Adventure stories for economists ...

Adventure stories for economists …

As expected, Syriza have won the Greek elections, taking a near majority and forming a government with a minority right wing populist party, and so far none of my fears have been realized (yay). As expected, Syriza’s “radical” economist Yanis Varoufakis has been selected as finance minister, putting him on a direct collision course with the Troika. Varoufakis seems like an interesting guy, and it will be interesting to see what the burden of his position does to him. He is young, an academic economist until he decided to run for parliament, seems to be quite a handsome chap, and is also a dual citizen of Greece and the Duchy of Edinburgh Australia. So now it appears Australia has two finance ministers, Matthias Corman the actual finance minister of Australia who was born in Belgium and Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister who was born, somewhat surprisingly, in Greece. Yanis Varoufakis has written a book and is also a private consultant for Valve, the game company responsible for Half-Life and Steam. I wonder if he’s a gamer?

That’s a pretty interesting background and, whatever one might think of his political views, pretty solid qualifications for a finance minister. In sad comparison, Matthias Cormann has been a political apparatchik since the 1990s, has an undergraduate degree in law, and has never written anything as far as I can tell. But in addition to writing a book and some academic articles, Varoufakis also maintains a blog. He’s just like me! And in his latest post he has promised to try and keep blogging while working as a minister, which I suspect makes him the first ever blogger finance minister. This potentially means we are going to get some kind of real-time coverage of how and what the finance minister of Greece is thinking as he negotiates with the EU, IMF and ECB on the tricky issue of Greek debt. He has previously written alternative solutions to the problems of public debt in the EU, which seem to have worked their way into The Economist. His blog is a pretty interesting read, and if he does manage to find time to maintain it while managing his new position I think it will make a fascinating and unique contribution to both the blogosphere and the disciplines of economics and politics.

This also gets me thinking: will there come a day when an active role-player gets into the halls of power, and chooses not to stop gaming? Imagine if they turned up at conferences, and you could role-play with the US president … (I bet there’d be no rules-lawyering at that table! “Why can’t I get +2? It’s in the rules!” “I am the president of the USA, you get whatever bonus I give you!”) Or if they were a regular commenter at an RPG forum, posting in between meetings with heads of state to complain about why Bards are the worst character class. Maybe they could run online role-playing sessions where they run adventures in all the trouble spots they’ve invaded and messed up, until it gets to the point that the electorate start thinking the President is only starting new wars so that he can have new campaign settings. That may seem crazy, but it seems like a better rationale for a war than the gloop we were actually fed before Gulf War 2…

Greece has been suffering difficult economic times, and it seems obvious that something has to be done. Austerity has failed Europe dismally, and the economic pressures it is creating are being released through politics of the worst kind, as extremist right wing parties grow in influence across the continent, perhaps most especially in Greece. The search for a solution is going to be really challenging for Syriza, and it is my hope that they will find a solution that makes Greeks better off, and averts the social catastrophe they seem to be sliding towards. Yanis Varoufakis seems like a man well-placed to take on the job, and it is my hope that he can find success despite the challenges he faces. I also hope he can find the time to blog about it, so we can get some insight into what happens both behind the scenes and behind the man. Good luck, Dr. Varoufakis, and I hope more bloggers in future (and eventually, more gamers) can get to the halls of power.

And remember, if you find Greek debt challenges too tough, you can always come to Australia and help out our government…

Advertisements