Archive for October 5, 2021

REAL LIFE MONOPOLY   2 comments

I’ll bet most of us remember playing Monopoly – probably late into the night and maybe even into the next day. I personally remember sitting at the card table in our living room playing it with my big brother and sister all evening until 2:00 a.m. the next morning. I remember how comfortable and confident I felt on the occasions when I’d been lucky enough to land on Boardwalk and Park Place early in the game, charging the outrageously high rentals for houses and then hotels on that high class property, And how really great it felt to own Atlantic Avenue and the other two yellow properties so I could add and charge for houses and ultimately hotels. Even better when I acquired Pennsylvania Avenue and the other two green properties on the block. Throw in at least two of the Railroads to prevent anyone else from acquiring a monopoly and I could pretty much sit back and watch my wealth accumulate. I could even afford to sit in jail for three rounds without paying a fine because my houses were still earning me rent. Of course, I felt even more confident as I watched my opponents mortgaging the properties they did own in the desperate attempt to acquire funds to make it past my expensive houses. Of course there was no gain for them if I landed on their mortgaged properties. Only the bank made money. (My mother was often the banker when my children played the game. She kept the bills neatly stacked in proper order.) In every way, playing monopoly demonstrated one of my husband’s sayings: “You’ve got to have money to make money.”

And then there were the times when I wasn’t so lucky. It wasn’t long before I knew the truth. No matter how hard I worked I’d never get out of the hole. Sure, I only had to own a block of two – Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue – in order to buy houses, but the rental to be collected if one of my opponents landed on either of those blocks was far less than Pennsylvania Avenue, for example, even though the initial cost of the houses was the same. When luck placed me in the position of owning no good blocks of property my first reaction was to try hard to get out of that inferior spot. Eventually, though, I’d just get discouraged and accept my fate.

But if you are remembering along with me, you might recall acts of charity – those times when the winners didn’t want the game to end so they’d lend money at no interest in spite of the rules, or even give it away. Charity would cheer the poorer members, but only temporarily. There was still little chance of getting out of the hole. And so it would go on, representing the opposite of my husband’s saying, i.e., You can’t make money if you don’t have it to invest in the first place.” And here’s my point. Think of how you felt when that happened to you. There was little joy remaining in the game.

To step away from the game for a minute, think about the advice financial planners will give you in preparing for your retirement. “Home ownership is your best investment.” And our laws do everything to support that with deductions for mortgage payments, improvements on the property, etc.

Now – back to Monopoly. Try accumulating enough cash to pay the cost of the properties you land on without owning any valuable property. I’m not a statistician, but I have been a player, and I’m pretty sure you’ll still end up at the burned out end of the candle if you have nothing going for you but cash.

  1. Now let’s see what would happen if you added two new rules at the beginning of the game. First: redlining. After you’ve chosen your token you draw a card that says you can’t buy anything but Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue if you should be lucky enough to land on them. Second, inheritance: You draw a card saying you haven’t inherited any property while your opponents gain ownership of Atlantic Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue plus the four railroads. How eager would you be to proceed with the game?

And there you have it. Real life Monopoly.

(The British version has different names, but I hope the point will still be clear.)

 

 

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