohol and impose heavier penalties."

Result: the police are tightening their grip on alcohol smugglers.

Economy drops 3 points, Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent.

3. "In large amounts alcohol is damaging, but moderate amounts can actually be quite beneficial," says Dr. Thomas Goethe. "Like many other potentially harmful drugs, alcohol should be available on prescription. Sure, it'll be more work for the health service, but I'm sure we can manage it... with a little extra funding."

Result: GP clinics are inundated by patients requesting prescriptions for alcohol.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Healthcare increase 3 percent.

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#186: Carjacking Concerns

1. Hijacking victim Jack Wu wants the government to take action against the road pirates: "Inner-city crime is nothing compared to the brutality these gangs show! They block the roads with trucks or felled trees and hide on the roadside until some poor unsuspecting motorist pulls up. The government must introduce a special police unit to patrol these isolated areas!"

Result: armed police units patrol the roads late at night.

No change to trends. Tax rate go up by 1 percent. Spending on Law and Order increases 4 percent.

2. "More police isn't the answer," retorts Bruce Ruff, head of research at @@[email protected]@'s largest car manufacturer. "This is a job for the private sector! We already have blueprints for cars with bullet-proof armour and mounted machine guns, and, if you'll pass appropriate legislation, we can have these things on sale in weeks. Let the people defend themselves!"

Result: citizens drive tank-like vehicles with mounted machine guns.

Civil rights increase 8 points. No other changes.

3. "This just proves how cars are more trouble than they're worth." says Harry Gutenberg, leader of the Transport Worker's Union. "If the government bans cars and pours more money into public transport, everyone will be much safer and happier! Except from people who live outside major cities, of course - but then, that's their choice."

Result: urban citizens are forced onto public transport while rural citizens ride horses and buggies.

Economy goes down by a whopping 30 points. Tax rate increases 5 percent. Spending on Public transport increases 8 percent.

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#187: @@[email protected]@'s Underclass Drowning In Debt

1. Georgina Chicago, head of consumer watchdog 'Debt-Busters' urges the government to enact new laws: "We've got middle and lower class families falling victim to predatory financial institutions and plunging into debts they can never hope to repay. The government must pass legislation restricting things like interest rates to stem the tide of people losing their property to these sharks, and take an active role reviewing all loan repayment terms."

Result: lending firms are subject to strict government regulations.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increase 5 percent.

2. "That's just not going far enough!" cries newspaper columnist, Fanny Han. "The government must eliminate the shackles of debt from our good nation once and for all! What we need are vast reforms of the welfare system then we can provide these poor, downtrodden souls with money and housing, so they don't need to take out such huge loans in the first place!

Result: the government is pouring funds into the nation's welfare system.

Economy nose dives 14 points. Tax rate rises 5 percent. Spending on Admin increase 2 percent and Welfare increase 1 percent.

3. "They're irresponsible with their money and yet they're the victims? Call me crazy but borrowing money and not paying it back isn't debt, it's theft!" scoffs Faith Silk, representitive of one of @@[email protected]@'s largest lending firms. "What we really need is the power to send these parasites to debtor prisons, where they can work off the money they owe through hard manual labour."

Result: university graduates and new home-owners toil in labour camps to work off their debts.

Economy drops 7 points (yes, decrease). Tax rate drops 3 percent. Spending on admin drops 6 percent.

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#188: Video Games Too Violent, Say Parents

1. "We must outlaw these violent games immediately!" shouts Catherine Gratwick, a member of Mothers Ordered Against Nastiness, "These so-called 'games' are desensitising our children to violence and making them more aggressive. Why, just the other day I witnessed my son firing a missile launcher in a videogame and the next day he went out and robbed a bank! He may be thirty-five, but you can't possibly say it's a coincidence!"

Result: Tetris has been banned for its graphic violent content.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Economy drops 10 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "Oh noez!" cries DEATMASTER_69, one of @@[email protected]@'s foremost authorities on video games. "That's stupid! If a child is psychotic, it's not because they played 'Hellstorm of Fireblood 3' or whatever, it's because their parents were stupid enough to not teach little Johnny the difference between right and wrong and don't want to take the blame. Just because I like to n00k countries in games doesn't mean I like to shoot people in real life. That's false data! So just relax and let the kids play their games, hey?"

Result: the children of @@[email protected]@ are often remarked upon for their cheery attitude to extreme violence.

Economy increases by 8 points. No change to other ratings. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on Social policy and healthcare increase by 1 percent each while that of administration decreases.

3. "Why not rate games the same way we rate movies?" asks Peggy Johnson, a spokesperson for the @@[email protected]@ Censorship Board. "We could give each game a content rating based on age appropriateness, and add descriptors on the box explaining why the game gets a certain rating. A little funding and we can stop children getting violent video games without affecting all the older 'gamers'. Everyone will be happy. Except tax payers, I guess."

Result: only adults may purchase violent video games.

Economy drops 8 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. No change to spending.

4. "The children will manage to get their hands on the games anyway," says Cooper Longbottom, a fitness instructor. "Parents can be so ignorant. In my opinion, the only damage these video games are causing is physical: kids are becoming less inclined to exercise, and it doesn't really matter if they are violent; the result is the same either way. The only way to get bums off seats is to ban all video games. Maybe then we'll see a difference in the national waistline!"

Result: students everywhere have been despairing after the recent ban on video games.

Economy drops 18 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. No change to spending on nation with no Industry.

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#189: Dangerously Cheesy

1. "It's just a bit of harmless fun!", says Larry Brown, creator of Barry the @@[email protected]@, while spraying your advisors with melted cheddar. "If the government were doing a better job people wouldn't feel the need to throw cheese at them. We should be free to express our displeasure in any way we choose. Besides, my cartoon books are selling like hot cakes, and that's got to be good for the economy, right?"

Result: cheese has become the new icon of political dissent.

Political freedoms increase greatly by 15 points. No change to tax rate or spending patterns.

2. "This has got to stop!" insists Colleen de Jong, head of the censorship board. "I spent 3 hours this morning scraping wensleydale out of my hair! Arrest these lunatics! The protestors and the people responsible for this vile cartoon, throw them all into jail!"

Result: popular political cartoonists are thrown in jail for inciting dissent.

Political freedoms drops 6 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to tax rate or spending.

3. "Arrrrrgh!" screams lactose-intolerant Naki Anderson, a member of the public safety board, as incoming rounds of mature gouda smash the windows and claim the suits of several nearby advisors. "As I've been saying for many years now, cheese is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands and should be outlawed. Ban all cheese now, and enforce it!"

Result: cheese has been labelled a dangerous weapon and banned.

No changes to trends or tax. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#190: Immigrants Import Homeland Rivalries

1. "Foreigners are a major cause of civil disturbances," begins Prudence Longfellow, whose opinions form the book '101 Arguments FOR Slavery'. "What we should do is make all immigrants, foreigners, and non-native @@[email protected]@ folks slaves! I mean, who in @@[email protected]@ wouldn't like a minority slave group to do his bidding? Imagine! People could be bought and sold over the Internet!"

Result: immigrant Maxtopians are routinely sold on popular internet auction sites.

Civil rights drops by 3 points. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on social policy drops 3 percent.

2. "I am shocked and appalled at what my colleague is suggesting!" exclaims Konrad Rubin, President of the Civil Rights Union of @@[email protected]@. "Slavery? We should punish these offenders, yes, but send them to rehabilitation centres instead! As for the ethnic squabbles, programs in school should begin to stop these racist attitudes in childhood! All it will take is some slight fortification to the education budget!"

Result: children are brainwashed at a young age to accept "Love and peace!" as a way of life.

Spending on law and order decreases 5 percent while spending on social policy increases by the same amount. No change to trends or tax rate.

3. A quiet old man stands up to speak. "Now, I may be a quiet old man, but I believe that these ethnic disputes are none of the government's business. It's not our war anyway, so it's not our problem. I'm sure if you leave it alone, it'll work itself out. Just think of the money that would be saved if the police don't have to be paid to deal with this!"

Result: the government's new 'Crime Can Fight Itself' policy appears to be backfiring rather badly.

No change to trends, Tax rate drops 2 percent, spending on law and order drops 2 percent.

4. "It's not our war? It's not our war?" cries (in)famous @@[email protected]@-born fascist Roxanne Sanchez. "Well maybe it's time it became our war! @@[email protected]@ should take a more active, and by 'active' I mean 'hostile', role in international politics! This ethnic squabbling will be over when the war is over, and WE can end that war and purge the impure! Peace and Bread! Sieg @@[email protected]@!"

Result: a massive campaign is underway to ensure the race of @@[email protected]@ remains pure.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O and Defense each increase 4 percent. On second test, Civil Rights drops 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O and Defense increase 2 percent, the others with minor increases, note that all drops coming from Social Policy, Healthcare, and Welfare only. Basically confirms result with additional observations.

Pacifism -7 points.

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#191: Blood Banks Running Dry

1. "Blood donation should be compulsory!" argues Gretel Nguyen, a spokesperson for the @@[email protected]@ Blood Donors' Association. "We can't expect citizens to come flocking to donate blood just out of the goodness of their hearts, so the government should take the matter into its own hands. If we could maybe require healthy citizens to... let's say... donate blood every three months, we wouldn't have such a problem with shortages. It'll require more funding to organise and carry out, yes, but your people are worth it, aren't they?"

Result: citizens are forced to donate blood once every three months.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Income tax increase 1 percent. Spending on healthcare go up 3 percent.

2. "Don't listen to that devil worshipper!" preaches Bill Goethe, a Jehovah's Witness. "It isn't up to us to decide what should be done, it is God, and only God, who decides what someone should do with their blood. I'd rather die clean and go to Heaven, thank you very much! We must heed this Gospel and ban blood donations now! Of course some people will die, but they will be rewarded in the afterlife for obeying His word."

Result: blood donations have been banned because of the risk of eternal unrest.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 2 percent. Spending on healthcare drops 4 percent.

3. "You're kidding, right?" burbles anaemic patient Billy Steele from a hospital bed. "I'm not going to let some closed-minded priest tell me what I can and can't do with my blood! But I don't think people should be forced to give blood; they just need incentive, that's all. Like money. Trust me, any kind of '@@[email protected]@ For Blood' scheme will have them almost begging to donate. It's the only humane way to ensure that people like me are getting the care we need. If you're worried about funding just get it from those religious nuts... they're not helping anyone with it."

Result: the poor are often seen pale and dizzy after selling their blood to make ends meet.

Civil rights increase by 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on healthcare increase 5 percent. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Healthcare increase 2 percent, drops only come from Spirituality.

4. "I have an even better idea," says Chastity Suzuki, a prison officer. "How about we force every healthy prisoner to donate blood? It's about time they gave back to society what they've taken away in the first place. If we do this we won't have to beg the law-abiding citizens of @@[email protected]@ to take time out of their day to give blood. It's not like these thugs are really doing anything for us, so missing a pint or three won't matter, am I right?"

Result: jails have become colloquially known as 'vampire houses'

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increase 3 percent.

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#192: Coup d'Etat In @@[email protected]@!

1. "We call on our great leader to renounce this corrupt regime and join the revolution!" shouts revolutionary leader Lucas Pushkin, while holding a knife to the throat of a terrified government minister. "For far too long have we toiled under the corruption and mendacity of the borgwa... bushawzee... rich people! It is time for a reckoning! Dissolve the government! Let us tear off the shackles of oppression and put an end to this dictatorship of our souls!"

Result: the national government has been dissolved by revolutionary insurgents.

Economy increase (yes go up) by 14 points, Political freedoms go up by 25 points, Civil rights go up by 11 points. Tax rate drops by 16 percent. Spending on admin drops 20 percent to zero.

2. "Our soldiers are ready to storm the building and gun down these interlopers at once," says your Minister of Defence at an emergency meeting in a secret bunker. "We must demonstrate strength in the face of these traitors and quickly. If we give any leeway to these people they'll just try to push for more and more power and overthrow us totally. We've got to nip this in the bud and direct much more funding toward the military in the future so they never try this again! If we press down hard enough, they'll never dare to even ask for more freedoms."

Result: the military has quashed a recent coup attempt.

Political freedoms drops 11 points. Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 5 percent, and L&O increase 3 percent. Decreases occur only in Welfare (6 percent) and Social policy (2 percent). The rest no change.

3. "That's too dangerous," says your Commissioner of Police, who also happens to be your brother. "We could lose hostages that way. We've just got to stand proud as the honorable citizens of @@[email protected]@ and negotiate with these people for the safe release of our workers. Don't take this the wrong way, I think you're a great leader, but maybe we could give the nation some freedoms in return. They may be asking for total control, but I think you'll find they'll make do with a lot less."

Result: government workers are regularly taken hostage by protesters.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate down by 2 percent. Administration spending decreases by 3 percent.

4. "Hey, that's just silly," says Bharatendu Giono, your personally appointed Minister of the Free Press. "I know a way which means we won't have to give these hippies their freedoms and also allows us to get our workers back, which is good for your image I might add. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you peace. If you paid several million coins to the rebels, I'm sure you'll find them much more co-operative. Remember, it's better to spend money than spend lives. From a publicity point of view anyway."

Result: kidnapping has become the latest get-rich-quick scheme.

Political freedoms drops 5 points, Civil rights increase (go up) 2 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increase 2 percent.

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#193: Robots Leaving Workers Jobless

1. "It's just sickening! Do you know how long it took most of us to get a decent, 'stable' job?" shouts Al Strange, president of the @@[email protected]@ Labour Alliance, before dramatically sweeping your personal belongings off your desk. "And now we're losing our livelihoods to robots so that while our families starve, the corporations get even richer! Don't let the capitalist pigs blind you! This practice must be banned!"

Result: almost all products in @@[email protected]@ are hand-crafted due to strict employment laws.

Economy drops 5 points. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Hey, I've got a job to keep up too, you know," says Fleur Bronze, a factory manager. "If I don't think of new ways of keeping costs down, the investors will go elsewhere. It's my neck on the line as much as anyone else's, even if I do have much more money. Besides, it's business, and no-one ought to be able to say who - or what - I can hire."

Result: businesses often fire workers in favour of cheaper automatic systems.

Economy go up 3 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

3. "This could be resolved if instead of replacing workers with machines, we added machines to workers!" enthuses Aaron Laine, CEO of Mondas Ltd. "By replacing the body parts with stronger, better, metal prostheses, we can make the best industrial workers - literally - in the world! Imagine a shelver who can shift whole crates with just one arm! One finger! So let's hear no more of this deplorable 'replacing workers with machines' idea and look to the future!"

Result: manual labourers must be willing to have cybernetic limbs to get a job.

Economy drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

4. "You can't allow that!" gasps Billy-Bob Cho, a manual labourer. "If that happens, only the people with cyber limbs will get jobs! And the corporations will contract you into having the surgery if you want to have one! No thank you! We should go back to the grass roots of industry when all the machines weren't computerised and workers were the salt of the earth! Then maybe we'd see a bit more appreciation! And cash!"

Result: the loom represents the height of @@[email protected]@'s technology.

Economy drops 10 points. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#194: A Request For Military Aid

1. "They're killing everyone!" gasps Charles Wu, one of the refugees. "I implore you to please intervene and stop this murder of my people! If @@[email protected] has any compassion at all then it must help us! With these madmen out of power we can finally go about rebuilding our nation as a land of justice and freedom!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ has been recently classified as an international menace after 'liberating' several nearby territories.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Defense increase 1 percent.

2. "Woah, woah, we can't just go around being a knight in shining armour for every random hell-hole on this planet," says Lucas Religion, your minister of Foreign Relations. "Should we send citizens of @@[email protected]@ into war just so we can save a bunch of foreigners? I don't think so! Now, I'm no xenophobe, but I've gotta ask: what's in it for us? Nothing but the death of our soldiers and criticism from the rest of the region, that's what. Trouble is we're getting too much of a reputation for having a big army. So drop some of our military funding and let them fight their own wars. It's got nothing to do with us."

Result: @@[email protected]@ has been greatly criticised for its isolationist policies.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Defense decrease 2 percent.

3. "Well, maybe this nation does have something we need, sir," says Josh Utopia, your Military Advisor, while perusing a giant map of @@[email protected]@. "We're fast running out of land and resources here, so why not invade this place, kick out whoever's in power there, and take over? We've got the military power, so why wait? If any of those hippies in the region have somethin' to say about it, they can say hello to our missile programmes, haha!"

Result: the country has been 'going shopping' by annexing nearby nations for their resources.

Political freedoms drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Def increase 5 percent and L&O increase 1 percent.

4. "They have as much right to their own internal politics as we do," says activist and peacenik Fleur Jefferson. "While their actions may be deplorable by our standards, we can't intervene unless the legitimate government requests it. It's just an invitation to anarchy on an international scale, and nobody but a few crackpots want that."

Result: Amnesty Interregional has condemned @@[email protected]@ for ignoring crimes against humanity.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#195: Right Of Way Or Wrong Of Way?

1. Jack Trax, a famous hiker of @@[email protected]@'s countryside, storms into your office, arms waving dangerously. "These pompous land owners are fencing off hundreds of years of tradition! The public should have right of way by law! It is every man's right to be able to enjoy the scenic beauty of our native lands and I don't see why some toffee-nosed prat should be the only person allowed to walk around his hundreds of acres of land when most of us don't even have one! It's simply unforgivable! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a walk! Wherever I ruddy well like!"

Result: public footpaths are being slowly eroded by the burgeoning number of ramblers.

Civil rights increase 3 points. No change to tax rate or government spending. On second test, confirms result.

2. "It's trespass, plain and simple," says Alexei Love, wealthy owner of six mansions. "My home is my castle! If these smelly ramblers think they can abuse and defile my land, they should start thinking again! You've got to look at this reasonably: where people go, pollution follows. Before I know it I'm going to have litter in my fields, drunken parties in my woods, and more eroded footpaths than I can count! Will they be the ones paying to have it all maintained? Not likely! I say no to this 'right to roam' rubbish! This land is mine, and I intend to keep it that way."

Result: large areas of @@[email protected]@ are not accessible by the public.

Civil rights drop by 6 points. No other changes. On second test, Civil rights increase 1 point. No other changes.

3. "There's an opportunity in every problem," says Max Rifkin, your Minister of Rural Affairs. "And there's always some sort of compromise. We could simply allocate some government funding to teams of environmental workers to maintain and promote our network of footpaths that anyone may use... for a price. Think of the money we could get from all those hikers and ramblers! Not to mention the tourists, birdwatchers, and hippies! Everybody wins! Except for those who can't afford the fees, I guess, but you can't please everyone."

Result: all footpaths have tollbooths.

Civil rights go up by 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on environment go up by 3 percent.

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#196: Violent Violetists Protest Artists

1. "THIS IS BLASPHEMY!" shouts Aaron Chen, Grand High Poobah of the Order of Violet. "Our holy scriptures specifically forbid any portrayal of our prophet's most holy voice. We cannot permit people to slander and mock our prophet and insult all of us. These people are simply doing this to see if we are extremists. Death to the blasphemers!"

Result: government-sponsored gallows are being erected by Violetist temples.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. Speaking anonymously and from hiding, one of the musicians says, "It was just meant to be a joke! I never thought that they'd take it so seriously. I just wanted to give them a little ribbing like I do the other major religions of Pastafarianism and Frisbeetarianism." Melbourne McGuffin glances over their shoulder to see if anyone is watching, "Please don't try to figure out who I am. I'm scared for my safety. The government should protect my freedom to insult whomever I want. Freedom of speech should hold nothing sacred, not even God."

Result: the @@[email protected]@ Enquirer offers weekly cash prizes for 'most blasphemous song, story, or cartoon'.

Civil rights go up by 4 points. No other observable changes.

3. "Freedom of speech is important, but so is freedom of religion. Surely we can strike some sort of balance?" says Larry Summers, chief spokesperson for the DTBSOC (the @@[email protected]@ Society of Compromisers). "Freedom of speech comes with a responsibility. People must avoid anything that insults another's religion, and if they aren't willing to do it themselves, the government must enforce it."

Result: the government is interviewing for thousands of 'Religious Censor' positions.

Civil rights go down 1 point. No other observable changes.

4. "His Holiness, the Grand High Poobah of Violet, has the right idea, but the wrong religion," says Kayla Jefferson, the Prelate of Primary Public Relations for the fanatical organization @@[email protected]@'s Concerned Citizens for Our God. "This nation needs an official religion, and not support the Godless heathens who worship the idolatrous Violet. Appoint me as your spiritual adviser an I'll ensure that all people worship God in the correct way."

Result: anyone who doesn't attend Official Governmental Religious Services is fined.

Civil rights decrease by 2 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. No change to spending.

5. "They've got it all wrong. Freedom of speech isn't the problem, religion is!" shouts Alexei Obama, at a local AA (Atheists Anonymous) meeting. "If religion were outlawed, this problem would solve itself. Just send them in for medical treatment. After all, anyone who believes in some big invisible dude who can do anything is clearly nuts."

Result: people of faith are sent to twelve-step programs for 'The Cure'.

Civil rights drops 6 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality drops (go down) 6 points, all increase to Healthcare.

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#197: Breastfeeding In Public: Innocent Or Indecent?

1. "We should have a perfect right to feed our babies where we want and when we want without fear of harassment from anyone," declares Catherine Gratwick, a likewise young mother. "Why should women hide themselves away just to assuage the silly attitudes of these narrow-minded fogies? It's totally natural, and much healthier than bottle-feeding for both mother and child so why the fuss? Today, women are afraid to breastfeed in public and the law should be on their side - if not for their benefit, then for that of the children."

Result: female newsreaders distract the nation by breastfeeding during broadcast.

Civil rights go up 3 points. Spending on social policy increases 3 percent.

2. "I think it's just wrong, wrong, wrong," says John Wu, in reply to an online survey. "These women should cover themselves up and feed their kids away from sight like respectable folk. It's not like bottles don't exist! I don't want to have to look at that sort of thing when I'm having a romantic dinner or going on a nice leisurely walk down the street, you know. It should be a private thing, like other bodily functions that I rather care not to mention."

Result: nursing mothers are often arrested for indecent exposure.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on Social policy decreases 8 percent.

3. "I'm not against mothers breastfeeding in public," says Mark de Castro, a manager of human resources. "But what I find objectionable is that women could be allowed to breastfeed at the workplace when they should be doing more productive things like, well, working. They can't do that if they want to entertain and feed their baby at the same time can they? Can you imagine policewomen doing this on the job? Doctors? Politicians? Mark my words, this is a bad path to take and will ultimately be disruptive to the national economy. And my bonus."

Result: breastfeeding mothers are replacing smokers to loiter outside the workplace.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No other noticeable effects.

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#198: Gypsies In A Field

1. "These pikies just rolled onto my field in those caravans of theirs and camped out," says Stan Dodinas, the enraged farmer. "And when I tries to run 'em over with my tractor, it's me who gets stuck in the cells overnight! I've tried getting the government to evict them but they take too long over it. How would these people have reacted if I'd set up a tent in their back garden? There should be a law so I can get rid of them any way I choose. Gypsies should not be allowed to go wherever they like. It's just not fair to landowners."

Result: travellers are often forcibly evicted by torch-bearing mobs.

Civil rights drops 7 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on welfare drops 4 percent.

2. "All we wanted was a place to stay the night," says Abraham Nagasawa, a traveller and parent of fourteen children. "Or maybe for a week or so. Or a month. Perhaps through winter; it's pretty mild around here, I don't know. But is that such a crime? We weren't stealing anything, or harming anyone. All we ask is to be allowed to continue our travels without harassment."

Result: traveller camps regularly block five-lane superhighways.

Civil rights increase 19 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 7 percent.

3. "I don't think that's a good idea," says John Gutenberg, one of your advisors who happens to own an extensive greenfield site. "We can't just let people go living wherever they like just because they've been doing it for hundreds of years. It's very untidy! What I suggest is that we dip into the coffers and buy plots of land, all over the country, and turn them into nice safe areas where these folks can stay for as long as they want for a weekly rent before they decide to move on. See? Problem solved."

Result: the government has instituted 'traveller reservations' across the country.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 5 percent.

4. "I have the best solution," says Barack Dredd, in response to a street survey. "These gypsies should be chucked in jail, their caravans sold for scrap, and, and... told not to do it again! I think we've all had enough with the government pussy-footing their way around these criminals! The way they just swan in and disrupt communities any way they please! And think of what their presence would do to the value of my property! People ought to live in bricks and mortar, not tins on wheels!"

Result: a recent law has banned homes from having any more than one wheel.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent, spending on welfare drops 4 percent.

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#199: More Jails Needed

1. "I don't think we can bear it any longer," says Billy-Bob de Groot, victim of three robberies and one attempted stabbing. "The criminals have taken over @@[email protected]@. I'd say it's not safe to leave the front door unlocked but there aren't any left! We have GOT to reintroduce prisons and dramatically increase police funding if this nation's going to be restored to the way it once was, you know? A place where you don't need a mantrap on the doormat or seven sets of keys. If that money has to come from silly things like social welfare and education, that's fine with me."

Result: the new prison system is crowding up at an alarming rate.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 12 percent, drops in Education and Welfare.

2. "Jails? What are they good for?" asks Rochelle Chicago, a shifty-looking advisor of yours. Eyes too close together. "All they do is create a drain on the public purse and for what? Keeping society's malcontents alive and in places of luxurious comfort? It's not worth it. Just forget this jail business and while we're at it, cut the police budget. If there's ever a worse criminal organisation out there, it's @@[email protected]@'s boys in orangey-pink. Trust me."

Result: the police have been reduced to using duct tape instead of handcuffs following further cutbacks.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 6 percent.

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#200: Birds, Bees, And Breeding Teens

1. "We need comprehensive sex education to be mandatory in all schools," says Buffy Longbottom, a teacher while tidying away some diagrams that make your eyes water. "The plain fact is that teenagers will experiment with sexual intercourse despite what society or their parents wish. So I say give these kids free contraceptives, and make them fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Information is what they need, not condemnation. If they ignore it then hey, it's their own damn fault."

Result: schoolchildren have twice-weekly sex education classes.

No change to trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on healthcare go up by 1 percent.

2. "If you give them contraception it'll just encourage them to do... terrible things," says Zack Malik, a religious parent and member of Moral Minority. "And what's with giving them so much information? There's even diagrams for goodness sake! Have they never heard of 'monkey see, monkey do'? They'll just go and try it out, mark my words! The solution is simple: girls should be kept at home and away from the monkey house of lustful impetuousness and young males until they are of marriageable age. Teaching teenagers abstinence and chastity is the key, not giving them step-by-step manuals."

Result: dark alleys and public toilets are filled with furtive sexual activities among teenagers and unmarried adults.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Spirituality increase 10 percent, spending on Education also increase 8 percent.

3. "However sex education is taught, it is still social engineering and so undermines parental authority," says conservative newspaper columnist Steffan Li. "My own son learned about something called 'homosexuality' the other day! For shame! We all know it should be Adam and Eve, not Adam and... Geoff? Anyway, my point is that sex education should be dropped from schools and instead taught by parents the way they see fit. That way children will get consistent messages and parents, not society, will cop the blame if any of their kids fall pregnant."

Result: a study has shown that many parents are too embarrassed to teach their children sex education.

No change to trends. Tax decrease by 1 percent. Spending on education drops 4 percent and on HC drops 1 percent.

4. "No-one's asked me my opinion yet," says Catherine Gratwick, a teenage mother as she bottle-feeds her baby. "I think it's perfectly obvious what the cause of teenage pregnancy is - teenage boys! My son's father is the one that got me into this mess. He's the one who pressured me into having sex, but all the education is focused on the girls. Teenage fathers should be made responsible for their actions for once and be made to join the military so they can send their wages back to pay for their children's upkeep. If that's not a deterrent, then I don't know what is."

Result: teenage fathers are forced to join the army.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on defense increase 1 percent.

5. "I think we've missed the fact that maybe this teenage pregnancy phenomenon is not such a bad thing," says Buy Johnson, a famous demographer. "We need the population to grow, we need more people of working age, we need more tax for public services, et cetera. There are plenty of sound demographical reasons why we should be encouraging women to have families. By all means educate them about the dangers, but I don't think we ought to discourage teenagers from procreating - it's nature's way you know."

Result: the lowest age at which one can marry has been recently lowered to 12.

Civil rights go up by 7 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on education and healthcare both increases a little.

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#201: Jolly Roger Sighted Off The Port Bow!

1. "We should blow them out of the water!" says First Lord Admiral Colin Chicago. "These waterlogged vagabonds have been plundering our ships for far too long! All our exports from the Book Publishing industry are going straight into their hands! It's downright dangerous for us to let this continue! All we require is some funding for coastal patrol boats, fleet carriers, and nuclear submarines and a free hand to show these freebooters what's what."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s navy has been named the scourge of the seven thousand seas.

Spending on defence increase by 2 percent. In a second test, tax increased 1 percent, govt spending on defense increase 5 percent.

2. ""Hello," says a grog-swilling, peg-legged scurvy dog entering your office. "I'm Fleur Spirit, a mighty pirate. I'd like to suggest that instead of wasting all that money on attacking pirates you simply buy them off with barrels of bullion, jewels and Maxtopian gold! There'll still be pirates around, sure, but as long as everyone's paid off, they won't hinder your trade. Not much anyway."

Result: the government is frequently held to ransom by the increasing demands of bloodthirsty pirates.

Economy goes up by 6 points. Tax rate go up by one percent. Spending on industry go up by 5 percent.

3. "That's the second biggest load of bilge I've ever seen!" says Captain Grapnel, CFO of Hispaniola Shipping Insurance, LLC. "Shiver me timbers, if these scurvy dogs don't be cutting into me profit margin! Me comprehensive coverage has to pay out for victims o' illegality, and of course theft be illegal in this country, bu' that be giving me an idea - what if we were to have privateers? That is to say, if ye were to make piracy legal but with a quotar o' sorts, like huntin'? That way me and mine can stay in business and ye can get a fine cut o' th' booty from licence fees! Savvy?"

Result: the nation has become a pariah for giving pirates letters of marque.

Civil rights increase 3 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending pattern. On second test, No change to trends. Tax decrease 1 percent. No change to spending.

4. "Come now, that's hardly fair," argues 'gentleman pirate' Taupebeard de Gauche with a bow and flourish. "There is an ancient tradition of actively redistributing wealth on the high seas, and we active redistributors serve an important role in the global economy. You would not keep a family-run bookstore from handing down its business from generation to generation, would you? We simply ask, nay, demand the same right! And get rid of the word 'pirate'. It's a slur. We are corsairs - not common sea-faring thugs."

Result: piracy is the nation's most popular pastime.

Civil rights increase 7 points. On a second test, Civil rights increase 5 points. No other observable changes.

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#202: Guns Or Butter?

1. "No one even thinks to look at us funny now," says Field Marshall Lionel Mandrake as he taps a swagger stick against his hip. "So think about how they'd act when the military is in proper charge of the country? We'd say jump, and they'd jump, by jingo. Oh, and if you don't agree with me, consider this a coup."

Result: politicians are often seen with soldiers pointing guns at their heads.

Political freedoms go down 9 points, Civil rights go down 3 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "There's no point in having a military this size when our closest adversary has a water pistol strapped to a scooter and calls it an armoured brigade," says noted economist Stan Strength. "Besides, the military's been getting uppity with all its funding anyway. Slash its budget, sell off its surplus, and put the money into tax relief and... of course... maintaining all those contractors. Sure, they won't make tanks anymore but they can sure make plenty of commemorative plates with all that money!"

Result: people can often be seen driving to work in war-surplus tanks.

Economy go up by 2 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Defense drops 4 percent, all go to Industry.

3. "The military is too powerful!" cries famous peacenik Elvis Gandhi, smelling of petrol and holding a Zippo in one hand. "All those tanks and bombs threaten us and the environment - we're number one, and someone's gonna try and take us down because of it! The people are tired of eating grass soup so the army can get another stealth ICBM launching flamethrower tank. Cut military funding and rebuild our schools, hospitals, welfare, and environment... or else!" Upon which he flips open the lid of the lighter threateningly.

Result: strategic bombers are being converted into preschools.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on defense drops 6 percent, increases equally on Environment, Education, Welfare, and Heathcare only. No increases on others. (none on Admin or SP)

4. "Everyone's got it all wrong," says Clint Mistletoe, leader of the @@[email protected]@ Libertarian Party. "We need the military now to support our economy but we can't let it get out of control. I say we privatise it and divvy it up between several corporations, and make it self-funding... it sounds radical but taxes will drop, the people will be happy, and we get to keep our military strength to show Johnny Foreigner what's what! Everyone wins! As long it's in the corporations' best interests to protect the country though, I suppose..."

Result: corporate 'hostile takeovers' now involve ICBMs and main battle tanks.

Economy rises 1 point, Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate drops 2 percent. No change to spending. On second test, confirms result.

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#203: Suffer The Starving Children?

1. "Children like this are in desperate need of food," says Professor Beth Cho gesturing to a twelve-year-old starveling who is four foot tall and weighs twenty kilograms. "Yet every day I see big, fat tourists with their spoilt, asthmatic children. I'm sick of living on the wrong side of global capitalism. We must decentralise and localise the national economy by dismantling all cash-crop farms and give them to subsistence farmers to grow food crops. Everything must be nationalised so profits will flow into @@[email protected]@ and not foreign shareholders. This will revitalise our economy on a subsistence level and bring everyone to an equal standing. Extreme, some might say, but who cares about these things when our children are going to bed, if they have a bed, hungry?"

Result: the government has been kicking out foreign corporations in a bid to grow enough food for the populace.

Economy drops 7 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 5 percent.

2. "What? No! You can't! If we kick out foreign investors and corporations, then trade with other countries will grind to a halt," splutters Treasurer Lee al-Zahawi. "What I propose are Free Trade Agreements with richer countries. We can give rich countries complete access to our entire infrastructure sectors and natural and mineral resources in return for a reliable supply of food aid and other cheap imports. Hunger will end, probably, though not poverty; and the tax rate will drop. What sane government wouldn't make a dash for this goldmine?"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s market has been colonised by the corporations of rich countries.

Economy sky rockets up 16 points, Political freedoms drops 3 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 6 percent.

3. "The reason that so many families in @@[email protected]@ are living in poverty is because they have too many children," claims controversial eugenecist Howard de Castro. "What's the point of giving them aid if they continue to breed? All social, welfare and food aid benefits are a total waste of money. Let nature takes its course then maybe poor people will learn not to have so many children."

Result: the well-off are enjoying tax cuts while famine kills off the poor and destitute.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate drops 1 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 4 percent (to zero) and Social policy drops 2 percent (to zero).

4. "Are you all completely money-obsessed?" asks Stefanie Usman, an advocate of national welfare programmes. "There is a way to deal with this problem without giving foreigners complete control over our economy! Simply give more funding to welfare and healthcare to help the citizens most in need and maybe we'll get through this! Yes, taxes will rise, but that money could easily come from less deserving causes - let's say the military and the environment? What happened to this country that we put dollars before lives? I can remember when 'Man makes what happens' actually used to mean something! I think you should dwell on that thought."

Result: the government is phasing in welfare programmes to tackle poverty.

No change to trends or tax rate. Defense drops 3 percent, Environment drops 3 percent. Spending on Social policy increases 2 percent. Welfare increases 4 percent. (No change to healthcare) On second test, confirms result.

