Tag Archives: law

Monopoly – Changing the Face of Crime Games

Monopoly – Changing the Face of Crime Games

 bandit monopoly

Monopoly has been changed by Hasbro to reflect the times:  Even in some ways that they may not have planned that are quite ironic.

To start with, the concept of a “monopoly” is a business concept that is illegal in the United States so although most of us have not spent much time thinking about it, the game is fundamentally based on the idea of going around the legal system and building so much money and power that you impoverish the other players thereby gaining more and more wealth and taking over the whole board.

There are the struggles of the traditional version of the game such as paying other players, paying taxes, and getting sent to jail for several rounds (in some cases you have some power to “get out of jail free”, to get lucky and get out early or possibly buy your way out of jail).

I never thought about it before, but what a training ground for exactly the kind of business practices that got us into a global financial crisis.  Do whatever you can to make so much money and power that you can dominate some section of the world (even if that means impoverishing everyone else involved) by seeking to do things that are illegal or at least legally questionable.  During all of this you try to avoid the evils of paying others, paying taxes or getting sent to jail.  If you get sent to jail, you try to use your saved up influence to get out of jail free, get out early or to buy your way out of it.

The change they should probably make for this game is to call it “The Wall Street and Mortgage Lenders Game of Life”.  

The new changes made to the game are even more ironic in light of the past few years.  The big change that has been made to the game is removal of the “Jail” and the concept of going to jail.  Much like the concept of punishment for the people responsible for financial collapse in recent years.  You do not have to worry about going to jail and you can still collect your two-hundred dollars much like the financial folks who avoided any consequences and still received huge bonuses in the wake of destroying the worldwide economy and millions of lives.

I was thinking of writing this all off as a silly observation I can ramble about with someone over coffee, but I was struck by the idea in our culture of being above the law or not having consequences (even if you knowingly are bending the rules or breaking the law). 

The reason for this change is apparently to speed up the game to only take twenty-five to thirty minutes.  The modern child has a shorter attention span and apparently a busier schedule so the game has to be faster and shorter.  

So why not take out any semblance of consequences for undertaking an illegal activity in a game that promotes this illegal activity as the focus?  Let’s take the game “Cops and Robbers” and tell all the kids that it’s more fun to be the robber and make all the kids robbers and have no cops. 

I may be over-thinking all of this and the truth is:  I LOVE PLAYING MONOPOLY (even though the game does take forever), but I think that this may unwittingly reflect one of the worst aspects of our culture and put it into practice with our children who are the key target audience.  

Maybe my once youthful and different views of the world have given way to becoming the mainstream, “old fashioned” values of the mid twenty-one teens, but I do think that if I am going to play a game where my focus is to be the best there is at undertaking illegal activity I have to negotiate my way through the maze of avoiding the consequences of my actions.  After all, what fun is it to play a game of doing something illegal if there are no actual consequences to avoid.

Maybe, if my morals were truly in the right place, I would not want to play a game like Monopoly on principle, simply because it is a game promoting such bad parts of our culture and what destroys us, but I must be honest and admit that I love the game.  I suppose it makes me feel like it is okay because there is a jail that I can be sent to for these actions and it makes it a little harder to justify if that possibility is not there.

I am not sure how I am supposed to feel about this new version and it’s absence of the “Jail” but on several levels, it does make me uncomfortable

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Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

I have been curiously watching all of the posturing on gun laws/gun control and I think the first calm and rational discussions have started over the last twenty four hours most notably from the president himself.  I have yet to hear anything that sounds like a realistic solution to the challenge of gun control or a plausible solution to the rising violence in our country (which are not necessarily the same thing).

While I am not really in agreement with much of what is being said on both sides of this argument, I do agree that something needs to be done immediately.  I am writing this as entirely opinion and probably more about venting, but I know that there are very obvious middle grounds that all involved can rise to that is above all of the crazy of politics and the heat of the moment.

Excuse me for just thinking out loud and going off a rabbit trail, but since when has CNN become another news (I use the word “news” almost sarcastically) organization that promotes one side of an argument, either accidentally or intentionally becoming the propaganda machine of one party.  Even to the point of having several people from one side of an argument and one straw man for the other side who the host beats up.  It appears that the last hope of news that is not really propaganda has come under new management and is starting to “sell out” so to speak.

I know I have gone off on a rabbit trail, but let me explain how that is connected to all of this.  I was watching this Piers Morgan fellow do exactly what I just described and go off on some rants while beating up the straw man he had on his show to supposedly defent the right to bear arms.  The main basis of this argument was how Great Brittan has banned all guns and violence has gone down.

Immediately my head pulled back on my neck and my left eyebrow raised itself.  I flashed back to all of the news from my childhood of bombs and kidnappings.  My brain flashed on all of the ruckus around trashcans in London which had to be removed because they were too easy of a place to put bombs.  Suddenly, according to the oversimplification of Mr. Morgan, all of the problems of violence in Great Brittan were magically solved by making guns illegal.  Has it never occurred to him that there may be a whole lot more to any drop in violence that may have taken a lot longer than just passing that law took that all played a part in this and that minimizing it to outlawing guns altogether might force people to miss what really caused any positive changes.

