An article in American Interest Online reviews a book tracing the history of the board game Monopoly. What was most interesting was the author’s claim that the inventor of the supposed precursor to the modern Monopoly game intended for its purpose to not only be entertainment, but to promote a land use theory called the single tax, which saw land speculation as the source of the inequality and injustice in our society.

It did, however, achieve success in an entirely different direction. To understand why, we need to note that our inventive Quaker, far from devoting a game to the praise of Mammon, actually devised it as a moral tale showing how unfair rents could be charged by unscrupulous landlords, for which, if there is any justice in the world, they will—in the game world, at least—rightly fetch up in jail. The object of the game, as she stated in her renewed patent of 1924,

is not only to afford amusement to the players, but to illustrate to them how under the present or prevailing system of land tenure, the landlord has an advantage over other enterprises and how the single tax would discourage land speculation.



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