Random musings on life, the universe and nothing in particular...
Saturday, January 24, 2004
On March 23, 1903, Lizzie J. Magie, a young Quaker woman living in Virginia, applied to the US Patent Office for a patent on a board game she had invented as an easy, fun-filled method of teaching the evils of land monopolism. Lizzie Magie was an ardent follower of the single tax movement originated by Philadelphia-born Henry George, who began preaching in San Francisco circa 1869 that the economic rent of land and the unearned increase in land values profited a few individuals rather than the majority of the people, whose very existence produced the land values. He therefore advocated a single tax, on land alone, to meet all the costs of government. He thought this would erode the power of monopolies to suppress competition, and equalize opportunities.
That was all heady, abstractly theoretical stuff for plain working folks to comprehend. So, Lizze Magie decided to teach it through her playtime invention, which she called "The Landlord's Game." She got her patent on January 5, 1904. It's registered as number 740,626 in the US Patent Office. Copies of the original game board are still available.