It’s All in the Cards

PORTUGAL“We’re sick of hearing about crisis, but we do like talking politics,” said Vincent, a 25-year-old Portuguese marketing student, as he, his friends Vincent, Diogo, and I gathered in a café in upscale Lisbon neighborhood of Restelo to play cards. The name of the game was “Vem Aí A Troika”; “Here Comes the Troika.” It’s a card game with a darkly comic message about European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, and their hand in Portugal’s economic crisis. When it came out in November, its creators, one of whom is former university math professor, promised: “Now you, too, can bring country to ruin”. Taking those words to heart, on Wednesday afternoon we decided to sidle up to the crisis with a satire. Poverty has spiked in Portugal, occasioned by a rise in the cost of living and steady drops in the wages as well as dwindling employment. Vigorous protests last fall forced the conservative government to beat an uncharacteristic retreat from further increasing taxes on the middle class. In Vem Aí A Troika, players amass money and power in the form of “euro” cards and “assets” cards representing wealth socked away in offshore accounts. The So-called event cards representing elections, general strikes or tax hikes, each one an opportunity to shore up capital and influence, determine the flow of each round. Until, that is, the fateful moment when Troika card is drawn. With that, the game ends. The winner is the player left with biggest bounty. As Diogo dealt, Vincent offered some context: “It all began with the E.U.,” which Portugal joined in 1986, when the Union was still called European Economic Community. He motioned to a stray card on table with words “Subsidized Farmer” on it; it pictured corpulent rancher standing on a barren plot of the land with a knapsack full of gold coins. “The idea was to incentivize Portuguese farmers not to plant key crops” in order to avoid glutting European market, Vincent explained. But effect, I was told, was to line private pockets at public’s expense. In 2011, Portugal received a 78-billion-euro bailout from the E.U., International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. The money came with strings attached: the painful budget cuts and massive tax hikes. In the game, a red card announcing new taxes means everyone has to pay up. The group groaned when this happened, muttering about an astronomical new real-life sales tax, which hovers at 23 percent (…..)

Link: http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/its-all-in-the-cards/

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to It’s All in the Cards

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: I am sure the card game ” Vem Aí A Troika,” or “Here Comes the Troika” will be a huge success not only In Portugal but in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy as well. The serious side of this card game raises two important points. First, easy money from the euro zone was blessing first and curse later for EU lesser developed economies; Second, economic integration does not work smoothly between advanced economies like Germany-France and backward economies like Greece-Portugal-Spain. The former are indefinitely hooked into transferring financial resources to the latter. Something politically difficult to do in times of financial crisis and austerity spending. As in any extended family, rich members hate to give money away to poor relatives. Greece, Portugal and Spain are now paying the price for being members of a rich men’s integration club.

    http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/its-all-in-the-cards/

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