Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Monopoly abolished the income tax

If you want to learn how conservaworld works, I recommend the board game Monopoly to you and your children.

I played Monopoly back in my day, and I know that once a player is lucky enough to price-gouge their opponents, they've pretty much won. The winning player spends the endgame grinding all opponents into dust, as it becomes almost impossible for opponents to pay rents and fees.

Monopoly is a great illustration of how corporatism operates. You can learn a lot from Monopoly.

But I've just discovered that Monopoly made a major change to the game board in 2008.

In my day, if you landed on the income tax square, you could choose whether to pay $200 or 10% of your holdings. Now the Monopoly peeps have removed the 10% option.

Paying a flat sum of $200 really isn't even an income tax. It's called a head tax. (Hey Beavis, you said head.) That's a tax that charges folks the same amount regardless of income or wealth. It's a regressive tax.

I can't fault the makers of Monopoly much for this - because Monopoly is only a game imitating reality. Replacing an income tax with a head tax is an accurate reflection of corporatist goals (despite being unconstitutional).

I recall that one of the Chance or Community Chest cards required players to pay a poor tax. This is not a tax that gets redistributed to the poor. Rather, a poor tax is a tax levied against the poor. If there's anything in Monopoly that mimics conservative goals, this would be it.

While Monopoly moves to the right on income taxes, it shifts left on luxury taxes: Monopoly has increased its luxury tax from $75 to $100.

But overall, Monopoly is a very conservative game. There may be no better educational tool to lay bare the ravages of capitalism.


  1. Kentucky Department of RevenueFebruary 11, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    Make sure you pay your state income taxes for 2009, Tim Brown. We haven't received a tax return from you in quite some time. We'll be watching you!

  2. My Monopoly game is outdated then.I always found the poor tax to be an interesting card, since it goes to the bank, free parking? Depends on your house rules I suppose.

  3. The Income Tax change was done to speed up the game, and take away a component that wasn't adding anything interesting. At best, you would usually save only a few dollars, maybe as much as $40 or $50, by taking the 10%. It took time to calculate, and was largely insignificant.

    The poor tax ($15) is now called "speeding fine."

    Whether the game stays true to its message is irrelevant; it hasn't held on to that since the game changed from Maggie Phelps' original treatise on the Land Tax to Charles Darrow's current iteration.

    ...Oh Jeez, this isn't a board game blog, is it?