My next thought (question) was:  “Were bombs and acts of terrorism made illegal in that law as well?”  Then I asked myself: “Were bombs legal in Great Britain before that?”

This opened a Pandora’s Box of distrust for both sides of this argument and forced me to step outside of the situation and take a perspective other than either extreme.

Then I listened to a few supposed experts proclaiming that if the teachers had guns this would have not happened.  My head shook itself before I even had a chance to process this.  The solution to violence at schools is to create the environment of an old Clint Eastwood movie where a person who is going to hurt children has the power to create the Okay Corral where there is battle/rain of bullets and magically the only person hurt would somehow only be the evil person.  This idea completely overestimates the ability of an average teacher (or any person for that matter, but in this case “a teacher”) to get to this weapon quickly, switch his/her mind over to “shoot to kill” mode without deep though, aim and shoot while under deep pressure and with very limited time in a way that incapacitates the person before that person hurts anyone.  The chances of all of this happening through the average citizen without some other disaster being created are astronomically unlikely.

Then, back on the political right, I have been aggravated for years and years by people describing the reason for banning “weapons of war” or assault rifles being that hunters do not need machine guns to hunt.  Why?  Because fully automatic weapons have been illegal since before I was born (i.e. machine guns) and are not an issue anyhow.  MACHINE GUNS ARE ALREADY ILLEGAL AND HAVE BEEN FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.  That also means that people in the media need to stop calling semi-automatic weapons, “automatic weapons”.  All of this is lying to sell an untruth.  Anyone who has a fully automatic, machine gun is already in ownership of something that is illegal and laws that have been spoken of as getting machine guns off of the street were being sold to us by people who are either lying to us or deeply uninformed.

There is more insanity on both sides that I have heard, but let’s get back to the point:

Starting with “the right to bear arms” in our United States Bill of Rights and Second Amendment of our constitution.  The NRA and extreme right wing keep disguising this as having something to do with hunting and collecting and so on.  The fact is that the founding fathers had felt that some of the previous corrupt governments of the worlds had been able to force their subjects into submission by having their militaries push around unarmed citizens as well as the fact that militias were the main first line of defense against outside invaders.

The idea that the constitutional argument has something to do with hunting rifles against weapons of war is incredibly ludicrous.  The law was put in place to allow the general population to have weapons of war period.  Both sides of the argument are arguing over a lie.

What the constitution does not say is that it should be okay for every person, no matter how mentally challenged, irresponsible or just plain stupid a person is can just go out and grab weapons of war at will.  As a matter of fact, it is probably allowable within all parts of the constitution to reasonably keep such people away from sharp objects and so on.

What I am getting at, is that according to the constitution and the intentions of those that penned those laws citizens in general are allowed to possess weapons of war.

That being the case, the only two options for addressing this issue that are not “unconstitutional” are to attempt to change the constitution or to put measures in place that are more discerning about who can get these weapons and how they are stored (while somehow not limiting the constitutional right of every citizen to possess weapons of war).

I am absolutely not a fan of making wholesale changes in the constitution for several reasons that are pretty involved, but to achieve a lot of what I have been hearing including bills to ban assault rifles and magazines that have certain capacities etc. can only legally be done by changing the constitution.  I say that because the basis of the arguments is that weapons of war are not for hunting and as such not covered by the Second Amendment.  The truth is that weapons of war are exactly what are covered by the Second Amendment so in truth, these bills and previous laws banning such firearms were legally unconstitutional by the intention and letter of the law of our constitution.

Much of what is going on is an attempt to under mine what is in the constitution.  While I do agree with some of the ideas, they are either constitutional or not.  So again I say, the only legal way to do much of what is proposed is to change the constitution and basically remove the right to bear arms (the right to bear weapons of war).

I am definitely leaned towards much tougher regulation and monitoring of who gets these weapons and how they are kept.

There are many of these laws in place in many parts of the country, but when you dig deeper you find that they are often not enforced and almost always have some massive loopholes that many who should not be getting these weapons use to arm themselves.  Much like people who have their licenses suspended in a big city yet they still drive, but far more dangerous and troubling.

Here a few points  I came up with that seem like they would have to be a part of this for any gun controls to be able to work:

