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Parker Bros, Poker and the Myth
Stories of Global Transformation Blog ^ | October 4, 2011 | Dr. James W. Jackson

Posted on 10/05/2011 10:14:33 PM PDT by AZLiberty

Parker Brothers made millions of dollars marketing the table game Monopoly. It takes two to three hours to play a round of the game. Its history can be traced back to 1904 where it was developed as a teaching tool to explain the single tax theory.

Poker is a game where betting begins with some form of forced bet by one of the players. Each player is betting that the hand he has will be the highest ranked. Each of the other players must either match the maximum previous bet or fold.

Both games include one striking similarity . . . one player ends up with “more” only as another player ends up with “less.” They are “zero sum games.” The only way one can gain is at the expense of someone else. It is like an apple pie, if one person eats more another person gets less. Over the years many well-intentioned folks have swallowed this analogy as an axiomatic factor of life. If you have something it is because someone else does not. You took it away from someone else or you wouldn’t have more. It becomes very easy to deduce that the reason we have an abundance of poor people in the world is because we have a few other people who have grabbed a huge portion of the pie and left everyone else without. Before careful examination of the issue, I used to swallow that reasoning hook, line and sinker.

One day I was doing some research for a paper I was writing. The material I was reading raised the fact that the “three richest men in the world” control more wealth than all 600 million people living in the world’s poorest countries. I was tempted to embrace the obvious point, that the reason there are 600 million people in the poorest countries was because the three men had snagged all the money before it got to the 600 million. At that point I had to ask myself the realistic question, “How much additional money would those 600 million persons have in their pockets today had Bill Gates and his two other buddies not earned all that money?” I was forced to answer, “Probably not one additional penny,” because wealth is a different myth. It is not a clump of something . . . it is not a zero sum game. The gains of the winners are not simply products of theft. People can grow wealth if they are allowed to do so. People can create successful enterprise and thus create wealth and can enrich all who are associated with the undertaking. Production is the wealth. At the end of my research I was faced with a different question, “Just why have the 600 million people in the poorest countries not been able to produce more than they have?”

I have walked this world’s slums and have become acquainted with the locations of abject poverty. I wasn’t on a luxury tour bus . . . poverty was the location of my work for 25 years. I have been driven by the belief that something positive can be done to reverse poverty. Strong economies cannot be built on sick people. So, for over 25 years Project C.U.R.E. has been dedicated to taking health and hope to over 125 developing countries of the world.

A most delightful and encouraging phenomenon crossed my pathway while trying to deal with ingrained poverty. The United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit. And in 2006 The Nobel Peace Prize went to Muhammad Yunus for his work providing microcredit to the poor.

The idea germinated in Bangladesh in 1976 with the Garmeen Bank delivering small loans at low interest rates to rural poor. The program became a popular tool for economic development throughout the third world and sparked a revolution in micro-entrepreneurship. The newly created enterprises generated employment and the efforts began to create and grow real wealth. Today 75 percent of all microcredit recipients worldwide are women who are now given a chance to establish a sustainable means of income. Growing the enterprises increases disposable income. That leads to more economic growth and development.

The new business owners of the micro enterprises don’t have more because someone else in the village has less. Others in the village, in fact, also end up with more. Everyone starts to become “better off.” What a glorious experience it is to see the power of debilitating poverty being reversed, and people who have been held down by governments and tradition being given an opportunity to become part of the solution rather than the problem.

Using “zero sum thinking” is acceptable at the Parker Brother’s Monopoly board or the challenging Poker table, but please, don’t succumb to the temptation of applying zero sum thinking to the economics of real life.


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Health/Medicine
KEYWORDS: happiness; philanthropy
It's not my blog, but I'm pimping it anyway. This evening I attended a book tour presentation by the self-described "Happiest Man in the World", a self-made millionaire who turned to the philanthropic side and figured out how to collect tens of millions of dollars each year in surplus medical supplies and distribute it to the poorest countries in the world. I like this, his most recent blog, on non-zero sum thinking.
1 posted on 10/05/2011 10:14:38 PM PDT by AZLiberty
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To: AZLiberty
He is right in that businesses do not deprive anyone of wealth but instead create wealth, not only for the business owner but the workers they employ.

However, the government(any government)does run a zero sum game, the money the government(any government)gets is from taxation of people and the more money taken away from the people through taxes the less wealth there is among the people. One of the main reasons the USA rebelled and created the constitution was because of unfair taxation and we have let that principle down and failed at what our founders envisioned for us, we the people.

2 posted on 10/05/2011 10:31:46 PM PDT by calex59
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To: AZLiberty
It's not my blog, but I'm pimping it anyway.

Posting and excerpt hoping for hits would be pimping.

Thanks for posting the whole thing.

3 posted on 10/05/2011 10:57:09 PM PDT by humblegunner (The kinder, gentler version...)
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To: AZLiberty

I have read about and seen stories on micro credit and they are fascinating to say the least. For the want of literally, two or three or seven bucks, a person can generate a business and support not only themselves, but their family and then more. This is a type of thing that I can wholly support and wish I had funds to donate to causes and enterprises like this.


4 posted on 10/05/2011 11:37:34 PM PDT by abigkahuna
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To: AZLiberty

Even in Monopoly, if you have four good players and evenly distributed luck, the game ceases to be zero sum because the houses get bought and distributed (more or less evenly), the players make mutually beneficial trades, and money from “Go” “Chance” and “Community Chest” add enough to the mix to keep anybody from going bankrupt, as all get “rich” slowly.


5 posted on 10/06/2011 3:41:50 AM PDT by Dr. Sivana (It's fun to play with your vision, but don't ever play with your eyes.-1970's PSA)
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To: AZLiberty

Monopoly is not quite zero-sum. There is that “salary” the player gets each time he passes GO.


6 posted on 10/06/2011 4:00:40 AM PDT by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's "Economics In One Lesson.")
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To: AZLiberty
"It takes two to three hours to play a round of the game."

Not when you use the cash from 4 different games (and a pencil & pad to keep track of the loans). It would take all evening and into the morning as we used to do as kids when the cousins would visit. Good times...

7 posted on 10/06/2011 5:13:05 AM PDT by Hatteras
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