Tax and Please? - a Computer Simulation of the UK Economy, and Ecostat - a Supporting Slide

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Tax and Please? - a computer simulation of the UK Economy, and Ecostat a supporting slide show.

Designed and programmed by Tom Tuite, Topologika Software, two disks, price L35, phone 01326 377771

Tax and Please? from Topologika Software, is the latest version of Yes Chancellor, originally produced about 10 years ago for the BBC micro, much updated and adapted for the PC. The program allows students to take on the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to operate a model of the UK economy. The object of the simulation is to run the economy successfully and survive a general election after five years. Win three successive elections and you can retire with a well earned peerage. Make a hash of things and you may be unceremoniously ejected from Number 11!

Installation is, as one would expect these days, simplicity itself and, once loaded, the program presents the opening screen from which the 'options' screen can be selected to set the required level of difficulty. These range from 'Testing the water' to 'Walking on water' titles which rather set the tone of the whole simulation. Players may also choose to see the instructions for play and choose whether or not they wish to operate with a fixed or floating exchange rate system. Once under way, the players are presented with a series of decision-making screens. Levels of taxation and borrowing must be set, as must the rate of interest (although the program is being updated to deal with this anachronism! In future versions it will be set by the Bank of England). Decisions must also be made about the value of the currency in the light of information on the balance of trade and payments. As the game proceeds players are given feedback from the Treasury, the Public Accounts Committee, and data on unemployment, inflation, the exchange rate and the latest public opinion polls.

The life of a Chancellor is never straightforward, of course, and the program from time to time throws up various unexpected problems. How should we react to the latest public sector pay claim? Should we support the proposed rescue of a redundant naval shipyard? In addition, there are the sometimes acid comments made by the Prime Minister, and the outrageous stories put about by the tabloid press with which to contend!

The structure of the program allows for it to be used in a number of ways. The options presented at the start mean that the teacher has the facility to set up the simulation in a variety of ways to illustrate different scenarios - for example, with high inflation in the economy, or with a balance of payments problem - which students must then deal with. …