Let's play monopoly

Think about the Monopoly game. You and your friends get
around to play it. You know the rules, right? You each start
with the same amount of money, you get to choose the
Monopoly playing piece, you roll the dice and see if you are
lucky or not, and so forth. But I want you to gather your
friends and play Monopoly based on my rules. First thing first:
I will start by giving you all a different amount of money to
start with.
Kid: Hold on, why?
TROM: Not fair? Well, are your parents rich?
Kid: Not really. I mean they earn enough but
we are not the richest.
TROM: How much do Elijah’s parents (your friend) make? He has
expensive gadgets and every summer he goes on expensive trips with
his family, I’ve heard.
Kid: A lot more than my parents for sure.
TROM: So you see...we need to start the game in the same way.
You get less money than Elijah, and more than Stacey because her
parents make less than yours. Imagine you inherit the money and
properties from your parents like the rest of the players do, despite
the fact that you start as a brand new player in this game. It sucks,
I know. Elijah is also going to own a few properties, houses and
hotels from the get go. You only have a small property and one
house. Again, like in the real life.
Kid: But that’s really unfair to be honest. Anyways, go on.
TROM: Well let’s start and you’ll see
what I am trying to teach you.
The Kid starts the game with his friends and soon realizes how his
disadvantage is getting worse and worse with every roll of the dice.
Elijah is starting to make more and more money. He bribes other
players, makes hard to refuse offers to others so that he can expand
his properties, he pays his way out every time he goes to jail, and
does everything he can to get richer and richer.

The Kid starts the game with his friends and soon realizes how his
disadvantage is getting worse and worse with every roll of the dice.
Elijah is starting to make more and more money. He bribes other
players, makes hard to refuse offers to others so that he can expand
his properties, he pays his way out every time he goes to jail, and
does everything he can to get richer and richer.
Elijah makes an offer to the Kid:
“I’ll give you 2.000 for this property.”
Kid: Nah. That’s my best property.
Elijah: I need it because I have the rest. If you sell it to me you
won’t pay if you land on any of the same properties. So you won’t
have to worry about that.
Kid: Hm…but then I’ll have nothing….
Elijah: Well, you decide...I already have lots of properties and
money so is not like I really need yours, but I think you should
accept my offer because it is in your best interest, Kid.

Stacey: Elijah I will sell you two of
my properties that you need with
the same rules that you made for
the Kid (to not pay you when I
land on them) – but only if you
don’t make the deal with the Kid.
If the Kid makes the deal with you
then I am ruined since we compete
for the same place in the game. If
he doesn’t get charged when he
lands on those expensive properties
that you have but I will, it will be
very bad for me. I already have very
little money. I am also open to
making more deals with you.
What do you say?

