I Affirm and Aver the Following is Poo

The Whole Poo and Nothing But the Poo

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New Rules For an Old Game
The Captain's Prop
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Last winter, I read Mary Pilon's The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game. Despite the hype we had swallowed as kids, Charles Darrow was not the inventor of Monopoly. He stole it from a string of players, each of whom made subtle changes to the game that remain to this day.


Parker Bros. released this version in 1939,
but soon recalled it and destroyed most copies.
From The Museum of Play.


The original game was invented by Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie and called "The Landlord's Game." Here's the fun part:

Collaborating with friends in her Brentwood, Maryland community, Elizabeth Magie created The Landlord's Game.... She explained that the game was to be a "practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences."

While still a young, single woman, Elizabeth -- or "Lizzie" as she came to be called -- became a regular visitor to the Single Tax enclave of Arden, Delaware. This was around 1903. Whether on her own or in conjunction with other Single Taxers in Arden, Lizzie continued to work on the design of The Landlord's Game as a way to explain how Henry George's system of political economy would work in real life.

(I emboldened.)


The Landlord's Game would be very similar in play to Monopoly today, with some interesting exceptions. From a website with the original rules, we learn that buying a property then was like buying a property now . . . with a devious twist:

If the lot is not yet owned by any of the players, it is "For Sale" and the player stopping upon it may purchase it at the original sale price, provided no other player bids more for it. If the player who has stopped upon it is willing to pay the highest price bid, he has the first option. If he cannot or does not want to pay the highest price bid, then the player bidding the highest price must take the lot at the price he has bid for it. If the first player does not [buy] a lot and some other player does, the first player pays the land rent to the purchaser.

(I emboldened the section italicized at the website. Oh, and screw LJ for that continuing formatting decision.)


So, as you can imagine, the game moves quite a bit more quickly, the richest players soon getting ever wealthier by being able to outbid other players without needing to land on the property.

Here, though, is the twist. Remember that Ms. Magie was a student and teacher of good ol' Henry George. She went so far as to serve "as the headmistress of the Henry George School of Social Science, which she operated out of her home." (Mary Pilon, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, Bloomsbury, 2015, p. 134.) For her, The Landlord's Game was a teaching game, not just a cutthroat endeavor to dominate your friends. She included two sets of rules, one to emulate the real world of land rent dominance.

The Landlord's Game is based on present prevailing business methods. This the players can prove for themselves; and they can also prove what must be the logical outcome of such a system, i.e., that the land monopolist has absolute control of the situation.


Ah, but the game need not be ended when one player has enough leverage to monopolize the outcome. Here's the twist: "If the players wish to prove how the application of the Single Tax would benefit everybody by equalizing . . . opportunities and raising wages, they may at any time during the game put the single tax into operation by a vote of at least two of the players." The rules then list what to change in order to make sure people simple play without end.

Which would make for a damned boring game, to be sure. But what about for a way of life? In real life, the goal is not to become the economic roadkill of some monopolizing agent, but rather to live an enjoyable life for as long as one can.

I had a thought the other day. We no longer play The Landlord's Game. We all play Monopoly. What if there were a second set of rules for any given Monopoly set similar to the Georgist rules provided for The Landlord's Game? Has anyone drawn up such rules before? Or been curious to see how such rules would play?

I'm sure such a person would be a gamer, or at least game oriented. Such a person might also be familiar with Henry George's work and influence, and have sufficient grasp of the modern-day Monopoly game to re-interpret The Single Tax rules from Lizzie's game.

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No chain stores would sell the game, no major manufacturer would make it.

No problem. There are a gazillion Monopoly games out there. This would simply be devising a new rule set for existing games based on The Single Tax rules from The Landlord's Game.

You know, as it was intended to be played.

> What if there were a second set of rules for any given Monopoly set similar to the Georgist rules provided for The Landlord's Game? Has anyone drawn up such rules before? Or been curious to see how such rules would play?

I've been actually thinking about this for a while for a new game. A sort of mash-up between Monopoly, The Game of Life, and Class Struggle.

Ah! You rose to my bait! I was wondering if such a thing would interest you.

As I see it, it would be great to transpose the Advanced rules to the original Landlord's Game and apply it to the Monopoly set, and see how that would play. Bringing Life into the mix might be a bit busy; but who knows?

Haven't played the last one. Heck, didn't even know it existed.

> Haven't played the last one. Heck, didn't even know it existed.

It has a few cute ideas, but basically it's a roll-and-move with a lot of conservative Marxism thrown in.

If you take this on as a project, as a Georgist I would be very keen to give it a try.

That was my thinking. I was throwing this post out there to see if it had been done first.

I've a lot of deadlines to deal with at the moment (heard the podcast yet? Up to Episode 54!), but when I'm more clear of them, I'll have to look into this.

I didn't know you were a Georgist. When did you 'see the cat'?

early monopoly?

or early war craft, colonialism, the settling of the americas

it's true, he who has the land, has the land.. all others can be called trespassers

it's in the commandments!

; '

maybe this game can teach us to draw better boundaries and be good neighbours?

i remember getting bored of playing monopoly, then tried to place two boards together and multiply the properties, giving more than one choice of each turf. i used to do that with other board games as well, i wanted there to be another level like that of chess played on multiple tiers.

'land lord'. nah.. it would never sell ))))

how about 'land grab'? and the stage could be the middle east? and there could be hotels like dubai and private banks like libra and syria? or a wall between israel and palestine.. doubles would be takeover by bombing. or moves would be made by using an abacus. the prize could be temple on the mount, golan heights, gaza strip, bagdad, oil in kuwait, etc hostile overthrow would be a card and so would takeover territory by jihad bomber,
camel cigarettes (skip one turn).
.
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Edited at 2016-09-09 05:36 am (UTC)

"If the players wish to prove how the application of the Single Tax would benefit everybody by equalizing . . . opportunities and raising wages, they may at any time during the game put the single tax into operation by a vote of at least two of the players."

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