The Hunger Games Proposal
November 25, 2013
Fans of the Hunger Games know what “The Capitol” is. It’s the capital of the nation of Panem, and the center of all power, wealth, food, and comfort. The privileged people living in The Capitol bask in a fullness of life while impoverished citizens of the 12 Districts of Panem struggle to eek out a meager existence working in whatever type of labor their District specializes in.
Some Districts produce crops, some mining, others electronics. Interestingly, since Panem encompasses a dystopian future North America, each District models a region of the US. For example, the technology District is clearly modeled after Silicon Valley while the coal producing District 12 resembles West Virginia.
The people of the District send their goods to serve The Capitol its needs and wants. Fine food and opulence are the staple of life in The Capitol. All the while, heavily armed “peacekeeper” make sure that the people in the District understand who is in charge.
As readers know, when the people of District 13 rebelled against Panem, a rebellion was beaten back ferociously (especially since District 13 made bombs and weapons) and the leaders in The Capitol suppressed the District completely. As a lesson to the other Districts, leaders established the annual death-match for adolescents, the eponymous “Hunger Games.” Each District is forced to send a male and female adolescent to the Games in The Capitol as a terrifying reminder: The Capitol will crush any who oppose it.
It isn’t hard to see where Suzanne Collins may have drawn her inspiration for The Capitol. Washington, D.C. is booming with more power, prestige and influence coalescing around the Capital than ever before. Reports early this week from the Washington Post tell a story of a Capital toasting it’s own opulence. Over the past decade, Washington, D.C. added 21,000 households in the top 1%. That rate outpaced every other metro area in the nation. Other bastions of one percenters included New England, New York, Chicago, Houston, and California. The counties surrounding Washington, D.C. are among the fastest growing in the nation - in wealth as well as population. Unemployment in the metro Capitol area is lower than the rest of the nation.
The significance of D.C.’s growth in wealth is manifestly apparent: D.C. has become the complete national center of wealth and power. It is easy to see this as a modern Plutocracy, in the truest sense of the word. Those seeking wealth go east to the Capital to profit through rent-seeking; those already wealthy focus their efforts at preserving and expanding their wealth by edging-out competitors through punitive regulation.
Meanwhile, multiple generations of average Americans have had their life trajectories decline and stagnate indefinitely. During roughly the same period that Washington, D.C. became a boom-town, the Median Household Wealth of the US declined 16%, the real unemployment rate spiked to 13.8%, and dependency on government handouts grew to nearly 1/3 of the population.
One wonders if or how those in the America that exists outside of D.C. – like those poor souls in the Districts outside The Capitol –– will ever break free of the Washington choke-hold. Here in flyover country, I have a proposal for the next President. Call it the Hunger Game Proposal.
Instead of centralizing all of the Cabinet level departments in the Capital, force each Cabinet head and the majority of their department’s employees to move to small towns across America. No single state could have more than one department. No city of relocation could have a population greater than 75,000; no city of relocation could be within 50 miles of a beach or a major metropolitan area of 150,000 or more; and no city of relocation can be located within CA, TX, IL, NY, D.C., VA, MD, FL, or New England.
Think of it: the Department of Education in Monticello, Georgia; the Department of Commerce in Muskogee, Oklahoma; the Department of Health and Human Services in Jamestown, North Dakota; the Department of Defense in Somerset, Kentucky; and on and on.
All current employees will be given the option of moving to the new location. No Cabinet Secretary may reside in the D.C. area and must instead live in-state where the department is based. The Cabinet Secretaries will meet once per month the White House and with each other. (Standard travel per diem applies!)
The question at the heart of America right now is not whether the federal government (all three branches!) will give up their growing power and wealth. No, it is whether Americans will make them do it. I fear The Capitol is too strong for rebellion so it will fall to our next President to take this up.
President Hillary or Christie or Perry? Will you accept the Hunger Games Proposal?