Monopoly™= Libertarian Society??

A interesting, albeit odd, article is up on Huffington Post by David Dunn, where he takes libertarian economics to task. He claims market liberals back “ordinary folks up against a wall.”

To back up these claims, Dunn describes how he teaches students economics by having them play Monopoly. In his version, a few students start off with 10 times the amount as others. This makes the game “more realistic.” As a result, the “poor” and “middle class” players are quickly eliminated, and only the rich remain.

But is Monopoly, in particular the way Dunn’s game gets set up, really an accurate portrayal of “a glorious capitalist utopia”? Hardly. Consider the following:

*When a player builds a house or hotel, the money goes to “the bank.” “The bank” does not pay labor to build. If Monopoly is truly indicative of an actual economy, wouldn’t labor get paid to build the house? And since Dunn’s version has middle class and poor citizens, wouldn’t it make sense that the poor and middle class players would be the labor, thus get paid by “the bank” to build homes and hotels?

*If this was truly a free market, players could buy homes and hotels from one of many sellers. Instead, the rules of the game regulate that only one seller is granted the privilege of selling buildings, “the bank.” No competitive bidding for putting up buildings is permitted.

*According to the rules (I’m consulting a 1973 version), “no property can be sold to another player if buildings are standing on any properties of that color-group.” Regulations stand in the way of a potentially mutually-agreed upon transaction.

Maybe Dunn’s version allows for mutually-beneficial transactions, competitive bidding, and the payment of labor. If he wants the game to more accurately reflect a free market, it would. For some reason, though, I doubt it. The “middle class” and “poor” players might show some mobility, which would disprove the lessons he wants to impart about the market’s job of “kill[ing] you!”

One last point: in Monopoly, you get thrown in jail for rolling doubles 3 times in a row. Getting thrown in jail for a victimless crime is the antithesis of libertarian belief.

While Dunn is correct to say the type of economy libertarians advocate has never existed, Monopoly represents statism a hell of a lot more than it does any type of free market libertarianism. Which means, unfortunately, Monopoly is indicative of modern-day American society.

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