Banning a game

In 1980, as young businessmen frustrated with government rules and taxes, my partner and I produced and marketed a board game called "Public Assistance: Why Bother Working for a Living?" We intended the game as a parody of government liberalism, with a special focus on the able-bodied loaferism, welfare fraud, and social chaos its domestic policies promote. Threatened by the game's popularity, embarrassed liberals successfully implemented a nationwide government plan to "remove the game from the marketplace."

We'll first look at the game itself, then at the plan to ban it, and finally, at how the game and the banning of it relate directly to the goals of Barack Obama.

View game board here.

The Rules of the Game

The object for the players is to accumulate as much money as possible in 12 circuits around the board, each lap representing a month. Players start with a $1000 grant at the welfare office on the "Able-bodied Welfare Recipient's Promenade."

The able-bodied welfare recipient then collects money by having out-of-wedlock children, playing the lottery and the horses, drawing "Welfare Benefit" cards, stealing hubcaps, and making profitable side trips into the four "Saturday Night" crimes: drug dealing, gambling, prostitution and armed robbery.

Players unfortunate enough to land on one of the "Get a Job" blocks have to move out of the Welfare Promenade and into the "Working Person's Rut." There, they usually experience an unending series of bills, meager paychecks, discrimination, and welfare taxes. Instead of drawing "Welfare Benefit" cards, they draw from a stack of "Working Person's Burdens."

Both able-bodied loafers and those in the Working Person's Rut have opportunities to land a high-pay and no-work job for their other playing piece, representing their live-in or spouse, on the "Government Cake Walk." To mimic American reality, we made it so that the only way a player's live-in or spouse can be removed from the lucrative Cake Walk is to land on the square that says, "You are conscience-stricken. Quit government job."

The "Jail Jaunt" rounds out the liberal reality represented by the game. Saturday night criminals must move there if they get caught in one of their illegal acts. With one roll, "Social worker rehabilitates you," for example, they're right back at the welfare office ready to collect a fistful of dollars and resume their strut on the Welfare Promenade.

Our lampoon was based on street knowledge and common sense. My partner and I saw ourselves more as packaging experts than game inventors. We often told people, "We didn't invent this game; government liberals did. We just put it in a box."

The trade publication "Giftware News" called it "the most original game of the decade, if not the century." We soon had national publicity and orders from retailers all over America. That's when government liberals, threatened with ongoing merited ridicule, put into operation their ultimately successful nationwide plan to "remove the game from the marketplace."

The Government Plan to Ban the Welfare Game

In the fall of 1980, Ron and I, along with most Americans, had never heard of The American Public Welfare Association (APWA), the nerve center of America's welfare empire. (In 1987, APWA changed its name to The American Public Human Services Association, or APHSA, but I will continue to refer to them as APWA). Its board of directors is made up mostly of the welfare commissioners of state and local welfare agencies. APWA pushes relentlessly for expansion of the welfare empire and its "progressive" agenda by skewing welfare data to make it look like more funding is always needed, by manipulating bills through various Congressional committees, by translating welfare laws into the welfare rules that the various executive agencies use to dole out government largesse, and by propagandizing in the media.

When APWA meets public opposition in a certain program, it holds its ground there, while pushing hard to expand other welfare programs not under public scrutiny. The majority of its budget comes from taxes in the form of dues that the state and local welfare agencies pay annually. The APWA bureaucrats who run the welfare empire are not elected by the public; they are not even appointed by elected officials. They elect themselves.

APWA first sent its plan to ban the welfare game on November 19th, 1980 to the welfare "CEO's of states" (their term) in the form of an "action alert," then to all members of the APWA, about 10,000 in number, including all state and local welfare agencies from the Virgin Islands to Alaska and from Maine to Hawaii, in its December, 1980 newsletter, Washington Report. This is what it said:

An Open Letter to All APWA Members from Executive Director Edward T. Weaver

I am writing this letter to alert you to a new board game entitled, "Public Assistance: Why Bother Working for a Living?" This game is described in the accompanying article.

I agree with Secretary Harris [Jimmy Carter's HUD Sceretary, Patricia Roberts Harris], the NAACP, and the National Organization for Women that the game is callous, racist, sexist, and a "vicious brand of stereotyping." We, who are part of the reality of public welfare, understand the myths that surround the work we do and the people we serve. This game, however, plays out the basest forms of this mythology; we must not let it go unchallenged. I encourage you, as concerned APWA members, to take the following course of action:

1. Do an informal survey to see if the game is being sold in your area. If it is not, keep a watchful eye and initiate the actions in No. 2 below if it appears. You may be able to join with others to contact store owners/managers to discourage buying.

2. If the game is available in your area:

a. Don't buy it yourself. Let your friends know that it is not a "cute" holiday gift.

b. Spread the word to other interested groups (welfare rights advocates, civil rights groups, and women's groups).

c. Either alone or in combination with the groups identified in "b" contact the store owner, manager and/or buyer to explain why the game is offensive and should not be carried.

d. Keep us informed of your efforts

As executive director of the American Public Welfare Association, I feel an obligation to you and to the mission we commonly serve to alert you to the "Public Assistance" game and to suggest the course of action I have outlined. If there are any questions that I, or APWA staff, can answer for you or information that we can share, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We at APWA headquarters will be doing what we can, in conjunction with our Washington colleagues, to remove the game from the marketplace.

Implicit in the efforts to ban the game is the totalitarian notion that the American people are too stupid to know which games are worthy of their own independent purchase. The welfare game had to be forced off the market for the good of the taxpayer! You can read the full story of the banning of the game and our unsuccessful efforts to fight the government in court here.

Obama and the Welfare Game

Let me make just four points, out of the scores that could be made here.

First, ACORN is the NAACP, NOW, ACLU, and other "welfare rights advocates" all rolled into one, funded by you and me to facilitate the expansion of the welfare empire and its socialist/Marxist agenda. Obama was, and still is, an advocate for ACORN. That means he is an advocate for the suppression of free speech and free press. The only "civil right" Obama honors is the "right" of some to fare well at the involuntary expense of the productive members of society.

Second, the American Public Human Services Association, or APHSA (formerly the APWA) runs a half-a-trillion-dollar welfare empire. Had you ever heard of this fourth branch of government and its elitist parasites before? They, or an affiliated group, will run Obama "Care."

Third, like the APHSA, the Obama administration is determined to maintain its power through propaganda, agitation, and projection. The false "racist" attack worked against us and our game in 1980, and it still works today.

Fourth, the welfare game board graphically portrays Obama's destructive vision for American society. The hundred-dollar bill in the game pictures Karl Marx with the motto "Equality Taxation Poverty." Is that not Obama's unspoken goal?

Obama and his ilk cannot stand criticism, especially the ridicule they so richly deserve. Without advertising, I still sell a fair number of digitally printed versions of the welfare game at Perhaps it is time for an Obama version of the welfare game that sells in the millions.

Mr. Johnson, a West Point grad and an airborne ranger infantry veteran of Viet Nam, is the author of "The Parthenon Code: Mankind's History in Marble" and "Noah in Ancient Greek Art." His Web sites are and
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