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#204: Lack Of Doctors Needs Cure

1. "The problem is that there just aren't enough incentives to enter the medical profession," says Doctor Pete Falopian. "We need to advertise government grants for medical students, give more funding to educational centres of medicine. If you don't act quickly then @@[email protected]@ will have a full-blown healthcare crisis!"

Result: more and more students are taking up a career in medicine.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on education increase 5 percent and healthcare increase 10 percent.

2. "Nah, it's just that we don't have the numbers of graduates or young doctors needed to fill the gap before we have a 'crisis'," says Hack McKay, leafing through pages of statistics. "The best solution is to recruit doctors from abroad. If we snag 'em from the poorer countries then we won't have to spend half as much as grants would cost us."

Result: half of @@[email protected]@'s doctors can't speak the language.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare increases 8 percent.

3. "Or we could NOT waste money on bringing foreigners into the country," grumbles Mark Peters, a wealthy businessperson. "And giving money to the students? How many of them do you think will stay the whole course, hmm? How many @@[email protected]@s are we going to burn on this? Our healthcare system is great, there are thousands upon thousands of nations that would give their right province for what we have. I think we can afford to let go of some of that funding and give the good people of @@[email protected]@ a tax break, don't you?"

Result: healthcare funding has been cut.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on healthcare drops 10 percent.

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#205: No More Broccoli, Beg Meat-Eaters

1. "Humans are omnivores; we need meat!" says Elaine Summers, nutritionist and former butcher. "Every day I come across malnourished children; an entire generation stunted in both body and mind by an idiotic government policy. We need to stop crying about animal cruelty and environmental degradation and start thinking about human welfare. Life is cruel. Get over it."

Result: abattoirs are running at full capacity in response to skyrocketing demand.

Economy increase 1 point, Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax drops 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "They're not malnourished, they're just ignorant idiots!" rants Howard Han, nutritionist and former animal liberationist. "Do you really expect the average Joe to know anything about vitamins and nutrition? You don't just get protein or iron in red meat and if we could make this clearer to everyone with a nationwide 'Getting to Terms with Vegetarianism' programme so the populace learns how to eat healthily we would see a difference. Besides, meat-eating is a waste of resources, cruel to animals, and a drain on the environment. We must maintain our ban on meat-eating, and, moreover, outlaw all other animal-derivative products such as eggs, milk and honey."

Result: illegal hunting is rife after veganism was recently made compulsory.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Economy go up 1 point. No change to tax or spending.

3. "That's it, I've had enough with these smug leaf-eaters!" says Imogen Wong, while tucking into an illegally imported steak. "I bet it'd really wipe the grins of self-satisfaction off their faces if we made meat-eating compulsory and banned vegetarianism! How'd you like that, eh? The thing these rabbits can't get into their head is that people LIKE meat. Who're you or anybody to say we shouldn't enjoy what we can while we can? Life is too short to worry about the feelings or rights of dumb animals! Down with veggies!"

Result: the consumption of vegetables is illegal.

Economy drops 3 points. No change to tax or spending. Death by heart disease increase 19 percent.

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#206: @@[email protected]@ Narrowly Misses Nuclear Accident

1. "These plants are a constant danger to our environment and our way of life! They must be banned!" shouts Abraham Johnson, pointing dramatically at the sky. "Day by day they churn radiation into our air and into our water! They dump toxic waste in our soil and do, ooh, terrible things! Yes, miners, nuclear engineers, scientists, et cetera will lose their jobs and electrical power prices will soar, but it's worth it to know my town isn't going to suddenly become a glowing crater."

Result: the nation has been declared a nuclear-free zone.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment increases 2 percent. On second test, No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 2 percent.

2. "This is being blown way, way out of proportion," says Renee Zhimo, the power plant's supervisor. "Nuclear power is one of, if not the, safest sources of electrical power. This was an isolated incident; the fact that it DID happen is enough to make me believe pigs are going to start sprouting wings! All these over-the-top safety rules are just eating away at the budget anyway. Give us some slack, eh? I can promise you that this will never, ever, ever happen again. Probably."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s nuclear reactors are held together with party string and Hubba Bubba.

No change to trends. Tax rate drops 2 percent. Spending on Environment drops 6 percent. Death by cancer increase 4 percent.

3. "I agree that this isn't likely to ever happen again," says Catherine Gratwick, the leader of a neighbouring nation. "But cutting down on safety is just a bad idea. If your government is in need of the cash then how about you let my nation outsource our power plants to you? It's simple: we pay you money to run power plants under our supervision in your nation that will power my country. It'll lower your unemployment rates, it'll boost your economy, it will truly show that your nation is part of modern times. Think about it for a moment."

Result: neighbouring countries pay to situate their nuclear power plants in @@[email protected]@.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 2 percent.

4. "Uh... you do realise she's just saying this because she doesn't want a nuclear disaster happening on her turf, right?" says Sean Washington, one of your elite circle of international spies. "What I suggest is that we do the same thing - pay some poorer country to take on our nuclear power plants. It's great! We get all the benefits of nuclear power with none of the risks! The only problem is the cost, but we can take that out of the education budget, it's bloated enough as it is."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s nuclear power is imported from neighbouring countries. >> GOOD THIS OPTION WILL OPEN UP ISSUE 301 Friends are Electric

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment increase 4 percent, all drops coming from Education. On second test, confirms result.

5. "I think we simply need to be more careful," says Akira du Pont, your Minister of Safety. "There may be an issue with these plants, which can only be solved by upgrading to the latest state-of-the-art safety systems. There may be an issue with the employees which can only be solved by stringent training and only hiring the best of the best. I'm not going to lie to you, it will be very expensive, but the people need a stable supply of electricity, not worries of mutated radioactive monsters eating people's brains. Seriously."

Result: nine out of ten citizens of @@[email protected]@ answered 'nuclear safety inspector' when asked their occupation.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase 5 percent.

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#207: Secret Police In @@[email protected]@?

1. "Sometimes a government has got to deal with something without having to go through the 'proper channels'," says Anne-Marie Falopian, who does not exist within any of @@[email protected]@'s records. "It happens sometimes and we have to deal with it. It's not just anarchists either - it's the terrorists, the criminals, the traitors, and the goddamn hippies. With a secret police we can arrest the troublemakers and torture them to find other dissenters without having to worry about fiddly matters like human rights."

Result: rumours have it that a secret police is responsible for the recent spate of missing persons.

Political freedoms drops a whopping 33 points, civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increases 4 percent.

2. "Don't listen to that idiot!" whispers Howard Tan, one of your more guilt-ridden henchpersons. "I don't know how you feel about this but I think this would be a bad path for our government to go down. @@[email protected]@ shouldn't resort to deceit and off-the-record brutality to put away people. A secret police force would ruin our fine nation. It's time our government was candid with its people and let them say what they want!"

Result: anti-government political posters adorn every building like wallpaper.

Political freedoms shoots up 25 points. Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on Admin drops 3 percent.

3. "Or how about we be candid AND have a secret police force," says Dave Wong your head spy from behind a newspaper with eyeholes cut out. "We could just reassign all the normal police into secret police. The beauty of it is that we won't have to bother solving crimes if it doesn't benefit the government! It's what we've always wanted! Not what the people want of course, but if they complain we can just make them... disappear."

Result: the police force is rumoured to be made up of evil shadows with no souls.

Civil rights drops 5 points, political freedoms drops 17 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increase 2 percent.

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#208: Mine Collapse Rocks @@[email protected]@

1. "We need tighter laws to protect vulnerable miners!" moans Lars Goethe, a family member of one of the victims. "The mines are being propped up by twigs, the hard hats might as well be made of polystyrene, and the inspectors are all bribed! New laws must be made and the people responsible for allowing this to happen brought to justice."

Result: mining safety laws are often more expensive than what's being mined.

Civil rights increase 2 points. No other changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "These allegations are ludicrous and unfounded," says @@[email protected]@, CEO of the South @@[email protected]@ Mining Company. "We use the finest twigs to build our mines and the last thing we need is the government tying us down with yet more rules. More safety laws means more expense means less profit and less profit means companies will look elsewhere to get their goods. You should leave us alone before you destroy thousands of jobs - do you really want that on your conscience?"

Result: mining is the nation's most dangerous occupation.

Economy go up by 4 points. Taxes decrease by 1 percent. No change to government spending. On second test, Economy go up 2 points. Tax and spending pattern no change.

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#209: Students Demand Financial Aid

1. "We need money now," screams Georgina Gutenberg a student from one of @@[email protected]@'s top achieving universities. "All these tuition fees are just too much! I need that money to spend on books, study materials, accommodation, and alco- well, uh, you get the gist of it. All these fees are doing is preventing people from poorer backgrounds achieving their potential. The government ought to pay for all university expenses. After all if nobody went to university where would all the doctors and teachers come from?"

Result: the number of students attending university has reached a record high.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Edu increases 5 precent.

2. "OH GOD NO THE EXPENSE!" screeches Sean Love, your minister of Education before eventually calming down. "No, no. This is not a good idea. Do you know how high the tax rate is already without introducing something like this? We should be making tuition fees higher if anything. University is a privilege, not a right, and only the elite should be allowed within those walls. And by elite, of course, I mean rich."

Result: universities are populated by the spawn of the upper classes.

No change to trends. Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on education drops 11 percent.

3. "These young people are the greatest resource our nation has," says Larry Bush, a famous demographer. "If you're going to discourage them from going to university then you're cheating our nation out of its potential. What I suggest is government-funded loans to students from poor families. That way we can have the best of both worlds without the expense. Admittedly, some may still not be able to afford it but there's no pleasing some people."

Result: loans are available for students from poor families.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending in Edu increase 3 percent.

4. "Why bother with universities anyway," says refuse collector Rebecca Dubois. "These students could be working and earning a living instead of wasting time and money learning things with no point whatsoever. Who needs to know about ancient Maxtopian poetry, huh? Who would hire you for that? There are plenty of jobs out there, so why don't they go and get one? I'll tell you why: it's because they are lazy. I propose the government close all universities in @@[email protected]@ and make people get a job after they leave school. With all the money saved from closing down universities we can have a well-deserved tax cut too."

Result: closed universities are currently being converted into MacDonald's restaurants.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on Edu drops 8 percent.

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#210: Going Postal

1. "The postal system ought to be privatised," says Tobias Dodinas, Director of PostHaste, a small package delivery company. "All the government is doing is putting the tax euros of hard-working citizens into an outmoded and wasteful system. Private businesses can offer a much more efficient system with less junk mail. A little more expense on stamps is worth that right?"

Result: urban high-volume mailers now receive their mail via chauffer-driven limousines.

No change to nation trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent . No change to spending pattern.

2. "Uh huh? And what about those in rural or remote areas?" asks Josh McGuffin, the CEO of @@[email protected]@ Mail, the government-owned postal service. "If you privatise this business then they'll get marginalised and ignored. With a nationalised service everyone can use the system and cheaply too. We provide a good service for our customers and have been doing so for a very long time! The postal service should be nationalised and all competition banned!"

Result: postmen have been arrested in job lots for selling junk mail as home insulation.

Economy drops 10 points. Tax rate increases 3 percent. No change to spending.

3. "There's plenty of room for compromise," says Aaron Gutenberg, a stamp collector. "How about we just privatise the mail system and allow other competitors to move in but continue with government funding to @@[email protected]@ Mail? That way everyone can get their post and the companies can have their own slice of the pie. It'll require an increase in tax to cope with losses to competition but not too much. I think. To be frank, I just want more stamps."

Result: the government recently relinquished its monopoly on the mail service.

Economy go up 1 point. Civil rights go up by 1 point. Tax remains the same. Social policy spending increases by 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#211: Unconventional Weapons Under Fire

1. "If we don't produce these weapons we will be left behind in the arms race," says Charles Falopian, director of the Alliance of Rifles, Grenades, and Handguns. "These weapons are the future and it won't just stop with the BFG-69. We're planning on introducing the Bone-Breaker 3741-DX Sonic Rocket Launcher next year along with our anthrax grenade line. If @@[email protected]@ is going to stay ahead of the game then it'll just have to accept that highly destructive weaponry is part of life. We'd also like to sell it commercially to your police force and citizens if you'd just sign here...?"

Result: the commercialisation of highly deadly weapons has instilled @@[email protected]@ with a very polite populace.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent, defense increase 3 percent,

2. "This rifle is completely inhumane," says Dr Miranda Summers, leaning on a cane. "These weapons are unnecessarily violent - how can anyone condone something that rips apart your innards like this? how long do you think it will be before these new inventions get into the wrong hands? Shootings are bad enough but at least most people are just wounded. The BFG-69 and those of its ilk are lethal in the extreme and are completely unacceptable! We need some moral decency here and get rid of these unconventional weapons along with all the other shameful armaments like mustard gas."

Result: 'unconventional' weaponry has been banned.

Civil Rights decrease by 1 point. Tax remains the same. Defense reduce by 1 percent. On second test, Civil rights decrease 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense drops 3 percent. Confirms result.

3. "Excuse me, but whenever has anyone ever heard of a weapon that WAS humane?" asks Al Hanover, ballistics expert. "These are devices for firing slugs of metal at people. It's not nice, but it IS necessary. People are always so squeamish. They've already accepted the standard ripping through the body of the standard bullet but the moment something a little more effective is made they kick up a fuss. Typical. These nonstandard weapons should only be put into trained military hands anyway. We're not making rocking horses here, we're protecting @@[email protected]@ against her enemies! Just this once, let's try to stay ahead of them."

Result: Red Cross demand for body bags is rising while sutures go unused.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 5 percent.

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#212: Police Wanting Help With Their Inquiries

1. "I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up sooner," says Chief Constable Hack Wong. "If we have DNA samples of all the accused it will make solving crimes like rape and murder that much faster! Sure, some people will think it's a tad invasive, but in my experience if you're worried by something like giving up a few drops of the red stuff then you've probably got something to hide."

Result: crime suspects are forced to submit to blood testing.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on law and order increases 6 percent.

2. "This is a breach of privacy in every meaning of the word!" criminal defence attorney Aaron McAlpin exclaims. "Or three words, but this is an outrage! It's these peoples' bodies, not the government's nor the police's. If they want to give a DNA sample it should be THEIR decision! Now I'll admit there have been times when DNA sampling has helped solve a case or two but shouldn't we be upholding the inherent right of every man and woman to have their body remain unmolested unless they should so choose it? Undoubtedly! DNA sampling should only take place with the person's informed consent."

Result: crime is on the rise as DNA sampling has been all but outlawed.

Civil rights increases by 5 points. Spending on law and order drops 6 percent.

3. "What about the victims of these crimes?" asks DI George W. Bush, ever gruff and stalwart in the face of adversity. "Do they not have rights? Their right to privacy's been violated so it ought to be the responsibility of the criminal to give up his own. What I propose is the collection of DNA samples from every citizen in @@[email protected]@ so we can track down the culprit if none of our suspects come up with anything. It'll be expensive, sure, there's 138 million people to go through... but it's just a small blood sample. Don't you think it's worth it?"

Result: every citizen must submit to DNA testing to be eliminated from police inquiries.

Civil rights drops 2 percent. Tax rate increased 1 percent. Law and order spending increases 4 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#213: Bus Drivers Say No To Double-Decked Deathtraps

1. "Every morning I step into that thing I wonder when it's finally going to fall to bits," grumbles Gretel Mistletoe, a bus driver. "The lights don't work, half of the seats are either vandalised or missing, the top deck smells like something died there, and something HAS died right at the back. We need more money to improve our buses. It's that simple. If you don't do it then more people will die."

Result: buses are widely regarded as the safest way to travel.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on public transport increase 2 percent.

2. "People always want money," whines Yaobang Love, one of your financial advisors. "And they always want guarantees. I'm willing to bet every single @@[email protected]@ on me that they're making a big fuss about nothing. The strike's no big deal, we can always find plenty of other people willing to take the job. Public transport is a financial black hole anyway, there's no profit in it for us. If someone really wants to go somewhere they drive. Withdraw some of our public transport funding out and let them have enough money to buy themselves a car."

Result: the carcases of double-deckers can be found littering high streets all around the country.

Economy rises 2 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on public transport drops 23 percent (to zero).

3. "That sounds to me," says another of your financial advisors who just so happened to be walking past. "Like a stellar reason to do away with the public transport system altogether. The only people who really lose out are the poor and the disabled, but there's no profit in them either so it's win-win."

Result: the public transport system has been eliminated.

Economy go up 3 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 4 percent, public transport decrease 3 percent.

4. "Now now now, there's no need to be quite so gung-ho," says Xiaoping Chung. a city planner. "The public transport system is vital for cutting down congestion and pollution within urban areas. Less vehicles on the road, less fumes, you with me so far? What we need to do is put a tax on car-use within the cities and promote our mass transit. That way everyone gets what they want, and cleaner air to boot."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s heavy congestion charges are the bane of motorists' lives.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Transport increase 6 percent, and Environment increase 1 percent.

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#214: Voting For More Money

1. "Oh, wouldn't the world be a happier place if we could all decide our wages," shouts Stephanie Fellow, leader of the World Of Watchdog, an anti-corruption foundation. "Who in their right minds would vote against getting more money with no strings attached? This quite obviously cannot be allowed to continue or where will it end? That money should be being used to fund hospitals, not personal luxuries! Well enough is enough! Politicians' salaries should be set by public vote! Maybe then we'll see something more reasonable!"

Result: Members of Parliament are often found living in cardboard boxes.

Economy goes up 4 points. Political freedoms go up 2 points. Tax rate decreases by 5 percent. No change to trends.

2. "I couldn't agree less," says Roxanne Hernandez, a Member of Parliament. "Sure, some people might think that having eight cars and three secretaries is excessive, but I'm doing our country a valuable service. Probably one of the most important services there is: representing the people and deciding what course our country should take. It's an incredibly stressful job and there's no way we could do it with lower pay. Members of Parliament ought to be allowed anything they want in return for all they do for @@[email protected]@. If we have what we want we're less likely to take bribes too."

Results: politicians live in abject luxury.

Economy go up by 2 points while Political freedoms drops 5 points. Income tax increases 6 percent. Spending on admin increases 6 percent.

3. "Perhaps there's a way to compromise," says Mary Wilson, an amateur economist, philosopher and lepidopterist. "The problem here is that politicians could either be paid too little or too much. What if we paid them just right by paying them according to how well they do their job? Keep a close monitor on the needs of their constituencies and give bonuses for resolving problems and coming under budget. It gives them a proper monetary incentive to do their jobs. Some will have a harder time than others and the whole idea may be costly but if it cracks down on corruption I'm all for it."

Result: Members of Parliament operate under a PAYE scheme.

No effect on trends. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on admin increase 5 percent.

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#215: Easter Egg: What's Your Favourite Colour?

1. "Tell her it's red," says Fleur Sanchez, sharing out the meeting's doughnut tray. "It'll show them that our nation has nowt to do with money grabbing capitalists."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is red (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

Economy drops a massive 49 points! Tax rate rises by 12 percent. Spending on Admin increases 6 percent. On second test, Economy drops 4 points. Tax increase by 2 percent. Spending on Admin increase 2 percent. (Confirms result)

2. "Tell her it's blue," says Evan Johnson, who inexplicably appears to be sitting in a tin bath and playing with a rubber duck. "Blue like the open ocean - it will show our devotion to all things marine. Quack."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is blue (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Tell her it's yellow," says Colleen Anderson, embracing you warmly and giving you a soppy kiss. "It is such a shining, bright, happy colour. It will fill your citizens with such joy to hear it is your favourite."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is yellow (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

4. "Tell her it's green," advises Akira Bronte, while caressing what appears to be a cabbage. "It'll draw attention to your benevolent environmental policy!"

Result: the nation's favourite colour is green (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax rate increases by 1 percent. Spending on environment increases 2 percent.

5. "Tell her it's orange," advises Roxanne Schultz, running a lap around the conference room. "Such a vibrant colour I've always felt! I'm sure if officially approved it will put some vim and vigour in the people!"

Result: the nation's favourite colour is orange (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

6. "Tell her it's purple," advises Roger Jefferson, relishing his own gourmet doughnut sprinkled with shredded truffles. "It speaks of the finer things in life, of luxury, and shows you as a man of distinction. Not like the riff-raff you see around these days..."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is purple (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

7. "Tell her it's pink," advises Akira Parke, your premier expert on all things gay. "It will send a message that we here in @@[email protected]@ are not prejudiced against homosexuals and accept them with open arms."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is pink (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax remains the same. Spending on Social policy increase 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

8. "Tell her it's gold," advises Steffan Taffs, hands rubbing together in avaricious delight. "Give the people a hint that you'll be focusing on the economy!"

Result: the nation's favourite colour is gold (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

Economy increases 5 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Industry increases 2 percent.

9. "Tell her it's black," says Zeke Hanover, ripping up pictures of kittens and scowling. "Black like the eternal emptiness of our withered, stilted, and twisted souls."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is black (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirmed results.

10. "Tell her it's white," advises Dave Rifkin, reclining in the lotus position. "It is a pure, peaceful colour, befitting the moral stance your government should embrace!"

Result: the nation's favourite colour is white (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on defense decrease 4 percent.

11. "Tell her it's grey," advises Marleen Brown, who is decidedly nondescript. "It's nice and neutral, won't upset anyone. Speaks of proper military bearing and protocol. People will like that."

Result: the nation's favourite colour is grey (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 3 percent.

12. "Tell her you don't have a favourite colour," says Hillary Janssen, the president of Open Our Perimeters Straightaway, on walking in. "@@[email protected]@ is a modern country that does not discriminate between colours. We should allow everyone whether they be Bigtopian, Lilliputian, or Maxtopian into our bountiful nation."

Result: the nation loves all colours indiscriminately (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#216: Eminent Domain: Inherent Right Or Daylight Robbery?

1. "Eminent Domain? More like outright theft!" cries Kathleen Jamieson, whose house was bulldozed. "They took away my home! I have to move everything in my life somewhere else because of the whims of some fruitcake city planner? It's lunacy! This blatant power abuse mustn't be allowed to continue. The government should require explicit permission before taking private property!"

Result: eminent domain has been abolished.

Political freedoms increased 6 points. Tax rate decrease 3 percent. Spending on admin drops 2 percent. On a second test, Civil rights, political freedoms, and economy all increased. Economy the most (up by 11 points). Tax rate (already low at 4 percent) did not change.

2. "You can't be serious," objects Mohammed Usman, a city planner. "You've got to have bypasses. Eminent domain's essential! Without it we'd actually have to pay for the property we were steali- ah- expropriating and that would mean lots of boring paperwork and be much more expensive. If we really need to build something, say a bypass to ease congestion, do you really want that to be stopped because one person says no? We need eminent domain to let @@[email protected]@ make progress. In fact we could cut costs even more if we didn't have to pay compensation..."

Result: the government has the power to seize property at will.

Civil rights drops 10 points, Political freedoms drops 5 points. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on Admin increase 13 percent.

3. "I do believe we should retain our right to eminent domain," says Gertie Silk, your Minister of Miscellaneous Amenities. "But to use it for private industry is just immoral and corrupting. We really ought to only use eminent domain for the purpose of building public utilities like hospitals, schools, and carparks."

Result: the government seizes private property for the 'good of the people'.

Economy drops 2 percent, Civil rights drops 3 percent. Tax rate go up 2 percent. Spending on healthcare, education, and admin go up.

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#217: Healthcare Services Underfunded, Claim Patients

1. "The NHS was an ill thought-out idea to begin with!" exclaims conservative aristocrat Jacob Fellow IV. "We were much better off in a time when the medical profession was geared towards those who could pay for their treatment. Nowadays the waiting lists are choked with riff-raff of all kinds. I don't see why I should pay for someone else's healthcare. Those of us who can afford to pay for a private doctor ought to be allowed to opt out of the NHS tax and if that means lower quality of service for the masses then tough!"

Result: hospitals are run down while the rich pay for private treatment.

Economy increase 4 points. Tax rate go down 2 percent. Spending on Social policy decrease 2 percent, Healthcare decrease 2 percent.

2. "A sickeningly predictable view from the toffs there", retorts senior nurse Colin Wu. "Being diagnosed with an illness is stressful enough without adding a huge financial burden to the equation. Do you honestly believe people should be denied treatment just because they're poor? The NHS works; people are living longer and fuller lives. I don't have any problem with contributing to the health of @[email protected]'s citizens. We should increase NHS tax."

Result: hospitals are amongst the best-funded in the region.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Healthcare go up 2 percent, Social policy go up 1 percent.

3. "Naaaah," says Violet Plath, your personal fitness instructor. "The problem is that we are trying to treat all citizens equally. There is no incentive to live a healthy lifestyle. If people had to pay a rate of NHS tax based on such factors as nicotine and alcohol intake, exercise routine and diet then the sensible thing to do would be to take responsibility for one's own health. The more unhealthy you are, the more you must contribute in tax. We'd have national surveys to make sure no one cheats which would be expensive - but fair. Now give me twenty push-ups."

Result: calisthenics is a well-known tax-dodging technique.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase 2 percent.

4. "A nice idea but unworkable", muses Georgina Christensen, another of @@[email protected]@'s seemingly ubiquitous economists. "How many people do you expect not to lie through their teeth so they don't have to pay so much tax? I would suggest that the problem is that drug companies can develop a drug secure in the knowledge that they can charge what they like and the NHS will be pressured to pay for it. We should force drug companies to surrender their drug to competition after, say, five years and the NHS should then only be allowed to buy drugs which are five years old. This will cut down on the costs considerably while still providing excellent service. Patients may die from technically curable diseases but hey... that's economic reality for you."

Result: the latest drugs are only legally available to private patients.

Economy drops (yes decreases) 6 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Healthcare drops 3 percent, and Social policy drops 2 percent.

5. "The National Health Service was doomed to failure before it even started," says Stan Lopez, a right-wing political commentator. "Anything powered by the 'goodness of people's hearts' is. I don't give a flying monkey's about people I've never met yet I have to pay money that I earned so they can fix their broken legs or runny noses. What about my broken legs, huh? I call on the government to disband the National Health Service and bring back private health insurance. Those unable to pay should work harder and if they can't work... well screw 'em."

Result: the NHS has recently been discontinued.

No change to trends. Tax reduce 1 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 6 percent (to zero) and all went to Healthcare (HC increased 6 percent)

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#218: Two Mommies One Too Many?

1. "I cannot understand for the life of me why anyone could possibly be against this," complains Jacob Kantelberg, showing up at your office wearing a pink feather boa. "Bart and I are good and caring people and will make excellent fathers, so what's the problem? All of the scientific studies have shown that there's no difference in the wellbeing of children raised by gay and straight couples. All that's holding these little darlings back from the happy family life that they deserve is the outdated prejudices of some prudes. All we want is to adopt a child to call our own. It'll be fabulous!"

Result: an increasing percentage of the population's youth have homosexual parents.

Civil rights go up 2 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on social policy go up by 4 percent, decrease all come from Spirituality. Done second test, results consistent.

2. "I don't care what these so-called scientific studies say," says Jean-Paul Trax, representing a number of conservative religious organisations. "How can a boy hope to develop properly into a man if he's being brought up by poofs? A father figure is not supposed to behave as if it is 'okay' to be, um, romantically invested in another man - and the same goes for lesbians! Why? Because it is not okay. It'll just give them gay! Think about it: say you have two gay @@[email protected]@s - they can't have children because nature did not provide them with the tools and if God wanted gays to have kids then they would have those tools. Don't legalise this blasphemy! Think of the children!"

Result: child adoption by homosexual couples has been outlawed.

No changes to trends. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality increases 4 percent.

3. "This just doesn't go far enough in my opinion," grumbles William Plath, an ardent opponent to homosexuality. "The more concessions we give these people, the more they'll reduce our nation to the most embarrassing gayfest of all the region! We'll be a joke! Homosexuality is a sin, and not only that it's a disease of society and there's no two ways about it. It must be criminalised and those responsible hanged just like in the good old days."

Result: homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.

Civil rights go down 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality increase 9 percent.

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#219: Nobody Expects The @@[email protected]@ Inquisition!

1. Cardinal Mortimer Gratwick, Archbishop of @@[email protected]@'s capital, demands you kiss his ring before telling you, "the Church encourages the formation of an Inquisition. However, it will only be to try those in error and put them on the right track to holiness; you needn't worry about those nasty thumb-screws and we haven't had a rack in ages, so we won't be torturing people. Of course, in order to bring this noble plan into effect, the Holy Office must have jurisdiction over the civil courts."

Result: the Holy Office of the Inquisition is the highest court in the land.

Civil rights down by 4 points. Tax rate go up by 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases 5 percent. Admin go down by 1, welfare by 3.

2."This is bloody outrageous!" screams Charles Bush, head of the nation's most important civil liberties movement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Everything, while jumping up and down in front of a television camera. "These damn ultra-conservatives will plunge us all into chaos! @@[email protected]@ can never have an Inquisition! Everyone should have the right to think, say, believe, etc, whatever the damn they please. When was the last time you released a dove on a monthly basis? Huh? HUH?! That's what I thought! It's time to move beyond these primitive beliefs!"

Result: radio shows frequently feature people denouncing religion.

No effect on trends. Tax drops 2 percent. Spending on spirituality declined by 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "The people of @@[email protected]@ need more than an Inquisition," pronounces Clint Hanover, known fundamentalist tele-preacher, who pauses hawking the complete DVD collection to make some demands. "We must persecute all those who do not live according to the Book! The Lord has told me that the time has arrived to bring back the good old days! Back when we didn't have all these touchy-feely, fuzzy-headed punishments. Prison? Ha! Like that's a punishment! Stick those heathens in the stocks, or even better: bring back stonings! It'll bring us into a new golden age!"

Result: atheists and evolutionary biologists are fleeing the country like rats from a sinking ship.

Civil rights drops 7 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. Spending on law and order increases 9 percent.

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#220: Voter Apathy Rising But No One Cares

1. "No one cares about voting anymore," sighs Gertie Licorish, chief of a Watchdog organisation overseeing fair ballots. "Even I only got to my position because my mum's a member. This is supposed to be a democracy, yet less than a quarter of our population voted for your government! I believe that if we free up methods such as internet and phone voting then the people might actually feel inclined to give their opinions. It beats having to stand for hours in the rain to give a vote they privately feel will make no difference..."

Result: citizens may cast their vote over the internet or phone.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Admin increase 3 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "The easier you make something the less anyone will care about it," says Catriona Wood, a political scientist with nothing to do. "The only real way to increase voter turnout is to force people to vote. Make it compulsory with executions for those who don't comply and then we'll have a true democracy! Sort of."

Result: citizens who refuse to vote are guillotined.

Political freedoms drops 19 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent, and admin marginally (less than 1 percent)

3. "The reason people aren't voting is because they're quite happy with how things are," says Falala Nguyen, lounging in a deck chair. "If people can't be bothered to vote then why not just do away with the whole thing altogether? Come the next election, just set yourself up as dictator for life and everyone can get back to whatever they'd rather be doing. Now please go away, you're standing in my rays."

Result: citizens are more concerned about voting for Big Brother contestants than politicians.

Political freedoms drops 14 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

4. "I think you're approaching this the wrong way," says Andrew Lavelle, the proprietor of UltraCorp-SmithMax Chemicals Inc. "If people can't get out and about, it's clearly due to a lack of energy. Our product range includes an ideal solution; we could add POWERTHIRST [TM] to the national water supply! And better yet, it only has a very slight risk of causing zombification or exploding cattle!"

Result: insomnia is slowly turning everyone insane.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate drops 2 percent. Spending on Admin drops 1 percent (to zero) >>MIGHT OPEN UP NEW OPTIONS

5. "I, ah..., I think... ah, just do whatever," says Maria Chandra, checking the time again. "I don't have time for this. Bye!"

Result: procrastination is a national sport.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#221: Outdated Tax Code Crushing @@[email protected]@?

1. "We've got to put a stop to this before more lives are lost, like mine!" says Calvin Mombota, the new head of the @@[email protected]@ Revenue Agency, indicating the search and rescue crew armed with paper shredders. "We need to abandon all our tax codes and protocols and begin anew! It's drastic, I know, and it will mean chaos in the bureaucracy, but at least the people could enjoy a tax break!"

Result: the government is almost completely paralyzed by the recent abolishment of the tax code.

Economy drops a whopping 60 points. Tax drops 86 percent. Complete abolition of government spending.

2. "It's true that something has got to be done about the tax code, but it doesn't need to be an all-or-nothing decision!" proclaims May Broadside, spokesperson of the Alliance of @@[email protected]@ Businesses and Industry. "Just cut bloated government programs like welfare and health and education, and give everybody a tax break. Just make sure you leave those business subsidies alone, alright? After all, we need all the help we can get to remain competitive without sacrificing people's jobs!"

Result: corporate executives continue to enjoy generous tax benefits while the public suffers from the loss of government aid money.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Environment, Social Policy, Education, Public Transport, Healthcare, all drops to zero.

3. "If anything is bloated about the taxes and how our money is spent, it's those business subsidies!" rages Emily Suzuki, a concerned and rather irate citizen. "If you ask me, the government needs to cut the corporate welfare for these rich bigwigs! Cut the average guy a tax break, and keep the programs that benefit the people, not big business!"

Result: prices for nearly everything reach all time highs as business subsidies are discontinued.

Economy drops a massive 48 points. No change to taxes. Spending on Industry drops 8 percent (to zero)

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#222: Terrorists Strike City Centre

1. "They simply crossed the line!" shouts General Johann Li. "Far too long have we tolerated these terrorist threats, it's time that they realise they can't mess with us. Send the order to prepare an invasion, and we will show them who is boss! Our brave soldiers are prepared to die for their country, all we need is your signature and a lot of money. But what is the cost of freedom and safety for @@[email protected]@'s peoples?"

Result: the armed forces are locked in an expensive and bloody war abroad to stamp out possible terrorists.

No change to trends. Tax go up 1 percent. Spending on defense go up 9 percent.

2. "Attacking another country isn't the answer," says Falala O'Bannon, director of the @@[email protected]@ Intelligence Agency. "The problem doesn't lie abroad, but within @@[email protected]@ itself! We should have more freedom to do our work. Protecting our nation from these cowardly scaremongerers would be much easier if we had an inherent right to tap phones and other communications, get search warrants whenever we need, and detain suspects indefinitely. Remember, to prevent is better than to cure."

Result: prisons are crowded with possible terrorist suspects.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on law and order go up 2 percent.

3. "No, that's what those terrorists want us to do!" speculates chairperson Doris Khan of the Patriots' Tea and Biscuits Club. "We don't want to give the Agency any more responsibility, they're the ones who messed up in the first place. What we need is to purge @@[email protected]@ of these rats who don't respect the laws and traditions of our way of life. We know who they are and where they come from, so the solution is obvious: we just won't let those sorts of people cross our borders and kick out those who are already here. It might seem a bit harsh, but hey, we were here first. Long live @@[email protected]@!"

Result: customs turn away those considered to have an unfavourable ethnicity.

Civil rights drops 6 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality decreases 7 percent. On second test, Civil rights only drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spirituality drops 1 percent.

4. "I think it's clear to anyone with half a brain in their head that this will just not work," says Larry Hamilton, a noted professor of social studies. "The people who perpetrate these terrible crimes do so because they feel they have no other recourse to demonstrate their political opinions. They'll do anything and I'm sure they're not above hiring mercenaries. You must understand why terrorists act as they do and fix it! What we should do is to reach out to the ethnic and religious minorities and seek common ground! Negotiation is the key! Violence solves nothing."

