The following letter (kindly translated into English by my colleague David Perazzoni) was sent to the American Ambassador in Rome by seven Italian MPs (Michele Anzaldi, Marina Berlinghieri, Matteo Biffoni, Luigi Bobba, Lorenza Bonaccorsi, Federico Gelli, Ernesto Magorno), who apparently belong to the "moderate" segment of the Italian Left. It was published yesterday by the leading Italian newspaper, Corriere della sera. The letter deals with a pressing political problem, clearly vital to the future of Italy, Europe and the world:the commercialization by Hasbro of the new Monopoly Empire. We are still waiting for the Ambassador's response.
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
In the last few weeks the sub-prime mortgages scandal--which in 2008 led the stock market to crash and started a severe economic crisis that still ails Europe, the U.S. and other parts of the world--is back in the news.
The U.S. Government has condemned Bank of America and even President Obama stated that going back to a system based on bubbles fated to deflate, a system that caused the financial crisis, is inadmissible. We wish to paraphrase the President's philosophy, as stated in December 2009, just few months after the crash in Wall Street: new rules for the financial world are needed, that rein in the unbridled greed that generated this crisis--a disaster that might have been prevented, if only new rules for Wall Street and the fortitude to enforce them were available. Speculators are getting back in the stock market, the well-known fleecers, but we shall not allow it.
In the last few days, however, in blatant contrast with the ethos proclaimed by the President, Hasbro announced the launch of a new version of the long-established game "Monopoly." In this new incarnation, the traditional houses and hotels are replaced by blocks of shares of great multinational corporations. Dealing in real estate is thus replaced by speculation in the stock market and--particularly worrying--the "Jail" corner disappears.
Whereas the White House, displaying realism and wisdom, emphasizes securities fraud and the abuse of financial instruments, "Monopoly"--a game that since generations has introduced children to the mechanisms of the free market--goes to praise the "turbo-economy" that led to the 2008 financial crisis, adding to boot the noxious message that players who break the rules do no longer need to go into jail. This is, by the way, in stark contrast with reality in the United States, where financial crimes are indeed punished with jail time.
We deem the United States to be a veritable beacon for its consumer protection rules and our country has often followed its example in the social struggles for a greater protection for our citizens. For this reason we'd like to ask you whether it is the case for the relevant authorities to consider the appropriate measures, or at the very least to declare their censure of the new "Monopoly," a game distributed all over the world and, quite obviously, in Italy.