WORD OF THE DAY — MONOPOLY (the Parker Brothers’ game)

Did you know that Economists have invented games to predict what an economy will do? Do you think game-playing can work to solve our money problems?

Here’s a story about Monopoly, America’s favorite game. I’ll bet you haven’t heard the stories about how it came to exist at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century.

The first story I heard about that the game was invented by a man.  Wrong! Nope, not true. It was a woman!

The second story I heard was that man was cheated out of his inheritance by the Parker Brothers, and he died broke.

Wrong again!  In my opinion it was clearly the woman who got cheated out of her inheritance by the Parker Brothers.

The old saying “Behind every man who is successful there was a woman” is true for oodles of inventions created in the 1800s and 1900s centuries.

There were draconian limitations put on creative women inventors and business owners, slapped on them during the 19th and 20th centuries in America. Not to mention their inability to vote or own a business.

Women (such as Catherine Greene and her African-American slaves) needed a man such as “Eli Whitney” to get their invention of the cotton gin obtain a patent from the government for Catherine.

Many creative American women have used their husbands or fathers to back up their genius. For example Georgia Okeefe, famous American painter married to Alfred Stiegliz, famous photographer.

The real story is this: The game Monopoly was invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1903 and patented in 1905.

When she got her patent she was less than one percentage of women to file patents that year. Her helper man was Henry George, a Political Economist and Journalist with whom she conversed about how the the land tax should be collected and distributed.

Elizabeth had first named her game, ‘The Landlord’s Game.” This game eventually evolved into Monopoly.

For decades no one knew that Elizabeth made two sets of rules for Monopoly.

One was the competitive one where people succeed by playing until one person is richer than all the rest. The second one she named ‘Prosperity’ was one where players would share what they gained.

According to Economist, Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist, the purpose of Elizabeth Magie’s two sets of game rules was to compare monopolist rules now in play today with a second way to win at Monopoly.

The results of Parker Brothers Monopoly today are bankruptcy and greater income inequality.

Those results of Monopoly are what Kate Raworth is writing in her book about the failures of 19th and 20th century award-winning economists who have mis-used both algebra and calculus to get results for economic principles that do not  don’t materialize over the long run. In particular Ecoonomists have missed the boat about achieving income inequality.

Magie’s second set of rules were that the players would share results by cooperating with each other.  This monopoly game didn’t merely rely on luck of the dice.

Magie’s second set of rules posited that the player starting with the least amount of money—and first doubled it was called the winner.

Clarence Darrow, the legendary twentieth century lawyer, sold the idea to the Parker Brothers. Elizabeth, an experienced game board maker, merely asked the brothers to pay her for two other games plus Monopoly —$500 dollars and no royalties.

Even more unfotunately for us, The Parker Brothers deleted the second set of rules when they sold her game. Thus, Elizabeth Magie’s name was buried until 1973 when an economist, Ralph Anspach researched his game of “Anti-Monopoly” before taking it to the Supreme Court.

Why is this important?  I write this as a warning to creative people to be careful what you do with your inventions or with your creative work, especially if you are a woman.

Today on International Womens’ Day 2023, I ask you, can we test for ourselves now to find out what will happen if we use the second rules that Elizabeth set for Monopoly? Will theses games predict for our economic futures?

Can economists start creating economic games as sharp as Elizabeth’s games showing there can be at least two different ways for winning Monopoly, a game that oozes with competition and income inequality.

Monopoly isn’t just a game! Henry George’s concerns about land (property) taxes have been discussed by Economists for centuries. As Paul Samuelson said, scarcity creates value, and big as this earth is, land is still scarce. Today water is the scarce issue of concern to many Economists.

Yesterday the Federal Reserve used only two variables from British Economist, early 20th century John Maynard Keynes antique linear algebraic equations full of variables to slap higher interest rates in Americans.

Fed head Jerome Powell said he would would get rid of millions of jobs for Americans in order to tame inflation.

This is ridiculous! The Fed is tying its own hands. And it is certainly going to hurt American women who have fought for centuries to get “good paying jobs”.

Along with the criminalized weaponized abortion laws—American women will go back to  “Keep them barefoot, pregnant and at home.

And like Texas governors’ Greg Abbots’ empty promises to catch rapists, it demands push back. Who is really is running the economy of the United States in this century?

Next:  I’ll be covering several women Economists who are greatly influenceing the future of the way the study of Economics is viewed in this century.