#39: “Monopoly Money”

Posted Thoughts

Last weekend, I visited my family in Laois. On Sunday, the seven of us sat down to a evening of the world’s favourite board-game – how very retro! As the game developed, I managed to negotiate an elaborate swap with both my father and sister to secure the red trio of properties and thus, the potential to develop them. This deal severely depleted my cash reserves but I felt if I was to have a chance to compete, it was a necessary trade-off. Two rounds of the board later, during which I had safely avoided my father’s and brother’s hotels, I decided it was time to go for broke. It was time to gamble. I mortgaged all my properties with the exception of the red trio and Dublin Airport which I sold to my sister for 800. Most of the players were coming round to my area of the board so I put every penny i had into houses and hotels. If one of them landed on my property, I would make 60% of my money back and if two of them did, I would be in profit for this high-risk, high-yield move.

Over the course of the next ten minutes, they all miraculously rolled the exact numbers necessary to fall between or skip past my hotel strip. Suddenly the dice were handed back to me. I rolled a 9 and landed on chance – Oooooh how exciting, I thought. Maybe some advance to GO action. Nearly but not quite. ADVANCE TO SHREWSBURY ROAD – the Irish Monopoly’s purple flagship property, where the housing developer (My Father) had recently taken a similar risk to me and erected a beautiful and expensive 5-star hotel. My father jumped up and down making animal sounds (a display unbefitting his 55 years) His gamble had paid off (or so it seemed) and I was broke. Unable to stump up the cash to pay him, I went into receivership. After a brief foreclosure sale of my assets, I declared myself a bad debt and gave him everything I had (less than a third of the payment he was due). Nonetheless, he pumped his chest like a horny gorilla.

Well I was barely off my chair when he took his turn, rolling an 8. COMMUNITY CHEST. He picked up the card. YOU ARE ASSESSED FOR STREET REPAIRS: £40 PER HOUSE, £115 PER HOTEL. He yelled in pain. He owned 20 houses and 5 hotels. I rushed back to the table to fulfill my banking duties. “That will be 1345 please. Oh no, you don’t seem to have the cash – let me help you sell your hotels and houses.” Having given up over half of his empire in one fell swoop, I reminded him that he had rolled a double and had to go again. This time a 9. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…..NO! Grafton Street, his wife’s green property adorned with a charming 4-star hotel. “That’ll be 1650″, said Kate and with that he was cleaned out. GG!

Over the past decade, investment bankers have behaved more like Blackjack players, stockbrokers like crapshooters. Politicians have enabled them and the general public have demonstrated unparalleled greed. There is currently 3 times as much retail space in Ireland as there needs to be. There is perhaps more in America. Over the next 18 months, the face of Ireland will change significantly. Recently developed shopping parks will be turned into warehouses. The value of property will continue to decline. 20% of the country will be unemployed. Free College education will be scrapped. Funding for the Arts will be halfed. Public transport will deteriorate (further). Restaurants and bars will close. Starbucks might even leave (So not all bad news then!) As of yesterday, the Irish people own Anglo-Irish Bank (the John Wayne of cowboy banks) and the nationalisation of many others big companies is on the horizon. With that, the nation is taking on the burden of these ‘toxic skip’ companies because a great number of over-paid fuckwits didn’t do their jobs responsibly.

With our tails between our legs, my father and I retired to the sittingroom to watch a bit of TV. The news was reporting on the knock-on effect of the closure of Waterford Crystal – the supply companies, the tourism centre, the deli on the corner all out of business. My father and I had chanced our arms in the hope of getting rich quick. We rolled the dice and came up craps. Our mistake was we didn’t think about consequences. We didn’t manage our risk well. Would we learn from our mistakes the next time we played? Probably not. And why should we? Sure, it’s only a game.