The hurricane’s a-brewing outside, and I think its time to play a mean game of Monopoly with my leftist suitemates. Iʼm the token libertarian of room 5100A, and I feel the responsibility to analyze the beloved board game from a free market perspective. My “progressive” compadre Dave volunteers to be the central banker; we take it to a vote. With his professed love of the Federal Reserve, I canʼt even pretend to be surprised. I was about to propose a free banking system for the game, but I donʼt want to start a five hour debate. One more thing needs to happen before we begin rolling dice: the money needs to be distributed. Watching Central Banker Dave dole out those greenbacks makes me leery, but hey, equality of opportunity trumps equality of outcome any day of the week.
Before the game commences, another statist roommate has an idea. “You know, guys, we should have someone who doles out these real estate certificates and keeps track of who owns what,” he ambitiously announces. “Or,” I counter, “we could simply grab for the card when we buy the property, and keep track of what we each own.” I hear complaints about how messy of a system that would be, and how we need a centralized agency – I mean, person – to uphold the validity of the game. At this point, I conclude that I should really get myself some libertarian playmates. Sigh.
I get a six. For the first two seconds after the die settle, I was excited at the big number. This gives way to despair, though, when I realize that Iʼm about to land on the dreaded “income tax” square. Well, it isnʼt terrible; the fee is 10%, and it is capped at $200. The anarchist in me feels stung by the state – I mean, the game – but the minarchist in me is delighted at the low, flat tax rate. In short, Milton Friedman would be pleased, but Ron Paul would be pretty pissed. I think, for a moment, how wonderful it would be if Ron Paul was sitting here with me playing Monopoly. After 2.5 blissful seconds, I get back to reality.
By the conclusion of the first round, almost everyone else owns property. Another roommate, who has some conservative leanings, just got hit hard by the “luxury tax.” This confiscation of assets is starting to bug me, but a sales tax is far superior to an income tax.
I roll a something, and I land on the public parking space. “Why isnʼt this space in private hands?” I wonder aloud. I briefly clash with my Fabian friends over the merits of public property. Sometimes, I feel like Mises at the Mont Pelerin Society, trapped with a bunch of damn socialists. In any case, I am now at a monumental disadvantage, as my roommates have all acquired property, and I have not. I think its time to crack open the Pabst Blue Ribbon (just kidding; Iʼm not 21). Even hypothetical beer in my belly, though, could not comfort me for the horror that will come next.
I am surely the loser in this quasi-capitalist society, but things are about to get far worse. As the two dice are churning in my hand, I have no idea of my impending doom. As I move my thimble-shaped piece, I come to the realization that I am headed to jail. The cartoon of the officer blowing the whistle looks downright mean, and he points to the jail cell at the other end of the board. Was I a causality of the drug war? Accused of being a terrorist? Busted for selling raw milk?
Regardless of the offense, I am now a complete ward of the state. My roommates cruelly laugh, and I cannot help to think that monopoly man is shooting me a condescending look. This man, a caricature of the evils of statism, has screwed me over for the last time. I call it quits, as my roommates are discussing giving the first loser a bailout in order to “keep things interesting.” Oy vey.