Capitalism works pretty well for industries that don’t deal with monopolies, like the tech industry (putting aside the issue of patents). The real lesson of Monopoly is that private ownership of land is monopolistic, and leads to massive inequality based on how much land one accumulates as early as possible. This was actually the intended message of the creator (see the game’s history), who was a follower of Henry George, known for his proposal to replace all other taxes with a full tax on land value. When landlords profit from their land, they fight for zoning that maximizes the value of their monopoly, often at the expense of the community.

The catastrophic situation in SF should be a reminder of George’s lessons. Repealing Prop 13 and increasing land taxation would realign incentives, and allow capitalism to work for housing as much as it does for tech.

Written by

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.

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