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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/1560/whats-wrong-with-monopoly-the-game/

What’s Wrong with Monopoly (the game)?

February 13, 2004 by

You have surely played the Parker Brother’s board game Monopoly. It has been published in 26 languages and in 80 countries around the world. Since being introduced in 1935, in fact, an estimated one-half billion people have played it. It has taught the multitudes what they know about how an economy works.

The problem is that the game seriously misrepresents how an actual market economy operates. [MORE]

{ 8 comments }

Jim Morse February 13, 2004 at 12:38 pm

The incorrect picture of the free market to be gained from “Monopoly” is tame compared to that to be gained from the game described by Neal Boortz in “Child abuse in government schools”
(http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36326).

Jim Morse February 13, 2004 at 12:51 pm

The incorrect picture of the free market to be gained from “Monopoly” is tame compared to that to be gained from the game described by Neal Boortz in “Child abuse in government schools” at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36326

(The link in my previous comment doesn’t appear to be working.)

Justin Ptak February 14, 2004 at 1:54 pm

I seem to recall from the Mises Calendar that the first edition of Monopoly came out on election day, thus it seems like more of a comment on the electoral process and government in general rather than a window looking out onto the free market.

Don Robinson February 14, 2004 at 2:22 pm

While Monopoly could certainly lead people to perceive that the American, or any free economy, runs as depicted, we need to remember that it is a game. Games are, for the most part, designed for entertainment purposes and should not be viewed as a teaching tool.
As stated by the authors, “Every piece of property on the game board is essentially a monopoly…” This is the main point of the game. A monopolistic environment of any kind, no matter how it is created, will have certain undeniable characteristics that will effect the outcome of any business transaction. The transactions that take place in Monopoly are, by nature, monopolistic. This is probably the main reason Communist governments have had the games removed from their countries – they were educating their own people on their form of government.
While there is a lot to be learned from the game, I doubt any of it comes close to any true educational experience.

Brian Macker February 14, 2004 at 4:18 pm

Jim,

That games sounds like a good model for the Tragedy of the Commons. It has nothing to do with capitalism.

Peter Christensen February 14, 2004 at 5:45 pm

Great article…. An interesting result in Monopoly is that when played by the rules, no matter how many players start the game, only one “wins” in the end. The “winner” has forced all of his “customers” into bankruptcy, leaving no market participants. A free market allows for harmony and viability of its members, not a oneway path to ruin for all but a few.

David Heinrich February 15, 2004 at 12:48 am

I always thought monopoly was boring anyways. The game goes on forever, there’s no skill to it, and I’ve never been able to complete a game, always falling into boredom long before it’s finished. I think that the complexities of capitalism are too complicated to integrate into games. My favorite game is chess, which is a perfect illustration of how The State views its subjects — as means to ends. Pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, and even queens are all to be sacraficed and risked for the goal of check-mating the opponent. This is the nature of the Leviathon Warfare State.

The game Jim Morse mentioned is indeed a mortifying example of indoctrination into the American Fascist order. The really scary thing is that a kid who objected to this stupid exercise or noted that this didn’t represent the way the world worked, would probably be punished. However, this kind of indoctrination isn’t unexpected. Most teachers are socialists. I remember this from my high school. Even in AP History, we were taught some of the important facts, but no-one bothered to mention their implications. Half-truths were given regarding monopolies, and insane Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt were painted as heros, while mass murderers like Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman were glorified. At the Univ. of Rochester, in a Political Philosophy class, every conceivable philosophy was taught, except for libertarianism. When the lectures reserved for Anarchism came about, we got Michael Taylor and Robert Wolf, along with Micheal Sandel. No mention of Rothbard, Nozick, or Friedman.

Don Meaker September 16, 2007 at 8:55 pm

I suppose that Monopoly makes a game out of business in a similar way that Chess makes a game out of the military art.

Chess leaves out terrain analyis, leaves out simultaneous movement, but retains attrition and force concentration.

Both thrust the player into a game of perfect information, and a zero sum paradigm.

Can monopoly teach aspects of business? Certainly, the notions of interest, investment, market share, and time value of money are useful notions. They are not all.

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