April 15th, 2007

Full-year resident

It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you that a great deal of my approach to life and living comes from what was permanently imprinted into my brain over the course of about an 18-month stretch of the mid-90s during which my primary activity was playing a really massively enormous amount of SimCity 2000.

In SimCity, you are entrusted with the task of building and managing cities and keeping their citizens happy. A new edition of the newspaper comes out every month. In general, reading the paper is a good way to figure out what you're doing wrong. The paper is the voice of the people, and they're always complaining about something: pollution, broken water mains ("Water Shortage Reported"!), lack of public transportation, slow fire response time, joblessness, the latest natural disaster and the government's inadequate management thereof, crime, insufficient entertainment options, poorly funded schools, dearth of museums, too few hospitals, too many tall buildings too close to airfields, or any other of the hundreds of other things that can go wrong. If they don't have anything else to complain about, they complain about taxes.

If it's newspaper-time and you're doing a really good job as mayor, your citizens will throw a spontaneous parade in your honor, which is always nice. This lasts until you click to make it go away, after which the newspaper comes out, complaining about taxes. Taxes are always the last thing off the complaint stack and the first thing back on.

Slowly, then, you come to realize that if the newspaper is mostly complaining about taxes, it means that things are going quite nicely. Your citizens are healthy. They have enough money. They have challenging and fulfilling jobs. Their day-to-day existence is, for the most part, pleasant. They live in a place they like, among people they enjoy being around. And when the occasional but inevitable crisis occurs, they're able to take it in stride. If people have nothing to complain about but taxes, then it means that their lives are really pretty fucking great.

Anyway, what I was going to say is: Man. Taxes, dude. Don't they suck?