Thursday, 8 November 2012

dice, deed and deck or weal of fortune

It is an interesting irony and twist of commerce that one of the most popular and enduring board games, Monopoly, was originally meant to be stark warning against allowing land and real estate (utilities and transport too) to be concentrated, hoarded in the hands of the few.
Rather than encouraging accumulation and acquisition as a life-skill, the inventor of The Landlord’s Game, a brilliant reproduction shared by a Happy Mutant on the wonderful Boing Boing, was hoping to indoctrinate young people and families in the economic philosophies of Henry George (DE), who was an advocate for business and commercial enterprise (in so far as it was something that one built oneself) but believed that natural resources and land ought to be in the hands of the public, and the property held privately, by exception, ought to be taxed at a high rate. George did not want the government to nationalize assets or limit ownership but thought a progressive tax, on the landed gentry, could help pay for the public weal and work to discourage such amassing of wealth (via rents rather than industry) in the hands of the few, privileged and to the manor born. Just as the original was not propaganda for socialism, the familiar modern inspiration and all its variations are ruthless games of capitalism and probably still illustrates the dangers of high-rent districts and slumlords and an anti-competitive landscape.