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How ‘Monopoly’ Perpetuates Myths About Capitalism

The classic board game models the Left's view of the economy.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

August 7, 2013 - 8:00 am
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MONOPOLY_c1937_Chance_AdvanceToBoardwalk

Monopoly plays according to rules designed to force an outcome. The design intends each player to go bankrupt, save the winner. To the extent this model applies in the real world, it is the product of governments intervening in what would otherwise be a free market. Such a market would enforce only those rules necessary to protect individual rights. Hartmann and Sacks reference the bailouts of 2007 and 2008 as a consequence of government allowing corporations and banks to become “too big to fail.” Yet, many government interventions created the Monopoly-like conditions which led to those bailouts and the global recession. The solution presents as greater liberty, not more control.

As an analogy, Monopoly actually indicts statist intervention rather than capitalism. The game models a command-and-control economy driven by mandate rather than value. The number of competitors remains limited, as do the type and arrangement of property. Consumers are compelled into transactions by chance and issued a strictly limited income. Once the preset amount of wealth has been claimed, no more can be created.

A free market would look nothing like Monopoly. Transactions would never be compelled. Wealth creation would not be capped. And competitors could freely enter and exit the market. The “game” would continue as long as people continued pursuing their values and creating wealth. A free-market economy would not be limited to a predefined pool of resources, but propelled by the unlimited resource of the human mind.

The Left has mastered the art of projecting its flaws upon a capitalism which does not exist. Capitalism rests upon individual choice. True monopolies can only manifest when protected by force. Remove the force, and you remove the monopoly. If players could choose whether or not to pay rent when landing on Boardwalk, the game would never end.

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Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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Top Rated Comments   
America has many nice big highways. Other countries only have a few. Obviously we have too many roads and are depriving the rest of the world. Our road greed is evil.

/sarc
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Zero sum is the stupidest idea. If value were only distributed and never created new, would we not all still be living in caves, fighting over who gets to use the sharp rock?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can't tell you how many professors I had to verbally redress for saying the economy is a zero sum game (mid 80's). They were almost adolescent in their beliefs. They never had any real arguments so they would just rope a dope with me by saying "that's interesting" or "valid point", and then move to another subject.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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"Consumers are compelled into transactions by chance and issued a strictly limited income. Once the preset amount of wealth has been claimed, no more can be created."

Exactly. In the real world someone who could only afford to live on Connecticutt Avenue would stay on Connecticutt Avenue. They wouldn't be forced to move into Park Place where they couldn't afford to live - unless maybe some government program coerced a mortgage company into giving them a loan they couldn't pay back.

Monopoly can help teach kids about money management and barganing skills. Other than that it is a game and nothing more.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No coercive monopoly has ever existed that was not caused by government intervention...
There two types of monopoly, natural and coercive. A natural monopoly is a gold mine on one's property. If there are no other veins on other's properties, it's a natural monopoly. No one is prohibited from owning one, it's just not available.
All the monopolies cited here are caused by gov't intervetion - power, water, telecom, cable, rights-of-way, frequencies divisions, etc.

Back in the 70's IBM was sued by the gov't because they had over 84% of the computer marketshare. Actually, they had 100% of the IBM-compatible market. There were others attempting to sell against Big Blue, but their machines were not upgradeable; i.e., one had to re-program for each new and faster model. The BUNCH (Bouroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC, and Honeywell)(even RCA tried and failed with an ALMOST compatible machine) offered inferior non-upradeable products vs. IBM's 360/370 and they were not compatible with either IBM or anyone else, and the market attested to it; yet the gov't sought to break up the company, because it was too successful. IBM was not a coercive monopoly, because the customers bought by choice the better product.

Government has no place in the market.




