Monday, August 20, 2012

When do the Hunger Games begin?

As a reward for intensive help during a project, I traveled to the grocery store for a specifically requested ice cream for my son. As I walked the length of the immense freezer aisle I was floored by the hundreds of ice cream varieties available ( I don't shop that aisle much ever). Having just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, I already had on my mind how close my nearly middle class life and the lives of those citizens who live in the Capitol of Panem is. Even years ago, I was starting to feel that our society here in the USA was frighteningly beginning to resemble the latter days of the Roman Empire, when the wealthiest citizens continued to empty the empire of the resources needed to maintain the vast conglomeration until said resources vanished, eventually crumbling the entire empire to pieces from within and ushering in centuries of violence and danger, at least for what later became Europe. Our decadent lifestyles and mindless entertainment for years have been vastly different from how the majority of the global population, particularly poorer and emerging nations, scrape by with their mostly subsistence surviving. The Hunger Games have uncomfortably demonstrated to me the way our lives here are so remarkably similar to the Capitol:

  • So many kinds and so much food available, much of which is wasted, even when we have people going hungry in this country, in your neighborhood, every day.  
  • The children of low income parents as human fodder in the wars we wage for our continued access to foreign oil, as this demographic comprises the biggest portion of noncommisioned soldiers. If they don't die overseas, they might be one of the 38 veterans every DAY who try to commit suicide. 
  • Obsession by many of mindless entertainment such as Dancing With the Stars, the best of the fall lineup, and sporting events, among others.
  • Wasting of resources.
  • Corporate-fostered callous indifference or obliviousness of the global effects of our consumption levels. 
  • Passive acquiescence to civil authority, even when it's not in our best interests.
  • Feelings of righteousness about our indulgent lives celebrating self-gratification.
We already live in the Capitol of Panem. Ouch.


Examples of how our political system is irrevocably broken:

  • Money buys elections and legislature. Lobbyists wine and dine our lawmakers for special interest groups, which have incredible financial advantages over the needs or wishes of most citizens. Elections are determined by fundraising while millionaires and billionaires (a tiny portion of the US population) have the legal right to fund these elections. Why should somebody's vote be more effective because they can direct more money to it than someone who has little or no disposable income? That's not a democracy or a republic, that's an oligarchy. 
  • Corporations have the rights of individuals, but not the responsibilities or obligations. The only obligation a corporation "feels" is to provide the shareholders with as much profit as possible at any cost, even the lives of people, and also to provide the upper administration with substantial paychecks and benefits under the guise of hiring and keeping the best people for the job. 
  • The checks and balances put in place by the creators of our government have slowly but relentlessly been undermined. War is fought overseas without approval by Congress.  The Chief Executive lies to citizens without penalty, kills people labeled as a threat to the nation without a trial, and tortures suspected enemies without due process or public proof of wrongdoing. 
  • Private companies are gifted with taxpayer cash when in financial trouble, without sharing the immense profits they report later. This is privatizing profits and socializing losses, carried on the back of the middle class. 
  • Social safety nets are called "socialism" but subsidies to high-earning companies and agribusiness are touted as necessary. Isn't the first job of the government to protect it's citizens? If that's not the job of government, what is? And if a company needs a government subsidy to afford to stay in business, that's not free market capitalism. 
  • A revolving door between government officials and legislation makers with the lobbyists and upper echelon positions in certain big businesses, such as oil, finance, and agribusiness. 
  • Both parties, regardless of their election promises and platforms, are entirely committed to maintaining the status quo once they are installed in office. 
  • The electoral college. How does a candidate win the popular vote but not the election? 
  • Lawmakers and elected officials have forgotten their job description: To serve and address the needs and desires of their constituents, the PEOPLE. 
I'm sure there are more I either don't know or have overlooked.