On Feb. 6, 1935, the first game of Monopoly made by Parker Brothers went on sale.
In 1903, Elizabeth Magie created “The Landlord’s Game” to teach about the evils of concentrated wealth. Magie wanted the game to explore the harm of concentrating land in a few private hands. The game went viral, and morphed into something quite different: a lesson on how wise investment can lead to wealth creation.
In 1934, Charles Darrow, who had discovered the game in 1932, sold it to Parker Brothers, and it was a huge hit during the depression and beyond.
Magie’s gripe with so-called Robber Barons – Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, etc., was that they were accumulating wealth at the expense of workers by creating monopolies and manipulating prices. The issue of wealth distribution was a major plank of the Progressive movement. In 1890, it had led to the passing of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which authorized the federal government to regulate large businesses, simply because they were deemed to interfere with competition. The Progressive movement elected Woodrow Wilson president in 1912, and has had a major influence on American politics since.
- Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are sometimes charged with being monopolies and harming competition. Do you think that you would be better off if Google was broken up into several companies? What difference do you think it would make in your life?
- There seem to be two poles in debates about the government’s involvement in the economy. On one side are those who believe that economic growth should be the focus. On the other side, redistribution of existing wealth. Which do you believe is more important?
- Put another way: If you had to choose between a society in which everyone had enough resources to live, but some had much more than others, versus a society in which everyone was about equal, but no one had an opportunity to get rich, which would you prefer to live in? Why?
2008, Monopoly [Board game logo], Parker Brothers. Retrieved from <google.com>.