09 December 2014

Game of Life

Game Objective: “have the highest dollar amount at the end of the game.”

So I played this game with my daughter when she was of elementary age. There are several decisions that have to be made early in the game: [1] whether to go to college and take on debt with expectations of a higher salary, or to work right away with a reduced salary, [2] whether to buy a house with more debt, or not, and [3] whether to buy auto/home insurance, or to just risk it. Along the path, one may get married, have kids, pay unexpected taxes, pay for summer camps, win the lottery, have a skiing accident, buy a HDTV, have cosmetic surgery, collect an inheritance, have an auto accident, lose a job, have house flooded or hit by a tornado, pay for kids’ college, get a tax refund, win the Nobel Prize, pay for day care, have the stock market crash, get car stolen, pay for a cruise, buy a sailboat, have a mid-life crisis, need a life-saving operation, collect a pension, and eventually retire. Upon retirement, the house gets sold, the debt gets settled, and the money is tallied. And whoever retires with the most money wins the game.

Though my daughter was thrilled to win, she was concerned that the “Game of Life” mimics the real game of life, hoping there’s more to the game of life than just making the most money, ah, youth and idealism.

So, now we’re going to play Monopoly where the objective is “to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.”

A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard, 1990
In all free-enterprise attitudes there is a strong tendency to believe that the more money, either as income or assets, of which he is associated, the deeper and more compelling his economic and social perception, the more astute and penetrating his mental processes. Money is the measure of capitalistic achievement. The more money, the greater the achievement and the intelligence that it supports.

The Great Crash 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard, 1954

In the autumn of 1929, the mightiest of Americans were, for a brief time, revealed as human beings. Like most humans, most of the time, they did some very foolish things. On the whole, the greater the earlier reputation for omniscience, the more serene the previous idiocy, the greater the foolishness now exposed. Things that in other times were concealed by a heavy facade of dignity now stood exposed, for the panic suddenly, almost obscenely, snatched this facade away.

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