A Monopoly™ story, why you can’t see dollars, and why federal tax dollars are destroyed.

Last month, we published the post, “The text of a speech I never will give to my friends at our country club, because they probably won’t believe me, and who needs the aggravation?”

In the post, we said, “The U.S. dollar is not a physical entity. The dollar is a legal entity. It is a group of laws. You can’t see, smell, taste, feel, or hear a dollar any more than you can see, smell, taste, feel, or hear a law.”

The purpose of that paragraph was to help readers visualize why the federal government has absolute control over the U.S. dollar and its value, and why the federal government cannot run short of dollars.

After all, if something has no physical existence, the creator of that thing cannot run short.

Therefore, warnings that the federal government owes too many dollars, or can run short of dollars, make absolutely no sense. It is like warning that the federal government will run short of laws or lies. The government has an infinite supply.

To help readers visualize the concept, we gave the example of the board game Monopoly™.

As you probably know Monopoly™ usually is played by 3-6 players. The object of the game is to make money by buying and selling real estate, and to accomplish this purpose, the game gives players various tokens, dice, instruction cards, and play dollars.

To begin the game, a mythical “Banker” provides each player with an equal amount of play dollars.

One day, four of us wished to play, but when we opened the game box, everything was there except the play dollars.

So we created this table to keep track of the Monopoly™ “economy”:

monopoly 4.png
At this stage of the game, the “economy” had 20,000 dollars

It was a simple sheet of paper, containing a four-column table. At the top of each column, we wrote the name of one player.

Then, on the first line, under each player’s name, we wrote “5,000.” That showed how many dollars each player had.

We could have written any number, but we arbitrarily decided that the Bank should give each player 5,000 dollars.

In real-world terms,  this corresponded to a total of 20,000 in deficit spending by the Bank, which added 20,000 dollars into the economy.

By rule, players take turns rolling dice, and at each roll, players may receive other moneys from the Bank, and/or pay the Bank for real estate, taxes, and other penalties.

So money flows back and forth from player to player, and to and from players to the Bank.

In the game’s first transaction Alice paid the Bank 100 dollars for a piece of property.

To memorialize the transaction, we deducted 100 dollars from Alice’s column, leaving her with 4,900 dollars.

Monopoly 3 - Copy.png
Now, the money supply of the “economy” is 19,900 dollars.

In total, the money supply of the “economy” fell to 19,900.

But what about the Bank? It received 100 from Alice. But the Bank had no column.

Two questions: Where did that 100 Alice paid to the Bank go? And how much money did the Bank have?

The answers to those two questions lead to the central points of this post.

Where Is The Bank’s Money and How Much Does It Have?
The game’s rules specifically state that the Bank never can run out of money. (The rules even suggest cutting up pieces of paper, if necessary, and using them as Monopoly dollars.)

So again, where did Alice’s dollars go when she paid the Bank? Answer: The Monopoly™ dollars were destroyed. They ceased to exist.

And how much money did the Bank have? Answer: It has none but can create infinite.

Payments to the Bank cannot enrich the Bank; it can create infinite money at any time. Payments to the Bank serve only to impoverish the players. That is the sole effect and the sole purpose of payments to the Bank.

Similarly, payments from the Bank, which the Bank can make endlessly, enrich the players but do not impoverish the Bank. Infinity minus any number still is infinity.

Thus, the Monopoly™ game provides an interesting, simplified corollary to the U.S. financial system.

Players can be thought of as the real people in the United States who pay dollars to, and receive dollars from, the U.S. federal government.

The Monopoly™ Bank resembles the U.S. federal government, and the players correspond to the U.S. economy.

  1. The rules of the game correspond to the laws of the U.S.
  2. Both the Bank and the U.S. government create dollars from thin air, simply by spending dollars into the economy.
  3. Both receive tax dollars that are destroyed upon receipt.
  4. Both can run deficits endlessly, and these deficits enrich the players (the “economy”), while deficits do not impoverish the Bank or the federal government.
  5. For both the Bank and the U.S. federal government, debt and borrowing are meaningless, as they do not provide spending funds to the Bank or to the government.
  6. Any amount of money owed by the Bank or the U.S. government can be paid instantly. Neither can run short of dollars. Neither needs to ask for tax dollars.

