Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Melvin the Moon Man, Monopoly and Money

I really don’t remember what made me think of this old board game from 1959, but I did, and it brought back some great memories. I was about 4 years old at the time, and apart from “Candyland”, this is the first board game which I remember playing. Monopoly and Scrabble were staples in my home, but I was way too young to understand those games. My parents, like so many in the 1950’s, had friends over on Saturday nights to play games like Parcheesi and Monopoly. It seems that no one does that anymore.

The point of the game was to traverse the board, which is a replica of the moon’s surface; complete with craters; accumulating “Moonbucks” as you went along. Movement around the board was controlled by a dice cage which tumbled two dice which determined how many spaces your “spaceman” could move. At the end of the game the astronaut with the most money was the winner. I actually learned to count on this game, which used denomination of ones and fives for currency. 

When I say that I learned to count, I don’t mean to imply that I was stacking up bills like the banker at a blackjack table, but I did learn to count the pieces of paper I accumulated in my rounds. I think my brother and I counted all the bills as ones to determine the winner. He may have been older than me, but at 5 and a half he couldn't count any better that I could at 4, so it all worked out.

Anyway, I was thinking about the Melvin the Moon Man and the Moonbucks used in the game; probably in a subconscious response to the news about the Federal Budget and deficits. I kind of believe that money is an abstract, with no intrinsic value of its own, after all there isn't enough money; or even precious metals; in the world to cover all of the expenditures we have made and now owe money for.

 Well, what is money? It’s merely a system by which we keep count of our transactions. When the Indians ruled the continent they used wampum, a certain pinkish part of shell which they all agreed was “special”, and therefore valuable. That’s what we need today; something which we can all agree upon to accept in exchange for the goods and services which we use. So, I advocate the “point system”.

Simply put, since there is not enough real money to go around, we need to create some without risking inflation, or loss of wealth to anyone who already has that attribute. It’s an admirable thing to create wealth; just as it is equally despicable to prevent those less fortunate from surviving in a decent manner.

Remember Monopoly? I always liked that game; you got $1,500 to start out with. It came from the “bank” which, presumably, just printed it. We did this aboard ship one time and actually had to “print” our own additional bills to cover the $1,500 for all of the players. Different caliber bullets were used in place of the different pieces which came with the game. If you had one of the real pieces, it meant you had been in from the start, or else purchased your place at the table from another player. That was usually a cigarette - left or right handed – both were accepted as currency.

Simply put, doing away with “real” money; which has no real value, being backed by nothing; and replacing it with Moonbucks or Monopoly money would be a viable answer to almost every problem imaginable.  That this can all be done without bankrupting anyone, or redistributing anyone’s private wealth makes it all the more attractive as a solution.

Under this plan, all debts would be reduced to zero. There would be no balances left on credit cards. This will put people at risk of bankruptcy on an even keel, and spark some buying amongst the people who have been waiting out the “recession” before buying that new car or truck. People who own their homes get to keep them, but must keep paying the mortgage. People with equity get to retain their equity. People who rent and are in debt would get debt forgiveness and a stipend of about $25,000 in Moonbucks, or Monopoly money to start them off.

Just think about it before you laugh. I am not advocating socialism, communism, or any other “ism” for that matter. I’m just trying to let everyone know that money is only valuable as long as we all agree to accept it as such. Meaning that money; when not backed by enough “precious” metals; is worthless, just as Moonbucks or Monopoloy money is. It only has purchasing power because you have it.

For those afraid that most people would choose not to work; be assured that their 25,000 “points” would cover the necessary expenses to keep those people out of poverty without costing you a cent. If they do decide to work, they get to add to that, increasing their purchasing power. Rich people remain rich without the necessity of having people living in the streets, or families without a roof over their heads.

Taxes would be a thing of the past as they are currently levied; you could go to a fee based economy instead; with those who work using their points towards roads and transportation to get them to work. The ones who choose to remain at home would still have access to light rail and buses which would be manned by the same people who man them now. So, if you have money, or a job, or both; you’re not threatened in anyway.

Well, it will probably never happen; although I do believe that it is the only alternative left. We have tried everything else to no avail, and the catchphrase “There has to be a certain amount of poor people for there to be rich people” is just not true. Imagine, under my plan, you could actually cut out the “money” printed here and spend it. Laugh if you will, but Melvin would understand. 

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