The Landlord’s Game
In 1904, actress and Single Taxer, Lizzie Magie, took a patent for what became the famous board game, Monopoly. It was originally called The Landlord’s Game and she designed it to be:
a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.
It taught the players the true nature of the world and economy and how it all works.
The game spread among Single Taxers and was further developed by others, including Scott Nearing, at the time an academic in the economics department at the University of Pennsylvania, and who was using The Landlord's Game to teach Economics. His support of Henry George's teachings caused him to be dismissed from the university in 1915, just as he would not have been allowed to teach true economics in any of the Soviet universities to come.
This is one of Lizzie’s boards from 1904
Lizzie was an ardent and active Single Taxer, and the development of her board game was avidly followed in Land and Freedom, the Georgist periodical, and Single Taxers were engaged on perfecting the game. Meanwhile, another version of the game had emerged, Monopoly, which could be called the Neoclassical version of the game.
In 1932, Lizzie Magie sold the patent for Monopoly, very cheaply, to Parker Brothers, on the strict condition that they continue to publish The Landlord’s Game, as well. As far as she was concerned, a mere $500 without royalties was enough, as she said it would be enough for her …
if she never made a dime so long as the Henry George single tax idea was spread to the people of the country.
The company were keen to explore changes in the rules. Lizzie Magie told them:
No. This is to teach the Henry George theory of single taxation, and I will not have my game changed in any way whatsoever.
The company did not honour their agreement properly, they starved The Landlord’s Game and let it die. There was an agreement that the game came with two sets of rules, however, only the Parker Brothers’ neoclassical rules came with the box. When the game is played by Georgist rules, no one loses. It’s not fanciful to imagine that this idea will have been deliberately suppressed. Of course, global society was desired to be very much about winners and losers, big winners and big losers.
We liked this by someone called Christopher on a blog somewhere on the Net:
Oddly enough I always thought the game Monopoly taught the lesson that monopolies are a bad thing. Yes, the object of the game is to achieve complete control of the board, but once that happens the game is over.
I always thought the conclusion of any Monopoly game was, "You've now completely destroyed the system, preventing anyone else from being able to participate. Congratulations asshole.”
Actually, Christopher has hit the nail on the head, the Monopoly board game does say it all and it’s just as much a teacher as The Landlord’s Game.
Interestingly, we heard that, many years later, Hasbro, the current owners of the game, made Lizzie Magie’s rules available again, but we couldn’t find them on their site.
We found the rules here: on Thomas Forsyth's website. This is well worth a read. Presumably this is the words of Lizzie Magee and is the original patent, all the rules are explained and possible variations, and this suggestion:
THE MONARCH OF THE WORLD.
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. If a person wishes to prove this assertion -- having first proven that the principles of the game are based on realities -- let him do so by giving to one player all of the land and giving to the other players all other advantages of the game. Provide each player with $100 at the start and let the game proceed under the rules with the exception that the landlord gets no wages. By this simple method one can satisfy himself of the truth of the assertion that the land monopolist is monarch of the world. The remedy is the Single Tax.
Lizzie Magie wrote in 1940 in an issue of Land and Freedom, under the title A Word to the Wise:
What is the value of our philosophy if we do not do our utmost to apply it? To simply know a thing is not enough. To merely speak or write of it occasionally among ourselves is not enough. We must do something about it on a large scale if we are to make headway. These are critical times, and drastic action is needed. To make any worthwhile impression on the multitude, we must go in droves into the sacred precincts of the men we are after. We must not only tell them, but show them just how and why and where our claims can be proven in some actual situation....
We know this feeling and we hope you will too. The absolute conviction that the remedy reflects the absolute truth. And the absolute frustration that this doesn’t happen, in spite of the fact that anytime, anywhere, that it is tried, the point is indeed proven. Every city, state, or province through history, around the world, that has tried it has had marked positive growth in every kind of indication.
The more we read about little episodes like the origins of Monopoly and look around the history, the more we realise just how central Single Tax ideas were in the American consciousness at this time. Across America and Canada, because of the general climate of interest in the principles of the Single Tax, professionals, accountants, were working on practical ways of executing what must have seemed like an inevitable destination for society.
Lawson Purdy, a campaigner for Henry George in his last campaign, back in 1897, the leader of the Manhattan Single Tax Club, served from 1906 until 1917 as president of New York City's Department of Taxes and Assessments, and presided over another signally successful example of Georgist ideas in action, to the great benefit of New Yorkers.
There are, around the USA at this time, and in pockets around the world, real examples of Georgist principles in action, and in every single example there is the same demonstrable success.