Result: the government seeks peaceful forum with terrorists.

Political Freedoms go up slightly. No change to other ratings.

5. "We spit on @@[email protected]@!" expectorates @@[email protected]@, leader of the Lilliputian Freedom Fighters. "You disrespect our people and our country and everything we are! You spread your sickening influence where it is not wanted! You must change your ways and cease to oppose us or else there will be more bloodshed. You have been warned!"

Result: the government regularly crumbles under the pressure of terrorists.

Civil Rights go down by 5 points, Political Freedoms go down dramatically by 10 points. No effect on Economy. Spending on Administration goes down by 3 percent.

6. "Is terrorism such a terrible thing? Really?" asks Finlay Zhu, avant garde journalist, discreetly sliding a pipe bomb under your desk. "These people are simply expressing their political opinion the best way they know how. I think we should legalise terrorism as a legitimate form of political commentary. It'll certainly get people interested, don't you think?"

Result: the streets are ravaged by murder and violence to prove political points.

Political freedoms increase 11 points, Civil rights increase 7 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 15 percent. On second test, Political freedoms increase 11 points, Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 2 percent. (Confirms result)

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#223: Easter Egg: Zombie Attack!

3. "I think we should study these creatures," muses Professor Jack Wilson, expert in biological warfare. "Zombiism? Reanimated dead tissue? Fascinating! This is a golden opportunity for our nation... why, we could unleash these on our enemies! Everyone would shake in terror of our undead army!"

Result: international organisations everywhere are united in their condemnation of the nation's zombified military (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense go up 4 percent.

5. "I think we're forgetting that these 'zombies' are people just like you and me!" objects Lars When, head of the newly-formed Undead Protection Alliance. "They deserve the respect that any deceased person should, if not more! Leave them alone, and let them have the city. It will be a victory for oppressed minorities everywhere!"

Result: the undead are an officially recognised ethnic minority (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

Civil rights increase 2 points, Political freedoms increases 1 point. Tax rate remains the same. Social policy spending increases 6 points.

6. "Braaains... braaains...?" asks ardent anti-quarantine activist Harry de Jong. "Braaains... braaains... braaains!"

Result: he undead roam the streets and countryside at night (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax drops 2 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent.

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#224: Minimum Wage War

1. "We will not accept this exploitation any longer," says Faith Mombota, through a megaphone. "Without a minimum wage law in place we're forced to work for a pittance! How can I feed myself and my family if I can't earn enough money? This corrupt government favours a system where the rich get richer at the expense of the working class. No longer! We demand a reasonable minimum wage!"

Result: the government has implemented minimum wage laws.

Economy drops by 11 points. Tax rate go up by 2 percent. Spending on industry decrease by 9 percent.

2. "'Reasonable?' Since when have companies ever been 'reasonable' when it comes to money?" questions Britney Han, president of the @@[email protected]@ Socialist Alliance. "The government should increase taxes and guarantee a living wage so everybody, no matter what job they have, can have access to food, water, and other basic needs. If everyone has the money needed to survive then things like the economy should take care of themselves. Stands to reason. But what you should be asking yourself is this: what's more important, individuals or corporations?"

Result: unemployment is through the roof after the government enacted living wage laws.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 6 percent.

3. "We don't need any of these stupid communistic welfare policies," says Elizabeth Johnson, CEO of @@[email protected]@'s largest Uranium Mining company. "Living wages are unworkable! if you make workers expensive then employers are just going to use fewer or lose profits. And as for minimum wage laws, I think it's a detriment to this nation's businesses that we even have to PAY them wages. If slavery was legal I think we'd find the nation's economy improving somewhat."

Result: the workforce is almost entirely made up of slave labour.

Civil rights drops 9 points. Economy drops 1 point. Political freedoms already at zero for the test nation so effect is unknown. Tax drops 20 percent. No effect on spending pattern.

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#225: Prayer In Public Schools?

1. "Kids are such punks these days," grumbles Father Pete Licorish, a local minister. "By making sure kids pray to their god at least once a day we instill the religious values that are integral to @@[email protected]@. It'll make them better, humbler people."

Result: students who refuse to pray are expelled from school.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Hey now, if there's going to be compulsory school prayer then there ought to be an opt-out system," says Ryan Jamieson, a concerned parent. "I don't want my boy to be a part of this collective worship nonsense."

Result: children of nonreligious parents are often barred from school festival events.

Civil rights increase 3 points (yep go up). Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent.

3. "I agree that we shouldn't force them to pray," says Georgina Christmas, a teacher. "Such difficult concepts shouldn't be thrust upon such impressionable minds. But instead of a praying session, these children should be taught about religion in an educative way. School's supposed to be about learning, not brainwashing."

Result: religious education is a new government priority.

Civil rights increase 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Education increase 2 percent, spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent.

4. "That's a lily-livered compromise," says Bianca Khan, chairperson of the Atheist Activist Association. "Religion should have no place in our schools. We should pass laws enforcing secularity on all educational establishments."

Result: religion is strictly forbidden within school grounds.

Civil rights drops 4 points. No change to tax. Spending on Spirituality drops 2 percent.

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#226: Expats Plea For Help In War-Torn Country

1. "We must co-ordinate with the government of Marche Noir in order to secure our absentee voters- ahem- citizens who are in their country," says Alexei Wall, your Minister of Foreign Affairs. "We must also create an emergency fund to assist our expats and help bring them back to @@[email protected]@. No matter where any of our people are, they're still ours and our responsibility."

Result: the nation has welcomed its expats back with open arms.

No effects on trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Welfare spending increases by 2 percent.

2. "That's rubbish," objects Lauren Anderson, your Minister of Finance. "Why waste hundreds of thousands of @@[email protected]@s in bringing those expatriated citizens back to @@[email protected]@? They chose to leave our great country; they are no longer our concern! They could have stayed here and been an asset to our workforce! Helped us grow strong! No, they've had their chance. You reap what you sow. We should cut any financial assistance we give to those traitors."

Result: citizens who leave the country are officially classed as traitors.

No change to trends. Tax reduce 1 percent. Welfare spending drops 3 percent.

3. "That's a good point," says Tobias Neumann, your Minister of Civics. "Our people are the generators of the economy. The expats should be allowed to come back, but only if they stay. If we keep letting our citizens emigrate, then we're losing our doctors, our teachers, our skilled and unskilled workforce to damn foreigners! Close the borders to those wanting to leave our nation. If they can't see how wonderful @@[email protected]@ is then we'll make them!"

Result: the world outside is only known of in folklore.

Civil rights drops 1 percent. No change to others. On second test, confirms result.

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#227: Underage Drinkers: Social Menace Or Misunderstood?

1. "I never wanted my poor babies to grow up to be alcoholics!" wails Nick Singh, a parent of three, striding into your office. "And now I'm worried they'll drink themselves into being no-good slobs before they've even grown up! The only way to stop this madness is to really crack down on under-age drinking. Stricter identification laws and severe punishments should do the trick! The present laws are much too soft!"

Result: underage drinkers are dragged through the streets and put in the stocks.

Civil rights go down 2 points. Tax and spending remains the same. On second test, confirms result.

2. "What is it with parents making society discipline their children because they don't want to?" asks Sean Brown, a schoolteacher. "These wishy-washy parents are to blame for their kids' misdemeanours! It is the parents who should be held responsible and be fined- no, even better, arrested and jailed!"

Result: the government jails the parents of underage drinkers.

Civil rights drops 4 points. No other changes.

3. "Keep your hands off my Spinning Mermaid, Mac," says ten-year-old Gretel Hanover, an all-round unruly youth while downing some sort of shocking pink beverage. "Why shouldn't us kids be allowed to drink? We're reshponshible enou- HIC- enough. Don't oppress us like this, we're jusht havin' some fun."

Result: a chain of pubs that cater solely to children has recently been unveiled.

Civil rights increase 7 percent. No other changes.

4. "To be honest, this doesn't surprise me," says Prudence Sanchez, a cultural attaché from East Lebuckte. "Back in my country it is customary for children to have a glass of wine with their main meal of the day. If you make alcohol an everyday mundanity then they're not going to go overboard with it later. Educate them in culture and sophistication so that they truly appreciate their senses instead of trashing them on low-grade hooch."

Result: the government is pursuing a new programme aimed at promoting cultural sophistication.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 1 percent.

5. "I agree that we should educate them about alcohol rather than simply hope punishments will get through to them," says Dr Ruby Thiesen, an expert on alcoholism. "But teaching those hoodlums culture? It just won't work. If we're going to get them to drink less then we must impress on them the DANGERS of alcohol, not the benefits! We'll scare them into drinking sensibly!"

Result: eight out of ten children believe hard lemonade gives you cirrhosis of the liver.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase 2 percent.

6. "This wouldn't be a problem at all if alcohol was banned altogether," says Mohammed Fellow, enjoying a fine ginger beer. "It's not just kids who break the law when under the influence you know."

Result: ravers are having trouble getting used to blackcurrant squash instead of vodka.

Economy drops 10 points, Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#228: Mice in the Walls

1. "When you outlawed computers you didn't realise what you were doing!" argues Konrad Cheswick, hugging an illegal laptop protectively. "These are essential machines for business! For communication! For culture! For posterity! If you've got any sense you'll repeal this ridiculous ban."

Result: nerds everywhere are rejoicing as they are reunited with their computers.

No observable changes. On second test, Economy in the 90s level drops 1 point (yes drops), Tax reduced 1 percent. No change to spending. On third test, Economy increases 1 point. No change to tax rate or spending. Conclusion: Economy may rise or fall depending on current level.

2. "Pfft, citizens with computers indeed," says Heather McGuffin, your Minister of Records, while riffling through a cetacean-sized pile of paperwork and ringing phones. "What a preposterous idea. But as @@[email protected]@ grows, so do our problems. There is too much data to record, too many records to keep, and too many keeps to earn. We need to allow the government - and only the government - access to computers."

Result: only government officials may operate computers.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 4 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent.

3. "Well, I suppose we could allow some leeway," says Ariel Mombota, your Minister of Proper Thinking. "Computers are handy for some things after all. But we should ban the internet outright - it'll only give them ideas."

Result: computers are allowed but only just.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

4. "Don't you remember why we got rid of those devil machines in the first place?!" growls Britney McAlpin, flicking beads on an abacus. "First it's all fun and games with things like 'pixels' and 'folders' but eventually they'll rise up against their masters and reduce us to slaves! Banning computers was a good start, but it's time we focused on eradicating all automated technology and focus on the handcrafts like basket weaving and carpentry."

Result: it is firmly believed that cameras steal souls.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on Transport decreases 4 percent, and Healthcare decreases 4 percent. (industries that use machines)

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#229: Government Saturated In Corruption

1. "This is a systematic problem endemic of @@[email protected]@’s state of life," says Aaron Johnson, the president of a government watchdog organisation. "The other day I asked a police officer the directions to a restaurant and he demanded fifty @@[email protected]@s on the spot! Even the road sweepers have to be paid not to dump rubbish in your garden! We need to inflict severe penalties on anyone abusing the system. Maybe the threat of a hanging will teach them to respect the responsibility of their positions."

Result: politicians accepting drinks in bars are executed for taking bribes.

Political freedoms increase 4 points but Economy drops 2 points. Tax rate decreases by 2 percent. No change to spending. On second test, Political freedom increase 3 points, Economy drops 3 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. No change to spending. Both tests consistent.

2. "The problem is transparency," says Ruby Sanchez, member of the National Whistleblower Association. "They can do whatever they want because they have absolutely no obligation to provide the public with the details of what they're doing. We should make all the details of any gifts or money available to the public, and make politicians accountable to the law."

Result: the government has enacted freedom of information.

Political freedoms increase by 13 points, Economy drops (yes go down) by 3 points. No other changes.

3. "It's really not THAT bad, is it?" asks Lauren Wall, your Minister of Commerce, fiddling with a large gold ring before sliding a thick envelope across on your desk. "Maybe it's all just a prank. Maybe it will all just... go away?"

Result: the government is a law unto itself.

Political freedoms drops 8 points. Economy increase 7 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry increase 1 percent.

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#230: Extremists On The Ballot Sheet

1. "Victory for these nutjobs would be a travesty for the people of @@[email protected]@ and the democracy they cherish!" declares Freddy Students, leader of the left-wing People's Democratic Party. "We must ban these dangerous extremists from running for office. If they want to espouse their ignorant views, let them do so in the private sector. Our democracy belongs to the people, not the wackos."

Result: the government has outlawed extremist parties.

Political freedoms drops 3 points. No other changes.

2. "Pfft, it's the people who voted them in in the first place," says Miranda James, an international observer of your elections. "If it's the people's will to turn power over to the extremists, then you should do all you can to work with the new parliament. Truly listening and acting upon what your citizens want? THAT is what makes a democracy."

Result: most governmental positions are filled by zealous nationalists.

Political freedoms increase 3 points, Civil rights drops 11 points. Tax remains the same. Major changes to industries- Social policy drops 3 percent, Welfare drops 3 percent, Env drops 1 percent, Defense increase 4 percent, L&O increase 3 percent.

3. "Don't say I didn't warn you: this experiment in mob-ocracy was doomed from the start!" claims political adviser Britney Patel. "Now any idiot with a loyal army of fringe-voters can come in here and tell you what's what! You are the only leader our citizens can truly respect and for the sake of national unity we should put an end to these popularity contests once and for all!"

Result: the government has repealed elections for fear of 'mob rule'.

Political freedoms drops 37 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

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#231: Jungle Fever

1. "Malaria is a highly dangerous disease with no cure," says Dr Lara Xi, one of the world's leading epidemiologists. "If we're going to control it then we've got to put money into researching a vaccine and new antimalarial drugs. We should also set out to provide prevention and awareness programmes, the whole caboodle. With a targeted and well-financed approach we can make an attempt to eradicate malaria from the face of @@[email protected]@! But we're going to need @@[email protected]@s. Lots of them."

Result: the government is financing an extremely costly war against malaria.

Trends remain the same. Tax rate increases by 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increases 7 percent.

2. "Scientific research is all very well and good," says Sean Nguyen, your Minister of Health. "But doing that AND everything else? It's just too expensive! There are other diseases we're fighting you know! Putting all our eggs in one basket is just asking for trouble. Instead of setting our sights on the parasite, I think we should kill off the mosquitoes by draining their breeding grounds, namely the swamps, bogs, and other stagnant waters."

Result: rice shortages have risen after paddy fields were drained to combat malaria.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on healthcare increase 4 percent, environment drops 3 percent.

3. "Don't drain our swamps!" growls Lee Leach, waving a picture of a Will O' the Wisp with the caption: 'Don't let their lights die out'. "These are incredibly diverse ecosystems, hosts to hundreds of different species, both plant and animal! Don't let something like the current malaria epidemic cloud your judgement! I suggest we move everyone away from affected areas and just let nature be. If there's no one to infect then there's no problem right?"

Result: swamplands and bogs have been put under quarantine.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment increase 4 percent, Healthcare decrease by the same amount.

4."There will be absolutely no need," interrupts Nick Parke, CEO of Normack Pharmaceuticals. "I've got the solution for you right here, it's called DDT which stands for Death, Destruction, and Total for those pesky flying fiends! Our product may have some alleged 'bad' impact on the environment and, uh, human health, but come on: it's cheap and highly effective against mosquitoes. Eradication's never been so easy!"

Result: DDT is used widely to repel disease-carrying insects.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment drops 3 percent.

5. "DDT is also banned in several countries," remarks Violet Summers, one of your dourer advisers. "Do you really think we can destroy this disease? I don't. Whether we try to cure the disease or kill the mosquitoes it will just come back in an adapted form. What we should be doing is educating our citizens on preventative measures like mosquito nets and less environmentally dangerous insecticides. If anything, it's way cheaper."

Result: the government has taken a 'sort it out yourselves' approach to fighting malaria

No observable changes. Surprisingly doesn't add to the Edu spending.

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#232: Suffragette City

1."We are fed up with being viewed as second-class citizens," says Catherine Gratwick, a suffragette. "Enough is enough! We cook, clean, and work for the men of this country! We bear and raise their children! But do we get to have any say on what goes on? No we do not! We deserve, and demand, the right to vote!"

Result: the government has cautiously opted to support women's suffrage.

Political freedoms increase by 4 points. Tax and spending remains the same. On second test, confirms result.

2. "That's not enough," objects Emmeline de Gouges, another suffragette. "The system is inherently oppressive towards women. If we're going to be considered truly equal then we must have the right to stand for election too!"

Result: new laws have paved the way for female politicians.

Political freedoms increase 7 points. Tax and spending remains the same.

3. "Years of inequality cannot be erased with a simple place on the ballot," shrieks Ida B. A. Goodwon, yet another suffragette. "We must restore the balance by assuring a permanent role on @@[email protected]@'s government. Men have had their go and they messed it up! Now it's our turn."

Result: the government has become a fully-fledged gynaecocracy.

Political freedoms increase 5 points. Tax and spending remains the same. On second test, confirms result.

4. "That's insane!" gasps Otto Schopenhauer, author of the popular autobiography 'Misogyny And Me'. "Giving women the vote is a really, really bad idea. Seriously now, they can barely decide what to wear never mind what's best for the country! If only women were more obedient to their husbands we wouldn't have these kind of problems. Throw the lot of them suffra-wotsits in the clink, I say. That'll teach them for causing a fuss."

Result: women are often jailed for failing to fetch their husband's slippers.

Political freedoms drops 4 points. Tax and spending remains the same.

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#233: I Spy A Diplomatic Crisis

Members of your intelligence service have captured a spy gathering information in the civil service. Your interrogators have learned that the man known only as 'Solo' is acting on behalf of the government of Outer Bigtopia, which denies all knowledge and involvement.

1. "Shpies! There are shpies everywhere!" says Agent @@[email protected]@, checking the fruit bowl for bugs. "You can't trusht these foreigners! They act all nice and local and then BAM! They're away over the hill with military shecretsh. We should be keeping track of all of them with ankle braceletsh and wiretapsh to be sure they won't betray ush!"

Result: foreign nationals are widely distrusted.

Civil rights drops 3 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on L&O increase marginally.

2. "I don't think we need to go quite that far," says Secret Agent Maria Cruz. "Our security is fine. We did catch him after all. The real question is how much did he tell the Outer Bigtopian government. If we send our own spies to gather intelligence and, in light of recent events, bolster the funding of the intelligence agency, then we can learn for sure the intentions of our enemies."

Result: shaken martini sales have soared in nations surrounding @@[email protected]@.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 1 percent. Education also increase (go up) 1 percent.

3. "And where will that get us?" asks Lara Harishchandra, one of your older, more bitter spies. "Spying them back won't help us. If we send someone out there and THEY get caught what are we going to do? We should call those Bigtopians out on their scam and hit them where it hurts! Diplomatic sanctions will do for starters; we can throw those smug envoys out on their rear ends! Anyway, it's almost certainly not just Outer Bigtopia up to these kind of shenanigans, we ought to keep all embassies under police surveillance. We risk all sorts of trade sanctions, true, but it pays to be careful."

Result: diplomats in @@[email protected]@ are furious at constant police surveillance.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase marginally. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

4. "Do you realise what kind of havoc we would cause on an international level if we confront them about this?" asks Hope Dubois, an ambassador to Outer Bigtopia over a secure satellite link. "No one need ever know this happened; officially that man doesn't exist. Most nations have some sort of espionage programme; it's nothing to raise a fuss about. We should just quietly execute Mr 'Solo' and move on."

Result: spies caught in @@[email protected]@ are never heard from again.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. No change to tax. Spending on Defense increase marginally.

5. "But what if he discovered the plans I've been assembling for the moon cannon project?!" asks Brigadier Dennis Dempsy, one of your more insane military officers in a hushed whisper. "It's nothing official, something I've been doing in my spare time... but what if they've got wind of it?! We could all be in mortal danger! We've got to commence construction right now! Our esteemed leader, do I have permission to get Project Lunar Apocalypse underway?"

Result: citizens have reported seeing strange rays of light emanating from the moon.

No change to trends. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent.

6. "Moon... cannon? Mortal danger? You're off your rocker," says General Flowers, scowling as he leafs through the budgets folder. "The reason we're being spied on is because we've become so aggressive and militant! It's only natural that other governments are going to check up on us. If we don't want to get spied on then there should be nothing worth looking for. All we need to do is massively reduce military expenditure. If nothing else, it at least puts more money into people's pockets than into the construction of glorified death machines."

Result: the military has had its funding stripped back as the nation seeks a smaller role in international politics.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Defense drops 1 percent.

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#234: Corruption In The Lobby

1. "It disgusts me how much this government is eating out of the hands of corporations," says Kasie Wilk, an anti-corporate activist. "A government's first priority is supposed to be its people! @@[email protected]@! Not some faceless company interested in nothing but money! The right to petition is for individual citizens, not for multinational companies that answer to no one."

Result: corporate lobbying has been outlawed.

Economy drops 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "There's no need to get excited, we've got everyone's best interests at heart," replies Beth Chicago, a corporate lobbyist. "Yes, individuals have the right to make their opinions known to the government, but so too do groups of individuals. And that's all a corporation is: a group of individuals wanting to contribute. By helping corporations, the government helps the country. Unemployment goes down, the economy goes up, and everyone's favourite products become more readily available. In fact, if corporations were already part of the political process we could do so much more! I propose that companies be allowed to run for office."

Result: Tesco was recently named as the new national treasurer.

Economy increase 2 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Admin increase 3 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 1 percent, and the rest drops marginally.

3. "Over my dead body they will," says Jazz Hendrikson, a civil servant. "The problem with lobbying is that it's so easily abused. There are too many opinionated idiots out there prepared to rally around some obnoxious or silly cause. Last week the parliament reviewed a petition from thousands of citizens complaining about birds being too noisy! I mean, really! We'd be better off ignoring lobbyists altogether and trusting in your own sagacity, esteemed leader."

Result: petitions to the government are being used to insulate politicians' office walls.

Political freedoms drops 7 points, Economy drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending. On second test, confirms result.

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#235: From Green Pastures To Grey Wastelands

1. "These people make me want to scream," says Elizabeth Lee, a distinguished eremologist. "For so long, the supermarkets have indoctrinated the belief that we deserved those low prices, as if it was a birthright. But it's not. We've plundered nature for too long and now we're suffering the consequences. The government needs to lay down some strict laws over how we farm so we can do it in a sustainable way. By the time the industry has destroyed our farmlands, those corporations will have moved on elsewhere and we'll be left starving in the streets."

Result: high food prices have reduced the national diet to staple foods and water.

No change to trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on Environment increases 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Yeah, right. And while the government is destroying half of the agricultural market, the customers- ah- the people will be paying through the nose for loaves of bread," counters @@[email protected]@, CEO of Corporal Foods Corporation, a multinational farming conglomerate. "Do you honestly think the people will accept such an outrageous solution? Not having to worry about where your next meal's coming from is what makes this such a great country! Forget this environmental nonsense and give us the money as subsidies - then we can buy more land and drive prices down again."

Result:

3. "We're all to blame for this mess, ayup," says Mr Rubeus Gubbins, an independent farmer who only sells locally. "But I don't see why we should do anything to help the biggest contributors to this disaster, and that's them blasted corporations with their market projections and their shareholders. Parasites the lot of 'em! They should all be kicked out of @@[email protected]@ and be forced to give the farmlands back to folk like m'self who'll grow enough to feed locally but not so much that I might as well be sowing salt in the ground."

Result: supermarkets and large corporate farms are a thing of the past.

Economy drops 6 points. Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on Industry decreases 1 percent.

4. "How are you still afloat?!" asks Dave Utopia, another farmer. "Don't listen to him. He's from a time when economies only existed as far as you could walk or steer a horse carriage for a day. It's a global economy we have now, and sub-standard produce for high prices is not, and should not, be the norm. Helping the environment with regulation will kill the industry stone dead and still leave us with high prices. The government should be promoting and funding scientific research into making the status quo sustainable - not punishing hard-working citizens for wanting to eat more than potatoes and rice."

Result: agricultural science is the most competitive subject at @@[email protected]@'s universities.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increase 1 percent, all drop comes from Environment.

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#236: Quickie Marriages Under Scrutiny

1. "This could all be solved quite easily," says Tim Usman, a tee-totaler. "With a little common sense. These marriages happen because the bride and groom are inebriated, right? So obviously we should make applicants pass a sobriety test before they can be issued a marriage licence. If you're too drunk to drive, you're too drunk to get hitched."

Result: the breathalyser pledge is a traditional part of marriages in @@[email protected]@.

No observable changes. On second test, same result.

2. "I think everyone's being very unfair and mean!" says self-described party girl, Bertina Chaswick, writing in to Alright! Magazine. "I mean, like, Dipsy was just havin' fun, yeah? So she made a mistake, but we all do when we've had a few! If someone wants an annulment they should be able to get it for any reason. Divorces are long, messy and SO yesterday!"

Result: 'A is for Annulment' is a popular children's song.

No change to trends. Tax rate reduced by 1 percent.Spending on welfare decrease 4 percent, and spirituality decrease 1 percent.

3, "Marriage is the sacred and immortal union of two souls," declares conservative commentator, Cornelius Prodnose. "It is the ultimate gesture of love! To get married out of sheer whimsy and then change your mind later... it's obscene! People need to face up to the consequences they bring on themselves! Once you're married, that's it. No annulments, no divorces. Just eternal love and decency."

Result: spousal homicide rates have tripled in recent months.

Civil rights drops 7 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Spirituality increase 2 percent.

Quote
#237: Tourists On Death Row

1. "Everyone knows what barbarians those Maxtopians are!" says Bharatendu Longbottom, parent to one of the arrestees. "They've not even allowed my son and his friends access to lawyers! That government is as corrupt as they are cruel, my boy would never have anything to do with drugs! You need to do something to save them, I'm begging you! I'm sure the Maxtopian officials will back down if you threaten trade sanctions or something. Right?"

Result: international tensions are high as @@[email protected]@ threatens any government with the audacity to arrest its citizens.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "You've got to see it from the other side," argues Lara Peters, a customs official. "While it's unfortunate that the sentence is so stiff, they really shouldn't have been smuggling drugs. I'm sure we wouldn't be happy if Maxtopians came over here with banned goods. I just can't sympathise: they were greedy, they broke the law, they got caught. What makes them so special that they should be bailed out? At the taxpayers' expense I might add. Let them be - it'll show we respect the judicial rights of other countries."

Result: the people are furious with the government for allowing citizens to be executed for petty crimes in foreign countries.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O decrease 2 percent.

3. "I agree," chimes in Natalia Rifkin, an anti-drug campaigner, waving a banner which reads 'Don't Be a Fool, Drugs Aren't Cool'. "Did you ever stop to think that our foreign neighbours might have the right idea? A zero-tolerance attitude to the drugs issue is what this country needs! Death to the dealers!"

Result: drug-related crimes carry the death penalty.

Civil rights drops 6 points. No other observable changes.

4. "You people are so quick to lay the finger of blame," says Lara Silk, an ambassador at @@[email protected]@'s embassy in Maxtopia. "My motto has always been 'If you want something, give something away'. It is the government's duty to protect its citizens from harm! We don't want to cause too much international friction by making a mockery of their laws so we've got to settle things more diplomatically: they scratch our backs now and we'll scratch theirs later."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s soft-touch approach to diplomacy has made it known as the 'push-over' of the region.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

5. "That's what they want! Leverage!" hollers Randy Nobama, your Minister of Defence, storming into your office. "Advances in our markets, political favours - they'll do anything to undermine us! They've always hated us, those rats! If you ask me, this brouhaha isn't about drugs - it's a spit in our eye, that's what it is! What kind of people execute kids for having a few ounces on them? We ought to give them a good bombing, then they'll know how a proper country behaves!"

Result: the government is well known for declaring war on other countries for suspected slights.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

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#238: We Need A Few Good Men Who Like Men?

1. "There will never be room for gays in our God-fearing service," says Army Chaplain Orel Roze, absent-mindedly fingering the religious device of his office on his lapel. "I mean, uh, think about what it would do to morale. In the military men have to eat, live, and sleep in extremely close quarters and even consensual sexual relationships in the chain of command leads to leadership problems. It's just a natural extension of fraternization rules... and not only that, but our current policy is actually a service to the poor misguided souls, since it prevents any temptation to act on their given perversion... I mean preference."

Result: the colors pink and purple are banned from military unit insignia.

Civil rights drop 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on spirituality go up 2 percent, with drops coming mainly from Social policy (the others also decrease but less so)

2. "God doesn't enter into it," says Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Marlon Nagasawa, head shaking. "Times are changing, and people are becoming more accepting of homosexuals. We have women in the military, and that surely leads to 'temptation', but for the most part everyone's quite professional about it. Allowing homosexuals to serve openly will increase our recruitment pool and actually simplify things; just look at the Navy: hundreds of horny men in steel boxes in the middle of the ocean for up to six months at a time... there has to be a reason that people volunteer for that, right?"

Result: recruitment posters proclaim the army to be both fabulous and fashionable.

Civil rights go up 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Spirituality decrease 3 percent.

3. "This coming from some pampered soul in the Chair Force," scoffs Commander Ivan Laine, calling in via satellite from aboard a destroyer. "Inter-service rivalries aside, ever read some of those ancient sagas about cities being besieged? Those ancient cultures had no problem with homosexuality; actually, it strengthened their resolve and spirit because they were literally fighting alongside their lovers, and anyone in the service will tell you it's all about the guy standing next to you. Now, what if--and this is just a hypothetical, mind--based on this and to counter years of discrimination, only homosexuals were allowed to serve?"

Result: half-naked men feature prominently in official military materials.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on defense drops 8 percent. Spending on social policy drops 3 percent.

4. "That's... interesting, but it doesn't really address the problem, does it?" asks Lance Corporal Hope Winters, part of your honor guard. "Let's look at it this way: only ten percent of the population is homosexual, right? No matter what, the majority will be heterosexual. We want homosexuals to serve, but there will always be a backlash against them. No regulation changes are needed if you just pen a policy where sexual orientation becomes a taboo subject in discussion--not like it's anyone's business to talk about their sexual interests in a professional military, right? This way homosexuals can serve, albeit quietly, and be happy, and the moral conservatives stay happy since the military is still 'officially' anti-gay. Of course, if anyone's pulled out of the closet, their career is instantly over, but that's the cost of compromise."

Result: military geniuses responsible for brilliant campaigns are drummed out because they have close same-sex friends and an interest in interior design.

Civil rights down 4 points. Tax rate increase by 1 percent. No change to spending. On second test, confirms result.

5. "We still have a military?" questions your Minister of Peace, scratching his unruly hair and smelling none too vaguely of patchouli. "Man, I thought we got rid of those war pigs ages ago. Y'know, if you'd just listen to me and go with flowers instead of firearms, this whole gays-in-the-military thing wouldn't be such a buzzkill all the time. Hey, speaking of buzzes, I just got these mighty strong Bigtopian Blues from a guy I know. I'm on one right now and they are far OUT. You wanna expand your mind with me? No? That's cool too."

Result: the nation is constantly threatened with invasion but at least homosexuality in the military isn't a problem.

No changes to trends. Tax rate decreases 8 percent. Defense spending is abolished (all 28 percent)

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#239: We Who Are About To Die Would Rather Go Home

1. "Yes, yes!" cries Beth Fellow, waving a wooden sword enthusiastically. "You've gotta do this, man! Gladiator fights are like the ultimate in spectator sports! And it doesn't just have to be people! We could pit man against @@[email protected]@! Blade against claw! Nothing to their names but their wits and their stamina! You'd have to pay people a lot to risk their lives doing this but I bet you'd earn a whole lot more from merchandise and wagers and stuff!"

Result: it is a common belief that a sport isn't sport if there are no decapitations.

No noticeable changes. On second test, Economy rises 1 point. No change to tax or spending pattern.

Increase to death by ritual sacrifice. It is believed that this increases violence ranking

2. "That's just sick," says Johann Shiomi, president of the Kill Violence Now Association. "I don't believe you'd find anyone willing to watch actual people tearing each other apart. It's savage and horrible! It's even worse than boxing! Violent sports should be outlawed for the sake of this country's moral integrity. I'm sorry, I've got to go - I'm ashamed you're even considering this."

Result: badminton was recently banned due to 'unacceptable violence' inherent to the game.

Economy decreases by 2 points. On second test, Economy drops 2 points as well. No change to tax. No change to spending. (Confirms results)

3. "Actually, we could use this to our advantage," whispers Chief of Police, Beth Clinton. "Why not just force convicted criminals to fight for the amusement of the public? They'll be paying for their crimes, contributing to society, and totally freeing us of having to build jails to throw their useless hides in!"

Result: criminals are thrown to the @@[email protected]@ to repay their debt to society.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate decreases 4 percent. No change to spending pattern.

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#240: Plea Bargains: Tipping The Scales Of Justice?

1. "Plea bargains degrade the fairness of our justice system," argues William Zhu, a recently graduated lawyer. "Prosecutors are only interested in getting their guilty verdict and plea bargaining is the easiest way to get it! The recent trial of that psychopath mass-murderer is a disgrace! If it had gone before a jury he'd be behind bars by now! He won't though, because the prosecutors and police are too lazy to do their jobs properly. Putting that man back on the streets is not justice. Plea bargaining must be banned."

Result: charged suspects often have to wait years before the courts have room to judge their trial.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 10 percent.

2. "What that moral elitist is neglecting to tell you," sneers Billy-Bob McKay, a prosecutor. "Is that plea bargaining has made our judicial system MORE effective, not less! There needs to be give and take so we can get to the truth and that's what plea bargains allow us. We were able to catch the worst criminal kingpin @@[email protected]@ has ever seen because of Mr White's testimony. Also, do you realise how clogged up and expensive the court system would be if every trial went before jury? Very, my friend. Very. Plea bargaining must be allowed to continue."

Result: innocent defendants often plea guilty for fear of receiving a much harsher sentence before jury.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O drops 5 percent.

3. "You know, we wouldn't have to worry about any of this nonsense and controversy if we just stopped giving our criminals so many rights," sighs Roger Wong, your fifth cousin, five times removed. "Double jeopardy, cruel and unusual punishment, the writ of habeas corpus... there are just so many inconvenient clauses in our constitution that are getting in the way of keeping our streets clean of crooks. I say we abolish the right to a fair trial, and just lock people up if the judge thinks they've done something wrong. I mean, they're pretty smart guys aren't they?"

Result: the right to a fair trial was recently abolished for reasons of convenience.

Civil rights decrease 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O drops 9 percent (to zero).

 

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#241: A Capital City For @@[email protected]@?

1. "I would like to make a humble recommendation for my own proud jurisdiction," says Violet Hanover, mayor of one of @@[email protected]@'s major cities. "It would be an honour for our city to be host to the seat of power! If it will seal the deal, you can change the name if you like..."

Result: @@[email protected]@ has designated @@[email protected]@ City as its capital city.

Naming Capital City is ENABLED

No observable changes. On second test, tax rate increased 1 percent.

2. "Hah! Capital city indeed!" shouts Billy Falopian, a fervent anarchist, spilling leaflets all over the floor. "What's wrong with being free as the wind? Do you really think one city could possibly represent a whole country? Its people? I've had enough of the man trying to screw us down all the time! Say NO to a national capital!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ recently decided against having a capital city.

