Hunger Games 2013

Living in Montana, recently visiting the nation’s capital, and having seen The Hunger Games when it was in theaters, you can probably understand why this USA Today article by Instablog veteran Glenn Reynolds might strike a chord with yours truly. Having taken a keen interest  in both the Revolutionary War period and the Age of Enlightenment over the last couple years makes it even more compelling.

Are we living in the Hunger Games?

You know the story: While the provinces starve, the Capital City lives it up, its wheeler-dealer bigshots growing fat on the tribute extracted from the rest of the country.

We don’t live in The Hunger Games yet, but I’m not the first to notice that Washington, D.C., is doing a lot better than the rest of the country. Even in upscale parts of L.A. or New York, you see boarded up storefronts and other signs that the economy isn’t what it used to be. But not so much in the Washington area, where housing prices are going up, fancy restaurants advertise $92 Wagyu steaks, and the Tyson’s Corner mall outshines — as I can attest from firsthand experience — even Beverly Hills’ famed Rodeo Drive.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, the contrast is even starker. As Adam Davidson recently wrote in The New York Times, riding the Amtrak between New York and D.C. exposes stark contrasts between the “haves” of the capital and the have-nots outside the Beltway. And he correctly assigns this to the importance of power.

Washington is rich not because it makes valuable things, but because it is powerful…

Admittedly, things aren’t as bad here as they are in most of the country (and that’s likely to continue with the expansion of the shale oil boom), but people in many states clearly resent what’s been going on in Washington lately, so much so that secession petitions are becoming as common as food stamps.


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