Fans of the Hunger Games know what “The Capitol” is. It’s the center of the nation Panem, the seat of all power, wealth, and comfort. The privileged people living there bask in a fullness of life while impoverished citizens of Panem’s twelve districts struggle to eek out a meager existence working in whatever type of labor they specializes in.
Some districts grow crops, some mine, others produce electronics. Since Panem is meant to refer to a dystopian North America, each district models a region of it. For example, the technology district is clearly modeled after Silicon Valley, while the coal-producing district 12 resembles the Appalachians.
The districts send their goods — and once a year, their tributes — to serve The Capitol’s needs and wants. Fine food and opulence typify life there, while heavily armed “peacekeepers” make sure that the people in the districts understand who is in charge.
As those who have read the books know, when the people of District 13 rebelled against Panem, they were beaten back ferociously and The Capitol’s forces destroyed it 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 The Capitol to remind citizens of its power
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 than ever before. Reports early this week from the Washington Post tell a story of a city toasting its own opulence. Over the past decade, Washington, D.C. added 21,000 households in the top 1 percent. That rate outpaced every other metro area in the nation. 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 almost anywhere else.
The city has become the national center of wealth and power. It is easy to see this as a modern plutocracy: 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 horizons drastically curtailed and their opportunities stagnate. During roughly the same period that Washington, D.C. became a boomtown, the Median Household Wealth of the US declined 16 percent, the real unemployment rate spiked to 13.8 percent, and dependency on government handouts grew to nearly one third of the population.
One wonders how, or if, 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 Washington’s choke-hold. From here in flyover country, I have a proposal for the next president. Call it the Hunger Games Plan.
Instead of centralizing all of the cabinet-level departments in Washington, 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. They could not relocate to any city with a population greater than 75,000; no relocation site could be within 50 miles of a beach or a major metropolitan area of 150,000 or more; and no relocation city can be located in California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, 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 a month with the White House and each other. (Standard travel per diem applies!)
The question at the heart of America’s crisis is not whether the federal government 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 Plan?