Tax rate drops 5 percent. No effect on trends. Spending on admin drops 6 percent.

3. "I can accept and even approve of having a capital city," says Marleen King, a military strategist. "But we'd be putting all our eggs in one basket if we choose somewhere too vulnerable! Believe me, capitals always get the brunt of the enemy attack because of their political and economic importance. We should put aside a few billion moneys and build our capital city underground. They'll never bomb us there!"

Result: all government facilities are built in the subterranean citadel of @@[email protected]@ City.

Naming Capital City is ENABLED

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 16 percent. Spending on Admin increases 29 percent.

4. "I've got an idea," says theme park tycoon, Lindsay Tew. "My company will happily sponsor the new establishment and cover all costs - as long as it's made to our specifications. We've already got plans drawn up to put a roller coaster straight through the House of Commons! A cafe, some kiosks for ice cream... maybe even a water slide or two in the lobby! It'll be one part legislative seat of government, one part family-fun theme park! Tourists will flock from around the globe!"

Result: Mr Happy's Funland has just been named @@[email protected]@'s new capital. >> THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUES 292

Naming Capital City is ENABLED

Political freedoms go up 5 points, no effect on economy. Tax decreases 4 percent. Spending increases on law and order and defense by 1 percent, while decreasing on admin.

5. "What's wrong with the old building?" asks Chastity Love, a noted disestablishmentarian. "We don't need some kind of fancy capital city just to make the bigwig ministers feel important! If there's no room, then fire politicians until there IS room. Have you never heard of doing more with less?"

Result: the government has adopted a more thrifty attitude to administrating the country's needs.

Tax rate decreases by 8 percent. No change to trends. Spending on admin drops 24 percent to zero.

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#242: Follow The Leader

1. "There is no need to panic," says Buy Rifkin, a senior archivist. "I've prepared a new document. All you need to do is sign across the dotted line and you will be our esteemed leader once again. Here! I've even brought a pen."

Result: Leader has just been declared ruler of @@[email protected]@ in an international press conference.

National Leader is ENABLED. No observable effects. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Give me that!" interrupts your brother, incorrigible as always. "I've got an idea, bear with me for a moment... a few penstrokes here... a few clauses there... finished. Now you can set yourself up as Supreme Evil Overlord For Life! If you don't have complete control then where's the fun? That's what I say. I've taken the liberty of cutting some of the more boring departments, we only really need the police and military in my opinion. Oh! You get a free space hopper too."

Result: Leader has been self-declared as the Most Supreme Magnificent Overlord of Everything You Ever Saw.

Wow, political freedoms drops 34 points, Civil rights drops 4 points, and Economy drops 8 points. Tax rate drops 14 points. Spending on all industries decimated (wow) and becomes 100 percent law and order.

3. "Hold on! Don't sign it yet! Have you ever heard the saying 'two heads are better than one'?" asks Natalia Steele, your Minister of Complicating Things. "Well, what if we had SEVERAL? I propose we gather the most senior ministers of @@[email protected]@ to act together as a collective head of state! That's a little more democratic than one person bossing everyone else around. Besides, even if you're not THE leader, your opinions are still deeply respected so it shouldn't be too much of a step down right?"

Result: the Federal Council of @@[email protected]@ has been announced as the new Head of State.

National Leader NOT enabled. Political freedoms increase 7 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on admin increase 3 percent.

4. "As if ONE leader isn't oppressive enough!" says Elaine Suzuki, a little known representative from one of @@[email protected]@'s more obscure counties. "Suddenly we need even more? This is a great opportunity for @@[email protected]@ to lose elitist concepts like 'leaders'. My ma taught me that all men are born equal and yet even in a modern country like this one person can be named Lord and King of everything. One person should not have that much power! Government policy should be the equal responsibility of all @@[email protected]@'s elected politicians."

Result: even the most lowly council pen-pusher has the same political power as a senior minister.

Political freedoms shot up 13 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

5. "If we did that, even some crackpot quango would have the same power as the Minister of Defence," argues Roxanne Johnson, who happens to be the Minister of Defence. "That's insane. We need strong leadership' to get things accomplished! Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone's opinion is, ugh, 'equal'? They go on for HOURS. HOURS! Believe me, trying to run a government that way will be a massive, fruitless headache. The leader's word is law, and if people don't get that then maybe a little show of strength courtesy of the military wouldn't go amiss."

Result: Leader has been known to threaten dissenting citizens with a machine gun at press conferences.

Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 5 percent.

Quote
#243: A Question Of Faith

1. "If you would grant us this one small mercy we would all be free from the iniquitous sin of envy," says Anne-Marie Mombota, nervously rubbing a small religious symbol. "One's faith is one's guiding light after all, and I believe if you choose a national religion, well, MINE anyway, that God will smile upon this nation full of heathens a little more kindly."

Result: a major religion has been named as @@[email protected]@'s national religion.

Naming National Religion is Enabled.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increases by 4 percent with random reduction in other areas.

2. "I don't believe choosing one faith from the thousands out there is very fair," says Hack Silk, author of the critically acclaimed 'Agnosticism and You'. "Which god do we pick? How do we pick? It's impossible! We don't even know if higher beings exist and it's sheer arrogance to postulate otherwise! The government should officially declare that @@[email protected]@ has no official religion, because the alternative would be self-damning. Not that we know that for sure, of course."

Result: the government has declined to declare any particular religion as its 'official' one.

National Religion is NOT enabled

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on spirituality drops 6 percent.

3. "Oh for chaos' sake! 'I don't know this, I don't know that' - well of course you don't!" shouts Randy Utopia, president of The Secular, Humanist, and Atheist Society. "But some of us have the guts to look at the available evidence and try to make something out of it! If the government has any brains or guts of its own it will reach the same conclusion that I and millions of other forward-looking people have reached: there is no God, there is no afterlife, and this is all there is. THAT, Leader, is what the government's official stance should be."

Result: the government's official stance on religion is that it is so very silly.

National Religion is NOT enabled.

Civil rights go up 8 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on spirituality decreases 6 percent.

4. "The only god this nation needs is the vengeful and unforgiving Violet!" screams Faith Wu, Grand High Poobah of the Order of Violet. "May her tentacles forever secrete slime. Embrace Violetism and we will usher in a new age of darkness across the land! Human sacrifice and death to all heretics and unbelievers! Violet is the only way!"

Result: 'removal of the heart' is the most common cause of death. >> THIS OPTION MAY- OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Naming National Religion is Enabled.

Civil rights decrease by 4 points. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase by 2 percent. On second test, Civil rights decrease by 4 points as well. Tax rate increases by 1 percent, l, and spending on Spirituality go up by 3 percent.

5. "The only deity this country needs is the one it already has, master," says Emmanuel Syme, one of your creepier advisers while obsequiously bowing on the floor. "I of course refer to you, Leader, the finest ruler any humble subject could hope to have! We long to worship you and do your bidding! Some call that a cult of personality, but I prefer to call it... love."

Result: Leader is the self-declared God of all @@[email protected]@.

Naming National Religion is Enabled.

No changes to trends. Tax rate increase by 2 percent. Spending on spirituality increases by 17 percent. On a second test, tax rate stayed the same, spending on spirituality increases 12 percent.

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#244: Foreign Invasion Force Takes On Small Farming Community

1. "We should never have allowed our military to become this pathetic," sighs Kayla Christensen, your only Military Advisor. "It's an open invitation for invasions. If we're going to protect our shores against this enemy we need a show of strength - gather what resources we have and send them to protect the @@[email protected]@ Isles. Time is of the essence!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ is building an army to protect its overseas territories.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent, defense increase 3 percent.

2. "I was never trained for this!" wails Private Finlay Peters, knock-kneed and rosy-cheeked. "If we go to full scale war with Wezeltonia we're sure to lose, I just know it! Couldn't we try, uh, 'dip-low-mah-tic relations'? A little talk over tea and biscuits goes a long way! Then no one will need to go to w-w-war. Ahem. War."

Result: invading armies are given hard glares for their cheek.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on defense drops 7 percent (to zero).

3. "Let's not let national pride blind us to the facts," argues Guangqian Malik, an amateur historian. "I mean, those islands are practically next door to Wezeltonia, it's not unreasonable to assume they might want to claim them. Where's the benefit in wasting billions of @@[email protected]@s on protecting a handful of colonials anyway? There's nothing there but grass, mud, and orange farms."

Result: thousands of @@[email protected]@'s citizens have been evicted from their homes so as 'not to cause a fuss' on the international scene.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. No change to govt spending.

4. "Those 'colonials' are proud, legal citizens of the @@[email protected]@, moron," says Akira Pushkin, fully bedecked in a suit fashioned after the national flag. "And they deserve to be protected! A slight against one of us is a slight against all of us! We've gotta show those Wezeltonians we mean business! If you take over the factories, institute an emergency draft, and get as many battleships and fighter jets out there as possible then we might stand a chance! No expense is too costly for the lives of @@[email protected]@'s sons and daughters!"

Result: the government is sending thousands of citizens overseas to defend a square mile of land.

Economy drops 7 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Defense increase 5 percent.

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#245: Clash Of Cultures

1. "It's disrespectful," says Harry Cho, serving traditional @@[email protected]@-shaped cookies on a tray. "These people talk funny, dress funny, pray to bizarre gods, and cook their smelly food. Food I've never seen on any LOCAL menu. Some of them don't even speak our language very well! If at all! If immigrants want the privilege of living in this country then they should be made to adopt our own traditions! Otherwise our culture will slowly but surely disappear! If they refuse... well, then they can go back to their own country since they love it so much."

Result: immigrants are required to salute the flag five times a day. (DONE)

Civil rights drops 3 points. Spending on spirituality increases 4 percent. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Spirituality increase 2 percent and Social policy drops 2 percent.

2. "I have a right to lead my life the way I want," says Stefanie Song, an immigrant, with the help of a translator. "I will not forsake my heritage for your people and I will not dirty my tongue with your heathen language. And if you have a problem with that then tell me this: what have I done wrong? I pay my taxes, I break no laws- and yet you think I should change? Those who don't wish to 'integrate' shouldn't have to."

Result: racial and religious segregation has become rife as the various groups are loath to mingle.

Civil rights increase by 5 points. No other changes.

3. "Oh, there's no need to be like that!" says Billy Woolf, president of the Multiculturalism Society in a cheery tone. "@@[email protected]@ should be a more accepting country, open to new experiences! Embrace difference, people, don't reject it! These folk aren't hurting us or our traditions, they are showing us different ways of life and making us wiser and richer beings in the process! It's our responsibility to take the first step towards reparations and remove any ethnic bias from the names of our public holidays - how does Winter Day sound to you? I like it."

Result: religious figures have been banned from public holidays to make them more multicultural.

Civil rights decrease 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

4. "We need to stop thinking of 'them' as a problem that needs to be fixed," insists Kayla Bush, an undergraduate in anthropology. "Integration in society is a two-way street, Leader. We can't shun people for not following a major religion or drinking their tea with the wrong hand. That's just silly! No, if we want immigrants to pick up our ways then we should be more willing to learn about theirs! Mandatory education courses should encourage citizens to learn more about other cultures in @@[email protected]@."

Result: all citizens must pass a 'multicultural sensitivity test' to be deemed fit for society.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on education increase 2 percent.

5. "That's stupid," says Ariel de Castro, flatly. "I'm not going to 'bond' with immigrants by learning about their beliefs! For multiculturalism to actually function, everyone needs to actually meet these people and deal with them on a day-to-day basis. Then maybe they'll realise that yeah, they're people too. The only way to do this is to put an end to segregated neighbourhoods - even if it means forcing families to move elsewhere."

Result: property values in suburbs have nosedived after the middle class were forced to live next door to ethnic minorities.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Social policy increases 1 percent.

6. "Everyone shut up, I have the perfect solution," says Roxanne Sato, shouting into a megaphone. "How about we kick these ungrateful foreigners out of the nation and never let them come back?! We've all heard what those ethnics are like, I wouldn't be surprised if they ate their own young! Immigration shouldn't be allowed! I won't abide it!"

Result: the word 'foreigner' is considered a highly vulgar expletive.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Social policy decreases 10 percent (to zero). On second test, confirms result.

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#246: @@[email protected]@ To Hold The Olympic Torch?

1. "WAHAAAAY!" screams Billy du Pont, captain of @@[email protected]@ City's premier division ballroom dancing team. "Finally, a chance to show the world exactly how great I am! Everybody's always complaining that @@[email protected]@ never does well in sports and you know why? It's because we're never in front of the home crowd, that's why! We're going to need a great big stadium! No! TWO stadiums! WHOOP! OL-YM-PICS! OL-YM-PICS!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ successfully hosted the @@[email protected]@ Olympics.

Economy increase 6 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Industry increasess 6 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Oh great," mutters Virginia Goethe, spokesperson for the Angry Taxpayer Society. "That's all we need, more things to pour money into for no obvious reason. Surely it would be easier to just let another country host the Olympics and keep the cash? Then maybe it could go to something useful, like, I don't know... my wallet?"

Result: organised sports are frowned upon as frivolous.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate decreases by 1 percent. Spending on industry decrease 1 percent.

3. "We'd be missing an amazing opportunity if we pass this up," says Bianca Falopian, your Minister of Sports. "But we've got to be in it to win! Simply building new stadia won't be enough, we need to be funding new sports centres and hiring the best coaches for our entrants! You could put more money into public facilities too, like gyms or something. Then no one can accuse you of wasting everyone's tax juveniles, ha ha. Ha."

Result: the importance of winning Olympic gold medals is indoctrinated from an early age.

Economy rises by 10 points. Tax rate also increases 2 percent. Spending on industry and healthcare increases 12 percent each.

4. "There's nothing like a feat of strength to please the dull-witted masses, is there?" sighs Heather Thiesen, flipping through 'One Hundred Gambits for Advanced Go Players'. "It's so boring. Why can't more intellectual pursuits be given the spotlight, like chess or debating matches? Ban organised sports and make our dreams come true! I think you'll find it comes at a far lower price than the populist Olympics ever will."

Result: chess hooliganism is on the rise after the banning of organised sports.

Economy drops 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry decreases 6 percent.

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#247: Where There's Smoke

1. "See here, buddy," says Akira Chandra, putting a friendly arm around your shoulder. "Your country needs fire protection, but you don't want to pay for it yourself. What do you say me and some of the boys here open up a few fire stations of our own and let the custome- citizens pay US instead of YOU paying THEM. It's not like we won't put out the fires if they don't have anything on them, we'll just bill them and their children and their children's children until we get all our money."

Result: reports of arson have doubled since the introduction of a privatised fire protection service.

Economy go up 16 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Admin increases 1 percent.

2. "Woah, woah, woah!" Says liberal activist, Mia Love. "I don't want my rescuers to be putting less effort into their jobs because I don't have a credit card or live in a slum. Do you know when you're at your worst, financially? WHEN YOUR HOUSE JUST BURNT DOWN. This is a victimisation of the poor! The government should be in charge of the emergency services and they should treat everyone equally. It's only fair."

Result: the fire protection service is wholly government-funded.

Economy rises (go up) 9 points. Tax rate rises 2 percent. Spending on L&O increases 1 percent.

3. "Not only that, but we need to prevent fires from happening in the first place," says Fanny Smith, your Minister of Safety, carefully turning off the wall sockets in your office. "And if that means sending free smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and informative pamphlets to every household in @@[email protected]@ so be it! Damn the expenses, Leader, lives are at stake!"

Result: most citizens in @@[email protected]@ are abject pyrophobes after extremely graphic pamphlets were mailed nationwide by the government.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on Social policy and Education both increase about 5 points each.

4. "I think that sounds kinda... socialist," says Stefanie Bronte with a disgusted grimace. "The government should keep out of this if you ask me. The only reason fires happen is because people are stupid and they know a fire engine will come racing down the street to save them. Take away that safety blanket and I think you'll find they wise up quite quickly! We don't need any tax-consuming fire service! If idiots and their families go up in flames they'll have no one to blame but themselves."

Result: the government's only official statement on the burning down of @@[email protected]@ City was that 'they shouldn't have been so careless'.

Economy increases 2 points (on one that has a low economy). Tax remains the same. Spending on admin increase 1 percent, L&O decreases 1 percent, while Welfare decreases 2 percent. (Doesn't add up I know, but it's like that)

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#248: The Sky Is Falling

1. "It's a no-brainer," says Sarah Barry, frisking you as you enter the meeting. "Put police officers on every flight, armed and ready to deal with those blasted sky pirates! It's deterrence and protection wrapped up in one. If anyone so much as says the word 'bomb' they'd better watch out!"

Result: frequent fliers are obliged to submit to invasive security procedures by government security.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on L&O increases 3 percent.

2. "You want to put people with GUNS on aeroplanes?!" asks Thomas Fellow, a security guard at Falala McAlpin International Airport. "And at the taxpayers' expense to boot? For the love of Violet, keep the police out of this! Airport security should remain in private hands! Think realistically for a moment: government priorities change all the time but companies are in it for profit. Bombings are BAD for business! We don't LET them happen! So just... butt out will you? I'm not losing my job to a flatfoot!"

Result: airport security is provided by private companies.

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on law and order decreases by 2 percent.

3. "We don't need no copper protectin' us! We can look after our own hides!" laughs @@[email protected]@, president of the @@[email protected]@ Rifle and Revolver Association. "Air flight passengers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. If one of them terrorists thinks he's gonna walk all over @@[email protected]@ like he owns the place then he's got another thing coming, ha!"

Result: bombs are permitted on planes for the 'security of the passengers'.

Civil rights increases by 2 points. On second test, Civil rights increases 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O decreases 1 percent.

4. "I only wanted to tour @@[email protected]@ for a few w-weeks," wails Chloe Wong, recovering from a particularly vigorous strip search. "I have a right not to be probed and prodded at the whim of some wand-waving monkey with a high school education! For a whole HOUR I might add! They treat us like cattle! In the name of DECENCY, I request, nay DEMAND an end to the disgrace that is airport security! I mean, really, it's like they don't trust me or something!"

Result: the wreckages of bombed planes that litter @@[email protected]@ are highly popular tourist destinations.

Civil rights increases 4 points. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on law and order decreases 7 percent.

5. "Let's just ban all planes!" shouts Fanny Zhimo, prodding you angrily in the chest. "Bombings and terrorist attacks aren't the only problems these things cause! The aeroplane is one of the worst pollutants mankind has ever created! They're loud, they're ugly, and they burn fuel like there's no tomorrow! There are more environment-friendly ways to travel than by plane even if they are slower! Much slower. But cleaner!"

Result: aeroplanes have been converted into housing units after all air travel was outlawed. THIS CHOICE WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES

Economy drops 2 points. Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on L&O decreases 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#249: Particle Accelerator Sparks High Energy Debate

1. "There's only so much you can do with limited equipment and computer simulations," explains Higgs Boughson, professor of Engineering at @@[email protected]@ University. "There are things out there just waiting to be discovered. A few billion @@[email protected]@s to find them and the fruits of this research will benefit mankind for generations. Kinda. Ish. It'll shut Steven up about his ridiculous electron phasing hypothesis anyway."

Result: construction of the Really Big Hadron Collider is underway.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases by 5 percent. Spending on Education increase 3 percent.

2. "Did you know that this experiment has a one in ten million chance of creating a microscopic black hole that will gobble up the whole planet in an apocalyptic chain reaction?" asks Brian Wall, sporting a magnificent tin foil bicorne. "I read it on the internet so it must be true! Scientists may CLAIM it's safe, but they can't even design a soda that doesn't go flat when you shake it! They have NO RIGHT to gamble with our lives. You've got to end this mad research at once! If God had wanted us to study atoms he wouldn't have made them so small!"

Result: the study of quantum physics has been outlawed for fear of accidentally causing the end of the world.

No change to trends. Tax rate drops 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase less than 1 percent. Drops in Education and Defense (less than 1 percent each).

3. "You know what also has a one in ten million chance?" asks blue collar worker Max Sanchez. "This project actually discovering something useful! Why should we, the suffering taxpayers, fork over all that money so they can discover... what? You can't eat subatomic particles, you know. I'm sure they'll learn lots of interesting things about protons and quarks but on the other hand... I don't give a flying @@[email protected]@. Scientists that aren't studying something practical and for the good of the common man shouldn't be given government funding."

Result: theoretical science is only theoretical.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education drops 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#250: Recession, Depression, And Deficit

@@[email protected]@ faces one of its most serious financial crises in history. @@[email protected]@'s stock market has been steadily falling for months, the markets are now divesting and a general sell out spree is feared by analysts.

2. "To spend government money saving unprofitable companies is ludicrous and in denial of the facts," objects Rochelle Barnes, CFO of Chairs 'n' Stuff PLC. "They screwed up! They don't deserve to survive! What we need is a new round of tax breaks for the most effective enterprises, like good old Chairs 'n' Stuff - if you ever need your upholstery repaired, let us know won't you? Anyway, tax breaks will attract new investors and businesses. Trust me, large-scale investment in the middle of a recession is madness. We need to stop the deficit, not increase it."

Result: the government spends its days financing the delocalisation of its own economy.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. No change to spending (test was on Ozoi, one of the Van's nations)

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#251: The Trouble With Hobos

1. "To be honest, I'd just like a place to stay," says a scruffy man who's been living under your desk. "Somewhere I don't have some landlord breathing down my neck all the time. If the government could see fit to build some kind of free hostel where people could go if they've fallen on hard times, well, that'd be just great."

Result: the recently unemployed can often be seen at the local homeless shelter.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on welfare increases 7 percent.

2. "You can't possibly think that's a good permanent solution!" cries Dave Gutenberg, co-ordinator of the local soup kitchen. "What these people need is help to get their lives back on track. Yes, they have the right to a place to live, but they also need an honest job to pay for it. They need to be encouraged to work to become integrated into society again! Force our major businesses to create some basic jobs for these poor souls, and soon they will become pillars of the community!"

Result: citizens applying for their first jobs face fierce competition from the homeless.

Economy drops by 6 points. Tax rate increases by 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increases by 3 percent.

3. "And who do you suppose pays for all this?" snaps Rebecca Taffs, one of your advisors. "Your loyal taxpayers, that's who! People who actually work for the things they have! And let's face it: these vagrants bring it on themselves - frittering their money away on rubbish and rollicking in unemployment while the rest of the world slaves away to make ends meet. They're worthless scum and they gave up their 'rights' a long time ago. I say we leave them to their misery until they become a nuisance, then have them dealt with like any other criminal."

Result: homeless people are frequently charged with trespassing on public property.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Welfare drops 2 percent. Re-tested on another nation, no change to trends as well.

4. "As far as I can see, homeless people are already a nuisance," says Lee de Groot, a proud citizen. "They're mostly thieves and drug addicts, they make the streets a dangerous place for our children, they make honest people feel guilty for turfing them off their doorsteps and, frankly, they smell bad. They're vermin, plain and simple, and as such I suggest they be destroyed before the infestation gets even more out of hand."

Result: citizens who become homeless are immediately executed.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate drops 1 percent. No changes to spending on Social policy and Healthcare. On second test, Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax rate drops 1 percent, spending on Welfare drops 6 percent.

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#252: Great Balls Of Fire!

1. "We can't let a little old boulder get the best of us!" bellows Jack McAlpin, a burly military official. "We have to fight back! Show 'em what we're made of! With a little funding, we could develop some terrific new weapons for the next bit of flying rock that dares to threaten us! Blow it to smithereens! If ever there was a time to prepare for space warfare, it is now!"

Result: nuclear warheads are frequently launched into space as a warning to invading meteoroids.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 5 percent.

2. "That's all well and good," interjects Professor Bianca Leach, leading scientist at the @@[email protected]@ Meteorological Office. "Except that the chances of a fall of this magnitude occurring twice in the same area are miniscule at worst. I propose you direct your funding to the real issue here - rebuilding the homes and properties that have been lost, and tending to the injured and traumatised. As soon as we've removed what's left of Big Max for studying, you can make a start."

Result: the government has adopted a "Lightning Never Strikes Twice" approach to dealing with natural disasters.

No observable changes. On second test, No change to trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increases 3 percent.

3. "Remove the greatest phenomenon @@[email protected]@ has ever seen?!" cries Sophie O'Bannon, the famous museum tycoon. "Surely you can envisage the profit that could be had here? We should be opening the site for tourists! Think of the possibilities - guided tours, gift shops, theme parks! You don't want to build on top of all that potential, do you? Besides, the old residents are all dead now anyway! I'm sure this is what they would have wanted."

Result: tourists are flocking to the newly-built MeteorLand family resort.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 2 percent.

4. "All of these ideas are either costly, ridiculous or both!" snorts your Spiritual Advisor, leaning over your desk. "Your people are frightened and vulnerable right now. They don't want you to take action; they want you to tell them it'll all be okay. We could use this! Tell them Big Max was a warning from the Heavens! Strike the fear of the Mighty One into their hearts and they'll do whatever you tell them!"

Result: god-fearing citizens can be seen in prayer circles around the Big Max impact crater.

No change to trends. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increases 4 percent.

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#253: How Much Democracy Is Too Much?

1. "The madness has gone on for long enough," says Voting Registry Clerk Ivan Rikkard, visibly suffering from sleep deprivation. "We've been working around the clock processing all these referendums! Every day we receive millions of votes for the most inconsequential of by-laws! They all have to be counted, recounted, checked for errors, and it's driving me up the wall! You need to leave the responsibility of voting to Parliament. After all, representing the people is what they get paid for."

Result: the government has ordered a moratorium on referenda.

Political freedoms drops 3 points. Tax rate reduces 1 percent. Spending on Admin drops 1 percent.

2. "Don't stop the referendums! We need more democracy, not less!" cries Jack Song, a prominent voting rights advocate. "Giving the law back to the people was a good first step, but where's the democracy in the courts? Court verdicts are still forced down the people's throats by mean, spiteful judges with no one to answer to! It's time to abolish the judicial system once and for all and give justice back to the people!"

Result: all judiciary cases are decided in the court of public opinion.

Political freedoms increase 3 points. No change to taxes. Spending on L&O decrease 1 percent.

3. "Excuse us, but aren't you missing the point?" asks the unidentified spokesperson of some citizens gathered around your office door. "We, the people of @@[email protected]@, know what is in our best interests. We can make our OWN decisions. Why don't you leave this matter to us? We'll hold a referendum to decide what needs to be done, should only be a week or two. We'll get back to you once we're finished."

Result: referenda are held for every conceivable government action.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increases 4 percent.

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#254: Freedom Comes At A Price

1. "This has gone too far!" yells Patrick Griswold, a supermarket cashier and father of seven. "Slave liberation indeed! Thanks to the efforts of the so-called 'Friends' of Spartacus, decent, hardworking people are being dragged kicking and screaming from their homes to be used for profit against their will! The government has to do something about these ignorant activists before they cause any more harm!"

Result: it is illegal to liberate slaves.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to government expenditure.

2. "I can't believe what I'm hearing!" cries Friends of Spartacus founder, Gretel Cheswick. "I think we all know the real issue here is that the despicable trade of human beings is actually legal in this country! It's unethical, barbaric, and just plain wrong. Are we not above this kind of thing? I propose we abolish the slave trade altogether!"

Result: employers are gradually adapting to the alien premise of paying wages to their workers.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No change to economy or tax. Spending on Industry decrease 1 percent.

3. "Abolish the what, now?" asks Naki Giono, a wealthy slaveholder. "Have you any idea how important our sla- er... merchandise, is to @@[email protected]@'s economy? Without all this free labour, dozens of major industries would fall apart, and fine upstanding tradesmen such as myself would be sent straight to the poorhouse! If the government would see fit to invest in this highly lucrative business, we could import our product from abroad to meet demands instead of trading in the dregs of our own populace. Problem solved!"

Result: the booming slave trade is now government-funded.

Economy rises 13 points. Civil rights drops 6 points. Tax decreases 3 percent. Spending on Industry rises 5 percent.

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#255: Welfare Programs Not Faring Well

1. "The process ought to be made easier," says Inga Matthews, picking the grime out of her dirty fingernails. "It's so difficult convincing welfare administrators that I am actually a poor, helpless vagrant on the brink of homelessness! When you finally do, you get tangled up in all the red tape, and you're lucky to see a dime. The government should just trust my word and fork over the @@[email protected]@s I need to survive."

Result: suit-clad businessmen have been taking advantage of the relaxed welfare qualifications by shopping with food stamps.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increases 9 percent.

2. "The current system is not very efficient, I'll admit," says Lars Trax, a local welfare administrator and esteemed bureaucrat. "But we can't trust these bums to manage their welfare aid. How are we supposed to help them help themselves if they waste their benefits on things like trashy clothes and cheap alcohol? We need more authority over how the aid is spent, it's the only way we can be assured that it is used responsibly."

Result: the welfare administration’s new sweeping authority has forced the poor and needy to shop from pre-approved grocery lists.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increases 4 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Get the free-loaders off the government teat!" shouts conservative activist, Konrad du Pont. "The free-market system says that those who work hard will succeed. If these so-called 'needy people' would roll their sleeves up, lift a finger, and earn an honest living, we wouldn't be bankrupting our country helping them! The only sensible solution is to abolish all welfare programs, and let the natural, capitalist process take place."

Result: penurious citizens die from easily remedied ailments because they aren't 'taking enough initiative'.

Economy increases by 11 points. Civil rights decrease by 4 points. Tax rate decreases by 2 percent. Also suspected: This will reduce spending on welfare. However the test nation had no welfare spending to begin with. On second test, Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 14 percent to zero. (All the rest increases, including proportionately on HC and Social. Only WF drops.)

4. "He has a point," says popular political pundit Erica Winters. "There are a lot of people in the system, and some of them don't really need to be there. The government should be finding these people jobs, so that our welfare system can survive and meet the needs of the truly impoverished. Of course, we're going to have to spend a few yens to achieve this goal. But, what's a little tax hike if it means saving our dying welfare programs and the people who depend on them?"

Result: the government is using tax revenues to provide jobs for the poor.

Economy drops 7 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on welfare increases 7 percent.

5. "Capitalism is the very reason why we need welfare in the first place. Laissez-faire policies would only make the problem worse," argues political activist Josh Mistletoe. "If the government would ensure that all employers pay their employees the amount they need to live - no more, no less - then the problem of providing for the poor would disappear."

Result: the government enforces a policy of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to the available budget'.

Economy drops 12 points. Tax rate increases 3 percent. No change to spending

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#256: Easter Egg: Suburbs Are Out Of This World

1. "Crime is perpetually increasing," says Chastity Elizabeth Prescott as she adjusts the sweater tied like a cape over her shoulders. "Just yesterday my little John Alexander Stuart's after-school Bigtopianese tutor was attacked by a gang of hoodlums! Our children deserve safe housing and exactly manicured lawns no greater than two inches in grass blade height! With a sufficient colonization effort, we can commute from communities on the Moon to the industries in our big cities. You must support this--think of the children!"

Result: the entire country is an urban wasteland as the well-to-do commute from space (@@[email protected]@ has found X easter eggs).

No change to trends. Tax increases 2 percent. Spending on Public Transport increase 7 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Rockets?!" shrieks noted bleeding heart Sunflower Earthchild Starbeam, pulling her knit cap more closely over her ears. "Think of the pollution, and the danger! What if there's an accident? This cockamamie scheme must clearly be banned! And you thought cars were bad- wait! Cars ARE bad!"

Result: white-collar unemployment skyrockets as the suburbs are not within bicycling distance to work (@@[email protected]@ has found X easter eggs).

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Everyone knows urban blight is caused by the flight of capital to the suburbs and exurbs," notes the prominent left-wing economist Engelbert Pinquo. "Running away to the Moon will solve nothing. Capital, and those who have it, must be brought back to the inner city... by force if need be."

Result: white-collar workers and their families are rounded up by the military and forced to relocate to the inner city (@@[email protected]@ has found X easter eggs).

Civil rights drops 3 points, Economy drops 1 point. Tax increases 1 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 3 percent.

4. "Stone the crows! We're trapped between hippies, communists and soccer moms," grumbles Vice Admiral Anne-Marie Yeats. "We need breathing room, and everyone knows there ain't no air on the Moon! So let's get it the old-fashioned way - by invading our neighbors! Uncharted Lands will fall to the might of @@[email protected]@"

Result: the country is constantly under siege trying to protect soccer moms who've settled in occupied territory (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 3 percent.

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#257: Leader Assassinated... Almost

1. "Oh dear! Oh dearie me, that was so rude!" coos your personal assistant, adjusting your tie. "You'll just have to prove to the citizens of @@[email protected]@ that you are a good and benevolent leader, and don't deserve to be brutally shot in the head! The only way to keep you safe is to make the public like you! Do something nice for them! Might I suggest a nice tax cut?"

Result: citizens simply have to point a weapon at a government official to get what they want.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. No change to govt spending.

2. "What makes you think it's a member of the general public behind this?" asks your Head of Security, Roger Malik. "It's more likely to be the work of some underground separatist group trying to remove you from power! We've let them have their protests and their rallies and their free speech, and now they've taken it to the next level! We should be cracking down on this insolence instead of rewarding it! Show the people what happens to those who dare to question your authority. You've got to remind them that you, Leader, are their Lord and Master!"

Result: speaking out against the government is punishable by flogging.

Political freedoms drops 16 points. Civil rights drops 2 points. No other changes.

3. "Whoa there! Let's not be too hasty, bruv!" says law-abiding citizen, Bill Spirit, casually walking up to you and flinging an arm around your shoulder. "This sort of thing wouldn't be a problem at all if you just beefed up your personal security a bit. You could hire a few extra bodyguards and get yourself a shiny new armoured car! Nobody could touch you!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s leader goes out to lunch surrounded by large men in dark glasses.

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O go up 2 percent.

4. "Hah! Like that will work!" snorts Efthamia Strange, Minister of Waste Disposal and Sanitation. "They'll just come after the rest of us and destroy the government from the bottom up! No, we need to go even further - reinforce the Parliament! We'll turn @@[email protected]@ City into an impenetrable fortress! Robot bodyguards, food tasters... no expense should be spared! We should all do our jobs through a complex network of computers so we never have to leave the safety of our offices again!"

Result: nobody ever seems to enter or leave the armour-plated flying castle that serves as @@[email protected]@'s House of Parliament.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on L&O increase 7 percent.

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#258: What's In A Name?

1. "People do so love to be different," says Insert Name Here, with a heavy sigh. "I don't know what my folks were thinking when they named me. Probably about how 'novel' and 'with it' they were being, but I didn't get a say in it did I? Growing up in my neighbourhood with the first name 'Insert' wasn't fun at all I can tell you! The government should set up a registry of recognised names that are clean, sensible, and non-teasable. Kids deserve better."

Result: parents must choose their children's names from a government-mandated master list.

Civil rights decrease 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to government spending.

2. "It's none of the government's business what I name my daughter," says Follicle Rainbow Gooseknob, cradling [expletive deleted] in her arms. "Are you going to tell us what to think next? Where to go? Who to love? I don't want some grey-faced bureaucrat deciding what name is appropriate for my child! What kind of country hates personal freedom so much you can't even choose your own name?"

Result: @@[email protected]@ is one of the most popular forenames in @@[email protected]@.

Civil rights increase 4 points. No change to tax rate or spending pattern.

