Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monopoly – As Played on Jekyll Island circa 1910

Nelson pulled out the board and arranged the money and deeds. Henry, Charlie, Ben, Frankie, Paul and some guy named Piat were eager to play. Nelson said, ‘Rather than go through the customary and proper steps I am simply going to shuffle these deeds and deal them out arbitrarily to each of you.’ They all agreed and the game was on.
The first roll of the dice landed Henry on a Railroad owned by Charlie and Henry paid the modest fee. Charlie rolled onto Baltic and Ben charged him $6. Ben landed on States – which he owned. The game continued and expanded to the point where improvements – in the form of homes and hotels - were beginning to appear on those properties properly managed – with no small sacrifice – by their respective owners. And then Frankie rolled onto one of Nelson’s properties with a hotel and suddenly owed him $950. Frankie, out of cash and unable to raise enough from mortgaging his meager holdings, asked for a moment to consider his options. He left the room, snuck out to his car, opened his own Monopoly game and came back to the table with plenty of cash to pay off his debt. No one asked any questions and the game continued. 
Piat and Henry happened upon North Carolina and Tennessee Avenues and also found themselves momentarily insolvent. In turn they each disappeared to their cars and infused the board with cash from their own games. So, once again, the contest was able to continue but everyone became disoriented; the nature of the game had been altered by this influx of ‘new’ and seemingly ‘legal tender.’ There was so much money that it began to lose its value. But everyone – whether wise or reckless – was still in the game. After a couple careful trips around the board Nelson suggested the bank raise the price of homes and hotels. Everyone had a seemingly limitless stash of cash so no one balked. Then they devised The Federal Reserve System. 


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