Friday, November 30, 2007

Funny Money

I’ve been looking for a villain in the current credit/sub-prime mortgage crisis—stupid borrowers or greedy lenders—and I think I’ve finally settled on the culprit: Hasbro.

Perhaps you’ve missed the toy company’s ads for the new Monopoly Electronic Banking edition. Allow me to fill you in. “Wheel and deal your way to a fortune even faster using debit cards instead of cash!” the promotional copy exclaims. “Collect rent, buy properties & pay fines—with the touch of a button!”

Not only does this take most of the fun out of the game—raise your hand if you always wanted to be the banker—but it also eliminates the game’s underlying common sense. Remember the sick feeling of landing on Boardwalk when the property was still available, but you couldn’t swing the purchase price? Aargh—Mediterranean Ave. is a crappy consolation prize. Or maybe your brother owned this prime piece of real estate, and you couldn’t afford the rent. Either way, you knew exactly where you stood just by looking at your dwindling pile of funny money—too many pink and white Monopoly bills, not enough gold.

No more. Nowadays, pretty much every transaction has gone cashless—I’ve seen customers at Walgreens pull out the plastic for a pack of gum. It’s like not spending money at all until people suddenly discover they’ve been living well beyond their means. Apparently Hasbro believes this is a fantastic habit to promote among children.


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