THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BECOME THE GIVER-MENT
I'M GUESSING THIS MOVIE---COMING IN AN ELECTION YEAR- - just might have an impact on voters of all persuasions, especially young voters.
Did not read the book but can't wait to see the movie. Anyway, my friend John Tamny has knocked the ball out of the park on reviewing it.
As our federal government grows like Johnson grass in summer almost out of control everywhere we look, Tamny doesn't spare responsibility to either side of the political spectrum. Republicans as well as Democrats are guilty of focusing far too much importance on the powers that were never enumerated by the Constitution to the feds of the now monolithic givernment. We as voters have let this happen as we turn a blind eye on voting as well as wanting to get some of the goodies of the federal till. Welfare for all, even the rich. It's unsustainable and when the bottom drops out, will we too be faced with playing The Hunger Game?
Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" Illustrates the Horrors of Big Government
By John Tamny @ Forbes
It says here that HBO’s The Wire, which ran from 2002-2008, is the greatest television drama of all time. The show, essentially an historical-fiction style documentary on the tragedy that is Baltimore (MD), notably appealed to all sides of the political spectrum.
Liberals of the American variety seemed to like it for revealing how very crushing and insurmountable poverty is, conservatives perhaps liked it for televising the human error frequently behind poverty, not to mention the corruption inside media and government, and then libertarians including this writer surely enjoyed it for laying out the totally ineffective nature of the “war on drugs”, and the sheer incompetence of government.
It’s said about The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ blockbuster novel that will be released in movie form this Friday, that it appeals to a broad demographic ranging from teens to senior citizens. If so, it’s fair to assume that a not insignificant portion of the book’s devotees see a political message within. Cue up the hateful comments, but my libertarian instincts tell me the novel is a boisterous comment about the certain horrors of big government.
To provide background for those who’ve not yet read the book, The Hunger Games takes place in a post-modern North America where society has collapsed thanks to drought, famine and war. The country is Panem, which has a major city called Capitol run by the governing elite. Those in power oversee twelve districts.
Each year at the pleasure of brutal politicians desperate for sadistic entertainment, two representatives from the twelve districts engage in a televised game of survival whereby only one person comes out alive. Though the novel has a variety of characters, most of the story centers on Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, Hunger Games representatives from District 12 (presumably West Virginia), and their efforts to emerge from the games alive.
On its face the book reveals the oppressive cruelty that is big government. Indeed, while the global political class and their enablers in the media to this day try to explain away droughts and the resulting famines from an “Act of God” point of view, the simple truth is that economically free countries don’t suffer them.
Though food is surely the most essential, life-enhancing good on the planet, it’s plentiful in the most barren of climates where it’s not grown or farmed owing to the free-trade truth that we trade products for products; all manner of non-perishable items exchanged for food with great regularity. Simply put, visitors to Arizona don’t witness distended bellies among the citizenry due to a lack of farmers, instead Arizona is prosperous and its citizens well fed for the latter pursuing all manner of work the product of which enables them to freely exchange the fruits of their labor for other goods, including groceries.
Those who were around in the ‘80s doubtless remember the droughts that allegedly created a famine in Ethiopia, but the greater truth is that Ethiopian citizens at one time exported food so plentiful was it; the famine that properly tugged at our heartstrings a function of a brutal dictatorship that socialized agriculture. It was said after Great Britain left India that famines in the former Jewel in the Crown became a thing of the past, but the truer reality is that “famines” were redefined to whitewash the socialist basket case that India became once independent. “Inflation” is presently low in the United States, but that’s only true insofar as the commodities most sensitive to monetary error have been removed from the calculation. Droughts and famines are an inevitable effect of overbearing, interventionist and greedy governments.
As for war, though history says most have economic underpinnings, it is governments and politicians that start wars. This tells us that the horrific country that is Panem is the result of initial government error of the warring kind that led to something much worse.
Back to the malnourishment that pervades Panem, and underlies the story, Katniss muses at one point early on “What it must be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?” Well, in countries where individuals are allowed to keep the product of their work and trade it freely, food can essentially be had at the press of a button, or in modern parlance, with the click of a mouse.
Alternatively, as Bastiat long ago observed, when goods don’t cross borders, armies eventually do. A lack of free trade not only means we get to enjoy much less of the world’s plenty, but it also means we have no rooting interest in the ability of others to produce for us so that we can produce for them. Instead, suffering from a lack of what we want with no avenue to get what we want, we go to war in order to forcibly take that which would otherwise reach us through voluntary, mutually wealth-enhancing exchange.