1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The government has a very important place in the free market: as an umpire making sure everyone plays by the rules, not penalizing one player or team because they play too well. The most important of those rules is that one player can get nothing from another unless they come to an agreement, which usually involves giving something in return they find a fair exchange.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Played many multiple-day, long running games of Monopoly as a boy in the 50's in upstate NY on a neighbors screened in porch when the weather was bad. I have said for 50 years that the lesson I learned was not from the game itself but from the fact that when on more players got hopelessly behind, someone would sneak in and tip the board over and scatter all the ownership cards and stacks of money.

In those situations where monopoly is possible and the government does not do its job to prevent them, someone will eventually rise up and kick the board to the ground. That's what revolutions are all about.

This restraint of monopoly, protection against foreign invasion and maintaining rule of law are the only legitimate tasks of government. When they don't prevent monopolies - but in fact encourage them in crony capitalist dances and in their own grasping for power - then someone will eventually knock over the board. That's where we are headed in America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Those lefties sure are a bunch of loony tones. I'd call this an example of their poverty of analytical skills.

Mr. Monopoly, the guy in the top hat and spats, was a real businessman. He was Samuel Insull and ran the electric utilities in Chicago and other Midwestern cities. FDR called him out by name in the '32 election saying Insull was partially to blame for the Depression and was going to jail. FDR's DoJ trumped up some charges against Insull but a Chicago jury said not guilty.

He took his money and moved to Paris where he died of a sudden heart attack while waiting for a subway.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can't tell you how many professors I had to verbally redress for saying the economy is a zero sum game (mid 80's). They were almost adolescent in their beliefs. They never had any real arguments so they would just rope a dope with me by saying "that's interesting" or "valid point", and then move to another subject.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
America has many nice big highways. Other countries only have a few. Obviously we have too many roads and are depriving the rest of the world. Our road greed is evil.

/sarc
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Zero sum is the stupidest idea. If value were only distributed and never created new, would we not all still be living in caves, fighting over who gets to use the sharp rock?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agree with what has been written here below, also...don't forget about the dredges that skip paying rent, destroy my property and leave them a mess. These guys are the ones belieing the progressive, entitlement hype...lazy buggars all.

THe giggest "money baggers" I have notice tend to be born into wealth or easily made and donae heavily to the cause, ala Al Gore or Babs Streisand.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Got so upset, started creative spelling, sheesh!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And there's another myth that's somewhat related to this... What I call the "Scrooge McDuck" fallacy.

The Left firmly believes that all the money that the rich folks have just sits in their personal vault, doing absolutely nothing. If only they could appropriate that idle wealth, they could put it to good use for their favorite causes, and since the wealthy weren't using it they just won't miss it. The reality is that even the very wealthy simply do not have much cash just laying around in the vault downstairs. It's mostly in various forms of investments.

I try to imagine what would happen to the world if the Left got its way about what they call "excess wealth." If everybody was limited to total assets of (say) $500,000 and if you had more than that the government would just confiscate it and spread it around to those less fortunate. When I think about that, the vision is not pretty at all. We all become Zimbabwe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whenever leftists bring up the "obscene" profits of oil companies or all the money that wealthy people have, I bring up the huge endowment of Harvard. This confuses them. I point out that all that money does very little to help the poor since it is mostly rich kids who go there. Either they insist that the money is Harvard's to do with as they please (after which I say that the same is true of other people's wealth) or they grudgingly admit I have a point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have about $200 Trillion Zimbabwe. It is worth about $2 US. How's that for inflation?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Meanwhile, the oligarch who owns everything can no longer collect any income."

That they wrote the above as a critique of "unfettered capitalism" goes to show they don't understand economics at all.

Also, one would assume that players in real life would continue to work to earn their income.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can't argue with your analysis.

But Monopoly provides another, more insidious source of mis-information. That is the whole image of Mr. Moneybags, driving his Stutz-Bearcat or Duisenberg and carries his wealth in large sacks adorned with a dollar sign. That imagery is a destructive caricature of anyone who supports the free market. It’s continued use by the Democrats to demonize the free market was an integral part of the 2012 campaign.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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