With Monopoly, no matter how strictly I adhered to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), I always lost. Initially I played the favorite strategies from my childhood: I saved my money so I could snatch up the railroads and utilities—I just blindly loved those public properties. But he always managed to make more monopolies than I did. I unfailingly stuck myself with Oriental, Vermont and Connecticut; he always landed before I did on prime spots like Boardwalk and Park Place. I invariably ended up with Baltic and Mediterranean; he wrangled his way onto Marvin Gardens and its sister properties as well as the Pacific trio. Adding insult to injury, he regularly snagged at least one of the railroads I was aiming to own.
In the meantime, he busily bought houses and then set up motels on his streets. With the rents he charged, it never took long until I was too broke to pay him. Slowly, I would sadly sell back to the bank the few houses I had managed to buy (you couldn’t, of course, put houses on the railroads and utilities) and then the unimproved lots. When I was really ready to bite the fishbone, just like the bankrupt guy in the video game version of Monopoly, he would throw cash my way. “Here! Have some money! Let’s keep playing!"
I never wanted to take his cash. He talked me into it, but that’s another column entirely. Once I paid my debt, even as I made it around the board again and redeemed a few properties, I dreaded rolling anything less than a 12 when I returned to that part of the game board. In fact, by that stage of the game, I welcomed going directly to jail—even without passing Go, it was cheaper than paying the horrible rent on his hateful holdings.
My money only had value because he placed value on it, very similar to the fiat system of dollar valuation that became standard practice about 40 years ago. Most people share in common some level of confusion about the value of money circulating in the country today—isn’t there some pile of gold or silver buried deep under a mountain to back up all that money?