Although the Bank pays out far more dollars than it takes in (just like the U.S. federal government does), the players are not concerned that the Bank’s deficits are “unsustainable,” no matter how large they may grow.

Like the Monopoly Bank, the U.S. federal government does not borrow dollars. Why would it? It has the unlimited ability to create dollars from thin air.

What erroneously is termed “U.S. federal borrowing,” actually is the acceptance of deposits into Treasury Security Accounts. This so-called “borrowing” does not provide spending funds to the government. The government can create infinite spending funds.

The purposes of accepting deposits into federal T-security accounts are:

  1. To provide a safe place to “park” unused dollars, which helps stabilize the dollar, and
  2. To assist the Federal Reserve in its task of controlling interest rates.

And the purposes of federal taxes are not to provide the government with spending money, of which it has infinite, but rather:

  1. To control the economy by rewarding activities the federal government wishes to encourage and by punishing the activities the government wishes to discourage, and
  2. To make the populace believe the government’s ability to spend is limited by taxes, so that the people will not ask for more benefits.

The rules of Monopoly™ provides players with regular payments of 200 dollars when their tokens pass “Go.” These payments serve to enrich the players and the MonopolyImage result for monopoly game go “economy.”

The makers of the game could have decided on payments of any size — 10 dollars or 1,000 dollars, the Bank could afford anything — but arbitrarily settled on 200 dollars.

The purpose of the 200 dollar payments is to energize the “economy” by injecting dollars into it. Without the additional dollars, the economy could not grow.

Similarly, the U. S. federal government makes regular Social Security payments. These payments, which enrich the populace and the economy, could be of any size — the federal government can afford anything — but lately, benefits have been reduced.

The government arbitrarily collects taxes on benefits and delays benefits past the original age of 65.

Why would the U.S. federal government, which can afford anything, invent false claims that Social Security, an agency of the federal government, is running short of money? Why would the government reduce benefits that enrich the populace and the economy?

One might think the government would want to do the opposite. But there are reasons:

  1. The Monopoly™ “Pass Go” payment is not more than 200 dollars only because the creators felt that would lengthen the game too much. The Bank easily could afford any level of payment.
  2. The Social Security payments are not higher or extended to more people, because the very rich, who run America, do not want the Gap between them and the rest of Americans to be narrowed. The U.S. Treasury easily could afford any level of payment.

The game of Monopoly™ provides an interesting corollary to the U.S. federal government and the U.S. economy. The Monopoly™ Bank mirrors the U.S. federal government, and the players represent the economy.

The U.S. federal government originally created laws that created an arbitrary number of U.S. dollars from thin air, and gave them an arbitrary value.

Today, the U.S. government retains the power to create an arbitrary number of dollars from thin air and to give them any value it wishes.

Thus, being Monetarily Sovereign, i.e. sovereign over the U.S. dollar, the government can control the U.S. money supply and the value of the dollar (U.S. inflation).

Like the Monopoly™ Bank, the federal government can sustain any level of deficit spending. It also can set any level of T-security issuance (wrongly termed “borrowing”).

Federal deficit spending is necessary to grow the U.S. economy, and claims that federal spending and federal debt are harmful or unsustainable are false.

Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

Alan Greenspan: “Central banks can issue currency, a non-interest-bearing claim on the government, effectively without limit. A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”

St. Louis Federal Reserve: “As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e.,unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets (borrowing) to remain operational.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


5 thoughts on “A Monopoly™ story, why you can’t see dollars, and why federal tax dollars are destroyed.

  1. The math is wrong for the first transaction. You have Alice buying the property for 1000 instead of 100. A typo no doubt, but either the 4,900 needs to be changed or the 1000 needs to be changed in order to make sense.


  2. Ever wonder exactly how ownership started long ago and why? Also, the whole idea of interest (making money with money) needs to be explained, i.e. exactly when or where it started. As I was taught money became necessary as a neutral medium for transacting business on account of language barriers, and the failure of barter as an exact system for determining value between disparate goods. I don’t feel interest evolved at the same time money evolved, historically. It had to come later, but what were the circumstances gradually leading up to it other than simply saying “greed.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s