Sarah, Sarah’s Baby, Bob and Seamus are playing Monopoly. The baby is winning with nearly all of the money and property. Seamus rolls the dice and ends up pushing his token (A pencil) onto a property with a hotel on it. Baby laughs and claps. Seamus: Ah, seriously?! 1500?! Will you accept this shiny piece of candy instead??? Baby shakes his head no. Seamus grumbles and hands over the money. Sarah: Well, looks like we’re all bankrupt. Bob: So one person ends up with everything and the rest of us STARVE? I would say that’s a pretty good lesson in economics! Seamus: Except- it’s actually a really bad one! Bob: Huh? Sarah: What? Baby: Gaga? Seamus: I’ll admit, Monopoly is a lot of fun, but it’s not as instructive a teaching tool for learning about a market economy as some people think. Its fundamental flaw is that it’s molded around the “Fixed Pie” fallacy of economics! Sarah: Really? We’re debunking board games now? Seamus: I wish this was just about board games! But unfortunately, the fixed pie fallacy extends far beyond your tabletop pass times! The misguided view that wealth exists as a quantifiable and fixed figure is all too pervasive. But wealth isn’t simply something static which is eventually divided up among us- it’s something we’re constantly creating more of! If you were to look to the kinds of goods and services that existed 500, 250 and 100 years ago it would be immediately obvious how much new wealth is created for everyone overtime! But whereas the fixed pie view would suggest everyone but a select few should be bankrupt, the reality is everyone has become exponentially more wealthy! In fact, according to Gary Burtless of The Brookings Institute, between 1979 and 2010, the income of those in the bottom 1/5th has grown by 50%! Yet because of the pervasive fixed pie fallacy and other economic myths, nearly 3/4ths of Americans believe that the opposite is true! They believe the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer, but according to the Data, EVERYONE is getting richer! Sarah: I think I get it- if one believed there was only a fixed amount of wealth and no new wealth could be created, everytime someone else generated wealth they would have to assume it was taken from someone else!? Seamus: Bingo! The argument is frequently made that the particularly wealthy only have what they have because they’ve taken from others, and it’s the government's job to stop people from amassing too much wealth to prevent this from happening. But when that happens, what is often actually being prevented is the creation of new wealth! And so everyone suffers! Bob: Well I’m suffering over the fact that a baby whupped me at a board game. Sarah’s husband, Ronald enters frame. Ronald: Aw, look who has all the money! It was sweet of you guys to let him win. Seamus: Uh… yeah… Sarah: Totally… let him win….

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About this show

Short videos with a punchy, comedic tone and entertaining Socratic characters taking on trending issues and important concepts from a classical liberal perspective, written & animated by Seamus Coughlin.

Monopoly Might be Zero-Sum, but Wealth Isn't.

January 29, 2019

In this episode Seamus and the gang play Monopoly and discuss the fixed-pie fallacy - the least savory of all economic tropes.

Written by Seamus Coughlin & Jennifer Maffessanti
Animated by Seamus Coughlin
Produced by Sean W. Malone

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