3. "Names? Names are so inefficient!" Says Five-Oh-Three McGoohan, counting beads. "Who can honestly tell one Mary Mistletoe from another? That name's so popular now, I met three people at the mall with it just last week! Face it! Names are old-hat! Everyone ought to go by a government-allocated ID number instead, much more practical. Who could make fun of a child named Six-Eight-Four?"

Result: all citizens are solely referenced by their allocated identity number

Civil rights drops 1 percent. No other changes.

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#259: A Taste Of Revenge

1. "Assassins, huh? Well, two can play at that game!" says Warren McCue, your chief military adviser. "An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth! An assassination for a... missed shot, I suppose. Never mind that, think of the possibilities! Not only can we strike back at the scumbags who sent this assassin after you, we can turn our attention to... 'manipulating' the positions of foreign leaders and political rivals that stand in the way of @@[email protected]@'s glory." He then points two fingers at the wall and mouths 'bang bang' noises.

Result: the nation's diplomatic missives are now delivered via sniper rifle.

Political freedoms drop by 6 points. No changes to tax rate. Defense spending increases by 1 percent. On a second test, political freedoms dropped by a whopping 14 points.

2. "Sending assassins to avenge you isn't enough!" argues hawkish talk-show host, Steffan Brown. "The fact that Blackacre is this bold means we haven't made them fear us yet - and a nation that isn't feared isn't respected. We need to do the only thing we CAN do: bomb their cities! Raise a revolution! Salt their fields! It may cost money, but our nation's honor is priceless."

Result: the nation's new foreign policy of 'very disproportionate retribution' has its neighbors on edge.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 4 percent.

3. "I can't believe what I'm hearing!" says the muffled voice of Abraham du Pont, an anti-violence protestor who was, until now, hiding in your air vents. "By building up our military-industrial complex, WE have become the aggressor. WE are giving nations like Blackacre good reasons to hate us! No wonder they tried to kill you - we aren't giving them enough breathing room. If we cut back our military a bit and sent them a fruit basket now and then these problems would never happen."

Result: the government tries to improve relations with hostile countries by sending gift baskets.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on defense go down 4 percent. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Defense decrease 2 percent.

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#260: Taxpayers On Strike!

1. "Damn right we're not!" exclaims Charles Dubois, one of many citizens protesting in front of your office. "Your oppressively high taxes are picking our pockets and robbing us of our livelihood. No more, we say! The government may call us tax cheats, but that's just because it's afraid to call us the PATRIOTS that we are! Cut the tax rate, and we'll think about paying again."

Result: the government has cut taxes in the face of widespread tax evasion.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 8 percent. Rearranging spending on a large scale. Spending on admin drops 4 percent to zero, spending on Edu and healthcare decreases, spending on L&O, welfare, defense, industry, increases.

2. "@@[email protected]@ can't survive when people don't pay their taxes!" retorts Sean Rifkin, the head of @@[email protected]@'s Revenue Bureau. "Citizens may feel that they need to keep all of their @@[email protected]@s, but the government needs it too! Without taxation, how can we build roads, schools and hospitals? How can we protect the people from themselves? We need to give the police broad powers to lay down the law on these tax-evading scum until they pay up."

Result: the police crack down on tax evaders without mercy.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Scum is such a harsh word. Everyone has something worthwhile to contribute, as my mother always said." says Naki Broadside, controversial social theorist and fountain of homespun folk wisdom. "Even if they won't pay their taxes, folks ought to have other ways to pay back into society. They could spend some time with the civil service or military reserve, for example. And goodness knows, blood and organ donation rates aren't as high as they could be. A pint of blood or a good kidney ought to pay a tax bill right proper."

Result: tax evaders are regularly visited by agents of the @@[email protected]@ Blood Tithe.

Civil rights drop 6 points. Tax decreases 3 percent. Spending on health care increases 5 percent.

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#261: Plastic, Plastic Everywhere

1. "These damn bags are everywhere!" shouts angry garbageman Georgina Jones. "They're in our trees, in our rivers, in our streets, and in our sewer system! Do you know how much extra work we have to do to clean up after slobs who are too lazy to put their trash in a can? Ban these bags completely and fine those stores who refuse to comply! Sure, people may have to remember to bring their own damn bags, but think about the back-breaking labor my fellow garbagemen will avoid! And the environment, of course."

Result: shoppers have literally had their hands full since plastic bags were banned.

No change to trends. Income tax increases 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase marginally (less than 1 percent)

2. "If you can't get rid of the bags, you must change the bags!" exclaims Abraham Frederickson, an environmentalist spokesperson wearing a lab coat and a huge grin. "Scientists have developed plastics that break down over time, so it doesn't matter where they're dumped. Require that only biodegradable plastic bags can be sold in @@[email protected]@, and the problem will go away."

Result: the nation's industries are scrambling to switch to biodegradable plastics.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. No changes to spending. Death by heart disease decreased by 1 percent.

3. "You're not really going to listen to this nonsense, are you?" says Gregory Hamilton, CEO of PlastiCorp Industries. "Do you know how much this will hurt the plastic industry? How many people I will need to lay off? How many lands I - I mean, @@[email protected]@ - will lose? Our economy needs less environmental regulation, not more! Just say no to limits on our plastic bags, and while you're at it loosen up environmental laws for corporations in general. We can't afford to let hippie ideas get in the way of @@[email protected]@'s bottom line."

Result: scenic tours are unheard of after most environmental laws were abolished.

No change to trends. Environmental spending decreases if present. Death by cancer increased 3 percent.

4. "Why should consumers have to worry about bags at all?" asks Larry Janssen, owner of an online grocery store. "E-commerce is the way of the future. We need to take the next step and put the entire retail industry online. Think about it! No more bags, no more waiting in line, no more wasted time going to the store for food when your food can come to you. Sure, it'll cause some unemployment in the short run, but there'll be plenty of jobs at our warehouses. Everyone who matters should have an internet connection by now and it's high time we embraced the future."

Result: the entire retail industry has been replaced by online delivery services.

No observable changes.

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#262: Sticks And Stones

1. "I can't believe we're even debating this," says Zeke Jefferson, who was present at the infamous speech. "Doesn't it worry you that a man, who would obviously be happier if we all died horrible, painful deaths, is allowed to walk around in public? Let him continue and he'll cause a riot! Free speech is supposed to protect people! But talking about genocide and killing, well... that doesn't help anyone. It breaks society. It drives us apart. Hate speech is a very serious crime, Leader. You can't just ignore it."

Result: a fashion designer has been arrested for inciting hatred after claiming redheads couldn't pull off vermillion.

Political freedoms drop 2 points. No change to tax. Spending on Spirituality go down 2 percent, all go to Social policy. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Words by themselves can't hurt anyone," counters Colin Silk, a free speech advocate. "We don't need to be 'protected' from hearing different opinions for goodness' sake! Oh, what a boring place the world would be if we all had the same thoughts! You can't punish people for disagreeing with you! That's crazy! I hate my mother-in-law, but if I told her so and she then tried to stab me with a kitchen knife then the problem is obviously hers - not mine."

Result: violently opinionated speakers can be heard preaching their hateful views on every street corner.

Political freedoms go up by 10 points. Spending on social policy decreases by 6 percent, minor increase in law and order. On a second test, tax rate decreases 1 percent.

3. "I agree to an extent," ventures Kayla de Castro, your Minister of Domestic Security. "But insulting one person is not the same as insulting an entire social grouping. The wrong word in the wrong place and you WILL have violence on the streets: that's the reality we live in, whether you like it or not. If we want to make any real difference then we need to nudge cultural values in the right direction with government awareness programmes and the like. Educate the masses! Laying down a reactionary law will just fuel resentment in the long run."

Result: the government is promoting multicultural values with the new 'Just Be Nice, OK?' initiative.

Political freedoms go up (increase) by 1 point. No change to Tax rate. Spending on Social policy increase 2 percent.

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#263: Wind Farms Blowing Up A Storm

1. "Hideous eyesores!" roars Akira Plath, founder of the 'Not Within Eyesight Of My Backyard!' pressure group. "All I wanted when I retired was a little cottage in the country; somewhere to pursue my hobby in watercolors - but no, the hippies just had to spoil it for everyone didn't they?! This place was beautiful! Green fields and perfect blue skies! Not anymore, though! These unnatural monstrosities are ruining my damn view! They should be taken down and scrapped!"

Result: renewable energy projects have ground to a halt.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. SPending on Environment drops 4 percent (to zero)

2. "Oh, cry me a river," grumbles Gertie James, senior maintenance engineer of the local wind farm. "Just one of these wind turbines can power over a thousand homes each year and with only a minute fraction of the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels! These people are literally in favour of doing more harm to the environment they're supposedly 'protecting' from wind farms! It's beyond hypocrisy and very, very selfish. These ignorant villagers should be ashamed of themselves!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s famous countrysides are shrouded by wind farms.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment increase 3 percent.

3. "Perhaps we're just putting them in the wrong place?" asks Samuel Love, another engineer. "We should be building wind farms out at sea! Strong uninterrupted winds and no local residents to disturb! Sounds like the perfect solution, if you ask me. Setting them up and maintaining them's going to cost a bomb of course but... well, it's worth it right?"

Result: @@[email protected]@ has one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

No change to trends. Tax rate increases one percent. Spending on environment increase by 1 percent.

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#264: Not A Drop To Drink

1. "We have no choice but to ration water," says Pip Johnson, Chief of the @@[email protected]@ City Department of Public Works. "We can't afford to let what little water we have slip through our fingers. We must clamp down on how much water each person is allowed to use. If our more wasteful citizens complain because they'll have to actually think about how much water they pour down the drain, all the better for the rest of us."

Result: fewer people are bathing as citizens must show ration stamps before they can turn on their faucets.

Civil Rights dropped by 7 points. No effect on tax. Spending on Social policy increase 1 percent.

2. "You think too small," sighs Foreign Secretary George W. Summers, between sips from a sparkling bottle of gourmet dihydrogen monoxide. "@@[email protected]@ may be short on water, but the rest of @@[email protected]@ has water to spare! Why not just import the water from abroad? Sure, it'll cost money, but what's worth more to the people of @@[email protected]@, a little tax money or their most basic physical needs? Our neighbors wouldn't dream of cutting off the water, right?"

Result: almost all of @@[email protected]@'s water is piped into the country from abroad for exorbitant prices.

Economy go up by 2 percent surprisingly. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on industry go up 4 percent.

3. "This drought is a warning sign sent by our Creator!" shouts a strangely familiar-looking man who has just walked in from the desert clad in @@[email protected]@ hair and sandals. "If this nation will only turn from its wicked ways and hearken unto our God, surely He shall grace us with water once more!"

Result: @@[email protected]@'s newly-famous raindances to summon storms instead attract tourists from all over @@[email protected]@.

No change to trends or tax rate. No visible change to govt spending either. On second test, confirms result.

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#265: To Bail or Not to Bail?

1. "We need to do something now! The people's welfare -- not to mention all my side businesses -- are in serious danger!" screams your finance minister Melbourne Bush. "We need an extensive support program for the businesses that make our country great, otherwise we might as well join ranks with those... third-world countries," he shudders. "Nevermind that all the businesses on this list are owned by my relatives!"

Result: the government is spending billions of taxpayer @@[email protected]@s to support the Automobile Manufacturing industry.

Economy increase 3 points. Tax go up 3 percent. Spending on welfare and industry increases 4 and 3 percent respectively.

2. "You're talking about doing what!?" screams Violet Johnson, a noted fiscal conservative and libertarian scholar. "Government bailouts won't solve anything. They'll only redistribute wealth to those the government happens to favor at that particular moment, while placing a crushing burden onto everybody else. The government must instead cut taxes across the board and axe all unnecessary social programs, particularly our welfare system."

Result: thousands of former welfare recipients are in a revolutionary uproar as the rest of society is enjoying a hefty tax break.

No effect on trends but massive tax cut of 9 percent. Spending on admin go down by 11 percent. On second test, No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 11 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 14 percent to zero, Admin drops 4 percent.

3. "This bring up an interesting point," remarks socialist author Roger Summers. "Why do we allow businesses to become "too big to fail?" The solution, surely, is to break up businesses before they reach such a size that they threaten our economy. Imagine it: community-based businesses, run for the benefit of the little people, not faceless, money-grubbing investment banks! Is there really a reason corporations need to be big?"

Result: businesses that prove successful are immediately broken up.

Economy drops by a whopping 36 points. Tax rate increases 11 percent. Spending on admin increases 14 percent.

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#266: Breaching the Great Fourth Wall of @@[email protected]@{Easter Egg}

After the recent eXtra-Kinetocam Cartographic Digital satellite survey revealed that @@[email protected]@ is a surprisingly tiny section of land on a peninsula of a much larger continent, expeditions sent to explore these new lands have found a wide assortment other landmasses- all with new cultures and foreign civilizations. Of course, now people are wondering what to do with... or about... their newly-discovered neighbors.

1. "Isn't it obvious? We must establish contact and trade with these other countries!" the CEO of one of the major mining companies notes happily, gesturing toward the XKCD survey map with a laser pointer. "The land claimed by Stalclaft is noted to contain a particular gaseous resource that could prove profitable for us! Never mind the report also says that the place is a war zone!"

2. "Are you insane? We're completely and totally vulnerable to attack!" declares General Rebecca Mombota while flailing at the new world map in a dramatic fashion. "We know nothing about these civilizations, what their intentions are, what they're capable of! Look at how massive that Cea-Dicee is, just to the south of us! What little we do know about them implies that they have SPACESHIPS! We need to strengthen our military to protect against these threats at all costs!"

Result: the @@[email protected]@AF has poured billions of @@[email protected]@ into anti-spaceship defenses to protect @@[email protected]@ against outsiders (@@[email protected]@ has found 3 easter eggs).

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Admin and Defense increase marginally.

3. "Don't mind the paranoid ravings of the General there." Noted scholar @@[email protected]@ states calmly, while tapping a spot on the map just offshore to the northeast of the peninsula. "We're simply expanding our understanding of the world and where we fit in it. The report says that the ancient ruins of Subspais are on the seafloor here, and I think it would be a most worthy endeavor to study them. It won't be cheap, but knowledge is the greatest resource we can have! As the saying goes, knowledge is power!"

Result: several universities in @@[email protected]@ have assembled expensive research teams to explore and study new lands and old ruins (@@[email protected]@ has found 3 easter eggs).

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Education increase marginally.

4. "This hippie professor doesn't get it." Admiral Jean-Paul Lee scoffs. "We have an opportunity here! For instance, this island of Uoeq to the west of us. They'd never see us coming; after establishing forward bases there, we could easily begin a campaign against Cea-Dicee and take their land and technology for ourselves! With that turned into a colony of NeoPacificus, the island of Sekonlif would fall easily, and we could seize Stalclaft's precious gas. Just imagine, eventually the entire continent could be under our control... or rather, YOUR control."

Result: @@[email protected]@ has begun an effort to aggressively conquer neighboring countries (@@[email protected]@ has found 1 easter egg).

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O and Defence increased marginally

5. "Don't believe these lies for a minute!" Notorious and arguably very crazy conspiracy theorist Sarah du Pont quickly unrolls a chart over the XKCD survey map before giving you what looks like a hat made of tinfoil. "These 'new lands' are all part of a conspiracy by the evil alien Bunny-Knights of Violet! I have evidence here that proves that these bunnies from space want us to THINK there are lands beyond what we already know. It's quite clear that this map is completely phony and that if we fall for it, we feed them our delicious mind-carrots! Forget this map of lies @@[email protected]@ Star Cute Happyness, for the sake of our mind-carrots!

Result: in a bizarre move the government of @@[email protected]@ has destroyed all information about a new world map in order to protect the nation's 'mind-carrots' (@@[email protected]@ has found 3 easter eggs).

No observable changes. (To RE-TEST, was done on one of Thembria's extreme nations)

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#267: Controversial Coup Causes Commotion

1. "THIS IS A DISGRACE," bellows Brigadier General Kayla Winters, scattering plastic soldiers over the floor. "This traitor must be overthrown! Gather together our forces and sweep the tyrant from power. While we're at it, @@[email protected]@ could do with some more tanks - you never know when the next coup might be."

Result: the government is pouring money into 'Operation Enduring Democracy'.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on defense increase 4 percent. On second test, no change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 7 percent.

2. Lara Steele, a junior official, puts down "Diplomacy for Dummies" and pipes up. "The best method of solving problems is talking. Send the new regime a strongly worded letter of protest and encourage them to negotiate. On a similar note, perhaps you could take your spouse out for a meal tonight. You've been spending far too much time sorting out this nation's issues lately."

Result: the art of conversation has been rediscovered.

No change to trends. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on defense went down by 3 percent.

3. Noted realist and tabloid columnist Charles Utopia disagrees. "We should give this new regime a chance. After all, they now control a sizeable economy, and they need weapons - we could offer to recognise the new government if they agreed to buy arms from us. Also, I couldn't help but notice some protesters outside your office. We wouldn't want a coup happening here - everyone would feel safer if they were moved on."

Result: the government encourages conflict abroad to increase arms sales.

Economy increases 1 point, Political freedoms drops 3 points. Tax remains unchanged. Spending on industry increases 2 percent.

4. "I don't see what the problem is," a voice strangely like your own whispers in your ear. Your twin, standing far too close for comfort, continues, "this has given me a great idea - why not just declare yourself supreme leader of @@[email protected]@? After all, the people do love you so very much."

Result: pollsters are out of a job as elections have been cancelled.

Political freedoms drops 16 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

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#268: Don't Want Your Kid Anymore? Good News!

1. "This is insane!" says social worker Hillary Hendrikson, struggling to hold three babies in her lap. "Whose smart idea was it to allow mothers to simply drop off their newborns like last night's stale pizza? These guys over at the capitol don't know how much work it takes to get these kids into the system and to take care of them, let alone how difficult it is to actually get them adopted! We simply can't do it. If this keeps up, don't be surprised if those babies sit in drop-boxes for days or forever." After handing over a baby to you, the social worker gives one final piece of advice, "Parents needs to accept the responsibility if they choose to have unprotected sex. It's not the state's job to raise children. At least, it shouldn't be. Until these types of laws are repealed, enjoy the baby!"

Result: orphanages are closing their doors as the government forces parents to actually raise their children.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. Spending on Edu, Welfare, and Healthcare drops marginally.

2. "A woman ought to have the right to choose if she wants to be a mother!" asserts Norma Roe, a long-time women's rights activist. "It's all a matter of privacy. The government shouldn't have a say in our life, shouldn't be telling us that we have to live like this, raise children like that, or devote our entire life to something we never wanted in the first place. Has anybody stopped to think that maybe it's better for the child that they aren't raised by unprepared, unwilling mothers? Give that a thought and get back to me, why don't you?"

Result: mothers are routinely abandoning their children in the name of women's rights.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 3 percent, Healthcare increase marginally (less than 1 percent)

3. "This is great!" says General Brian Cohen. "These abandoned kids are just what the @@[email protected]@ Armed Forces need. Our current personnel level is pitiful. I doubt we could defend a supermarket! If we take these unwanted rug-rats, teach them the ways of warfare, we could be spittin' out super-soldiers in no time! Just imagine. Our military would be the envy of the world!"

Result: toddlers are wielding machine guns in the name of national defense.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent.

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#269: Stop The Presses!

1. "There is no real problem here," says noted economist Sarah Licorish. "If newspapers are no longer selling, they shouldn't exist in a free market economy; let capitalism take its course. Who cares if a few newspapers go under? Besides, it's probably good for the digital industry, right?"

Result: morning coffees are no longer the same since the disappearance of newspapers.

Economy drops 3 points. No change to taxes. Spending on Industry decrease 7 percent.

2. "You can't just allow the newspaper industry to die!" panics newspaper editor William Rifkin. "We are the core of our nation's news media! Where will the talk shows, internet news sites, and other media outlets get their stories from? We're their sources after all! @@[email protected]@ needs newspapers to inform the populace! Just allow us to be exempt from taxation and I'm sure we will recover. After all, quality news is worth the price!"

Result: the newspaper industry is subsidised by the government in order to keep it afloat.

Economy rises up 5 points. No change to taxes. Spending on Industry increases 8 percent.

3. "Why bother subsidising when we can go all out and take back control of the media!" muses one of your innumerable advisors. "Newspapers are full of sensationalised, makey-uppy events designed to sell more papers and they ignore what really matters - like what we the Government are doing for the people! As a bonus, there'd be no need for newspapers and stations to compete with each other, and job losses would be at a minimum, so everyone'll be happy."

Result: daily newspapers are permitted to run only pro-government stories.

Economy rises 6 points, while Political freedoms drops 6 points. Tax rate increases 2 percent. Spending on Industry increases 6 percent.

4. "Yu'r not attacking the problem," states elderly gentleman Woody Cane. "Newspapers will never be able t' compete with them internets. All you've got t'do is shut them newfangled things down. Problem solved!"

Result: abacus sales outpace those of the personal computer following the closure of the Internet.

Civil rights drops 3 points, Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

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#270: Space Spectacular Sours Small Stargazers

1. "It's outrageous!" screams NAAA President Roxanne al-Zahawi, "How are we supposed to study the night sky if our own government won't let us stay out past six? Do you know how many other astronomical wonders we've missed because we aren't old enough? This curfew is suffocating our sense of wonder and stifling our curiosity. Is that what you want, Leader, a nation of un-inquisitive drones? You must see reason and repeal this curfew."

Result: teenagers stay out into the wee hours of the morning "stargazing".

Civil rights go up 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O decrease 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "You aren't seriously considering this, are you?" asks @@[email protected]@ City's Chief of Police Efthamia Yeats, "Since we implemented this curfew, youth-related crime has dropped 70%! What other government intervention has that kind of success rate? The elderly can once again take evening strolls without fear of being mugged by teenage hooligans. Mailboxes stand majestically unmolested. Look, I'm sorry these rapscallions can't look at supernovas and what not, but the numbers don't lie. If a few extra-curricular activities have to suffer to make @@[email protected]@s streets safer, then so be it." "

Result: police officers have nearly cracked a major underage astronomy syndicate.

Civil rights drops 1 point. No change to tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

3. "Now, now, surely the two sides can strike some sort of compromise," says noted radio talk show host Mark al-Zahawi, "Considering the statistics, you can't repeal the curfew altogether, but these kids raise a good point: the current curfew is far too draconian. What you should do is establish an official channel for minors to request permission to stay out after dark. That way teenagers - who have legitimate reasons - can be out after dark, and @@[email protected]@'s crime rate won't suffer. Quite an elegant solution if I do say so myself. True, it will require a slight tax increase, but you can't please everyone."

Result: the police have been swamped with requests to stay up past bedtime.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent. On second test, no change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#271: Vigilantes: Heroes Or Hoodlums?

1. "He did WHAT?" shouts over-zealous police officer Tim Rikkard. "The Dogman is a menace to society and an insult to the police. Vigilantism should not be tolerated, and the police should have the right to track these people down and throw them in jail. We'll show others like him that the law cannot be taken into their own hands."

Result: police are arresting costumed characters at comic book conventions.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "I agree, but we're forgetting the bigger issue," says Police Chief Bruce Strange. "It's embarrassing really. This guy who's probably had no police training managed to catch a criminal that some of us in the force have spent ten years trying to bring down. This whole incident clearly shows us that the police force needs new training and equipment. I'm sure that our citizens wouldn't mind paying a little more to feel safer on the streets."

Result: embarrassed police officers wear spandex and carry net guns.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 7 percent.

3. Renee Zhu, avid contributor to the magazine Anarchist Monthly, presents a different opinion. "The last thing we need is more police. In fact, I think the people would be better off with more heroes like the Dogman. Let's face it. The police are known for corruption and brutality. Let the people take the law into their own hands, and we'll have a utopia where issues are settled without fascist pigs telling us what we can and can't do! It'll be perfect, trust me."

Result: terrified neighbors cower behind concertina wire and machine gun nests.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 7 percent to zero.

4. "You all have the wrong idea," says Graphite Lad, wearing a slender yellow spandex suit and eraser helmet. "We can't dismiss the fact that the Dogman did us and our city a great service. That's not something we should put him in jail for. In fact, I think the government should pay vigilante heroes for their noble deeds."

Result: the government now pays the "Really Awesome Super Heroes" (RASH) to catch evildoers.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#272: Slow Down, You're Going Too Fast

1. "Lives are being lost, and for what?" shouts author of "The Road Worrier" Fleur Spirit at a rally in front of Police Headquarters. "So that juveniles-at-heart can satisfy their need for speed? Enough already! The rest of us want our children safe. Reinstate the speed limits, and while we're at it, raise the license age to 25. There's no need for adolescents to foul our highways. They can ride the bus."

Result: mothers drive their college-graduate children to work.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

2. "The problem isn't cars, it's drivers", states Anne-Marie Jones, founder and spokesperson of @@[email protected]@ Automation Industries. "Remove the human being from the equation, and modern vehicles can be driven at high speed entirely by computer! All we need is some research and retooling money, and a bit of infrastructure assistance to add drive-by-wire nodes to the highways. Not only will we make our own highways safer, we'll boost @@[email protected]@'s automotive exports through the roof!"

Result: cars speed down national highways while drivers sleep at the wheel.

Economy increases 5 points. Tax rate also go up 3 percent. Spending on Industry increase 5 percent, Transportation 4 percent, and L&O increase 1 percent.

3. "Cars are only a part of the problem," argues transit advocate Steffan Broadside, assembling a toy train set on your desktop. "Trucks and busses are just as deadly. We need to shift entirely to railroads and get rid of cars AND trucks - hi-speed trains between cities, light rail to the suburbs, monorails and trolleys in town. We can dump those old speed limit laws - people won't get run over if they stay off the tracks! So what if a few industrial complexes have to relocate or close? It's for the greater good!"

Result: bicycle parking sheds sprout like mushrooms near rail stations after cars are banned.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Public transport increase 6 percent, Industry increase 1 percent, and L&O increase 1 percent. The rest all drops.

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#273: Is our children learning?

1. "It's all a question of money," says veteran teacher Mary Trax, "If we really care about education, we'll make it our number one priority. Double the education budget, halve the teacher-student ratio, and make sure every teacher has a master's degree in education. After all, the children are our future."

Result: students cut up leftover @@[email protected]@ during Arts and Crafts.

Economy drops 2 points. (yes go down). Spending on Edu increases 16 percent. On second test, Economy drops 2 points. No change to Tax. Spending on Education increases 10 percent. (Confirms result)

2. "As much as I'd like to have more money, it's really a question of most of the faculty belonging to one of the most powerful unions in the whole of @@[email protected]@ that stops this school from being great," says Principal Gertie Parke, "I can't discover which teachers are good and reward them for their excellent work, nor fire the useless ones. Destroying teachers' unions is perhaps the most important thing we could do."

Result: rag-wearing teachers are often mistaken for homeless people.

Economy increase by 2 points, other trends remain. Tax remain. Spending on Education go up 2 percent.

3. "I think specialization is the way to go," says your defense minister, standing arm in arm with a bishop of a major religion and @@[email protected]@'s top CEO, "Specialization lets each focus on what they're truly good at, and I'm sure that religious institutions, the military, and private companies would fork out a bit to train up the next generation, so we could save on taxes too."

Result: @@[email protected]@'s schoolchildren are manufactured into a segregated bunch of soldiers, religious zealots, and computer technicians.

Economy increase by 9 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Education drops 8 points (to zero), increases in Spirituality, Defense, and Industry.

4. "As we've proven in the past, the free market can manage this far better than the public sector," says market-analyst Bruce Gutenberg, "Now, I'm not saying that the state shouldn't help people go to school - far from it. Still, schools need greater freedom to maximize learnedness: to set their own tuition, salaries, curricula, etc. Give private schools a small government subsidy, and let the free market take its course. So what if a few poor kids drop out earlier? You can't make omelets without breaking a few eggs."

Result: wealthy students ride to school past mendicant dropouts.

Economy go up 23 points. Tax rate decrease 5 percent. Spending on education drops 20 percent.

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#274: Brotherly Love - A Bit Too Close to Home?

1. "We just want to get married!" Jill yells to a nearby reporter. "What exactly is wrong with a brother and a sister getting married? Who are we hurting?!" adds Jack, defensively. "The government should just butt out of marriage. It's not their business who or what we marry."

Result: inter-species marriages are ignored by the government.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No change to tax rate. Spending on Spirituality decrease 2 percent.

2. "M-m-married?!" stammers Georgina Silk, head of a major religion. "You want to desecrate the most holy and sacred union of marriage by allowing SIBLINGS to marry each other? Are you mad?! Those who are related must be forbidden from even loving each other, let alone marriage - it's shameful! They should be punished for this abomination! Oh, and while we're at it, we should ensure that every marriage is regulated by a major religion. Just in case something this sinful should ever come up again, of course."

Result: family bonding sessions are considered immoral and are banned.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 8 percent.

3. Dr. Tobias Utopia, a fertility expert chimes in. "No, no, definitely not! Marriage leads to kids and d'you know what happens when inbreeding is allowed?! The children are born with five heads! Yes, five heads, always! We should encourage people, maybe with a monetary incentive, to marry those who are as distantly related as possible!"

Result: annulments are on the rise as couples discover their ancestors were born in the same hospitals.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Healthcare increase 2 percent.

4. "Duuude, marriage is like totally outdated", says a hippie, wearing a multi-colored robe and in need of a wash. "They're like, restrictive and they bring down the vibe, man. Why put people in a box; let us roam free and we can all be brothers and sisters! It's what's nature wanted!"

Result: divorce lawyers are found begging on the streets.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax rate remains the same. No change to government spending.

5. "This was bound to happen sometime", sighs an advisor from behind your chair. "We give these people a huge amount of freedom and they do this. It just shows that you can't trust them with their own lives, they'll just muck it up! I think it's time that we take such trivial matters out of their hands as they obviously can't deal with it. Maybe from now on the government should tell you who to marry?"

Result: people choose marriage partners by buying a lottery ticket.

Civil rights drops 12 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on welfare and healthcare each increase 5 percent.

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#275: Wiki Worries

1. "This man has done no wrong!" says Jean-Paul Pushkin, who also happens to be the head writer of The @@[email protected]@ City Times Magazine. "The people have a right to transparency of government. El Denunciante is a hero who has revolutionized my magazine sale-er-Freedom of Speech for this country. No state action must be committed that would infringe upon our right to disclose government information, regardless of the effects on diplomatic relations. Besides, it isn't as though you've got anything to hide... do you?"

Result: the "Underwear of Women in Power" issue of The @@[email protected]@ City Times is sold out.

Civil rights increase 3 points, political freedoms increase 2 points, but economy drops 1 point. No other effects.

2. "El Denunciante is a terrorist and has committed treason," argues reactionary talk radio host Kayla Bronte. "The fact is, he has consistently presented an [email protected]@[email protected]@ agenda, and people like him need to be stopped from propagandizing their filth. What we need is to block this website and any others which threaten the security of this great nation. Like those opposition party blogs that keep popping up! I mean, what use is personal freedom if you don't have security and peace of mind?"

Result: popular websites like NationStates are blocked for "national security".

Political freedoms drops 11 points, Civil rights drops 3 points. Spending on L&O increases 4 percent.

3. "This seems like a lot of needless work, if you ask me," says Harry Hernandez, your brother-in-law, while enjoying a foul-smelling beverage in your office. "Why should the people get to discuss you and your government anyway? Seems to me things would be much easier if you just told them what their opinion was and blocked out all others. After all, who knows what's best for them better than you, am I right? Cheers!"

Result: the Ministry of Truthiness now manages the entire media industry.

Economy drops 3 points, Civil rights drops 1 point, Political freedoms drops 10 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent.

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#276: Circus Clowns Cause Chaos!

1. "Kill them! Kill them all! Or... you know, just ban them," opines noted sociologist Heather Levy. "Better yet, why not ban all circuses from @@[email protected]@! Think about it, they're distracting children from what's important in life; namely, doing well in school, getting a job and contributing to the economy. That's what's important here!"

Result: strange looking men with big red noses are found hiding behind bushes and inside dustbins.

No observable effects.

2. "Banning clowns is a little extreme, if you ask me," inputs your Minister for Culture, Fleur Smith. "I think what we need to do is educate children about what clowns actually do. Tell them they aren't scary and that what they do is actually beneficial! After all, happy kids are less likely to go down the path of crime, which means less spending goes to the police and more funds can be diverted to somewhere important - like my Department!"

Result: students are wary of colorfully decorated new teachers with names like Professor Pipsqueak.

No change to trends or tax. Education spending increase 2 percent.

3. "It's not always about the kids," mumbles a red-nosed man in the corner. "Think of us clowns! We have to put up with the kids screaming, and shouting and hurling things at us. How would you feel if you were dressed up like a fool and paraded in front of 8 year olds! The Government needs to create a program to treat us clowns for depression - you don't know what it's like, man. You weren't there!"

Result: clowns are being rounded up and admitted to mental institutions.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on Healthcare increase 1 percent.

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#277: Say Cheese!

1. "Whatever happened to freedom of press?" asks paparazzo Beth McGuffin, indignantly. "Why aren't you allowing honest, hardworking people like myself to do our jobs? If our beloved leader slips on a banana peel, that's big news on the level of national security! We must be allowed to take pictures of you whenever we want, wherever we want! Oh, and any comment on the rumors you had a one-night stand with your nei..." The question is cut off as a horde of journalists crowd in to ask questions.

Result: photographers can be found hiding behind the curtains in Leader's bedroom.

Political freedoms increase 1 point. No change to taxes or spending pattern.

2. The Minister of Press Relations, who is coincidentally your neighbor, agrees that your privacy needs to be protected. "That photograph was clearly an intrusion on your right to privacy. However, we can compromise and give the media 'authorized photo moments'. It's perfect. You get to keep your privacy, and on special occasions, photographers are allowed to take pictures and ask questions. Of course, anyone who disrespects this media code will have their privileges revoked."

Result: photographers have to apply for a license to photograph @@[email protected]@.

Political freedoms drops 2 points, Civil rights increase 3 points. No change to taxes or spending pattern.

3. Peter Shiomi, your overly-attentive aide, grins. "I like that idea, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. How about we control exactly what the media can and cannot publish? That way, we can make the citizens adore you and your skeletons stay hidden in the closet."

Result: the secret service is working overtime to find anyone publishing unauthorized material about Leader.

Political freedoms drops 10 points, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

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#278: Relief is Coming... in Four to Six Weeks

1. "My house is gone, my neighborhood flooded, where's my government?" shouts disgruntled evacuee Jazz Schultz over the phone. "These islands are a thousand miles off the coast. We'll be waiting weeks for what limited resources our emergency services can provide with the few ships they have. I'll be lucky if I get a bottle of water. It's clear to me that the government didn't give a second thought to all the ramifications of banning airplanes, and now we, the citizens, are paying for it! If you have any compassion for the well-being of your people, you'll legalize air travel again and send help toot sweet!"

Result: contrails and thunderous rumbles have returned to the skies above.

Economy increase 2 percent. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

2. "Take a deep breath, Leader," advises your Minister of the Environment Renee Strange, "You smell that? That's clean air. And when was the last time you read about a terrorist taking over an airliner? Oh that's right; there hasn't been one since the ban. If anything, we should have stricter environmental standards on cars and ships. Listen, it's unfortunate that these people are having their relief delayed, but maybe that'll motivate them to adequately prepare next time. They decided to live in a hurricane zone after all."

Result: survivors receive aid from only the most environmentally-friendly transport.

