- (Photo: Robert Johnson)
Robert Johnson, one of the creators of a 1980s board game that mocked the government welfare system, says nearly 150,000 of the games sold before different agencies managed to set up a boycott against it. Now he's re-released the game under a new title, “Obozo's America: Why Bother Working for a Living?”which, in addition to welfare programs, also attacks President Barack Obama.
The goal of the game is to accumulate as much money as possible through welfare benefits, all while trying to avoid the spaces that force players to “Get a Job” and pay for others' welfare benefits.
Players begin with a “welfare grant” of $1,000 then move along “Obozo's Welfare Promenade” while accumulating money by producing children out of wedlock, committing “Saturday Night” crimes involving armed robbery, prostitution, gambling and drugs, or by finding a job for their live-in partner on the “Government Cakewalk.”
Some of the game's play money is imprinted with the image of Karl Marx, and on each of the game cards is the image of Obozo the Marxist Clown, a cartoon image of a clown that has Barack Obama's face.
"The game mirrors reality ... We didn't invent this game, government liberals did. We just put it in a box," said Johnson, a resident of Maryland, in an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
According to a 2009 article posted by Johnson on AmericanThinker.com, he and his partner created the game as young businessmen who were frustrated with government taxes and regulations. He says that the game embarrassed liberals, who contacted the headquarters for major retail chains and told them to boycott it.
Organizations like the American Public Welfare Association, now the American Public Human Services Association, sought to stop the game from being sold, he says, so he filed lawsuits against multiple organizations at federal district courts in both New York City and Baltimore, Md., over the issue. Nothing came of the suits, however, and they were pursued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court but were denied a hearing.
The organizations accused Johnson of putting out a game that is racist, sexist and classist. But he says that isn't the case. The game mocks those who commit welfare fraud, who are able-bodied but too lazy to work, he says, not those who are disabled or who are truly in need of welfare assistance.
"The game's focus is to show you what liberalism really is. It's all about taking from the productive members of society and creating a dependent underclass to give that money to.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2010 was up to 15.1 percent following three consecutive years of increase.
Hilary Shelton, the NAACP's senior vice president for advocacy and policy, told The Christian Post on Wednesday that the game has a “lean” toward mocking racial and ethnic minorities, not only because of its theme but also because of how it portrays the president.
"It was racist and classist then and that is racist and classist now, but to add a caricature of the first African-American president of the United States as a Bozo-style clown ... I think plays on other stereotypes as well and makes a direct association ... a racist association," he said.
The game is “racially insensitive, to say the least," he said.
Pastor David Orr of Weems Creek Church in Annapolis says Johnson's mockery of the president may not have violated the biblical mandate to submit to government authorities, but says that it doesn't help his cause.
“This is the kind of mockery that does not further the debate in a meaningful way,” Orr told CP. “It reinforces the caricature of welfare many have but does not further the debate with those on the other side. This kind of thing has a polarizing effect. This game will not contribute to meaningful change.”