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Ring in the new year over at the New York Post, where Nick Gillespie reviews a new history of Monopoly.

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  1. Strangely, the name “Orbanes” reminds me of “Sarbanes-Oxley”.

  2. It isn’t really fair to describe the Georgists as “arch-critics of American capitalism.” Henry George was in favor of genuine free enterprise, of letting people work, invest, do honest business unhindered, and keep all their earnings. Some of what he wrote sounds like Friedrich von Hayek, except that George was by far the better prose stylist.

    Secondly, Charles Darrow did not invent Monopoly. He copied it, down to its last detail, from one of the homemade versions of The Landlords’ Game/Monopoly that people were already playing. I’ve attended a presentation on that by a Richard Biddle, who has researched the matter, and knew someone directly involved, as a teacher at the high school he attended. Darrow’s misspelling of Marven Gardens in Atlantic City is the clue to precisely which previous version he copied from.

  3. And the unemployed plumber and “ordinary American” Charles B. Darrow who created – and wisely patented – Monopoly in the form we’ve all come to know and love.

    The attribution is qualified and, within the context of the paragraph, it is obvious that Nick is aware of the provenance of the game.

  4. In what appears to be the last post of 2006, my best wishes to all the staff and readers of Reason, as well as all the contributors to H&R. May 2007 be good to you!

  5. Heh, turned out to be 2007 already! I’m always a day late… Still, my best wishes are unchanged. More champagne!

  6. If capitalism worked like how it works in monopoly, then all finacial transactions will eventually end in fist-fights.

  7. Joking aside, I kind of put monopoly in the Scooby-Doo level of pop culture canon; it is emnesly popular piece of our culture despite the fact that it lacks almost any depth to it. The game does not have much challenge to it, due to game flaws can go on for hours in a stale mate, and takes very little strategy outside of knowing what is the right property to buy. Outside of those who pick the game to be an object of their semi-autistic/nerd-like obession (like, seemingly the guy who wrote the book) and five year olds, no one takes the game seriously it, like the bible, just sits on most people’s shelves collecting dust because they feel like the should own one.

    To talk about it as if it is a sentimental symbol of the power of captialism is just shoe-horning it into your ideology. Kind of like the reverse of Fawell saying Tinky Winky is gay. Its stealing a piece of our national culture, dragging it back to Cult Liberterian HQ, waving it up in the air and screaming “Look what we have! See? we are important!”

  8. ^^^^
    guess who didn’t get laid tonight?

  9. Lessons taught by Monopoly
    1. Most accumulated wealth is a result of luck, not skill or effort.
    2. The longer the game goes on, the greater the divide between rich and poor.
    3. No one wants to pay taxes.
    4. Taxes and rents hurt the poor more than the rich.
    5. If the rich rub it in too much, the game gets torn down.
    6. Eventually there is a complete redistribution of wealth.


  10. We played it this evening.
    My 7 year old daughter enjoys it and she has to do the math. Monopoly is part of home schooling.

  11. The real flaw in Monopoly is its cramped view of the source of wealth. You can buy the Reading Railroad but you can’t start a competitor. Once all the properties have been purchased from “the Bank” – and what an unrealistic view of the economy that is – the game becomes a zero sum exercise.

    I’ve got several ways to fix it, but I think I’ll keep those close to my vest. They might be worth some moolah someday. 🙂


  12. JCH —

    As a tournament Scrabble expert and avid poker player, I’m certainly not going to claim that Monopoly has anything like that level of sophistication. But if you haven’t witnessed it played with auctions, you’ve missed the most interesting factor. 3/4 of the game is about getting your opponents to bid too high on early auctioned properties, and then getting later critical properties on the cheap when they can’t compete.

  13. J. Goard,

    As a Time Person of The Year 2006, I say your fine example will be lost on most of those who comment here.

  14. The reason for the popularity of Monopoly is quite simple: As one great philosopher [Alan Sherman, I think – please confirm/correct if you have better info] put it:

    “It’s the thrill you get when you’ve just wiped out a friend.”

  15. “The game does not have much challenge to it, due to game flaws can go on for hours in a stale mate”

    The endless stalemates are caused by people changing the game rules. In particular, bonus money for landing on Free Parking keeps too much money in circulation, so nobody ever goes bankrupt. If you play by the standard rules, games don’t last forever.

  16. I second what Daze has said. Eliminating the bonus money in Free Parking will make the game much shorter.

    Also, demanding rent money upfront, instead of waiting ‘until I pass GO, then I will have your money’. By demanding rent up front, this forces your opponents to mortgage their properties, thus reducing the amount rent income your opponent receives, hopefully sending him (or her) into a fiscal tailspin.

  17. What great timing! When I was a a kid, my family used to play Monopoly every year on New Year’s Eve. Love that game. I swear that game turned me into a capitalist.

  18. Also, make sure you have MORE than 2 players.

    Nothing is more fun than making an alliance with player X against player and then stabbing X in the back to form a new alliance with Y.
    The look on their face is priceless 👿

  19. Shamless plug for a different game.

  20. That’s your real name? All this time I thought it was a psuedonym

  21. That’s your real name?

    Believe what you like.

  22. So which radio station caller were you?

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