Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eternal Sonata - Free Liberal RPG

This'll be the first video game review I've done in this space in a long time, but I think it fits with the theme I'm going for. Just tonight, I rented a copy of Eternal Sonata for the XBox 360. I was intrigued by what a game in which the hero is not a great swordsman, nor a great magician, nor a monster trainer, marksman, or any other kind of man of violence--but rather, a great composer. Thus far, the music is beautiful (as befits a game in which the hero is a musician), the environments and characters are adorable, and the storyline has a decidedly Free Liberal flavor to it.

The composer, Frederic Francois Chopin, is dying. On his deathbed, he sleeps, and he dreams... but is it a dream? He dreams of a world, that so far has a small, tranquil village, and a port town. (I say "so far" because I'm only a couple hours into the game, and I'm taking my time.) This community has a number of problems. At first, we see the effect. First off, the village makes a medicine called "floral powder." However, they can't seem to sell any anymore, as mineral powder, a competing product, is much cheaper nowadays. There is also a problem of urban poverty in the port town. Indeed, the girl recognizes that the town was much more beautiful when she was little. Her mother, on the other hand, just assumes the greater beauty is simply because memories are always more beautiful than reality... but the daughter is correct.

There is a pair of boys who are trying to deal with that problem by stealing bread and giving it to the poor kids living in the sewers, a sort of "Robin Hood" solution to the problem... but the older of the pair of brothers understands that stealing bread is not the solution. The younger brother, knowing how expensive bread is, figures the baker is being greedy. His older brother corrects him, pointing out the high taxes on all products--all, that is, except for mineral powder. And, of course, the girl from the village realizes it is this unfair tax situation that is damaging the village's floral powder business, as well.

Both of them, separately, are, at the point I've stopped playing, embarking on a journey to the castle, to lobby them to reduce taxes, alternately, on bread and floral powder. I suspect that when they get there, they will discover an even more powerful lobby, from the mineral powder industry. Or perhaps they will discover that the mineral powders are produced by the royal family, itself.

Consider the comparison to the path our budding Free Liberal movement is attempting to lead modern liberals down. Right now, they are like the two boys at the beginning of the game--trying to help the poor by stealing bread and giving it to them. We want them to make the connection between taxes, subsidies, and other government acts to benefit one group over another, and the condition of the poor. It is time to stop using theft for purposes of wealth transfer, and begin to identify and correct the root causes of poverty.

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