Ways and Means, 1935 is...for basic college mathematics (quantitative literacy) classes. The central historical focus is the legislative debates in Congress in 1935 surrounding what became the Social Security Act of 1935. The questions for the game’s players are, how much will social programs cost? Where will the funds come from to pay for the new programs? Should there even be any new programs? What assumptions are best for making these calculations? How can goals be justified with numbers? Which calculations are most persuasive?
The nature of the conflict in the game is that some members of Congress oppose and some support the various social legislation proposals as they are introduced in the Senate and House; some favor a narrow social security program, others a more expansive one, and some are absolutely opposed to any such legislation. Some favor including virtually all Americans in the program, while others adamantly want some groups excluded (farm laborers, domestic workers). Figures from outside of the Congress – such as leaders of the Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, Mississippi plantation owners, and the National Association of Manufacturers – will also voice their positions during Committee hearings as well as in the committee’s “recesses” and in the mark up sessions at the end of the game. In the game, the “winners” are the players who best use math to achieve their legislative goals; the game will be structured so that policy debates are funneled into estimations of costs over time. Victory likely goes to the faction that makes its goals most appealing. thru the use of verifiable mathematical calculations, to reporters and other indeterminate players The journalists and other indeterminates will be written so that they too must do math in the game and they will have their own objectives.
The mathematical content covered includes population growth, inflation, interest, and distributions/histograms/means of ages and incomes, as well as actuarial projections of future life expectancy and estimates of future economic growth. The target course is a mathematics course at the quantitative-literacy level, with a prerequisite of pre-college algebra.