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Monday, October 31, 2011


The Latest Teen Craze and Economic Freedom

The Hunger Games series has teen cult-like following similar to that of Twilight and Harry Potter. Naturally, I absolutely had to read it. After such a popular following in the books, the first of three movies comes out in March. Unfortunately, unlike both Harry Potter and Twilight, Robert Pattinson will not be starring. I finished the last of the three books a few weeks ago and I noticed a relationship between the world of the Hunger Games and many ideas of economic freedom.

It takes place in the future in a country called Panem, which is post-apocalyptic North America. Twelve districts are lead by the Capital, a socialistic government that maintains control over its people by a violent police force called the Peacekeepers, control of all resources, and the yearly Hunger Games. In this event, children from the ages of 12 to 18 are chosen from each district in a raffle to compete against each other. A theatrical, but deadly arena is built for the players each year and it is televised just like a reality show. The last person alive is the winner. The Hunger Games is a tool for the government to maintain control over Panem. Acts of violence on these children foster a major fear of the government and quell any possibility of rebellion.

Government control of all factors of production creates scarcity. Consequently, starvation and poverty affect all of the twelve districts. One way to get more food is to add your name into the Hunger Games raffle again, increasing your odds of being chosen for the games. There is another way to get food or even liquor. A black market called “The Hob” exists in an old barn. The main character, Katniss Everdeen hunts in the surrounding forest and then sells or exchanges her game so that she can buy bread or other meat.

Even under an all powerful government, a market still forms. People want more than what the government provides in a socialistic government. The Peacekeepers (the government police) shop in The Hob. They like to buy soup made with strange meat, usually dogs or mice, from a creative cook name Greasy Sae. Haymitch, a notorious alcoholic, buys unlimited bottles of homemade alcohol here. When it’s burned down by the Capitol, Haymitch suffers withdrawals and has no other place to buy liquor. Government officials even have a weakness for products on the black market. Katniss sells strawberries to the mayor every week.

While this example is entirely fictional, it seems possible. It is possible for a nuclear war or major pollution to destroy most of the world. Throughout human history socialist governments have been formed and still exist today. The use of government force can always be manipulated and used to hurt its people. However, I appreciate the author’s choice to include a black market. People like markets. They allow consumers to be fully dependent on alcohol and eat weird dog meat soup or whatever their heart desires. It’s possible for a wide array of strange demands to be satisfied in a market.

Possible for not so strange demands to be met as well, eh?
Yes! Definitely possible. In the book there was a lot of scarcity so the black market chef (Greasey Sae) used whatever was available like dog or rabbit meat.
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