When I first saw the movie Hunger Games a couple months back, I was mesmerized by the story for the first two hours but then shocked in the last five minutes. That’s when I realized that it was headed towards a totally preposterous ending.
I hadn’t seen/read reviews, nor did I know that this was only the first episode of a trilogy, so that however unbelievable and unsatisfying this “ending” was, it was not the true “end” of the larger story. And I don’t want to know now, either; so those of you who have peeked ahead, don’t spoil it for everyone, because this post is not about how that trilogy may end, but about something else.
What seemed preposterous was that any civilization of otherwise thinking, feeling human beings could tolerate a society in which it defined as heroic and patriotic a set of games requiring that representatives of its children literally kill each other. How could any regime that fostered such horror retain any political or moral legitimacy? And how could you account for otherwise heroic and worthy characters accepting such evil and not plotting to topple any society and the regime that induced it to make such senseless murder the supreme heroic act that would make every family proud?
This week, I’ve finally understood the obvious. America has become Hunger Games.
On Thursday, a House Committee, virtually every GOP member voting “aye,” showed how this is possible. Along with a handful of stupid, cowardly and evil Democrats, the Republicans voted to subject several million people, including several hundred thousand children, to the certainty of malnutrition and heightened risk of actual starvation, for no other reason than they regarded slashing the budgets for food stamps to be a moral, patriotic thing to do, or worse, something the victims fully deserved.
The day before, the full House of evil people voted, for the same perverted reasons, to repeal a statute intended to provide health coverage to some 30 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured. In the last week, led by the same reasoning, the depraved Governors of several states announced that they will refuse to accept billions of federal dollars to pay for expanded Medicaid for millions of Americans, likely the only health coverage most of these people will every see.
All this week, the elites have been gathering in the Hamptons or wherever they go to celebrate the games and their own worthiness. They place their bets and feast at the posh fund raisers and privately demand their entitlements while bemoaning how the lesser folk do not appreciate how little they deserve even their squalid lot.
And we could go on and on, listing the moral atrocities passed or proposed every day by the most morally corrupt Congress and state officials in our lifetimes. You don’t need a movie to tell you what’s happening is pathological.
Nor do you need to be a trained economist to understand that if the federal government can borrow money for 0% (or less), it could use the money to fund starving state budgets, allowing them to rehire hundreds of thousands of state workers and provide needed services to millions. It could hire hundreds of thousands more via contractors to rebuild things that desperately need rebuilding and replacing. There is no credible argument for not doing this; there’s no argument against putting another 1.5-2.0 million or more people back to work, giving them a paycheck and letting them pay their bills, buy food and housing. Nothing but masochism.
The only thing stopping the nation from doing worthwhile things is the moral depravity of our nation’s political elites. These are people who pretend they are justified in literally sacrificing someone else’s children, or their parents, or the elderly, through starvation, through lack of health care, through lack of shelter, through lack of education, fire/police protection and on and on. And the reason they believe this is justified is the same argument implicit in Hunger Games: the wealthy and protected elites must have concluded that pitting the nation’s weakest against each other is the only way to sustain their privileged positions.
So it’s okay for the elite to convince white people, black people and brown people that they are natural enemies; they must all be convinced that their children must kill each other as a part of a patriotic spectacle without which the authority and assumed moral legitimacy of the regime would collapse. The white children of the Tea Party must be taught to hate and starve the children of the non-white people, because if they didn’t, they’re told, the non-whites would steal what rightfully belongs to the whites. Each set of children is taught as part of the national creed that their own survival requires fearing and killing their rivals.
These are not the lessons of a common “public” education system. You have to destroy that and segregate education into distinct, hating groups, and let them teach mutual hatred to their own.
Then we can pretend that through our elections, the “winner” after each ritual will be honored, though nothing changes in the relationship between the victims and the ruling regime.
America is stuck in Episode I. We are being encouraged to kill each other’s children, starve them, let them die from disease, deny them rights to vote or be paid a living wage. And the elites are viewing this as entertainment, a fake ritual about patriotism, virtue and honor, but it is nothing of the kind. We watch mesmerized, stunned, unbelieving that this is possible. But it is happening. It’s pure evil, and those who sanction and uphold it are deeply complicit.
I don’t know what’s coming in Episode II, but history and logic suggest there will come an awakening, when the children realize it is their own future they’re being asked to kill for no good reason other than to prop up the elites. So they begin to ask questions, to refuse to cooperate, to resist. They will organize an insurrection to expose the corrupt elites, demand they be held accountable, and either transform the regime or take it down. That’s what happens in the movies.