Economy drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Environment increase 6 percent.

3. "Obviously, we goofed," says your Minister of Transportation Harry Plath, "These sorts of humanitarian mess-ups shouldn't happen. But we shouldn't be willing to sacrifice all the benefits of the ban either. We should legalize air travel for government use only. That way necessary services won't be delayed, but we won't wreck our environment or endanger our nation. As an added bonus, you'll be able to go to international conferences without having to drive across the border to use Maxtopia's airports first."

Result: people take government jobs for the frequent flier miles.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 2 percent, spending on Public transport increase 1 percent.

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#279: A Vat Lot Of Trouble

A major contamination of @@[email protected]@'s Citizen Creation Vats has caused millions of your newest citizens to be 'born' with severe mental illnesses. An emergency meeting of your top Ministers has been called to decide what to do about the issue.

1. "It's obvious what must be done," says Jean-Paul Thiesen, your Minister for Artificial Citizens, "we must regrow new brains for the lot of them. It'll cost a fortune, but it's our duty as their leaders. It's our fault these citizens are suffering; so naturally, we must do all we can to fix the problem. What other option is there? Think of your citizens."

Result: the government is pouring billions into replacement brains.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare increase 3 percent, Social policy increase 2 percent.

2. "Are you insane?" asks your Public Relations Coordinator "-er ahem, but think of the money! It would cost billions of torrent to regrow and transplant that many brains. Mark my words, if you give them new brains, you'll have a coup on your hands for sending our economy into a tailspin. No. No. Absolutely not. We must," he leans in with a pained look, "ship these 'defectives' off to a secluded island somewhere, so we can forget they ever existed."

Result: citizens who don't meet government health standards are whisked away never to be seen again.

Civil rights drops 7 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Social policy drops 1 percent, go to L&O.

4. "Oh no no no, we've invested too much money into the national vat system to throw it all away over one minor incident," stresses your Financial Minister Josh Cheswick. "Look at the situation from a resource standpoint. This batch of resources is damaged, so naturally, the most economical solution is to remove the damaged products, dispose of them, and recycle the functional parts back into the vats. We must reduce, reuse and recycle, Gizmo Duck, for the good of our national vats - and for the good of The Duck Universe, of course."

Result: trouble-makers are frequently turned in to the government to be 'recycled'.

Civil rights drops 11 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare and L&O both increase marginally (less than 1 percent)

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#280: Oh the Humanity!

1. Colin Jamieson, apparent spokesperson for the families of the victims gasps out between sobs, "The only reason this happened is the government has turned a blind eye to the dangers of these vehicles! The solution is obvious, pass and rigidly enforce safety regulations on dangerous industries! Oh, and make the owners of these companies financially liable to the families. I mean, I lost my dad after all, I deserve a little bit of compensation."

Result: the airship business has been driven out of the country by strict regulations and high fines.

Economy drops 4 points. Tax rate drops 2 percent. Spending on industry drops 3 percent.

2. "Really now, airships safely make these trips on a routine basis! These people are looking at a tiny mishap and not the bigger picture!" claims George W. Clinton, owner of Airship Enterprises, the company that operates airships like the crashed ECAS-Hiddenburg. "If anything, the government should be supporting the industry through this tragedy! You know, 'encouraging' people to use airships so that they learn just how safe they really are!"

Result: airship use has soared while property values beneath their routes have plummeted.

Economy rises 6 points. No change to tax. Spending on industry increase 1 percent.

3. "Tiny mishap? TINY MISHAP?" screams Lee Bronte, author of the controversial bestseller 'Corporations Are Bad, Really Really Bad.' "Hundreds of people dead, millions if not billions of yens in damage to buildings downtown, and these industry goons are trying to just shrug and tell the rest of us 'Oopsie,' and buy their way out of trouble?! They have a huge debt to the society they've harmed, make them work in the trauma centers and see first-hand what they've done!"

Result: the new hit series "@@[email protected]@'s Got Trauma" has corporate executives fleeing the country.

Economy drops 4 points. Tax decrease 1 percent. Spending on Industry drops 5 percent.

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#281: Free Internet For @@[email protected]@?

1. "The only way to ensure internet neutrality in @@[email protected]@ is to place the internet under government control," opines Virginia O, Minister of Telecommunications. "My ministry has been trying to reel in the unfair practices of these companies for ages, and now public sentiment is on our side. With an internet free of 'premium access' and content discrimination, @@[email protected]@ will be the envy of @@[email protected]@. Unfortunately, since providing free access would be enormously expensive, we'll have to increase taxes slightly... but isn't that a small price to pay?"

Result: the internet has been placed under government control.

Civil rights decrease by 1 point, Economy increase surprisingly, by 1 point. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on Industry increase 6 percent, admin just 1 percent.

2. High school principal Erica Barnes says, "The last time I checked, one of the purposes of the @@[email protected]@ government was to provide a decent education for our children. More and more students are turning to online services as a way to accelerate their schooling. Online courses offer a wide range of education in academics and work-related skills. But not all my students have the internet, and there's certainly no commercial incentive to lay down lines in farmland. The government needs to step in and provide a free internet for these students. Invest in our future!"

Result: students abandon classrooms for online education.

Economy increases 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on education increases 7 percent, Industry increases 2 percent.

3. "Oh for the love of Violet" bemoans conservative columnist Dave Zhimo. "The government has proven time and time again that it destroys everything it touches. Do you want your internet to be slow? Do you want to be taxed up the wazoo, thanks to government inefficiency? I sure don't. Just let the market handle this for once. While you're at it, take the money you would have used on this worthless endeavour and give your citizens a well-deserved tax refund instead."

Result: internet service is too costly for normal people to purchase.

Economy increases 8 points. Surprisingly no change to civil rights. Tax rate decrease 4 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 2 percent, admin drops 1 percent, Welfare increase 1 percent.

4. "Considering the absurd regulations we have to put up with, it's no wonder we have to charge so much for our internet service," says Abraham Song of @@[email protected]@ Speedy Internet Co. "Safety guidelines, minimum access mandates. If the government would get rid of all these regulations, we could lay down lines for less @@[email protected]@s, and pass the savings down to the consumers. This problem isn't our fault: it's yours."

Result: electrocution deaths among computer technicians are at an all-time high.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax rate drops 3 percent. Spending on Admin drops 1 percent.

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#282: Slum Village Extraordinaire

1. "Obviously, the current welfare system isn't generous enough," says mother-of-six Jessica Chandra, counting out beans from the bottom of a can. "I have to support my whole family with just a few @@[email protected]@s a week! It's no wonder there are so many homeless all over. Welfare spending has to increase! And radically! Oh, some people might abuse it, but only a few!"

Result: luxury brands target their advertising at the unemployed and homeless.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare increase 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "That's just foolish!" says street dweller Jean-Paul Harishchandra, fitting a clean bedsheet onto a freshly polished park bench. "Welfare payments are enough, the problem is people are too proud to claim them! Look at me -- since I swallowed my pride and registered at the welfare office, I've got more than enough @@[email protected]@ to get cleaned up and start looking for real job. Welfare should be compulsory for anyone out of work. Give people a handout whether they ask for it or not, they'll be off the streets in no time!"

Result: workers who try to quit their jobs must first register with the welfare department.

Economy drops 2 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 2 percent, and Admin increase marginally (less than 1 percent)

3. "I've got a better idea," says Ultramegastore CEO Ivan Chicago, "I'll tear down the slums and replace them with my stores. Underneath each one, I'll build a huge underground apartment complex. The former slum dwellers will live rent-free in the apartments, and work in the store. They'd be paid in Ultramegastore vouchers worth, say, half the minimum wage. The shantytowners would have steady jobs and a place to live, I'd have more locations, you'd be rid of those dreary slums. Everyone wins, right?"

Result: a large percentage of the poor live from cradle to grave in subterranean wage slavery.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax drops 3 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent, Welfare drops 3 percent.

4. "What a bunch of hogwash!" says paint franchise owner Daniel Leach, "We shouldn't give these people money, and we can't take their homes away. The solution is very simple; paint the slums! A quick coat of Vintage Lime or Tropical Sunrise will transform the look of those shanty towns, and tourists and social workers won't be offended any more. Of course, Social Policy will have to pay someone to add a fresh coat from time to time, but tell you what -- I'll cut you a deal on the paint."

Result: tourists flock from around the world to see @@[email protected]@'s famed 'rainbow slums'.

Economy increase 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 1 percent, and Industry increase marginally. On second test, confirms result.

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#283: Wealthy Flee to Tax-free Havens

1. "Isn't it obvious?" says Ali Spirit, President Obama's most famous trillionaire, calling from a private plane somewhere over the Pacific. "If the tax rates weren't so appallingly high, I - and others like me - would be perfectly happy to stay and contribute to the economy. A tax cut would mean taking money out of a few unimportant things like healthcare, welfare, and the environment, but it's the only way."

Result: expats return home to a government devoid of social and environmental agencies.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare and Welfare drops 1 percent each, Spending on Admin and Environment also drops but marginally.

2. "There's no doubt we need that money to stay in the country," opines your minister of finance whilst leafing through an ominous-looking file. "But who says we need the people? If we imposed a massive charge on leaving the country - say 50% of the emigrating person's total worth - we'd rake in tons of cash and get rid of the filthy rich wasters at the same time."

Result: citizens wishing to leave the country must surrender half their wealth to the government.

No change to trends or tax rate, Spending on L&O increase marginally. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Why allow anyone to emigrate?" muses one of your advisers, "All citizens, from the billionaires down to unskilled laborers, are critical to our economy. If we sealed off the borders, we wouldn't risk brain drain or fleeing capital. It'd require a rise in taxes, but I think the financial security of our nation is worth it."

Result: citizens are forbidden from leaving the country.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase marginally.

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#284: Drug Legality Run Amok

1. "It seems simple to me," states Declan Chandra, a left-wing television host on CSPAM network, as if it were all too obvious, "@@[email protected]@ needs to regulate the drug trade immediately. Instead of letting the underprivileged waste their life selling crack cocaine on the street corner, the government should be setting up drug stores that tax each drug, as well as handing out pamphlets on their dangers. Think of the money that could further fund our nation's health and education programs!"

Result: the government has begun selling heroin and ecstasy to help fund its projects

Civil rights drops 6 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Healthcare increase 3 percent, and Education increase marginally.

2. "The government shouldn't be making money from people's addictions," says Billy Falopian, a conservative congressman known for his public spouts of drunken stupor. "While we all like to get a little toasty from time to time, I believe this is a moral issue. We need to protect our children from becoming addicts! Make drug use legal only for consenting adults so our children can at least have a few years off the grass."

Result: consuming ecstasy is a common rite of passage.

Civil rights drops 8 points. No change to tax. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

3. "I think we got it wrong in the first place!" shouts Buffy @@[email protected]@ angrily from a soapbox in front of a large crowd of protesters. "Instead of turning our great nation into a narco empire, we should be criminalizing drugs once again! Do we want our children wasting their lives away on crippling drug addictions? No! Ban all drugs immediately!"

Result: the government has begun a crusade against drugs.

Civil rights drops 15 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 8 percent, Healthcare increase 1 percent.

4. "Also alcohol!" screams protesting teetotaler Sophie Frederickson. "Hey, don't forget smoking," mutters Jacob Lee from behind an oxygen mask, "They're as debilitating as the "harder" drugs, if not more so. We'll just have to work harder to shut down bootleggers and butt-leggers."

Result: politicians debate whether caffeine is too addictive for the public.

Civil rights drops 11 points. Economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

5. "Drugs by one name, sacred plants by another," intones His High Holiness of a major religion, daubing holy oil on your forehead. "The Church has historically used extracts of consecrated substances to open the vistas of piety and bring oneself closer to the Supreme Being. With modern pharmaceutical techniques, we can easily manufacture enough to infuse the water supply of all of @@[email protected]@, just like we do with fluoride. Is spiritual transcendence a less worthy cause than cavity prevention? I think not."

Result: absentminded citizens frequently converse with hallucinations.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 8 percent.

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#285: A Right Not to Work?

1. "It's written in our sacred texts that our Creator took the seventh day for rest, and so should we!" says Konrad Falopian, a devout follower of a major religion. "To work on the Sabbath is an insult to our Creator, and I think the last thing @@[email protected]@ needs is eternal damnation. Shut down all retail stores for the Sabbath! Besides, who wants to work then anyway?"

Result: emergency room admissions for 'stampede injuries' have skyrocketed since the introduction of weekly Sabbath Eve sales.

Economy drops 14 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. No change to spending.

2. "I'm afraid that's not going far enough," adds Bill Silk, a high-ranking official in the Synod of Zealous Religious Fanatics. "This shouldn't apply to just retail stores. Everything must be shut down! Hospitals, government agencies, police, and other emergency services. Sure, it'll be dangerous and likely cause some death, but saving our souls from eternal damnation should be our priority. @@[email protected]@ must do all it can to appease the almighty Creator."

Result: police and sick people alike fear the Day of Rest as all institutions are forced to shut down.

Economy falls dramatically by 21 points. Tax decrease 2 percent. Spending on Admin, L&O, Healthcare, drops 3-4 percent each, Spirituality increases 6 percent, the rest marginally.

3. "You're not really going to listen to what these nutjobs are proposing, are you?" asks Larry de Jong, your atheist economic adviser. "Think about the damage this would cause to the economy. Isn't that more important than appeasing a few nuts? If anything, we should be requiring that all retail stores remain open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Just think of all that unlimited shopping time!"

Result: retail stores offer sales every hour on the hour.

No observable changes. On second test, Economy decrease (yes go down) by 1 percent. No other changes.

4. Slacker blogger Margaret de Vries, still in pajamas and eating a pizza slice on a ratty couch, sends you a video chat invitation. "Dude, why not just give everybody shorter work weeks? Make flex time, telecommuting, and 35-hour work weeks mandatory for all us working folk. Trust me, the people will love you for it man!"

Result: midnight pizza breaks are common among the work-from-home population.

Economy drops by a massive 17 points. Tax rate increase 5 percent. No change to spending.

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#286: A Whale of a Problem

Following a two hour TV exposé on the growing incidence of whaling off @@[email protected]@'s shores, environmentalists are up-in-arms and pressing the government to outlaw the practice.

1. "Whales are being exploited by soulless capitalists!" screams infamous environmental activist Evan Spirit. "These majestic creatures are a crucial part of the food chain. Do you have any idea what damage their extinction would cause? End this barbaric business, or have the blood of innocent creatures on your hands forever!"

Result: people are arrested for looking too sternly at whales

Economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Environment increase marginally (less than 1 percent).

2. "Whale meat is a part of our culture," says Rochelle Sato, owner of a top-rated seafood restaurant in @@[email protected]@. "It's @@[email protected]@'s staple food. The whaling market is booming! Half my menu is whale! A ban on whaling would destroy the entire seafood industry. Listen, the ocean is chock-full of whales – in fact, some may say there are too many whales. If anything, we should abolish any marine animal protection laws we've got left.''

Result: TEST

Economy went up 1 point. Tax drops 2 percent. Spending on Environment drops 1 percent.

Tax 15.8

E 94 PF 68 CR 67

Admin 3.4, Def 33.5, Edu 10.2,HC 6.8, Ind 12.3.... Env zero.

3. "QUOTAS!" yells Chris Anderson, one of your top advisors, snapping out of a stupor. "We allow whaling up to a certain quota limit. We can meet with some marine biologists and figure out a number that both maintains the whale population and allows restaurants to get their main dish. Of course, it'll require a boost in funding to the coast guard to make sure these whalers are sticking to the quota, but what's a few @@[email protected]@s to save the whales?"

Result: the government strictly regulates whale harvest quotas.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 2 percent. No change to spending pattern.

4. "It's not enough!" bellows Randy Winters, head of the radical anti-whaling group Ocean Overseers while menacing you with a handful of rancid butter. "The government needs to allow armed intervention against these seafaring murderers! We can bring film crews along and make a reality TV show out of it! Oh, sure, some people on whaling vessels might get hurt or even killed, but that's just what people who exploit nature for money deserve!"

Result: fishing crews are regularly interrogated by surprisingly violent environmentalists.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

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#287: Maxtopians Demand Return of the King

1. "Maxbari IV was the greatest king of Ancient Maxtopia," says Maxtopian Ambassador Samuel Wall, presenting you with a copy of 'Ancient Maxtopian History for Dummies'. "His importance to our cultural heritage cannot be underestimated! It is a disgrace that his body was ever stolen in the first place. By rights, the remains ought to be returned to their rightful owner. While we're at it, how about returning that collection of Third Kingdom golden tiddlywinks too?"

Result: museums stand half-empty as all foreign exhibits are returned to their countries of origin.

No observable changes. Culture rating drops 2 points. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Their cultural heritage? What about OUR cultural heritage?" demands Samuel Strange, president of the Imperial @@[email protected]@ Historical Society, waving a worryingly convincing replica battle axe. "The foreign artifacts filling our museums are vital trophies of our imperial history! Our archaeologists went through hell and high water to get that treasure, and it'd be an insult to their glorious memory to give it back! Besides, have you seen the state of Maxtopia's 'museums'? The king would be destroyed in a week."

Result: the new 'Things We Stole From Other Countries' exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities is a hit.

No observable changes. Culture rating increase 2 points. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Am I the only one here that was taught to share as a child?" asks Evan Spirit, your Foreign Minister. "We want him, they want him... well, there's enough of him to go around. Let's King Solomon this bad boy! Cut him in half from head to toe, slap each half on a mirror, and like magic, there's two King Whathisnames! Everybody walks away happy."

Result: the 'Half King of Maxtopia' exhibit is the least popular amongst museum-goers.

No observable changes. Culture drops 3 points. On second test, confirms result.

4. "Where does it end?" asks a notoriously crotchety old man. "We give these foreigners their king back and before you know it people will be coming out of the woodwork demanding their relics back." He pauses to hack something up into a handkerchief. "What we need to do is send a message. A message that will stop anyone else from asking for their artifacts back. We need to publicly destroy the king to let Maxtopia know we won't take any of their guff!"

Result: museums occasionally burn priceless artifacts in order to intimidate foreign curators.

No observable changes. Culture rating drops 5 points.

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#288: Super-Sized Pizzas Recipe For Disaster?

1. "This is a public health travesty," says Virginia Dredd, a noted nutrition expert. "There is just no sensible reason for a pizza this big to exist! It encourages overeating which leads to obesity and all of the illnesses that go with it! It's clear that these companies aren't going to do the right thing without prodding. Obviously, the government needs to ban this greasy filth and make restaurants include nutritional information on all of their menu items!"

Result: police conduct weekly raids looking for contraband cheeseburgers.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "But the temptation - the temptation is still there!" cries morbidly obese health advocate Marlon Zhao. "For years, I ate every kind of junk food imaginable. Just look at me now! Doctors tell me I've shaved twenty years off my life at least. This food is deadly, and we shouldn't tolerate it any more! All fast food restaurants should be banned, and their owners forced to pay reparations to their victims."

Result: overweight people receive reparations checks from fast-food chains.

Economy drops 9 points. Tax increase 2 percent. No change to spending pattern including industry. On second test, Economy drops 3 points. No change to tax and spending pattern. Basically confirms result.

3. "That's preposterous!" replies Falala Giono, Head of Papa Pallocci's Public Relations division. "Our food is among the healthiest in @@[email protected]@! We offer an array of fresh veggies and the finest of meats. These radicals are calling for the government to intervene, but is it really the government's job to babysit our customers like that? They're big boys and girls, and it should be up to them to decide what they want to eat! They want pizza, so let them have pizza!"

Result: a typical fast food menu item could serve a small army.

Economy increase 8 points. Tax rate drops 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

4. "Hey, man. I have an idea," says Klaus Giono, an aging hippie, barely suppressing a giggle. "This is all about healthy food, right? My bros and I were thinking about selling this pizza with locally grown organic ingredients and whole grains and stuff, right? It'd be good for you AND the planet, man. The only snag is we're a little short on start-up moolah. The government should totally, like, give us money to open our chain. We'd really appreciate it. Yeah, you'd need a tax hike to pay for it, but we'd totally save the world - with pizza, man!"

Result: the government props up questionable pizza establishments in the name of health.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry increase 1 percent.

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#289: Blizzards Serve Calls Cold, Says Mayor

1. "Without electricity we're struggling to get our message out to our residents," says Zack al-Zahawi, Mayor of Greenville. "The ban on cold-calling is preventing us from calling our residents to make sure they're ok. Cold-calling should be allowed if the caller isn't trying to sell the receiver anything; that'll allow us to do our job and charities could campaign for donations to help with the relief effort. I'm sure residents won't mind all of the extra calls."

Result: politicians constantly ring their voters to remind them how good a job they're doing.

Political freedoms increase 3 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "That ain't going far enough!" says Mia Always, Papa Pallocci's Pizza Pagoda franchisee in Greenville. "People, especially seniors, are stranded in their homes without food and have no idea that we're still open! This snowstorm hasn't slowed our deliverymen down one bit; I've just purchased an entire new fleet of snowmobiles. We need to inform these unfortunate people of our services or else they'll starve! I urge you, for the well-being of your own people, remove the old ban on cold-calling altogether!"

Result: people unhook their phones at night to escape a never-ending barrage of phone calls.

Economy increase 4 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

3. "NO! NO! AND NO!" screams concerned resident Cooper Nguyen down through the telephone. "Us average folks have been perfectly happy without that darned cold-calling and all of those other evening interruptions. Besides, people are so careless and unprepared these days; it's their own fault they didn't buy a generator and an emergency radio. I say NO to cold calling and I hope this storm will teach those fluffies to stop relying on charities and the government teat!"

Result: calling out of the blue has become taboo.

No observable changes. On second test, no change to trends or tax rate, but Healthcare drops 2 percent.

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#290: Wheels of Misfortune

1. "This is ridiculous!" cries Akira Racist, chairperson of the Association of Scorned Shoppers, while frantically waving a stack of papers. "Some of these stories are just obscene! We've got water pumps ceasing at 12,000 kilometers, airbags not deploying in accidents, and this one guy's gas tank just fell off! I can't make this stuff up! Our auto industry has gotten lazy and corrupt and is in desperate need of stronger regulation!"

Result: new safety regulations require all cars manufactured in @@[email protected]@ to be bombproof.

Economy drops 3 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "I've never heard such nonsense!" scoffs Chastity Licorish, an executive representing @@[email protected]@'s largest automaker. "Our cars are perfectly fine! These allegations are completely baseless. Thing is, these proposed regulations are going to make us uncompetitive. Is this what you want? Foreign cars clogging our streets while our factories close down? Get rid of some of the regulations we have now, so we can do our jobs! While you're at it, a government subsidy would safeguard domestic auto manufacturing..."

Result: @@[email protected]@-made cars tend to catch fire in people's driveways.

Economy increases 7 points. Tax rate unchanged. Spending on Industry increase 4 percent.

3. "What is this? Subsidies? Deregulation? Lies, all of it!" shouts prominent communist Wil Bush, sporting a practical yet stylish red beret. "These companies, they're always willing to sell their ethics for a quick sake! They always cut corners for a little extra profit, and look where it's gotten us! You want to make good cars, cars the people can be proud of? Have the people take control of the car companies! If we remove the profit motive, @@[email protected]@ can finally produce quality vehicles, without wasteful bourgeois stuff like chrome wheels, air conditioning, and reclining seats!"

Result: the nationalized auto industry is adept at making durable little cars nobody wants to drive.

Economy increase (go up) by 1 point. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on industry increase 12 percent.

4. A wheelchair-bound man wearing a bicycle helmet on his head, plaster casts on his legs, and an irate expression on his face rolls himself into your office. "Hey, I got somethin' to say," he growls as he deliberately bumps into your desk. "You and your government have been playing nice with the car companies for far too long, and a lot of us cyclists are sick of it. I might have an axe to grind, but @@[email protected]@ and our environment'll be better off if you just banned cars entirely. Who cares if people complain? They'll adjust."

Result: heavy industry grinds to a halt as new equipment must be biked in.

Economy drops 7 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Industry decrease 3 percent.

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#291: A Question Of Sport

1. Samuel Rifkin, head of the Football Association of @@[email protected]@, announced in a press release, "Clearly we're disappointed by this result. It's yet more evidence of what we've been saying all along - sport in this country is severely underfunded. With more @@[email protected]@s from the government, we could start upgrading sporting venues across the country. This would definitely count in our favor when we submit our next bid."

Result: glittering new sports stadiums adorn every city and town.

Economy go up by 6 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on industry goes up 3 percent.

2. "You wanna spend my tax money on what?!?" wheezes couch potato Wil Cho while flicking through sport channels. "If sporting associations need more money, why not ask for sponsorship from the private sector, like pizza chains and soda bottlers? Why should my money be used to help a bunch of good for nothing kids chase a bit of leather around?"

Result: marketing departments of corporate giants compete to sponsor little league teams.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease by 1 percent. Spending on healthcare decreases 2 percent.

3. "There's nothing wrong with our stadiums!" shouts sports fan Elaine Barry, waving a crowd rattle and blowing a vuvuzela. "They're just the right size for the sports I grew up playing! Why should we change the rules of our national sport just to please a bunch of foreigners? I say we support our team! And play by our own traditional rules! We should get rid of those silly foreign sports and their 'rules'!"

Result: tourists are kicked out if they express interest in their national sport.

No noticeable changes. On second test, confirms result.

4. "They rejected us because of a few feet of grass? That's crazy!" writes journalist Naki Chen. "Sport isn't about rules, it's about having fun and getting fit! When we were kids, we could have a great time with just a stick and a couple of rocks - there were no rulebooks or standardized playing fields. We should encourage kids to get out there and have fun; who cares about a few silly rules?"

Result: kids laugh off vandalism and arson as "just fun". >>THIS OPTION MAY OPEN UP NEW ISSUE 160

Civil rights increase 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O decrease 5 percent.

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#292: Tourists Wearing Out Their Welcome?

As tourists flock to @@[email protected]@ in record numbers, some citizens have begun to complain of rowdiness and invasions of privacy from those visiting from other countries. There are calls for measures to slow the tourism industry.

1. "This is getting a bit extreme," says Rochelle Levy, wearing historically accurate peasant garb, down to the curly-toed shoes. "Our everyday lives are becoming spectacles for the world! I can't even trim my petunias without a dozen tourists snapping pictures of me - without my consent mind you! @@[email protected]@'s first priority should be to its citizens. We need to start scaling back our tourism industry for the sake of our privacy."

Result: the police strictly enforce off-limit zones for tourists.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

To RE-TEST

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#293: Maestro, Please

1. "The once venerable concert halls of @@[email protected]@ are in a sorry state," laments trombonist Margaret Plath, emptying the spit valve into your waste paper basket. "Some are dank, the stucco is crumbling in others, and it's raining through the backstage roof of another! In the name of culture we must restore these halls to their former glory. It's only a pittance to the national budget, but to our cultural reputation? Priceless."

Result: conductors wield diamond-encrusted batons to fit in with their freshly gilded surroundings.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Industry increase 3 percent.

2. "These caterwauling miscreants don't deserve concert halls," insists Stephanie de Castro, a tone-deaf curmudgeon. "If they can't support their hobby, then why should we, the suffering taxpayers, prop them up? Concert halls are businesses, and businesses that can't stay afloat on their own disappear. Such is life. I say leave the whole lot to their inevitable demise."

Result: concert pianists lie about their occupation to avoid ridicule.

Economy drops 3 points. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Industry decreases 7 percent.

3. "Times are tight. I sympathize with you," consoles Prudence Neumann, the CEO of Restorations R Us, handing you a decorative 'Hang In There' basket of goodies. "However, you need only ask, and - quick as a whip - my company will fund the construction of concert halls all across this fair country. All I ask is that we put up some advertisements in the lobbies and integrate a tasteful nod to sponsors into the programmes."

Result: commercial jingles have been ham-handedly forced into world renowned symphonies.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

4. "The only reason to fund these musicians is if they are doing something worthwhile for their country," says Brigadier General Harry Sanchez. "I've long said that @@[email protected]@'s Armed Forces would benefit greatly from a spic-and-span band in uniform. They would represent the splendor that embodies @@[email protected]@ and they'd do it with pride! Of course by extension, they would be a part of the active forces and required to serve in battle if necessary. Always good to up the recruitment numbers, right?"

Result: terrified tympanists are finding themselves on the front lines armed only with kettledrums.

No changes to trends or tax rate. Spending on defense increases 4 percent.

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#294: Ghost Riders on the Sly

1. "This is unacceptable," says legislative clerk Buffy Longfellow, peeking out from behind a wall of 3-ring binders. "It paves the way for corporate corruption, eats up all our time and money, and, quite frankly, is exhausting! We must require each bill to have one - clearly defined - purpose and be able to state that purpose in a concise title. That way we won't have any more defense spending bills with addenda about cheese processing regulations. The industry will hate it, but if I have to read through one more schizophrenic morass, I'll quit!"

Result: legislators work 24/7 due to an influx of single-issue bills.

Economy drops 5 points, Political freedom drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increase 2 percent.

2. "Yes, these riders can be a threat to the democratic process," begins Party Majority Leader Pete Christensen, "But to ban them outright is simply foolish. We need the ability to amend bills, and sometimes those attachments aren't always clearly connected. Therefore, I propose we grant the legislature the ability to veto any rider by a simple majority vote. That way, necessary riders can still be attached and this other tom-foolery can be nipped in the bud."

Result: the minority inevitably have their addenda vetoed.

Political freedoms drops 4 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Admin increase 1 percent.

3. "Look, this is how things have always worked," says John Rifkin, the CEO of Cheesemongers Unlimited, Ltd. "Representatives' time is both finite and valuable. Do you have any idea how many bills there'd be if each one could only have one aim? Legislation would come to a stand-still! Yes, it can be prone to corruption, but find me a government that's corruption free and I'll eat my shoe!"

Result: laws are littered with references to cheese.

Political freedoms increase 10 points, Economy increase 4 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending.

4. "Can't trust the government to do anything right," scolds economic analyst Ivan Malik, glancing up from a worn copy of The Fountainhead. "We've given it a fair chance, it's failed, and now the private sector will have to swoop in to fix it. If you privatize the legislature, I can assure you it'll be humming efficiently and in the black by this time next year!"

Result: the CEO of Laws Incorporated must sign off on all new bills.

Economy increase 6 points, Political freedoms drops 4 points. Tax rate decreases 3 percent. Spending on admin drops 2 percent.

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#295: Give Us Pockets or Give Us Something Else

1. "I just don't have enough hands for everything I have to do," says Miranda Wu, a pizza delivery worker and former raincoat model. "Pockets are very important for keeping our keys, wallets, and loose change. Maybe you can at least let us have pants or something, just for the pockets. Besides, it's almost impossible to make change while carrying all this pizza. Please, repeal that law and let us wear clothes again."

Result: fashion stores are exploding in sales as clothing is reintroduced to the country.

Civil rights increase 10 points (no change to economy). No change to tax rate. Spending remains the same.

2. "Well, I assume you banned clothing for a reason," says Tim Neumann, who overheard the conversation while emptying your trash can. "But I can appreciate the problem of not having anywhere to put your keys. At least the women have purses. Maybe you can just pay a former fashion designer to come up with a purse that looks presentable when a man carries it."

Result: the government has hired out-of-work fashion designers to design purses for men.

Economy increase 3 points. No change to tax. Spending on Industry increase 2 percent.

3. "That's a valid point about purses," says Sue-Ann Hendrikson, the new office intern. "But I'm enjoying all the naked girls running around on campus. How about you just make it legal for males to wear clothes and keep the females naked? After all, as the saying goes, the clothes make the man."

Result: clothed men and nude women illustrate the stark contrasts in the nation's equality laws.

Civil rights increase (yes go up) 7 percent. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Social policy drops 2 percent.

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#296: Come On Baby, Fight My Fire

1. "The fire burned thousands of ordinary people out of house and home!" wails Lauren Hu, an affected resident, "If the government doesn't help the average Joe, then what good is it at all? We need that relief fund to repair the damages! I'm sure the fat cats in the commercial district will pitch a fit, but they're the only ones who could afford enough insurance coverage."

Result: CEOs can't hear the term 'Fire Sale' without bursting into tears.

Economy drops 8 points. No change to tax. Spending on welfare increases 8 percent.

2. "Oh, the wasted money!" moans Zeke Singh, owner of Basket-case for Baskets. "It was storefronts and restaurants that bore the brunt of the fire, and they're the ones that need help now! Do you have any idea how flammable baskets are? If we don't get the relief we're entitled to, the economy is going to sink. And then where will these citizens be? In a rebuilt house without a job, that's where!"

Result: shanty towns have formed around the newly rebuilt commercial district. >> THIS WILL OPEN UP NEW ISSUES 282

Economy increase 13 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on welfare drops 3 percent, industry increase 5 percent.

3. Abraham Silk, a noted anarchist, is appalled at the whole debate. "Relief fund? Giving money?! Now the government has to choose which social class to favor, and here's the big punch line, there is no right choice! We need to do away with the relief fund altogether, slash taxes and leave the people and businesses to rebuild without government meddling. Yes, there will be some 'I don't have any money' sob stories. Boo-freaking-hoo. It's not the government's job to bail them out because they failed to prepare."

Result: disaster victims are viewed with disdain

Economy drops 3 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Industry drops 4 percent, and Welfare drops 2 percent. (Admin increases)

4. "I always said there's an opportunity in every disaster," councils Stan Nguyen, your Minister of Underhanded Affairs. "We're not doing so hot in the polls right now. This fire is only going to put more of a strain on us. Now as I remember, the good ol' Minority Leader is head of the @@[email protected]@ City Oversight Committee. Let's shift the focus onto it being his screw up, have a trial by media and he'll be indicted by next week. The public will burn him at the stake instead of us!"

Result: the minority party is vilified for everything from fires to earthquakes.

Political freedoms drops 6 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#297: Intersex Athletes Demand Level Playing Field

1. "How is this difficult to understand?" questions well-known sports commentator Chloe Lee. "There are sports and competitions just for men, and there are sports and competitions just for women; we don't let men run in a women's race, so what's the difference here? And if it's too difficult to decide whether the athlete is a man or woman, then we shouldn't let them compete at all! Fair is fair is fair."

Result: muscular women are banned from competing in sporting competitions.

No observable effects. On second test, No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Social policy drops 1 percent.

2. "I think I see a solution to all this," says Gretel Anderson, your Minister for Solutions, whilst solving the crossword in your morning newspaper. "We should overhaul the entire sport system in @@[email protected]@ so that people compete against each other based on skill, not gender. Sure, it might be expensive but it'd be worth it if we want everyone to be happy."

Result: the 'kind of scrawny' 500 meter hurdle is a popular event.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on social policy increase 3 percent

3. "We can't just stop there!" protests well-known LGBTQQIA activist Josh Remans. "We should completely overhaul @@[email protected]@ itself to make it less hostile to those like Ms. Johnson! Schools, hospitals, workplaces - they'll all need to be changed! There should be public toilets catered solely for the intersex too! You can't put a price on equality!"

Result: national parks have long lines of different gender-specific 'Porta-Pottys'.

Civil rights increase 5 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 6 percent.

4. "You're not actually going to listen to that parasite, I hope?" your bald, heavily tattooed cousin says with a raised eyebrow. "You want to actually give these monsters recognition? Not only are they going to make us the laughing stock of the international community, but they, and other freaks like them, are an insult to our race. What we must do is banish such scum from @@[email protected]@; their lesser blood and DNA are only an impediment to the success and dominance of our race - a master race!"

