Just about everyone is familiar with the board game Monopoly. We would be quick to pick our favorite markers… the top hat, Scottie dog, thumbnail, or my favorite - the sports car. Then we were given a small amount of money to start from the bank. And for the next several hours we would try to buy real estate, develop our properties with houses and perhaps a hotel or two, collect rent from other players who landed on our developments, and hopefully end up monopolizing the entire board by driving the other players into bankruptcy. But few people know that today’s modern version of the game has its roots in a game called “The Landlord Game,” developed by a politically liberal woman named Lizzie Magie in the early 1900’s whose primary goal was to point out the “inequalities and evils of acquiring vast sums of money at the expense of others.” The original “Landlord Game” even had two sets of rules: the monopolist version we are more familiar with today, but also an anti-monopolist version where “all were rewarded when wealth was created.” But Magie’s more progressive position was pretty clear, as she told a reporter shortly after releasing the game in 1906... “In a short time, I hope a very short time, men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with.” Now the best selling board game in the world, sold in more than 80 countries in 26 different languages, it is pretty much symbolizes the opposite of what Lizzie Magie’s original intent was in creating it, but the politics in her day are as relevant today as they were back then.
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