Five Monopoly® Cures for a Sagging Economy
The world would be a much better place if it operated within the realm of board games. Candyland® would end world hunger. Operation® would cure expensive healthcare. And Mousetrap® would make pest control the most enviable job on earth.
Nearly every board game would have a positive effect on our lives, especially when it came to the economy. Monopoly, the gold standard for fake-business board games, would be an ideal candidate to fix the problems facing America’s economy today. If our economy mirrored the activity found in Monopoly, there wouldn’t be talk of a recession. There would be talk of burgeoning property values, giant hotels, and who was first to pick the car.
The lessons that our country’s sagging state of business can learn from this simple board game are vast. Everything from picking out the proper game piece to knowing when to buy and sell translate perfectly into the arena of money and finance.
Here are five (humorous) ways to steal some karma from the board game magnate:
These spaces on a Monopoly board are a veritable cornucopia of good news. “You’ve just been named mayor.” “Bank error in your favor.” “You’ve won second place in a beauty contest.”
The best part is that you didn’t have to do anything to earn these rewards. You might not have any political background, any bank accounts, or any flattering outfits, but it doesn’t matter. Community chest rewards players for simply being players.
The economy could learn a great lesson from this board space. Rewarding consumers for being consumers is a grand idea. Tax rebates hit on this idea somewhat; however, they are only a start. A grand economic plan would be to reward consumers in the same way that Monopoly rewards players: for simply being who they are.
Getting a tax break is nice, but winning a beauty contest is much nicer. The government should get creative with its monetary gifts by doling out cash to consumers under the guise of Community Chest congratulations. “You’ve voted Democrat. Collect $100.” “DMV error in your favor. Collect $350.” “You are not on the government’s terrorist watch list. Collect $500.” The possibilities are virtually endless.
Monopoly also rewards players for determination, longevity, and progress by putting money back in their pocket simply for getting around the board. This celebration of inertia would make just as much sense in the real world.
Having a financial plan is hard. There are so many temptations to spend, spend, spend, that saving money for the future can seem like a waste of time. This is where the government can step in by creating a program that rewards thrifty citizens.
The economy would be better off if people thought of the future rather than living entirely in the here and now. As such, rewarding these spendthrifts would be a great way to show government support for financial planning. Programs that encourage saving (i.e., don’t spend more than you earn and you’ll get $200!) could be the economy’s own version of passing “Go.”
Going to jail in the real world is pretty lame.
But when you go to jail in Monopoly, you get to escape the troubles of the board and concentrate solely on the luck of the dice. And get yourself an iced tea.
A Monopoly jail might be the perfect solution to some of the unwise tycoons doing business today. Many problems can be traced to big, important men making bad, important decisions, so having a holding cell for these economic hampers might not be a bad idea.
If the economy created a jail for business idiots (sub-prime lenders?), America’s market might be better off for it. Simply hole up everyone who makes bad business decisions, temporarily suspending their decision-making until the economy can support their ideas’ failures. Then, when financial times are safe to let them out, these entrepreneurial ball-and-chains can wreak their net-loss havoc all they want.
Many of those who struggle in today’s economy find themselves in unenviable financial positions. Likewise, anyone who has banked on purchasing all the light blue properties in Monopoly only to see that stupid dog come in and swipe Continental right out from under their nose can relate.
Trading in Monopoly helps move the game along and creates opportunity for excitement, success, and strategy—three things that the economy would kill to have. The idea behind Monopoly trading can translate just as easily into the business world, since Monopoly players are essentially just trading one poor situation for a better one.
Suppose that you have a house on the market that you just can’t seem to get rid of, and your neighbor has a giant collection of classic cars that he is trying to move. Well, if it just so happens that you love owning multiple cars and he loves owning adjacent homes, then you would have yourself a deal: the cars straight up for the house. Everyone wins.
Too often, bureaucracy can get in the way of progress, which is often the case in business. Monopoly found a way to skirt the red tape by allowing cut-and-dry deals by responsible players. Shouldn’t the economy be just as easy?
Free parking might be the most wonderful part of Monopoly, so why shouldn’t it be the most wonderful part of the economy, too?
Some might argue that we already have free parking with the lottery, but the two ideas are different. Free parking is as free as it gets, while lottery tickets cost money, scorn, and judgmental looks from the guy at the gas station counter. Monopoly players who land on free parking did not have to do anything special to rake in their haul other than roll the dice and move their piece.
Consumers deserve a free parking space, too. Monopoly created the space as something for players to look forward to as they rounded the board. The only thing consumers have to look forward to is April 15th.
By creating a free parking space in the economy, the government could raise the spirits of the rapidly depressed population. The free parking could be a certain day of the year when everyone named “Jim” wins $500. It could be a monthly contest, rewarding the person whose mortgage rate matches the national threat level. So long as consumers have something to look forward to, the economy will be fun and exciting.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 at 1:00 pm