Econ

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March 5, 2013
POLI 387

A Monopoly, Not a Democracy

The board game Monopoly has been a source of entertainment for many years and millions of people have played it. It is even distributed in several countries, and in several languages. When one analyzes the game Monopoly it can be compared to a political-economic system. The game Monopoly can be compared to an obvious political-economic system: a monopoly. A monopoly is quite different than a market oriented enterprise. It is often thought that monopolies are evil. According to Charles Lindblom in Politics and Markets, political democracy is associated with market-oriented enterprise (Politics and Markets, 116). Lindblom, as well as other scholars often imply that monopolies are not a type of political-economic system that promotes political democracy. This is indeed correct. Monopolies undermine political democracy, and this can be seen by simply playing and analyzing the board game Monopoly. The remainder of this essay will take into account political and economic instruments that are essential to the set-up of the game Monopoly. The game will also be compared to monopolies that occur in reality. By the conclusion of this essay, one should understand how the game Monopoly does not represent a political-democracy with regards to Lindblom’s definition. As previously stated, Charles Lindblom, the author of both The Market System and Politics and Markets, believes that a market system is essential for democracy. In fact, he even points out that “no democratic nation-states have existed, except those tied to market systems (The Market System, 226).” This is because in a market system, the masses have some control over the elites. This includes both control over elite entrepreneurs and government officials. In the game Monopoly, as with a monopoly in reality, the masses do not have control over the elite. In the game of Monopoly, the elite would be the player with money. Typically in an actual monopoly, the elite would be some sort of entrepreneur or official. A democracy cannot exist with out the masses being able to influence the elite, or government officials, so therefore the game Monopoly does not represent a political democracy. It is essential to explain the game Monopoly to understand the above thoughts. At the start of the game, each player receives $1500 in funds. The dice is rolled to determine who plays first, and the person who rolls the highest number initiates the game. All players start at the “Go” space on the board. Typically, the player gets to roll the dice each turn and move the number of spaces as prescribed by the dice roll. Each space requires some sort of action to be taken by the person who landed on it. For example, if one lands on a property space, and nobody has bought it yet, the player can purchase the property from the bank with their funds. Each time the players make it past the “Go” space, they receive an additional $200. The hardest part of the game is managing all of the property spaces that one purchases. The players want to purchase as many full sets of property as they can. Houses and hotels can be built on the properties, and other players can even be charged rent when they land on a player’s property space. Once the player is no able to pay the bank, or pay rent on other player’s property spaces, they are considered to be bankrupt and they lose the game. The winning player sometimes offers bad deals to other players to get a monopoly. This is because once the monopoly is obtained, the winner gets power and they are in charge. The winning player, or the player that is close to winning often just sits back and gains wealth while the other players squabble for money. If the economic system represented a democracy, one player would not be in total control.

The method of playing the board game Monopoly can be compared to a monopoly in a political-economic system. An actual monopoly exists when one enterprise or person in...
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