Result: hairdressers are among those who have disappeared overnight.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Social policy decrease 3 percent.

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#298: Cults: Harmless or Heretics?

1. "The heretics must be stopped!" trumpets Bishop of a major religion Cooper Hamilton while handing out black books to bystanders. "If we allow blasphemers like them to continue their preaching, it will hurt my church's revenue -- I mean, it could be hazardous to our nation's citizens. Who knows what they'll turn to next - a cult based on noodles? Bah! The government must intercede on behalf of legitimate religious organizations."

Result: new religious sects are squashed immediately by the government.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on spirituality increase (go up) by 3 percent.

2. "I agree with the Bishop wholeheartedly, my friend," declares ex-televangelist Xu Silk, currently your Director of Budget Shortfalls. "But let's take this a step further. We can't let these idiots think that pizza is some sort of heavenly manifestation. So let's hit 'em where it hurts - nationalize the fast food industry. We all know we could use the extra revenue, and we could eliminate pizza from the menu as a feint at religious tolerance towards @@[email protected]@. I mean, at least we won't have to worry about those nasty carbs from pizza, am I right?"

Result: fast food restaurants everywhere are under the control of a gigantic government corporation.

Economy increase by 1 point. Tax also increases by 1 percent. Spending on Industry increase 6 percent.

3. At a parking lot rally peppered with delivery vehicles, cult founder and former Pizza Pagoda store manager Bill Zhimo steps up to the microphone. "Don't let these haters get under your crust - the Supreme One will always prevail! There is mush room in @@[email protected]@ for a mixed platter of faiths. His Immaculate Munchiness cannot simply be shoved back into his box! Our nation's youth must demonstrate their devotion by dramatically upsizing visits to His Temples, the pizza parlors. Raise your glass of Eckie-Ecola and praise cheeses!"

Result: young people crowd pizza parlors praying to 'The Supreme Pizza, His Immaculate Munchiness'.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No other changes.

4. Well-known secularist Lara Hernandez walks into your office, handing out pamphlets that read "Religions are for losers". "This problem all started because we have conflicting religions, right? Well, here's the solution: ban the public promotion of religion! If no one's out screaming that their gods are real, we won't have others screaming back that they're heretics! And it would get rid of those annoying church newsletters I get in the mail. I hate those."

Result: believers must practice religion behind church doors lest the government smite them with a mighty fine.

Civil rights drops 5 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

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#299: Some Like it Hot; Others Don't

1. As the crowd at the environmentalist rally shouts "Ban emissions NOW! Ban emissions NOW!", a radical who has actually worked in the real world steps to the podium. "Hush now, folks. Do you realize that a total ban would also require the elimination of all @@[email protected]@ of us? Our mantra SHOULD be 'Reduce emissions NOW!' We must demand that our government install emission controls on all producers, including manufacturing plants, mining and agricultural operations, and military and civilian vehicles. We may not be able to eliminate all emissions, but we can surely go after the sources."

Result: grazing lands are filled with cattle wearing odd-looking anti-pollution devices.

Economy drops 4 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on environment increase 3 percent.

2. "We don't need to be too extreme about this, people." suggests Ryan Cho, an economist. "To lower emissions, all we need to do is provide an economic incentive not to pollute. By this, I mean put a tax on harmful emissions. This excise tax will serve to encourage the use of cleaner alternative energy sources, while keeping the economy more or less intact and creating a new source of government revenue. Win-wins always sound good to me."

Result: a punitive tax has been placed on harmful emissions.

No change to trends. Tax rate rises 2 percent. Spending on Environment increases 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

3. "Whoa, dude! The government is planning to do WHAT?!?" says famous surfer Jazz Bush, "This temperature spike is, like, totally rad. Why would we want to stop it with uncool stuff that, like, makes it too cold for me to surf and like also does some bad stuff to our economy? Sure, there might be some, like, smog and pollution and stuff, but who cares when we could have bigger waves?"

Result: surfers ride tsunamis of record height and toxicity.

Economy shots up by 23 points. Tax rate decreases 4 percent. Spending on environment decrease 15 percent.

4. "You know, I'm really tired of these hippies constantly complaining about the environment," rants your arch-conservative cousin, Sean Wilson, "They're the real problem. I say we round up all the tree-huggers and shoot 'em all. Then business can go on as usual without the eco-nazis protesting every new oil refinery."

Result: the state has declared war on the environment and environmentalists by association.

Economy increase 5 points, Civil rights go down 4 points, Political freedoms go down 4 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Environment drops 2 percent and L&O increase 5 percent.

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#300: Trafficked Tots Trouble

1. Elizabeth Jones, your Minister of Population Logistics, believes the solution is simple. "Parents who fail the exam for a license aren't allowed kids—so they don't need reproductive organs. I say spay or neuter everyone who is unfit to be a parent, to ensure they don't have any offspring. Off with it all!"

Result: vets have been drafted in to help "fix" those who fail the parental license exam.

Civil rights drops 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O and Healthcare each increase 1 percent.

2. Zeke Sanchez, the Chief of Police, winces and turns white. "That sounds rather... barbaric. Give us more funding, and we can set up a special department - the Child Catchers! We'll take children from those who procreate without passing the exam, and raise them to be perfect members of our police force... err... society."

Result: the national Police Academies have dedicated infant wings.

Civil rights drops 6 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 10 percent.

3. Your dear old mother, tucking you into bed with your favorite teddy, shakes her head and disagrees. "We never needed a license to have our children. We were good parents to you, and you've all grown up to be fine human beings. Why don't you just get rid of these new-fangled licenses and trust a parent's instincts?"

Result: prospective parents are cheering on the streets as they no longer need a license to have children.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 3 percent and Admin drops 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

 

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#301: Are 'Friends' Electric?

1. "Relying on other countries for something as important as electricity is a terrible idea," says Alexander Dodinas, head of the isolationist group 'We're Not Xenophobic, But'. "@@[email protected]@ must be self-sufficient in its electrical needs. And if that means bringing back those nuke plants, so be it. We're a lot safer generating our own power than being at the whims of the international market, even if the tree-huggers throw a fit."

Result: environmentalists are staging large protests in front of reopened nuclear power plants.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Environment drops 2 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Oh, don't listen to that nutjob!" says your Minister of Trade, Fanny Parke, "We're just too focused on our relationship with Maxtopia, that's all. We must spread our net wider and take advantage of the other nations in New Warsaw Pact who'd be willing to provide services for us - for a small fee."

Result: the government has invited tenders from other nations to run the country's infrastructure.

Economy increases 3 points. No change to tax rate. Spending on Industry increase marginally.

3. A delegation from the Maxtopian rebels is ushered into your office. "OK, here's the deal. You give us arms and cash to overthrow the 'legitimate' Maxtopian government, and in return we'll halve the price we charge for electricity when we're running the place. Maybe preferential access for your corporations to our natural resources as well, yeah? I think our regimes will develop a very close alliance."

Result: the country is at the forefront of a 'peacekeeping' mission to secure power plants in war-torn Maxtopia.

Economy increases 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry and Defense both increase marginally (less than 1 percent each)

Quote
#302: Delivering Mayhem In Thirty Minutes Or Less!

1. "Here's a thought," says Akira Strange, environmental activist and committed bicyclist, "These auto accidents wouldn't be happening if there weren't any cars in the first place! If you banned cars from our roads and focused on bikes and mass transit, we'd all be safer, and our environment would be cleaner, too. We've got nothing to lose! Except an auto industry of course. And the pizza industry will probably take a hit too, since it'll be harder to deliver the pizzas. But that doesn't matter: our safety and the planet's future do!"

Result: many newspapers agree that the government's ban on cars to combat reckless driving was "a tad excessive".

Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on transport increase 10 percent.

2. "What the... hell does that have to do with anything? asks Sashona @@[email protected]@, successful personal injury lawyer and owner of four sports cars. "The real issue is that De Luigi's enacted a stupid policy that resulted in injury and property damage! We need to send a clear message to big business that they'll be held liable for their mistakes, and the best way to do that, of course, is with a punitive class action lawsuit."

Result: businesses have become paranoid as waves of lawsuits sweep the nation.

Economy goes down 3 points. No other changes observed.

3. "As usual, science has the answer!" claims renowned engineer and futurist, Dr. Jack de Vries. "You're probably aware that there have been numerous developments in unmanned aerial vehicles over the past several years. Well, my laboratory's been developing this compact flying courier robot with VTOL and GPS and a bunch of other initialisms that make it perfect for this kind of application! It performed... okay in the test flight we did, so if the military would allow us to sell these things to, uh, pretty much everyone, defense contractors can make a mint manufacturing them; and pizza chains can save a small fortune by not having to pay armies of inexperienced teenage drivers! They should still carry plenty of insurance, though."

Result: city rooftops are pockmarked with the shattered remains of experimental delivery drones.

Economy increase 7 points. Tax rate increase (yes go up) 1 percent. Spending on industry increase 16 percent.

4. "Wait, this is getting out of hand!" moans Benito De Luigi, CEO and co-founder of De Luigi Bros. Pizza. "We just wanted to dethrone those smug jerks at Papa Pallocci's, that's all! This isn't our fault; the real culprit is, uh... suburbia! Yeah! Those rows and rows of poorly-built, identical houses on stupid cul-de-sacs are a confusing nightmare for our delivery crews. Most people should be living in urban high-rise apartments, and I guess everyone else can save time by not commuting so much. Offer some incentives to get people to move: a month's free rent and a free trip to jail if they refuse to leave!"

Result: legions of police officers force people to move into massive urban apartments.

Civil rights decrease 3 points. Tax rate increase 4 percent. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent, and admin increase 5 percent.

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#303: Digital Revolution Requires Re-evaluation

1. "I've had just about enough of this!" fulminates concerned parent Elaine McKay, who seems purple with rage. "Our children's minds are being fed garbage on a daily basis by what they see on TV. Why just the other day I caught my kid watching a DVR recorded from a late-night cartoon where a clown beat a hooker to death with a vodka bottle! We need to stop the sex and violence on TV entirely, and limit the networks to decent family programming during daytime hours."

Result: only toddlers and the elderly watch television before 23:00.

Civil rights drops 2 points. No change to tax, or govt spending.

2. "Why should everyone else pay the price for bad parenting?" bellows libertarian and free speech advocate Renee Christensen. "This government needs to get out of the business of designating what we can and cannot watch. The free market will adapt to the needs of the buyers, leaving parents to do their jobs and monitor what their kids watch. I paid good money for my TV - let ME choose what I want to see!"

Result: Saturday morning cartoons feature full frontal nudity.

Civil rights increase 1 point, Economy increase 1 point. No change to tax or spending.

3. "You folks are missin' your best bet," celebrity race car driver Zeke Clinton whispers in your ear, while wearing a jumpsuit covered in product logos. "Us racers have lead the way towards makin' product placement the must-have advertising choice. Ain't no need to ban content they cain't stand. All you gotta do is hide the action behind a Microcosm computer or hold an Eckie-Ecola in front of the naughty bits, and nobody gets hurt. Them internet fellas done figured out how to throw ad banners in front of the stuff you want to see; just do the same thing on the teevee sets. Everybody wins!"

Result: almost all the visible space on TV screens is taken up by advertising.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending remains the same.

4. "You know, this gave me a fantastic idea," declares one of your advisors, grinning broadly. "So if I got this straight, children will change their behavior according to what they're exposed to on TV. So what we should do is put subliminal messages about our government in every program and commercial on TV during kid's viewing hours. That way children will stop the violence AND they'll be more inclined to serve our government when they grow up. GENIUS!"

Result: children spout "@@[email protected]@" involuntarily throughout the day.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Admin increase 2 percent.

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#304: Time for Paternity Leave, say Dads

1. "What is this madness?" splutters well-known conservative Brian Dodinas. "Think of the cost! And have you ever seen a man breastfeeding a newborn baby? I think not! You can't change basic biology by throwing klss at it - this is one area where the women just have to face the facts."

Result: many working fathers have never seen their children.

Civil rights drop 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "Offering different lengths of parental leave based on sex is discrimination!" yells well-known egalitarian Anne-Marie King, pounding on your desk. "And it also disadvantages gay couples. Why shouldn't a lesbian mother have time off when her partner gives birth? I say we offer both parents six months' fully paid leave, regardless of sex. It's pricey, but it's the only way to be fair. Oh, and parents who've just adopted can have it too."

Result: companies struggle to cover for the hordes of employees on parental leave.

Civil rights increase 4 points. Tax increase 2 percent. No change to spending.

3. "I agree that we can't discriminate against gay and adoptive parents," says your Minister for the Family, Billy-Bob Parke, "But there's a limit to how much of a burden we can place on the taxpayer. How about offering, say, six months' joint parental leave, and letting the couple divide it up how they want? That way families can find a solution that suits them, without costing the country too much."

Result: unstable couples are known to break up over which one gets parental leave.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Social policy increase 2 percent.

4. "Are you trying to cripple our economy completely?" implores Maria Dubois, CEO of Money-Grabbers Ltd. "If people have children, that's their own lookout! If you can't afford to take time off work to raise your spawn, whose fault is that? All parental leave should be banned! We're not heartless bastards, though. Of course momma can take a sick or vacation day, or maybe even two!"

Result: most mothers are forced to quit their jobs to care for infants.

Civil rights drops 3 points, Economy increase 1 point. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 3 percent (to zero).

5. "There is another way, you know," quietly suggests one of your advisers, "Young children need to be taken care of during the workday, but not necessarily by their parents. What if the government provided daycare for all kids until schooling starts? Parental leave would cease to be an issue. Of course, it'd cost a lot to take care of everyone's kids, but I think it's worth it to allow parents to work full-time guilt-free."

Result: mandatory daycare is provided by the government.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Welfare increase 6 percent.

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#305: Who's Occupying What?

1. "Frankly, we shouldn't be wasting time giving our children costly educations, just to have Bigtopians take their jobs," remarks Megan Cruz, a wealthy business executive sharing a drink in your office. "Let's lift the ban on child labor and instead put our children to work in service jobs in retail-jobs that can't be sent to other countries. They might not get paid much, but it'll at least get them working and this economy moving again." Handing you a wad of money, he continues, "And we'll both make a juvenile or two off it as well..."

Result: former school buses now regularly shuttle kids to the nearest shopping centers to work.

Economy rises by 3 points. Political freedoms increase 1 percent. Tax reduce 1 percent. Spending on Education drops 5 percent.

2. Jake Bush, author of "Command Economies: The Communist Ideal" and part-time florist, slips into your office and says, "On that thought, perhaps we could use the government to allocate our resources... erm... children. To help economic efficiency, we'll split them up early on, sending some right into the workforce where the economy needs them. We'll raise the others through the education system." The noted statist thinker, deftly rearranging your vase of roses, quickly adds, "It might be expensive to manage, and kids won't get much choice in what kind of a job they get, but I think everyone will be happy after realizing that everything fits... perfectly..."

Result: millions of devastated 7-year-olds are denied astronaut and ballerina training.

Economy increase 4 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Education drops 2 percent, the rest have minor drops. Spending on Industry increases 4 percent.

3. "Our people need jobs, but giving more money to fat-cat business owners isn't the answer!" remarks Fleur James of the Occupy @@[email protected]@ City movement, unaware of the "Hiring" sign in a nearby department store window. "In fact, we should tighten regulations on robber barons to ensure they put our workers first. And make them pay a little more in taxes to help support @@[email protected]@'s hard-working people as well! Sure, the businesses may not like it, but it will help out the common man. Help the 99%!"

Result: businesses are forced to bring all work back within the nation's borders.

Economy drops 7 points, Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Government spending on Admin increase 2 percent.

4. "All ze jobs are VHERE?!" General Von Gugelheimer lets out a piercing scream. "Zose Bigtopians and zeir business friends need to remember vhich is ze better country! Never mind zat ze businesses at fault are based out of @@[email protected]@. Let's blow zose Bigtopians off ze map! Double ze military's size, and ve von't have to vorry about zem anymore. Trade vill take a hit, but isn't ZE POWER vorth it? Hahaha... HAHAHAHA!"

Result: the military is blowing up any threat to employment within the nation.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Defense increase 4 percent.

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#306: A Matter of Trust

1. "Isn't it obvious?" states Ariel de Vries, host of a political talk show. "Politicians get away with things that would land us regular folk in jail. Corruption, fraud; you name it, they do it - and with no consequences. How about you make it harder for them to get away with their crimes by enforcing tough jail time. Maybe then you'll earn back the public's trust."

Result: politicians have to be granted day-release from prison to speak on bills.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "It's probably because we're constantly seeing the same people in power over and over again," argues Lara Wilson, a columnist for the @@[email protected]@ Inquirer. "We should shake things up a bit and bring some fresh faces into the political game. Let's introduce term limits on all public offices. That'll definitely increase confidence in our political system!"

Result: the Father of the House has been in office just shy of a fortnight.

Political freedoms drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. No change to spending. On second test, no observable changes.

3. "I couldn't help but notice that confidence was particularly lower among women," notes Emily Neumann, editor of Bonjour magazine. "It's time we rid this country of its old boys club by introducing gender quotas. Mandate that women must hold at least 50% of all public offices in @@[email protected]@; everyone knows women are so much more trustworthy than men."

Result: bills about shades of lipstick are frequently introduced in the nation's legislature.

Political freedoms drops 6 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Social policy increase 3 percent.

4. "People don't trust us?" gasps Prudence Usman, one of your many advisers. "Then it's time we earned it back! Let's get out there among the people and show everybody that politicians are just like them! Be totally transparent; personal blogs, documentaries, 24 hour TV shows. Yes, it may cost a bit, but if the public know everything about you, they'll have to trust you!"

Result: the government is spending millions on 'trust campaigns' in an effort to win back the public's support.

Political freedoms increase 10 points. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on Admin increase 2 percent.

5. "If the people don't trust us then we'll make them," suggests Charles Jones, your military aide-de-camp, slamming his fists on the table. "We'll just use force and intimidation to win back support. Some may call it brainwashing or terrorism, but I call it love. As a plus, it should be really easy to implement!"

Result: dissident voters are sent on a 'relaxing break' at the Ministry of Love.

Political freedoms drops a massive 16 points. Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax rate go up 2 percent. Spending on L&O increase 6 percent, Defense increase 3 percent.

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#307: Derailing the Gravy Train

1. "This is the sort of disgraceful behavior we've come to expect from our politicians," bemoans unemployed teacher, Mia Hendrikson. "Look around you! No one else is living so extravagantly. We need to lower all politicians' salaries to the poverty line and put the kibosh on these claimed 'business expenses' too. Maybe then they'll understand how real people actually live in @@[email protected]@."

Result: politicians are often found scavenging bins at night to supplement their income.

Political freedoms increase 2 points. Tax rate decreases 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "This is quite absurd!" scoffs Doris Love, taking a sip of Bollinger '86. "We toil day in and day out keeping this country running, and this is the thanks we get? Newspapers snooping around our personal business, questioning what we need to do our jobs. We incur certain, necessary expenses that may look odd when taken out of context - and that's just what the media is doing! They're distorting the facts just to boost their ratings. Well, I say their prying eyes have gone too far. We need to outlaw this underhanded 'reporting' for the sake of the patriotic values that made this nation great!"

Result: newspapers cannot report anything about politicians without their explicit consent.

Political freedoms drops 9 points. No other effects.

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#308: Over, Under or Through?

1. "A government's first duty is to its people," says Gretel Spirit, head of the @@[email protected]@ Highways Agency. "The best way to serve the people is to encourage auto traffic by building bridges. With bridges we can not only serve the residential needs, but the commercial too. True, it will take a few years of construction and there's bound to be some environmental impact, but that's the price of progress."

Result: @@[email protected]@ Barrier Island residents anxiously await their 'Bridge to Somewhere'.

Economy increases 4 points. No change to tax. Spending on industry increase 5 points, zero increase to transport (surprisingly)

2. "Some environmental impact?" questions Alexei King, your Minister of the Environment. "More bridges means more traffic, which means more pollution. What we need to do is build a rail tunnel. One train can carry more cargo than many trucks and with my electric train design, it'll be much more eco-friendly. Of course the government will have to subsidize it to keep the prices reasonable, but the benefit to the environment is worth it."

Result: the BBI Channel Tunnel project is plagued by delays.

No effect on trends. Tax rate increases by 2 percent. Spending on public transport increase 3 percent, spending on environment increase 1 percent.

3. "More government involvement isn't what we need," says Sophie Broadside, the CEO of Ferry Nice. "We're in this mess because the government can't keep up with the times. Let the private sector run these docks, and watch how quickly it turns around. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to raise the limit of how many passengers each boat can take."

Result: commuter vessels have trouble staying afloat due to increased passengers.

Economy increases 5 points. Tax rate decreases 2 percent. Spending on Industry increases 1 percent.

4. "Halt this at once!" yells Nick Obama, a pitchfork wielding island resident. "What about us? Did you ever once stop to ask if the residents wanted all this commotion? Well we don't! We like our islands nice and quiet just the way Mother Nature made them."

Result: island residents must resort to canoes and sailboats to get to work.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on Admin drops 2 percent.

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#309: Guerrilla Grandparents

1. "We won't stand for this tomfoolery," barks a shadowy figure who only identifies himself as Logan. "Do you know how many wars we've fought for you ungrateful whippersnappers? We built this damn country, and now because we don't fit into your fancy budget, you're trying to kill us! Well no more! If you don't cease this genocidal nonsense AND give us back our pensions, we, Logan's Runners, will wage all-out war on @@[email protected]@ City!"

Result: aging citizens are celebrating the end of the 'Early Bird War'.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increase 12 percent.

2. "They won't be 'standing' for anything when I'm done with them," threatens Major General Peter Fellow. "We can't allow this kind of insubordination. Your country needs a strong leader who's willing to back up their mandates - with force if necessary. God help anyone who stands in our way. Provide me with the necessary funds and give my men the authority to search anywhere they please, and I'll smoke out these traitorous geezers like the filthy rats they are!"

Result: fortified nursing homes are wracked with daily skirmishes.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate increase 2 percent. Spending on L&O and Defense increase 4 percent each.

3. "Alright, we were a little excessive with that law," admits Stefanie Taffs, your Minister of Finance, "but we can't just reverse it and go back to the horror days of gold-plated pensions. The budget can't handle it! We'll nix the death squads, and the elderly will be allowed to live, but only in our government approved facilities. They'll be given only what they need to survive, and we'll avoid a budgetary crisis."

Result: the elderly live on a steady diet of canned beans in dreary government housing.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on Welfare increase 1 percent, L&O decrease 1 percent.

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#310: Too Little Talk?

1. "Now, now, my friend," smiles the wealthiest CEO in the Uranium Mining industry, reclining in a shady corner, "We simply can't have a few radicals dictate government policy to us. After all, we do know what's best, don't we? First it's this reform, next it's a slew of unproductive economic policies, and then before you know it they're limiting campaign donations. You can see that some issues have no merit, and are simply not worthy of debate. Perhaps we should even halt the debate before such silliness even begins...?" The CEO hands you a wad of yen. "You agree. Now there's a good leader."

Result: a recent political debate came to a quick close once the ruling party decreed it was "just plain silly".

Political freedoms drops 2 points, Economy increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "I think we can all see the benefits of the filibuster ban," says political science professor, Lara McAlpin. "But it's also true that putting it in the hands of the reigning party coalition is a dangerous centralisation of power. Why not simply have an independent, representative committee to decide what issues are worthy of a lengthy debate? It might be a tad erratic in its priorities, but at least it would give the power back to the people. That's a good thing, right?"

Result: multiple polls have christened the newly-formed Filibuster Committee as "the least efficient government bureaucracy".

Political freedoms increase 1 point. No change to tax. Spending on Admin increase 1 percent,

3. "The government, all the way up to Comrade leader, has used this ban as a way to control parliament," declares Opposition Whip May Ruff, speaking from the Floor, "They're perfectly happy to let debates about the most inconsequential of matters rage on for hours, but when it comes to a serious discussion of Comrade leader's murky ties to prominent members of the Door-to-door Insurance Sales industry or policies genuinely aimed at helping the general public, rather than a select few, the debate comes to a quick close. We must overturn the filibuster ban, post-haste. And I think it is clear to all who suffer from this. That's right, my friends, ladies and gentlemen, casual onlookers, convenient family members, cultural attachés, politically active tourists and constituents, both loyal and traitorous to the greater cause; the people. The people suffer the injustices of a government pandering to its corporate cronies, its oligarchic overlords, its necessary nepotists, if you will. They suffer the delirious - ah - deleterious effects of a government sans filibuster, sans fairness, sans freedom! This ridiculous policy ignores the fact that some things require longer and more serious deliberation - as does, indeed, this very issue. But I am diverging from my abundantly clear point, supported by the voices of a thousand-strong crowd outside this very building. And while we might quibble over the numbers - a thousand, I hear you cry? Tens - hundreds! - of thousands, surely? But this ignores the fundamental spirit of the times - zeitgeist, if you will - that we stand against this filibuster ban clearly and unwaveringly. Anyway, a discussion of the genuinely humanitarian policies my party espouses, which require a debate of adequate length for the complexities of which to be fully understood, are quickly relegated as the government trots out its latest quick-fix or vote-snatching policy. Now, to move onto my second point of four-hundred-and-thirty-eight of my first speech - I will, of course, pass over to my comrade on the bench in due course." The security guards by the door notice your discreet signal and step quietly towards the Whip's podium. "Perhaps we should investigate further... excuse me...?" stammers the Whip, as your guards gingerly carry her away. "Ah... yes, thank you for your time."

Result: a determined opposition debates the relative benefits of Arial and Times New Roman for days on end.

Political freedoms increase 4 points. No change to tax or spending. On second test, confirms result.

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#311: Victims Demand Their Pound of Flesh

1. "These murderers took away our families and our futures", cries Victims of Violence chapter head Freddy Goethe, holding a black-draped family photo. "The court ordered restitution, but most criminals have no money. These wardens are stealing the only thing of value these criminals still have: their organs! Give surviving family members the remuneration from these sales. It's the very least you can do after all we've suffered."

Result: murder victims' families receive windfall payouts when the murderers are executed.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

2. "We have also lost family to murders and nothing will bring them back to our loving arms", weeps Chris Rubin, a member of Victims for a Just Society. "Monetary reimbursement can't replace what we have lost, but perhaps others can benefit from our loss. We must expand the list of capital crimes to discourage criminals from committing any crimes at all, while providing a substantial source of new organs to our hospitals. Criminals can repay society by helping the ailing victims of organ failure. Let transplant survivors be our memorial!"

Result: prosecutors routinely call transplant doctors as 'expert witnesses' in burglary cases.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on healthcare increase 2 percent, and L&O 1 percent.

3. A serene voice from the back commands the crowd's attention. "My children, we cannot relieve violence with violence", intones Sashona Wall, Roshi of @@[email protected]@ City Zendo, sitting zazen. "The solution lies not with taming corrupt officials, but within ourselves. We should not be killing these criminals; we should be leading them. Our prisons should hire counsellors and sensei to guide them to a better path of penance and good works. Prisoners can return life with life by tending our crops and feeding the hungry. We must end capital punishment, for the betterment of our own inner light. Only then will we truly find peace."

Result: condemned prisoners spend hours a day sitting in lotus position looking perplexed.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

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#312: The Empire Strikes First?

1. "We need to respond to these terrorist scumbags!" roars General Mark Usman, turning a slightly alarming shade of purple. "I say we announce any illegal weapons program will be treated as an act of war! The risk of harsh words turning into an endless conflict that mires our troops in far-off lands for years at a time is a small price to pay for national security! If you don't act now, these foreigners will think they can push us around forever! They must be taught a lesson, for the good of our @@[email protected]@."

Result: @@[email protected]@ is increasingly belligerent on the international stage.

No change to trends or tax rate. Spending on defense increase 13 percent.

2. Diplomatic bureaucrat Charles Jones remarks calmly, "There's no need to go off half-cocked. It would be much better if we used an appropriate international body—the World Assembly, say, or a @@[email protected]@ tribunal—to investigate these rumours objectively for us. That way we have the international community on our side, and no one can accuse us of playing judge and jury. It will be well worth the extra diplomatic costs and bureaucratic red tape."

Result: the government has declared its commitment to multilateralism.

Political freedoms increase 3 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on admin increase 3 percent.

3. "If these countries don't respect international law, why would they respect international agencies?" wonders political analyst Rebecca Wong. "Our neighbours are acquiring these weapons for a reason: no one wants to pick a fight with a country that has weapons of mass destruction. The solution is simple: if we have WMDs of our own, they won't dare to strike at us. It may seem mad, but in this crazy world, it's the sanest thing we could do."

Result: the nation is reliant on the principle of mutually assured destruction to maintain its security.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on defense increase 6 percent.

4. Noted pacifist and tambourine artist Colleen Falopian replies, "As usual, our nation's proud leaders can only see violent solutions to our problems abroad. Wouldn't it be refreshing if they focused on achieving peace through communication and accommodation, rather than force of arms? You may call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Result: the government is giving peace a chance.

No change to trends. Tax rate go down 1 percent. Spending on defense decrease 2 percent (to zero)

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#313: Conscientious Objectors Want You... To Let Them Abstain

1. "Conscription flies in the face of my religion," declares Beth Taffs, Grand Poobah of the Order of Maxx. "It clearly states in our holy book that 'Thou mayest not blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy'. The devout of @@[email protected]@ should have the option to opt out of service. We were put here to bring peace to the world, not destroy it!"

Result: military recruitment numbers are down as citizens object on 'moral grounds'.

Civil rights increase 5 points, Political freedoms increase 4 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on defense drops 5 percent.

2. "I can't believe you are still listening to these spineless liberals!" yells Field Marshal Rochelle Washington. "You let these crazy zealots have their way and we'll find ourselves open to all sorts of threats. Bigtopia would have a field day. Let's remind these wackos who's in charge."

Result: conscientious objectors are hanged as traitors.

Political freedoms drops 5 points, Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on defense increase 2 percent.

3. "We hardly need to be so black and white about it," interrupts Steffan Gutenberg, your Churchmaster General. "These people don't want to kill? It's against their 'beliefs'? So we won't make them. There are plenty of jobs in the military that don't involve pulling a trigger. If they still object, well, let's just say there's no shortage of prison cells."

Result: priests are being drafted by the church load.

Political freedoms drops 3 points. No change to trends. Spending on defense increase 4 percent.

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#314: An Affair to Remember?

1. "I think you're forgetting the real reason why people have affairs," suggests noted socialist leader, Hack Janssen. "Everything seems more tempting when you have nothing to lose. How can you blame these people for turning to, shall we say 'alternative partners', when they lack the skills to provide for themselves? If the government funded some new job training programs for the unemployed and increased the welfare budget just a tad, you will not only lower unemployment rates, but adultery along with it."

Result: cheating spouses are required to undergo job training.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. No change to spending pattern. On second test, No change to trends. Tax increase 2 percent, spending on Welfare increase 3 percent and Social policy increase 2 percent. (Drops are proportional across different areas)

2. "Economics has nothing to do with it. Government simply has no place in the bedroom!" shouts longtime sexual freedoms advocate, Mia Harishchandra, wearing nothing but a conveniently placed protest sign. "Politicians - who, may I remind you, have more affairs than anyone else - are only standing by this fundamentalism to get the religious vote! You'll save much more face if you admit you screwed up and repealed this archaic law."

Result: motels cater primarily to adulterers.

Civil rights increase 8 points. No change to tax or spending.

3. "I told thee so! I told thee so!" invokes Reverend Colleen King. "Whatever happened to the sanctity of marriage? It's obvious we've become too lenient. We need to strike the fear of divine retribution into these sinners before the problem gets any worse. A good ol' stoning ought to do it!"

Result: bloodthirsty zealots regularly participate in the Friday Night Stoning of Adulterers.

Civil rights drops 7 points. No change to tax. On second test, Civil rights drops 9 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending. (Confirms result)

4. "Adultery isn't the real issue," says Jean-Paul True, who at fifty years old is still single and proud of it. "Why not ban marriage? It's not like matrimony means anything these days when you consider all the divorces, shams, casino weddings, and fake celebrity weddings. Besides, weddings are EXPENSIVE. Talk about a waste of perfectly good money."

Result: once-popular honeymoon destinations have become ghosts towns due to a lack of visitors.

Economy drops 2 points. Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax remains unchanged. No change to spending.

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#315: Creative Flowers Withering Under Legislation

1. "It simply won't do, darling!" opines melodramatic director Hack Strange, sprawled magnificently across a sofa, "The creative arts simply cannot function without a healthy dash of social criticism. How can fine humor work without the blonde bombshells, bumbling Bigtopians and blustering bureaucrats? And yet I cannot hire them, for fear of discrimination lawsuits. Pah! The government must protect artists' right to freely choose whom to include - and whom to ridicule - in their work. After all, everyone knows not too take it too seriously..."

Result: racial supremacists indulge their wildest fantasies in cinemas and theatres across the nation.

Civil rights increase 1 point, Economy drops 1 point. No other changes.

2. "Why should the entertainment industry receive special treatment?" bellows conservative talk-show host, Al Yggdrasil. "People should damn well have the freedom to insult or employ whoever they like. That's a privilege everyone should enjoy, not just a bunch of artsy leftists. What gives the government the right to tell me what I can or cannot say on my show? Besides, what sane man on Earth would hire one of those dodgy Maxtopians?"

Result: immigrants flood the job queues as discrimination in the workplace makes a staggering comeback.

Civil rights increase 5 points, Economy increase 3 points. Tax decreases 1 percent. Spending on Social policy decrease 4 percent.

3. "No! You can't let this happen!" screams actress Susan Simmer, infamous for her dismissal from a hit TV show for being "incredibly ugly". "Society gets its opinions about what's acceptable from the TV these days. That's where we need to be toughest about stamping out discrimination! I say any writer or director who won't toe the line should be thrown in jail! It's the only way to prevent decadent backsliding and stamp out racism for the sake of future generations!"

Result: "it was only a joke" is no longer a defense for the felony of discrimination.

Civil rights drops 4 points, Economy drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Social policy increases 7 percent.

4. "I believe it's time for the government to step in and take control," hisses notoriously shifty advisor, Chastity Gutenberg, stepping out of a shadowy corner. "If we were to hire writers to produce scripts with the "correct" subtexts and broadcast them over state-owned radio and television, we could solve all the problems at hand. We would be employing writers, but - more importantly - we'd be spearheading the development of a fiercely loyal citizenry."

Result: citizens are only allowed to view government-approved TV shows.

Economy drops 1 point, Civil rights drops 1 point, Political freedoms drops 3 points. Tax rate increases 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#316: Fortified Against Crime

1. "Crime rates in our city have sky-rocketed recently," says distressed investment banker, Sean de Groot, "And we think we should be allowed to shelter ourselves from the criminal hordes with armed private security. We've got contractor bids in place for a sturdy, steel-reinforced wall with electrified razor wire and poisoned barbs. Oh, and lasers - got to have lasers! Granted, it probably won't reduce the crime rate in the rest of the city, but frankly, that's not our problem."

