PUBLIC ASSISTANCE: Why Bother Working for a Living?
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE: Why Bother Working for a Living?

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE: Why Bother Working for a Living?

Annapolis, Maryland: Hammerhead Enterprises, Inc., 1980. Its detractors called Public Assistance racist and sexist, but the creators of the controversial board game said it just mirrors reality and a broken system that allows people to live off welfare rather than work for a living. Created by Robert Johnson, a small publisher, and Ron Pramschufer, a graphic designer, the board game was featured on The Today Show and hailed as one of the hottest games of the year by the New York Daily News. But leaders from the NAACP called the game racist and encouraged the public to boycott its purchase. The creators sued the head of the New York City Human Resources Division after he sent a letter to department and game stores, urging them not to stock the game. An appeal went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused in October 1983 to hear the case. Despite protests, Hammerhead Enterprises quickly sold out on its 15,000 first printing of the game. The game’s creators denied they were being racist or sexist. In a 1980 New York Daily News story, they said they came up with it one day after sitting around complaining about the system and decided to make a game of it. “America has become the land of the free handout,” Johnson said. “We’ve spent more money on the war on poverty than on Vietnam or World War II. Anyone who objects to the game because it mirrors reality too closely is supporting freeloading able-bodied people who won’t work.” In a 2011 political stunt, Johnson re-released a slightly modified online version of game and called it "Obozo's America: Why Bother Working for a Living?" He intended it as a way to graphically portray what he said was a key issue in the 2012 presidential election: (President Barack) Obama's ever expanding welfare state versus (Mitt) Romney's "an America that works." The object of both games is to accumulate the most money on 12 trips, representing months of the year, around the board, which has two paths: the able-bodied welfare recipient promenade and the working person’s rut. The best way to accumulate wealth is to remain on the welfare promenade but there is a danger of landing on certain spots that pull you onto the working person’s rut. Players begin with a $500 welfare grant and get rich by collecting illegitimate children, dealing drugs, and winning craps games. The board game is complete and includes: a folding game board, four player pieces and four identical player pieces representing live-in spouses, cardboard pieces representing illegitimate children, cardboard markers to use in front of players to keep track of the number of turns around the board, three dice, Working Person’s Burden cards, Welfare Benefit cards, bank notes and play money, and a four-page set of rules. Housed in a two-part box with some general wear and scuffing. Very good. Item #72060

Price: $300.00

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