Policy games (educational simulators)

Here’s a free online simulator for the US budget that gives you a handful of proposals to sort through. It’s presented very well. Budget Hero:

marketplace.publicradio.org/feat … dget_hero/

It only lets you change budgeting details rather than overhauling policies entirely. You can’t simply eliminate health care, the military, SS, or anything. But you can cut back benefits, raise the retirement age, cut some military that might be considered excessive, etc.

It’s quite educational, helps dispel some perceptions people might have of government. You can see the government isn’t in deficit because of pork barrel spending (18 billion a year is nothing, and how much of it is not worthwhile it is debatable), and the proportions of the budget probably aren’t what people expect. The information given about some policy options shows that many initiatives aren’t fully effective due to being underfunded, rather than by government being wasteful.

The slider for changing the years is pretty neat, letting you see how the budget, including your policies, is projected to change year to year.

And here’s another simulator, this time for the Minnesota state budget:

minnesota.publicradio.org/projec … _balancer/

You start with what seems to be a large surplus, but the budget items seem to start at the level of the previous year’s funding and need more funding just to keep up with inflation. The options for funding each item are tiered and selecting each one gives you information on what you’d be paying for. In the end, your results are compared to the governor’s funding choices.

Perhaps it’ll give you some ideas for Democracy 3, or a similar game but with a different focus…