  • Gun ownership has to be done in the same way that driver’s licenses and other licenses are issued by the states. – Gun ownership has to be licensed and renewed every few years and just like you cannot drive a car if you do not have a license, you can no longer legally own a gun if your license is suspended or revoked (there are some places that do some form of this currently).
  • I believe, EXTENSIVE background checks MUST be done on every person who purchases a weapon in the United States (even if it is purchased in parts at a gun show) which could be a part of the cost of the license renewal fee.
  • I would like to see a psychological evaluation of every person who purchases a weapon but even doing that at every license renewal would have an exorbitant cost and would be limited.  I do think that this may be a more serious consideration for the more dangerous weapons such as assault rifles etc. and that It may have to be a part of the financial responsibility of a person who wants to own this level of weapon.  (If there is a license to own weapons that must be renewed every four years, there can be a higher level of license that requires a psychological evaluation that needs to be done as part of each renewal)
  • There needs to be specific laws on how these weapons are stored and on who other than the owner of the weapons can access these weapons.  This needs to focus on some level of training/certification for children and appropriate age limits etc.  Spouses, significant others, domestic partners etc. must have their own certifications and if not, should not have access to these weapons.
  • There needs to be separate certifications to be able to carry a firearm or to have a firearm in some public setting (such as security guards, business owners etc.)
  • Being convicted of violent crimes, being admitted for psychological evaluation etc. should immediately mean the suspension of your license and require the surrendering of your weapons.  (I am not sure what happens to these weapons or who they are surrendered to due to the fact there may be reasons that some of these folks might be found perfectly fit and be able to get their license and weapons back, but it is a general idea).
  • Having an unstable or otherwise disqualified person in your home should require some kind of specific off site storage or suspension of your license.  Maybe private businesses that do just government approved gun storage that requires showing a gun owners license to get into your box etc.  The government would license and govern these too, but they would only be required for those that cannot safely have weapons in their homes or who would prefer to store them somewhere safer.

I have lots more that I could add, but I think that these ideas as a framework might be a good compromise and a great way to start to turn the tide on this issue.

I do believe also that there is much more to all of this than just guns however.  Explosives can be made of just about anything, guns can be acquired illegally pretty easily in the area in which I live (just as illegal drugs are everywhere in our big cities and the war on drugs struggles to even put a dent in it).  People with major psychological problems are roaming the streets of our cities with no supervision and minimal help if any.  Our society has grown more and more addicted to extreme violence and enjoys being angry at someone or something.

In other words, I do not believe that better gun laws or eliminating guns all together will solve all violence, but I do believe that we should not be easily arming every person in our country no matter how dangerous or disturbed.

The mother of this person (who I am not using his name on purpose) apparently was fairly responsible and otherwise responsible with her weapons, but there were no protections in place that would keep another individual (in this case a person with deep emotional and psychological issues) from coming into her home and stealing them from her to kill her and several children.  I do not feel that this kind of safety has been sufficiently addressed or discussed in all of this.

This is really about me venting and trying to step out of all of the rhetoric of both sides and try to take a look at this within the framework of the constitution.  I do leave you with these thoughts:

If you want to eliminate guns or “weapons of war” you are asking for a change in the constitution (which is possible, but not likely and in many cases unwise).

If you do not want much tougher controls on who has access to guns then you are a shrinking minority and do not reflect the will of the American people.  You also may have slept through the last couple of weeks of news.

Let’s all come together and do something sensible and constitutional that best guarantees our safety and the safety of our children because lives are more important than laws, lives are the reason for the laws, and lives are way more important than party politics.

No More $36.00 Candy & $39.00 Espresso

Another post from a while ago…..

Have you ever gone to the ATM machine to take out twenty dollars and later find out that that was really an overdraft and there was a fee of thirty or thirty-five dollars?  Or have you ever decided to make a real small purchase from a local store or from the dollar menu of your nearest fast food place and not realizing that you were out of money in your account turned a one or two dollar purchase into a thirty five dollar KitKat or McDouble?

Welcome to one of the greatest sources of revenue that many banks have; our ignorance or inability to balance our accounts.  It happens to everybody and our ignorance is the banks blessing.

The truth is we all had been given a this special “service” that many banks provide in which they will, in the unlikely event that I make a mistake with my balance, pay whatever I am trying to get and charge me a small fee for this service.

The thing that makes it hard to believe is that I could accidently bring my account to zero without noticing and then make several small purchases (lets say a dollar each) and incur a thirty-five dollar fee for each purchase.

Lets look at what that means.  Lets say I take 5 trips to the local gas station and get a one dollar coffee after my account has reached zero.

 5 $1.00 purchases X $35.00 fee each = $180.00

 That’s one hundred, seventy-five dollars ($175.00) profit that goes to the bank for loaning me five dollars ($5.00).

This great service that the banks are doing for me is an automatic part of many bank accounts you open in the United States.  In some cases it has been a service, but in many cases it has been a terrible punishment for a simple mistake. 

There are new laws in the works that will make two huge changes to this system.

The first change is that this “overdraft protection” has to be optional and a person opening an account has to opt in to this program.  Any person who does not want to have “overdraft protection” will have to have the option to opt out.

The other big change has to do with ATM withdrawals.  If a withdrawal is going to overdraft a person’s account the ATM machine is going to have to tell the person and inform the person of the fee that will be imposed.  In this manner the person is choosing at the time if he or she in fact wants to use this service or not.

Is this the end of the thirty-six dollar candy bar or the thirty-nine or forty dollar cup of coffee?  I have my doubts.  But I do believe that these new laws will at least allow people to chose if they want to spend a bunch of money they do not have and to chose if it is worth thirty-five dollars in fees for whatever they are trying to buy at the time.