Fable III presents the player with an obnoxious dilemma. You are a new king. The kingdom has been ravaged by a tyrant. There is a terrible threat that will soon wipe out the whole kingdom unless you raise enough money to raise an army to save everyone. Unfortunately, the kingdom has been overtaxed, overworked, and pushed to the brink. There is great need for help from the government. If you offer this help, you are doing the right thing, the people will love you, but the coffers run dry. The people will flourish right up to the point that they are wiped out from this foreign threat. Ignore social programs, raise the tax, and let the people suffer and you collect a lot of money. Ultimately this money will save the majority of the people even though they will hate you and hate their life. At that point, what have you really saved anyways?
Real Morality Isn’t Binary
The solution to these types of funding problems, to me, is a progressive tax system. The wealthy pay a lot and the poor pay little to none. The wealthy can afford to pay a lot of taxes and still live in giant mansions and the poor can’t afford to pay anything because they have other needs…like food and maybe, god forbid, a night out for themselves once in awhile. Not being able to provide basic needs for your family is a legitimate concern. You’ve got a right to complain. Not being able to afford that second summer home on the beach is not a legitimate concern. You’ve got the right to go cry to your mama and snuggle a teddy bear until you learn to act like a socially responsible adult.
Fable III doesn’t really have the nuance to cover a progressive tax system. It’s morality is binary (or close to it). You raise the taxes or you lower them. You make children work in a factory or pay a lot of money to make them a school.
The Fable III Solution
The one thing that Fable III does allow you to do is to contribute personal money (your hero’s in game money not real world funds) to the kingdom. From this, I devised a tax system that seemed decent and fair. I lowered taxes across the board. Then I bought a lot of businesses and a few large homes. On the stall vendors that sold food and other necessities, I lowered the prices to the point where I gained no profit. On the luxury places like weapons shops, pubs, and ridiculously sized mansions, I raised the price to the max. To my mind, this means that the poor have more money and can easily afford the necessities and the well-off will be paying more to enjoy those finer things in life.
The Fantasy and The Reality
In game terms, I’m earning over 100,000 gold from my businesses every 5 minutes of game time (respectable but still not JP Morgan kind of profits). I’m then dumping the money into the kingdom coffers to pay for every last restoration project imaginable. So far, the kingdom is improving and I have every expectation that I will have plenty of money to avert disaster. In the real world a senate full of Republicans recently held up healthcare and equal rights legislation to ensure a continued tax breaks for the wealthiest 5%. Fable III’s system is a fun fantasy indeed.