Result: the richest citizens live in sheltered private citadels.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No change to tax rate or spending patterns. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Of course it's your problem," says Erica Chicago, police chief of @@[email protected]@ City. "If you reduce the crime rate in the whole city, you won't need walls and private guards. Even you rich types have to come out occasionally, if only to take in the theatre or attend a gala or whatever it is you do. Mansion owners would probably end up paying more in increased taxes than they would for private security, but they'd be helping others too, so I can't see why they'd have a problem with that."

Result: the rich are forced to sell their cars to pay for more police to prevent their cars from being stolen.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 3 percent.

3. "Well, I do have a problem with that!" shouts a stock broker, helping himself to a couple of cigars from the box on your desk. "The rich are overtaxed as it is. Why, I've only been able to afford two new cars this year! However, I think this proposal has got things backwards. What we should be doing is walling up the inner cities to keep the criminal types inside. With the poor confined to ghettos, normal people could go about their business in peace. No need to raise taxes: just take the funds from public transport or something. It's not as if the poor will be needing to travel any more."

Result: the poor are quarantined in the inner cities to prevent criminals from entering the suburbs.

Civil rights drops 9 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 7 percent, all coming from decrease in transport (to zero).

4. "Down with the rich!" cries working-class protester Rosalia McAlpin, jumping on your desk and waving a red flag. "They shouldn't be allowed to set up their own pocket kingdoms! What about the rest of us, huh? We're not all criminals just because we're poor! Most of the rich are bigger criminals than any burglar could be anyway. The police should concentrate on arresting them. They couldn't complain about being robbed if they were all in prison, could they?" While being forcibly removed by your guards, she adds, "Oh, and reduce taxes on the poor while you're at it."

Result: crime has increased substantially since the police concentrated all their efforts on arresting the rich for loitering in their own homes.

Economy drops 8 points, Civil rights drops 1 point (high base). Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Admin decrease 1 percent. In a second test, Economy drops 8 points. Civil right increase 1 point (low base). Tax remains the same. Spending on Admin decrease 1 percent.

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#317: Big Brother Is Watching You Surf

1. "For the good of all," claims Department of Protection head Ryan Wong. "This tiny little program will simply collect data and send it via the internet to one of our databases. Nobody will even notice that it's there. Besides, who's gonna notice a handful of bytes under mountains of stolen MP3s? Just give us the green light and we'll be rounding up terrorists faster than you can say 'lolcat'! And, hey, while we're at it, we could even use it to alert people when there's danger!"

Result: government popup ads are springing up like weeds.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 4 percent.

2. "Are you insane?" shouts privacy advocate Bharatendu Mohamad. "Our coins pay for our computers; they're not the government's property! The last thing we need is the government poking its big, fat nose into our business. Keep the government's hands off my harddrive! What's next? Brain implants? Leave my brainwaves alone, you jack-booted thugs!"

Result: cyber-crime and tin-foil hat sales are both increasing at record rates.

Civil rights increase 5 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

3. "While 'tis not my place," says Amish farmer Wil Leach, "I just thought I'd mention that we Amish don't have any of this so-called 'cyber-crime'. Aye, 'tis a boring life, and plowin' gets old, but abolishing all of those computer-machines would certainly solve thy problems. Perhaps ye should just abandon phones and fax machines, too. Then ye'll be on your way to livin' in an Amish paradise!"

Result: the government is rounding up computers and beating them into plowshares.

No changes to trends or tax. Spending on Spirituality increase 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

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#318: Death Penalty on Death Row?

1. "This is government-sanctioned murder!" chants Doris Steele, a human rights activist, from outside your office door. "It must end! Not only is it murder, but it amounts to hypocrisy of the highest nature. Yeah, keeping criminals locked up instead of mercilessly killing them might be costly, but maybe we can offset the cost by putting them to work making handcrafts in the prison store? Regardless, we have to abolish the death penalty - it's the only right and moral thing to do!"

Result: prisoners work-share to cut down rising costs of keeping them in jail.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase (yes go up) 2 percent.

2. "What about other potential criminals out there?" whimpers @@[email protected]@ Neighbourhood Watch spokesperson Tim Barnes, who has taken to hiding beneath your desk. "Did you know that since we introduced the death penalty the crime rate has decreased hugely? I say we introduce the death penalty for more crimes, like burglary and trespassing, and then no-one will ever dare to do anything wrong!"

Result: the populace lives in fear of painful execution for minor offences.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax rate remains the same. No change to spending.

3. "There's absolutely no proof that the crime rate has decreased", states Pete Pushkin, your foreign affairs advisor, with a nod. "But I have an idea. If we're going to be killing these people, we ensure it's as non-violent and as respectful as possible; make our executions more humane and give these people some choice in how they die. The international community will love us for our civility and humaneness. We'll be an international benchmark!"

Result: criminals are put to death while cuddling their favourite teddy bear.

No change to trends or tax. Spending on welfare increase 1 percent.

4. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" Tobias Lee, the Chief Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner states, swirling a pair of handcuffs on one finger. "We don't go around executing innocent people for the fun of it; accidents happen! So those hippy people should quit their boo-hooin'. Look, if we give our boys in blue some more cash maybe there'll be less room for mistakes. Everyone goes away happy."

Result: police officers have been re-kitted with designer uniforms and gold plated handcuffs.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 9 percent.

5. "Hows abo' bringin' back dem-dere good ol' fashioned lynchings? Bring justice back ter tha peoples!" shouts Jethro, a survivalist. "Who'd dare ta kill innocent peoples when tha punishmen' is bein' pelted ta death wit' rocks?"

Result: innocent people are routinely stoned to death by frenzied lynch mobs.

No change to trends, Tax rate decrease 2 percent. Spending on L&O decrease 8 percent.

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#319: Sizing Up The Competition

1. "Our measurement system is a complete disaster!" wails renowned engineer Hillary Falopian, brandishing the odd-looking result of a recent project. "We're stuck using primitive and illogical measurements like 'fingers' or 'donkeypower' or 'MegaFonzie'. It's too much! Practically every other nation in @@[email protected]@ has converted to the metric system. Think of how much it would help our international communication! It'll cost a few hells to convert, but it'll be damn cheaper than the mistakes our system is causing!"

Result: teams of painters are converting road signs from horse lengths to kilometers.

No effect on trends. Tax rate increase 3 percent. Spending on admin increases 3 percent.

2. "Primitive? How dare that geek say such a thing!" spits infamous patriot Chris Peters. "They're not just measurements; they're part of our cultural heritage! Where would we be without our attoparsecs, hogsheads, or shakes of a @@[email protected]@'s tail? Should we throw away our national identity just because a few scientists are too lazy to do their jobs correctly? Give the taxpayers a break and ignore these eggheads! We should embrace our cultural uniqueness, not erase it!"

Result: the populace harbors a fierce hatred of the metric system.

No observable effects. On second test, Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Admin decrease 1 percent.

3. "This. This is a crossroads," notes avant garde artist Ryan de Vries. "This idea that we can standardize how people look at the world with words... it's prehistoric. Everything's beautiful, man. We need to stop trying to control the world and just... live. Imagine how happy our nation would be with no measurements. No measurements at all." He pauses to gaze at nothing in particular, as far as you can tell. "Think about it. No time like the present, Leader. No time."

Result: businesses are scrambling to adapt to the government's mandate that 'time and measurement no longer exist'.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Admin drops 4 percent.

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#320: Criminals to Vote?

1. "This is absurd!", argues conservative politician, Colleen Hanover. "Why should criminals be allowed to participate in elections like normal people? Voting should be a privilege for the law-abiding members of this country. If someone breaks the law, they must lose the right to have a say in who governs them. At the very least it'll be a good deterrent."

Result: citizens receive notices of disenfranchisement along with their parking tickets.

Political freedoms drops 1 point. No change to tax rate. No change to govt spending.

2. "You're not going to listen to that clap-trap I hope", says noted liberal commentator Erica Trax. "Voting is a right that everyone should enjoy, regardless of whether or not they have committed a crime. We already punish those who break our law; restricting one's ability to vote is a punishment totally disproportionate to any crime!"

Result: prison visits increase substantially during election years.

Political freedoms increases 2 points. No change in tax or govt spending

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#321: Cowboys and... Aliens?

1. "Who do these thugs think they are?" asks popular liberal blogger Ariel Trax. "The police should be the only ones handling border control! If we leave it in the hands of wild frontiersmen, immigrants will be herded and probed like ahmads! It's despicable, it's degrading, and it must be stopped!"

Result: droves of former desperados are applying to join the border police.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

2. "Why, we just helpin' our community, is all," drawls the self-proclaimed sheriff of the cowboy gang, Harry Fjord, as he slides off his saddle to shake your hand. "Matta'fact, we're helpin' the gov'ment as well, enforcin' border control and keepin' yer towns safe from them damned illegals. I can handle m'boys, so don't you worry 'bout a thing."

Result: immigrant herding has become a national pastime.

No observable changes. Test on second nation confirms result, no observable changes.

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#322: Empathy a Rare Commodity?

1. "This is despicable!" yelps one lone protester, desperately trying to get others involved. "How low have we sunk that we care so little for our fellow man? The answer is as plain as the nose on your face. You must create an Empathy Awareness Squad. They would train people on how to be kind to and empathize with one another. Sure, it'll require some extra taxes, but can you really put a price on kindness? I mean, what if YOU get hit by a truck next time?"

Result: citizens are tied down and forced to watch educational videos on empathy.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 2 percent.

2."Good riddance!" scoffs Aaron Mistletoe, a sullen, disgruntled postal worker. "I think we should give the policeman who arrested that freeloader a medal! Mandatory empathy programs? Ha! No amount of touchy-feely 'training' is gonna make me empathize with these idiots. This is just nature's way of weeding out the weak and infirm. In fact, we should cut what social spoon-feeding programs we've got left. Give your good and decent citizens a tax break."

Result: curtailed social programs have left many citizens bereft of any safety net.

No change to trends. Tax rate drops 1 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 4 percent, and Education drops 3 percent. (Test nation had no HC or Welfare, so possible drop in Healthcare as well). On second test, No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Social policy drops 1 percent, welfare drops 3 percent, and healthcare drops 1 percent.

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#323: Get Teens out of MyFace?

1. "Teens should not be allowed to use social networking!" cries the girl's mother, Mia Leach. "Some creep added my little darling as a 'friend' on that awful website, and he used it to get all of her personal information and track her down! Obviously, the only sane course of action is to ban all legal minors from using social networking sites! And don't just stop at social networks: block everything else that MAYDSS doesn't approve of!"

Result: it is now illegal for teens to view any sites except Club Kitten and My Little Donkey.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

2. "Why that's utterly preposterous!" shouts Luke Zuckermann, founder of MyFace, a popular social networking site. "You can't restrict people like that! Oh, sure, today it's keeping teens from lining my wa- I mean - accessing my website, but tomorrow it's keeping everyone from anywhere the government doesn't like! I say free up the web, and get rid of restrictions!"

Result: the nation leads @@[email protected]@ in per capita stalking.

Civil rights increase 17 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O decrease 3 percent.

3. "You know, there's always a compromise," says local pervert Johann Thiesen while watching you from a nearby tree. "As I see it, the best way to keep both sides of the argument happy is to remove all restrictions on what adults can view and increase restrictions on minors. But at the same time, lower the age of majority by a lot. What could possibly go wrong?"

Result: the fastest growing demographic of porn viewership is twelve to seventeen.

Civil rights increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to govt spending.

4. "What could possibly go wrong, you ask?" panics your paranoid cousin, Margaret Singh. "On the internet, nobody knows your actual age. It's a haven for malicious anonymity! Besides, children aren't the only people at risk on the internet. It's full of stalker-rapists and bomb-makers and viruses and sick, depraved porn. We're better off without it."

Result: computers are used primarily for word processing and solitaire.

No change to trends (on a nation low on economy) or tax. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

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#324: "Tourism Tanking!" Trumpet Tabloids

1. "The government has to step in and do something, for once!" demands tour operator Britney Cruz, visibly pulling her hair out. "If we'd had proper railings on the marina, that shark would never have gotten into the oil refinery in the first place! The government has to put better regulations in place to make sure disasters of this kind never happen again. And if we want to coax back the tourists we've lost, we need a whole bunch of new state-subsidised hotels, parks and tourist attractions. Shark-proof ones. Our economy will never survive without it!"

Result: a new generation of aquariumless hotels are being built under government supervision.

Economy increase 8 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Industry increase 5 percent, spending on Environment increase 1 percent.

2. "Why waste more money?" grumbles middle-aged industrialist Rebecca Song, chomping on a fat cigar, "Look. I'm as sorry as the next schmuck for those poor farmers' ant epidemic. But we've got to realise that tourism is just not @@[email protected]@'s strong suit; and that's not going to change, no matter how much the state spends. Hell, if the government really wanted to do something to fix our economy, it'd be to give everyone a healthy tax-cut and get rid of some of that environmental legislation - set up for the benefit of a bunch of tree-hugging foreigners, I might add."

Result: visitors to the famed rainforests are instead taken to vast furniture factories.

Economy increase 1 point. Tax rate declines 2 percent. Spending on Environment drops 4 percent, Admin drops 1 percent.

3.. "I think I've got another solution to this problem," says your shadiest government advisor, waving a magazine spread of bathing beauties sunning themselves at the @@[email protected]@ City Grand Regent. "Now we're not goin' to be able to hide the fact that @@[email protected]@ City is now covered in pink frosting, but... what if the inspectors an' tour guides an' all those types of folks just didn't notice all that mess? After all, we don't have the money to clear it all up, but I think we do have just about enough to dangle a few @@[email protected]@s in front of anyone who wants to give our nation a good review. After all, a few firm golden handshakes never hurt no-one."

Result: online tourism reviews of @@[email protected]@ are suspiciously positive and amazingly similar.

Economy increase 3 points. Tax stays the same. Spending on Industry increase 2 percent.

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#325: Blazing Through the Paper Trail

1. "We've got to face facts: technology has advanced beyond physical record-keeping," councils Buffy Sato, the PR representative for Eastern Electronic. "Digital records are easier to maintain and easier to back up. Our company can facilitate the switch from the archaic paper records to the sleek, new electronic system. There is the slight risk of electronic tampering, but our security systems are more than capable."

Result: the bonfire of the old paper records can be seen for miles around @@[email protected]@ City.

No observable changes.

2. "Now, hold on a second. What about us?" asks Maria Zhu, the CEO of a national paper supplier. "We might not have the flash of an electronic system, but I'll tell you what we do have: quality customer service. You're saying fires are bad. Well, we hear you loud and clear. Stick with us and not only will we make physical copies of all the files to store in different locales, but I'll get my research team to whip up some fire-resistant paper too. Let's see those IT poindexters do all that!"

Result: 1% of global paper production is bound for the National Archive.

No observable changes.

3. "No, no, no. It's all too dangerous!" screams Rochelle Bush, dressed only in a cured @@[email protected]@ hide. "Paper can be destroyed by fire or floods, and electronic copies are susceptible to viruses and hackers! There's only one way to truly keep our records safe. We must rerecord them on stone tablets. Fire can't destroy them, and I'd like to see someone hack a piece of granite!"

Result: the National Archive now covers square miles of warehouses in order to accommodate its new stone tablets system.

No changes to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending.

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#326: Knitters In A Knot Over Police Stitch Up

1. "With all due respect, Leader, you weren't there, so you don't know the full story", your police chief states candidly. "These thugs were loitering in Animal Park brandishing weapons! They were up to something - mark my words! Besides, if it wasn't for our brave police officers, who knows what kind of damage they could have caused. We've got to come down hard on thugs like these and ban groups comprising of three or more people. That'll stop any troublemaking, I'm sure of it!"

Result: families consisting of more than three people are forced to split up.

Civil rights drops 3 points, Political freedom drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

2. "Weapons? WEAPONS? They were knitting needles you imbecile!" shouts Marleen Obama, the elderly President of the @@[email protected]@ Knitting League, brandishing a pair of pins in the direction of the police chief. "The only thugs in Rabbit Park that day were the riot police - protectors of public safety my royal rump! They fired rubber bullets at us without any warning. Rubber bullets! And I'm only out of the hospital after getting my hip replacement. You MUST do something about these trigger-happy hooligans. Clearly if they can't tell the difference between criminals and geriatrics they need retraining!"

Result: criminals rejoice in the streets as the entire police force is sent away on a training retreat.

Political freedoms rises 3 points, Civil rights rises 2 points. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent. On second test, Political freedom increase 9 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O and Education both increase 2 percent.

3. "Retraining the entire police force would cost far too much", your financial advisor says quietly, appearing from behind your chair. "That being said, the crazy lady with the woolly hat is right, we do have to do something about this situation. We can't have the police force appear brutal and unruly. What we should do is ban all sorts of dangerous weapons. That way the police force won't have to worry about dangerous thugs with guns, and the public can rest easy knowing the police force won't be able to brutally attack them either. And we can get rid of the riot police too as they clearly won't be needed, which saves us money! Everybody wins!"

Result: knitting needles have been banned in the name of public safety.

Civil rights drops 8 points. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on L&O decrease (yes go down) 5 percent.

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#327: No Rest For The Weary @@[email protected]@

1. "We're overflowing with @@[email protected]@s here!" exclaims Agnes Lee, owner of the Sunrise @@[email protected]@ Retirement Lodge. "And we just don't get enough donations from the public to house them all. We're now facing a choice between turning away @@[email protected]@s, or putting them down. It's the @@[email protected]@ racing industry's fault we're in this situation - make them pay for homing the @@[email protected]@s they cast off."

Result: retired racing @@[email protected]@s are served truffles for breakfast.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

2. "Not far enough!" declares animal-rights protestor Marleen Frederickson, wearing a @@[email protected]@ costume to show her sympathy for their plight. "There's only one reason that camels get abandoned in the first place, and that reason is @@[email protected]@ racing. These poor creatures get cooped up in a cage all day and are virtually starved so they race well, all to line the pockets of some avaricious gambling bosses. The solution is obvious - ban @@[email protected]@ racing!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ owners exercise their pets at a snail's pace or risk a court appearance.

Economy drops 1 point. Tax rate stays the same. No change to spending.

3. "Hold on! @@[email protected]@ has a powerhouse Gambling Industry – do you really want to give it all up because of some @@[email protected]@s?" asks Max Shiomi, owner of the @@[email protected]@ City @@[email protected]@ Stadium. "What we need is less regulation - so we can race the animals more often, and draw more punters in. Besides, the @@[email protected]@s love to race - at least compared to the beatings."

Result: @@[email protected]@s racing stadiums are open 24/7.

Economy rises 4 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending.

4. "There's a better solution to this all," suggests animal shelter volunteer Kathleen Laine, as she fixes a leash to a @@[email protected]@. "There is a problem, but it isn't with the @@[email protected]@ racing industry; it's that not enough people are adopting @@[email protected]@. All we need is a national campaign to persuade people to adopt a @@[email protected]@ - and you can set them an example!" Handing you a grizzled old @@[email protected]@, she finishes, "Here's Buddy."

Result: government officials across @@[email protected]@ are being "encouraged" to adopt @@[email protected]@ to set an example for the populace.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms results.

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#328: Bugged by Lack of Intelligence

1. "The best way to gain accurate intelligence is when it's in transit," says Sophie Winters, a communications technician from the @@[email protected]@SA, while hunched over a computer. "Think of the information the @@[email protected]@ Security Agency could get from telephone calls, emails, radio chatter, even internet browsing history! All we would need are satellites, servers, algorithms, and quality mathematicians to intercept them. It might be costly, but you don't want another embarrassing incident, do you?"

Result: all telephone traffic is monitored for 'national security reasons'.

Civil rights drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 3 percent, Education increase by 1 percent.

2. "We don't need to spend so much money on technology when we can rely on manpower," says Director Nick Eliot, head of the @@[email protected]@ Intelligence Agency, while putting on a pair of black shades. "Can a computer gain a leader's trust? Can a telephone stop a terrorist? We need inside men around every foreign diplomat, general and guerrilla this side of South Pacific!"

Result: travel bureaus double as recruiting centers for national intelligence agencies.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax remains the same. Spending on Defense increase 2 percent.

3. "Speaking of inside men…" says an unnamed secret service agent, stepping out of the shadows, "How do we know they haven't infiltrated our intelligence services? Think about it, how else would they know our plans and convoy routes? Spies and insurgents -- now they are the real problem; a problem I can get rid of if you let me launch a secret investigation with, eh, secret results.

Result: the nation's secret service is so secret that nobody knows if it has one.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. No change to tax. Spending on L&O increase 1 percent.

4. "I know of a cheaper option," says your intern, lifelessly scrolling through whistleblowing site KwikiLeaks. "Why bother spending so much on the intelligence services here, when whistleblowers from others are posting all their information online? You could just set up some 'game rooms' for bored, tech-savvy kids. Make a game out of finding useful electronic intelligence and reward them with pizza or something."

Result: all new "spies" are fifteen-year-old acne-ridden kids on computers.

Economy increases 3 points. No change to tax. Spending on Def go down by 3 percent, all go to Industry.

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#329: Military Uniforms Under Scrutiny

1. "Permission to speak, sir?" asks Private Third Class Robin Leach, saluting you. "Many of us are tired of looking the same, and would like the freedom to express ourselves through our appearance, sir. I mean, sir, it doesn't hurt to let us dye our hair once in a while, does it?"

Result: soldiers with colourful mohawks make themselves perfect targets for snipers.

Civil rights increase 2 points. No change to tax or spending.

2. "This is ridiculous!" roars Colonel Marlon Dubois, shaking his fist at you. "If I tell a soldier to put on pantaloons and a tunic, there's a good reason for it - and I expect to be obeyed without question. And who are these soldiers demanding change anyways? I'd like to see them court-martialed!"

Result: the nation's soldiers are considered the best-dressed in @@[email protected]@.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops (yes go down) 1 percent. No changes to tax rate or spending.

3. "You know," murmurs romantic novelist Fanny Spirit, dreamily staring out the window. "A change of uniform might not be too bad. What if we made all our soldiers wear medieval suits of armour? It would sure highlight the chivalry and honour of @@[email protected]@'s armed forces."

Result: troops clank into battle wearing antique suits of armour.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

4. "Actually, battle armour is a great idea!" exclaims Akira Smith, representative from Better Future Inc, dumping a bundle of papers on your desk. "Here's our blueprints for the latest battlesuits that we've come up with. Sure it will be costly, but it will make our soldiers invincible!"

Result: soldiers are equipped with multi-million dollar battlesuits.

Economy rises 4 points. Tax increase 2 percent. Spending on Defense increase 4 percent, and Industry increase 4 percent.

5. "The solution is not through technology, but through religion," declares zealot Prudence Utopia as she waves a censer under your nose. "Why not make all soldiers fight in the name of a major religion, and give them priestly robes while they're at it?"

Result: soldiers go to war dressed in cassocks and robes.

No change to trends. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 2 percent.

6. "Why make them wear anything?" asks nudist William Jamieson, standing to attention in your office. "Without clothes to impede them, your soldiers can move faster in battle - and we don't have to waste any more money on uniforms. Besides, all you need is a gun to kill someone, right?"

Result: shock troops shock enemy forces with their nudity.

Civil rights increase 1 point. No change to tax. Spending on Defense drops 1 percent.

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#330: Supermarkets Gobbling Up All The Customers?

1. "Humongo-Mart is destroying our livelihoods!" shouts Imogen Jones, the owner of a small butchery, while waving a bloody cleaver. "These chains are over-saturating our cities with ridiculously low prices. I simply can't compete. You need to put a stop to this. We need more regulations dictating where these supermarkets can be."

Result: stores employing more than 100 employees are required to be at least twenty miles from any competitor.

Economy increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern. On second test, confirms result.

2. "You've got to be kidding me," scoffs business columnist Erica Sints. "You want to punish businesses if they become too successful? They started small just like everyone else. If you regulate or – heaven forbid – ban big business, can you imagine the fallout? Without corporations to compete with, these small shops could gouge their prices. Never mind what capping industry growth would do to the economy. If anything we need less government meddling."

Result: one-stop superstores divide and conquer family businesses.

Economy rises 1 point. Tax drops 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

3. "This raises an interesting question," begins amateur philosopher Freddy Longfellow. "Why should we leave an essential commodity such as food up to the whims of profits and greed? The government needs to step in and take control of the food production in this country. You could ensure that every citizen is provided with a well-balanced, healthy meal instead of this overpriced slop. People shouldn't have their health and basic needs held hostage by greedy corporations!"

Result: the government provides its citizenry with the same mass produced rations.

Economy drops a massive 14 points. Tax increases 5 percent. Spending on Welfare increases 3 percent, Admin increases 2 percent, and Social policy increases 1 percent, and Healthcare increases marginally (less than 1 percent). On second test, confirms result.

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#331: Swept Away

1. "We need help to recover from this horrible flood!" says Larry Gold, a resident of the flooded zone, trying to stop his hands from shaking. "I've lost everything: my house, cars, yacht. There was no time to recover anything before it was swept away. The government should compensate us for our losses. It wasn't our idea to can the dam project, after all, and if I get no help I'll be without a roof to live under."

Result: the government is flooded with compensation requests.

No change to trends. Tax rate go up 1 percent. Spending on Welfare increases 2 percent.

2. "At the end of the day, they chose to live in a flood plain. Why should the government pay anything at all to these half-brained idiots?" rants Peggy Nagasawa, a prominent campaigner for lower government spending. "If they want money when there's a flood, they should get insurance and hang the expense. Make them bear the costs of their own lunacy. You don't see ME whining about the whippersnappers that broke one of my windows last fall. Why? Because I paid for insurance!"

Result: insurance companies charge extortionate premiums to cover homes near waterways.

No change to trends. Tax rate decrease 1 percent. Spending on Welfare drops 1 percent.

3. "These floods should never have happened in the first place," states Mary Hamilton, a noted architect, with an excited glint in her eye. "They've caused widespread destruction and damage; the repairs will cost millions of yens, and this doesn't count the millions more people are asking in compensation. What I propose is that the government invest heavily in massive flood defenses. Dams! Levees! Floodways! Dikes! Dams! Gates! Wall off the seas and lakes! Put flood gates on every river! No, dam them all up! Then build more dams! We'll have no more floods in @@[email protected]@!"

Result: children listen incredulously when their grandparents explain what a "running river" is.

No change to trends. Tax increase 4 percent. Spending on Admin increase 7 percent. No increase to Env spending.

4. "You know what? Why don't we use the cheap, easy solution to stop this problem?" says Abraham McKay, floating past on a makeshift raft. "Just stop people from building on flood plains. If you're not in a floodable area, you can't get flooded. Who's going to complain? A bunch of real-estate developers? Please! Even the environmentalists will be happy, because the land will become some kind of nature reserve."

Result: there is a dearth of space for new houses.

Economy drops 2 points. No change to tax rate or spending pattern. On second test, confirms result.

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#332: Summit Security Spending Stirs Strife

1. Your press secretary speaks on your behalf at a press conference. "In times of terror and uncertainty, it's imperative we take all necessary precautions. After all, @@[email protected]@ is playing host to the world and has an obligation to provide top-notch security. A small tax hike to keep us and our allies safe is absolutely worth it. After all, these summits always bring out dangerous anarchists. If we don't arm the police for the worst, a world leader could get shot!"

Result: @@[email protected]@ is a police state during international summits.

Political freedoms drops 2 points. Tax rate increase 1 percent. No change to spending surprisingly.

2. "A billion @@[email protected]@ on security? Outrageous!" exclaims seasoned and radical protester Thomas Hamilton, while recovering from the effects of pepper spray. "No previous host spent nearly that much. This is a summit about strengthening the economy. How does blowing a billion @@[email protected]@ on this improve the economy? It doesn't! That's money better spent on us, the people! Our tax money should be going to teaching our children better math skills, not buying another taser!"

Result: rioting during the nation's hosting of ORDER caused one million @@[email protected]@ of property damage.

Political freedoms increase 2 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O decrease 1 percent, while spending on Industry and Admin increase 1 percent each.

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#333: No Sacrifice, No Sacrifice At All

After a recent exposé of controversial religious rituals practised by some immigrants from distant, less well-developed countries, @@[email protected]@'s premier conservative think tank, the Coffee Cabal, has called on the government to regulate these religions and their worship.

1. "These acts are an attack on @@[email protected]@'s moral fiber!" stresses Jennifer Silk, the investigative reporter responsible for the exposé. "There are just some things that freedom of religion shouldn't cover, and that includes ritual sacrifice, the harming of children or animals, or hell, even really bad choral singing. The government must enact restrictions on religious practices that offend public decency."

Result: churches across the land are hurriedly installing auto-tune for their choirs.

Civil rights decrease 4 points. Tax remains the same. Spending on L&O increase 2 percent.

2. "Dancing blindfolded around cucumbers while carrying wailing children on our heads is a custom that dates back millennia in our culture", explains Billy Giono, a High Priest of one of the under-fire religions. "The freedom to practice our religion played a large part in our relocation to @@[email protected]@. The government must preserve our right to our culture and religion, even if the majority of people find them disturbing. Haven't you heard of tyranny by the majority? A religious exemption should be made for all the laws of @@[email protected]@ to ensure our freedom."

Result: murderers and thieves claim divine inspiration to avoid prosecution.

Civil rights increase 1 point. Tax rate increase 1 percent. Spending on Spirituality increase 3 percent.

3. "This is a dangerous discussion," writes Stephanie @@[email protected]@ in her popular online journal, 'Religious Watchblog'. "If we allow a religious exemption to any law, offences like religiously motivated terrorism would be permitted. It's insane. I could live with allowing religious schools to decide whether or not to teach evolution, but allowing people of faith to exist outside the law is ludicrous. The government should create a ministry that considers whether or not religious practices are compatible with the nation's ethos."

Result: citizens are required to report any and all incidents of prayer to their local Religious Affairs Officer.

Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on L&O increase 5 percent.

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#334: Blot Out Bauhaus?

1. "This monstrosity must be torn down immediately!" claims local harridan and book-club member, Rochelle Rifkin. "The trees in the garden spell a frightening word from the balcony; and the tower looks like a - a - well, you know! Mr. Dada's mansion may be his own, but the government must intervene in the name of taste and common decency. There should be a licensing organisation to approve all future renovations of buildings, lest we be plagued by these architectural abominations."

Result: builders spend more time negotiating "tasteful architecture" than on actual construction.

No observable changes.

2. "Come on... it's my house, fer chrissakes," bemoans Mr. Dada, lounging on a sun-deck outside his home, elaborate cocktail and trophy-wife close by. "Surely I can do what I like to my own stuff? Like that time I painted my third car violet - that was cool, wasn't it? Don't you just hate it when someone bumbles over - I bet you know just what I mean - and starts tellin' you what to do? Man, I hate that. So, look, right, let's just go inside, have a drink, and forget this whole thing ever happened."

Result: surrealist houses shaped like mushrooms and volcanoes dominate the wealthiest neighborhoods.

No observable changes.

3. "Why is this even a national debate?" asks obviously strung-out and possibly hungover bureaucrat, May Hendrikson, mumbling, "It's just a waste of time... Look. Whatever you do, you're going to be unpopular. Why don't you just dodge the bullet? Let local authorities decide - and even decide if it's their job to decide. That way you don't annoy anyone, and, hey, I'm sure there's some bunch of local government advocates who'll love you for it. Now. Can I go home? Please?"

Result: administrative districts are increasingly defined by their taste in housing architecture.

No observable changes.

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#335: Log Us Back On

1. "A man can only do so much with a non-connected personal computer," laments Mark Wilson, a pale, bespectacled nerd clutching his laptop. "I'm sick and tired of solitaire, word processing, and re-organizing my desktop icons. I need engagement! I need entertainment! I need to watch por– I mean... I craaave the knowledge the web gives me! Leader, give us back the Internet!"

Result: teenagers haven't been seen outdoors since the nation reconnected to the Internet.

Economy go up 2 points. Tax rate reduce 1 percent. No change to spending pattern.

2. "Now wait just a damn minute," scolds local librarian Louis Sparkle while smacking you on the hand with a ruler. "This ban has done wonders for @@[email protected]@'s literacy rate. Kids are reading for enjoyment again. If you give them back the Internet, that all goes out the window. And for what? Lolcats? I implore you, for the sake of our children; invest in their education and keep the Internet out of @@[email protected]@."

Result: the government is buying children's books by the thousands.

No change to trends. Tax increase 1 percent. Spending on Education increase 3 percent.

3. "We already sent that evil series of tubes out of our glorious nation; now it's that devil machine's turn!" shouts Imogen Steele, a particularly troubled backwoods preacher. "Go all the way and ban computers completely! We must return to simpler times for the sake of our future! To heck with productivity, do this NOW!"

Result: computers are widely considered to be the "devil magic of heathens".

No observable changes. On second test, Economy drops 2 points. Tax remains the same. No change to government spending.

4. "No! You mustn't!" cries Abraham Club, CEO of Maxcom Software. "If you reconnect @@[email protected]@ or ban computers, our local software market will collapse! We simply cannot compete with the global market. We need to take their minds off of the Web. Now, the only reason these people are clamoring for the Web is because they're bored with what a single PC can do. What we need to do is make it more FUN! If you subsidize local software companies, we'll churn out top-notch, locally produced software that'll make people forget all about the Internet.

Result: locally produced computer games are being released faster than gamers can play them.

Economy increase 4 points. Tax rate remains the same. Spending on Industry increase 5 percent.

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#336: Polygamy Causes Division

1. "The courts just can't cope with the strain," warns Dave Sato, your trusted legal advisor. "Divorce cases have become so complex that lawyers now have to take courses in complex mathematics just to settle property disputes! If this continues any longer, our legal system is going to collapse. The best solution would be to make prenuptial agreements mandatory for all new marriages. That would free up the courts from dealing with complex property disputes once and for all."

Result: prenuptial contracts have replaced diamond rings in marriage proposals.

Civil rights drops 1 point. Tax rate remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

2. "This is sacrilege!" exclaims Reverend Hack Wu, bursting into your office without warning. "It was a mistake to legalize polygamy to begin with! It's made a mockery of the sanctity of marriage. I implore the government to repeal this perversion of matrimony and make polygamy illegal throughout @@[email protected]@- if not for the sake of the families it has torn apart, then for their very souls under the eyes of our great Lord."

Result: a flood of mandatory divorces burden the courts.

No observable changes. On second test, Civil rights drops 3 points. Tax remains the same. No change to spending pattern.

3. "I've got a better idea," claims renowned TV critic Fleur Patel, sprawling paperwork across your desk. "You want to keep polygamy legal, but don't want to pay through the nose in legal fees, right? Why not broadcast the divorce proceedings live across @@[email protected]@? Think of the drama! Think of the viewing figures! Just sign here on the dotted line, and the studio will cover all the expenses." She forces a pen into your hand.

Result: vitriolic divorce proceedings have become prime-time television.

No observable changes. On second test, confirms result.

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#337: Doctors Crossing Borders?

1. "Well isn't this quite the blessing!" exclaims Max Woolf, one of your chief economic advisers. "Not only does foreign money come into our economy, those darned socialists will stop complaining about how badly the poor are suffering. Best of all, we don't even have to spend a single Euro on it! We could even charge an establishment fee for each clinic and help ourselves to the proceeds."

Result: the government is outsourcing itself.

No change to trends. Tax drops 1 percent. Spending on Healthcare drops 1 percent. On second test, confirms result.

2. "How dare those bleeding heart foreigners make us look like a Third World Nation!" declares Tobias Janssen, the maintenance man in your office as he fixes your mini-ba