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Panem is essentially a society at war, in this case a war for food. This scenario is happily one that Americans are unaware of owing to our ability to largely produce surplus in order to consume the surplus of others irrespective of country, but one that other countries have sadly known all too well thanks to oppressive government. A hapless, interventionist, warring government is the only kind that could have fostered the societal crack-up that is Panem, and then Panem reflects – if possible – politicians even more inept pouring gasoline onto the proverbial fire.
Gale Hawthorne, Katniss’s best friend back in District 12, ably fills the role of wise government skeptic. Katniss imagines him saying in response to the government’s efforts “to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper”, that “It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided among ourselves.” Of course it is.
Free societies, personally and economically, don’t rely on government. Instead, a natural harmony eventuates as self-interested individuals create what they’re best at so that they can trade their production for that of others. The problem for political types under such a scenario is that people realize not only that they don’t need government, but that even those who can’t provide for themselves are taken care of thanks to the benevolent doings of those who can.
In the U.S., assuming a better world where special interest groups didn’t regularly descend on Washington seeking that which natural market forces won’t provide them with, the plain truth is that politicians would invent them. Divided societies give politicians an important role whereby their decisions about the allocation of resources to the politically connected weaken a society, thus boosting their status as our allegedly benevolent Nanny. Second, with the productive ever eager to achieve no matter the barriers placed in front of them in a world where government, as opposed to market forces dictates action, politicians know that the best and brightest will similarly have to go to great lengths to please them in order to keep more of what they earn.
In Panem food, something we take for granted, is scarce thanks to power hungry politicians. Even more than monetary debasement, the creation of food scarcity through unnatural barriers to production and trade is the easiest way for politicians to divide the citizenry, and to be fair, often results from monetary debasement. And with hunger a constant burden, politicians have created a situation whereby the brutalized citizens of Panem will do anything to eat, including killing their fellow citizens in government-organized games that so thrill the Capitol politicians.
Of course the Hunger Games not only entertain the politicians, they’re also the Capitol’s way of, as Katniss puts it, “reminding us how totally we are at their mercy.” Panem’s citizens know that if they desire any kind of comfortable life with good housing and plentiful food, they must not only participate in the Games, but also be the last one standing. Wealth in this Dystopian nightmare of a country is not earned by fulfilling the needs of others, but results from pleasing politicians through the murder of others.
We’re thankfully a very faint shadow of Panem in the United States, but increasingly we live at the mercy of politicians irrespective of party. If this is doubted, try to evade your taxes, and when you get a letter from the IRS asking for them, ignore the letter. Eventually you’ll be visited by government officials who, if not carrying guns, will be backed by those who do.
Republicans might say that at least Republican politicians seek to lower our rates of taxation, but think about that for a moment. When politicians promise lower tax rates, they’re implicitly telling all of us that they have the power to charge us as much or as little as they want to for our work. A nation founded on deep skepticism of government and politicians now has leaders who “grant” us the right to keep more of our money.
Taking this further, both parties, consciously or subconsciously realizing “we are at their mercy”, offer us tax breaks if we live as they want us to. If you buy a house your mortgage interest payments will be tax deductible, give to a charity and it’s similarly tax deductible, and then in Rick Santorum’s case if you “make things” as a manufacturer, or have kids, zero corporate tax rates (manufacturing) and tax deductions (per child) are in your future. Mitt Romney will “grant” you a lower tax rate on capital gains for instance, but only if you’re not rich. President Obama is bolder in his presumption that we’re at his mercy and that we need to pay his government even more in the way of tribute. Yes, we’re under the thumbs of politicians, and The Hunger Games shows the extremes of where this can lead when they’re handed too much power. Democrat and Republican partisans beware.
Closer to the book’s end, Katniss thinks about her “fury against the cruelty, the injustice they [the rulers] inflict upon us”, and wonders if there’s some “way to take revenge on the Capitol.” While considering this, she remembers Peeta’s words “I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.” Absolutely. Excessive government IS ownership, of the fruits of our labor, and our personal freedoms. Katniss and Peeta are ultimately fighting to get their lives back from the greedy hands of the politicians in the Capitol.
Back in the real world, something similar is at work. Though agreement is not uniform, and our government not nearly as oppressive as the one in The Hunger Games, many Americans simply want to be left alone, to get their lives back. The Hunger Games seems to channel this natural, and very American, urge to be free.