Elijah makes the deal with Stacey. The Kid is very upset. So upset
that he steals some money from the bank when no one’s looking.
But his financial situation is still awful.
TROM: See Kid….the Abuser, the Charlatan, and the Thief. The
wonderful trio. That’s the ACT. Elijah, Stacey, and you. Elijah is
so powerful that he can abuse anyone into making deals with
him and his cartel for his own advantage, and Stacey needs to
survive in the game so she becomes a charlatan deceiving Elijah
and others for her own interest. And you...what do you do? You
are stealing money from the bank….you’re the thief!?
Kid: Yeah but….
TROM: No worries. Please
continue with the game I
won’t interrupt for a while.
After some playing time, Elijah and a few other friends gain so much
power that they have no competition. They created a cartel, a
monopoly. Aha, Monopoly! If you wonder what that means it is exactly
this: “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a
commodity or service”. Basically they rule the game and the others are
fucked. The game is now controlled by them. The other kids are
depressed, in trouble, disadvantaged, and transformed into thieves
and charlatans as their only resort for survival. These disadvantaged
ones have no chance against the cartel.
Most properties are owned by Elijah and the other cartel members
(many of whom they owned before the game started), they have so
much money that every time they get ‘taxed’ by the game’s rules it is
either that the ‘tax’ is very easy for them to pay (because they
have so much money), or they get away with it just because
they own the game.
Although the cartels are responsible for the most
Common, Recurring, and Amplifying Problems (CRAP)
in this game, everyone is either an Abuser, a Charlatan,
or a Thief (ACT), and they too create a lot of CRAP.
The ACT creates the CRAP basically, either alone, in
groups, or bigger groups called cartels. ACT creates the
CRAP. Simple enough to remember it I hope :).
The Kid finds himself paying more and more money to these
rich bastards even if his pile of money is as thin as the air at
100 km altitude. Any revolt against the cartel seems
pointless. Any attempt to make more money seems like a bad
joke. But now the things get even worse for the Kid because
he is getting caught stealing money for the second time.
Elijah: You’re going to jail!
Stacey: That’s so unfair Kid!!! You are not allowed to take money
from the bank! Give back twice as much as you stole as
Elijah: Let’s also move the bank away from him so
he doesn’t steal again!
The Kid is punished and sent to jail.
The bank moved away from him,
closer to the richest players because,
they say, they have no need to steal
any money so they won’t.
After some more time spent playing the game,
the Kid is out of the jail, the bank is away from
him, and he is broke. Elijah on the other hand
wants to build more hotels and stealing some
money from the so-close-to-him-bank is too
tempting for him. So he does that too.
Stacey sees that but instead of saying anything
she asks Elijah for some money to shut up. Elijah
can’t refuse and gives some to her. The Kid
desperately tries to make friends with the other
players to plot against Elijah and Stacey.
TROM: What a surprise (applause). Elijah becomes the
thief, Stacey the abuser, and you Kid….a charlatan.
Interesting game. I know I am annoying staying here
and observing and commenting, but that’s exactly
what I expected to see: abusers, charlatans, and
thieves who will eventually grow into cartels
(monopolies), and an interbreed of them all.
TROM: Some of you are so poor yet
others are filthy rich. A perfect
inequality. This is the CRAP you little
pricks just created: corruption, anger,
lies, deception, and so on.
Kid: Ok I’m done. There is no fun in this. From the
beginning I found no fun in starting with a
disadvantage but now it has become ridiculous. I’m
TROM: No! You stay and play!
Kid: What!? Are you serious!?
TROM: What if you had no
choice of leaving the game?
What if you would be denied
access to food and shelter
and basic life necessities if
you refused to play it? This
is how real life is, Kid. Sorry
to be so aggressive now but
you must learn a lesson. You
may think that Monopoly is
just a board game, but it is
not. You are playing the
same exact game in your
‘real’ day-to-day life, a game
that you cannot leave at your
will. You see, you are born in
a very unequal world. You
own what your parents have
acquired, including their debt.
TROM: Others have a lot more, some a lot less. The
house you stay in, the car your parents have, your
clothes, everything you and your family own, is what
you are born with. You are just a kid, a new human
born in this world, but you start life in the most
unequal manner possible. Do you think you can just
stop playing the day-to-day game? Give up money,
work, nationality, and all that? What would you do?
And do you think the society will let you go away on
your own? Where? All of the land is owned, all of the
food is the property of “who-knows”.
Kid: But real life is not a game! Monopoly is. But not life.
TROM: Really? Is this your phone?
Kid: Sure it is.
TROM: Well, I think it is not. Prove it!
Kid: Just ask my parents.
TROM: So it is yours because your parents say so?
What if I call my parents and they say it is mine?
Kid: What!? I have my photos and apps and
contacts on my phone.
TROM: No no. These are my photos of you on my
own phone. All of what is in the phone is mine,
it’ just not about me. Photos of you, in my own
Kid: Ridiculous.
TROM: Not really. Suppose we delete all that you
have on your phone, how can you tell it is yours?
Kid: My parents bought it for me. We will ask
the store where we bought it from.
TROM: People and papers. That’s all it is. This
phone is “yours” only because others say so.
Look at Elijah’s Monopoly properties. Are these
his properties?
Kid: Yes!
TROM: Why?
I don’t think so, I
think they are mine.
Kid: Hm…
TROM: When the Monopoly game ends, everything goes
back into the box. All of those fake properties and hotels,
all of the fake money and playing pieces. At that point
they are no one’s. They are pieces of paper and plastic.
Kid: Yeah.
TROM: Then the only reason Elijah owned those properties
and hotels and could use those fake papers to buy more, is
because you all agreed upon that when you played the
game. Otherwise, they would not have had any value. If
you, in the middle of the game, would decide not to play
or accept the properties and hotels and all that as real,
could you have done that?
Kid: Of course.
TROM: So that’s my point: in this “real life” that we play day
by day, we do the exact same thing. We play pretend. The
only difference is that the stuff doesn't go back into the box,
the people do. And you can’t just stop playing the game
because others won’t let you. All of those clothes, phones,
houses, cars, properties, and so on, are only yours because we
all play this game and we accept them as being yours. If you
go on and ask people if they are yours, from your parents to
the store you bought them from, to the police, they can only
verbally agree with that and show you some papers written by
others which say that the stuff is yours
That’s all: people
and papers. Like
plastic and
papers. It’s a play
pretend game.
Your parents play it, your friends play it, your teachers play it,
you are playing it, everyone plays it. If I refuse to accept that
your stuff is yours right now and I say that it is mine, I
don’t break any cosmic law. Physics and biology will be the
same. We will still breath oxygen, and gravity will still
exist :). The Universe is still the same. Only if I am going to
take this phone from you, you’ll call other people (parents,
cops) and they will use force to take this phone from me and
give it back to you. There is nothing out there that says you
posses anything. Your heart is clearly yours. It is part of your
body. Same with your all your body parts. But not the other
stuff that you acquire in this world.
Of course I won’t take this
phone and assume it is
mine, as it would be equally
ridiculous, but I want you
to learn perhaps the most
important lesson of your
life: the real world is just a
game. No more real than
Monopoly, but a lot more
cruel. At least in Monopoly
you get to start with equal
advantages and can leave
the game any time you
Kid: But is everything an invention? Play-pretend?
TROM: Pretty much, yes. Jobs (like teachers, doctors,
policeman), documents, countries and nationalities, money and
laws, and so forth. But that doesn’t necessarily make them
useless or without a value somehow. A doctor pretends to be
a doctor but she is knowledgeable enough to fix your health
She is just a human who knows how to fix health problems,
but anything more than that is just an invention (the label,
the job, the social status, the salary, what she owns, etc.).
However we will always play pretend in one way or another,
no matter what society we live in, so this is not important.
What is important is for you to understand that life is just a
game. Why is that important? Well, in our Monopoly game,
knowing it is just a game, how would you improve it?
To be continued...