Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Game of Life

Nigeria became the first African country to launch its own version of Monopoly, which officials hope will teach "financial literacy."  Monopoly is a game that teaches the lessons of capitalism quite well: One person always becomes a super landlord and everyone else goes bankrupt and homeless. What does not reflect real world capitalism is that in Monopoly every capitalist can end up in jail every now-and-then.

The  capitalism-loving board game began life as a way to teach the radical philosophy of Henry George, a 19th-century writer who argued that "private property is robbery". It was originally called The Landlord's Game, with cards that said not "Go!" but “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages” alongside quotes from Thomas Jefferson and John Ruskin.

 As the United Labor's candidate for mayor of New York, George offered government-run social services, public-owned utilities, free transportation - supported by slogans like "Honest Labor Against Thieving Landlords" and "Hi! Ho! The leeches must go!" He lost.

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