Go see the new “Hunger Games” movie. Beyond the superficial teenage storyline is a dramatic tale of defiance against an oppressive government dictatorship.
I’ve always been drawn to stories — fictional or non-fictional — of those who stand up to government tyranny. It takes no small amount of courage to be a lone voice challenging a government that has the power to crush you.
World history is full of such examples. Many of us who grew up in the Cold War era vividly recall the murderous rule of the Soviet Union and its abuse of its own citizens who dared question its authority. Dissents of that oppression were celebrated at the time, but have since largely faded into the mists of history.
That’s a shame because it means the power of dissent and standing up to oppression has been lost on today’s youth who are too young to remember those events. Perhaps through the “Hunger Games” books and movies, they will get some idea of how ruthless unchecked power can become and of the bravery it took to oppose tyranny.
For those uninitiated in the “Hunger Games,” the main character is a teen girl who has unwittingly become the symbol of defiance against an oppressive dictatorship in the fictional post-USA nation of Panem. A tyrannical central government called “the Capital” controls 13 “districts” in what had been the USA. But while the Capital is a wealthy enclave, the districts are starving under the heel of a brutal subjugation and have started seething with revolt.
Enter Katniss, the girl who represents the spirit of independence, courage and defiance. Each year in Panem, two teens are selected from each “district” to compete in an elaborately-staged survivor-type competition in which the kids kill each other with the final survivor(s) declared champion.
In the first movie, Katniss and her male friend are selected from their district to compete in the games. At the end of that movie, she and her friend were the last survivors and rather than try to kill each other, they decide to ingest poison and die rather than be subjugated to the manipulation of the government.
But government dictators recognize that if they were allowed to kill themselves, the two teens would become strong symbolic martyrs to a population already simmering with rebellion.
The two are allowed to live, but because the Hunger Games, as the completion is called, are televised, Katniss becomes a national symbol of defiance.
In the second movie, Katniss and her friend (there’s a sub-plot love story there) are again put into the Hunger Games and have to kill or be killed. But this time, some of the other participants are part of an elaborate plan to rig the event and to make sure Katniss survives to lead a rebellion against the Capital.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t outline how it ends. But suffice it to say that a third movie is on the way.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, the “Hunger Games” was hailed as “best civics textbook since George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’”
I agree. Any storyline that appeals to young people and also extols the values of liberty, courage and defiance of an oppressive government is a story worth reading or seeing.
The intensity and violence of the movie may be too much for students under age 14, but it should be mandatory for other teens.
Speaking of an oppressive government, WSJ reporter Kimberley Strassel recently outlined how the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on piano teachers.
Yes, you read that right. The FTC is harassing the Music Teachers National Association over what it calls “anticompetitive practices.”
The FTC is upset that the MTNA had a conduct code for its members that included the idea that piano teachers should respect each other and not actively recruit students from each other.
Who knew piano teachers were so brutal and aggressive to get another $15-$20 a week fee by raiding each other for students?
Nuts. It’s just another example of the Obama Administrations’ extremist liberal agenda.
But why pick on piano teachers?
The bankruptcy case of the City of Detroit brings into vivid focus the problem of just how many local governments have made promises they can’t keep.
Detroit, like a lot of towns, created a gold-plated pension plan for its employees. But the city, like a lot of cities, doesn’t have the resources to fulfill that obligation. It overpromised benefits to retirees because its political leadership didn’t have the guts to curtail the spending and to stand up to employee demands.
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating — many government employees at all levels are being paid much more than their private sector peers; they have many more holidays and vacation days compared to the private sector; they have much better health insurance than most of us in the private sector; and they have gold-plated pension and retirement benefits far beyond the private sector.
It’s time for all governments to get their compensation in line with the private sector taxpayers who have to not only work to provide for themselves, but also to provide rich benefits for government workers.
In a bid to take attention away from the ObamaCare mess, President Obama is now talking about “income inequality.” That’s code words for income redistribution.
What the president and his liberal colleagues want is to confiscate more money from those in the private sector who are productive and give that money to those who are suckling at the teats of government handouts.
Yes, there are some in society who need and deserve government help. But there are many on the dole who are just lazy and who don’t deserve any taxpayer funds. Those people learn to play the system and have become addicted to handouts.
The real income inequality in America isn’t what the president suggests; the real inequality is the difference between what government bureaucrats earn and the private sector.
Bet you won’t hear President Obama talk about that.
The welfare problem isn’t just limited to individuals, however. It’s obscene that the City of Atlanta is giving millions of taxpayer dollars away to build a stadium for the private Falcons football franchise. And it’s even more obscene that taxpayers in Cobb County are being fleeced to give millions of dollars away to build a stadium for the private Braves baseball franchise.
Those who own both teams are multi-millionaires many times over. Both teams are wealthy private businesses, yet taxpayers are subsidizing those deals.
That’s no different from those who don’t deserve individual welfare. In fact, this corporate welfare is worse.
No wonder the American middle class is being squeezed. We’re having to pay for both the poor who milk the system at the bottom and the uber-wealthy who milk it at the top.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of Mainstreet Newspapers, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.