(KPLR) – In this Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at Black Friday and the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games books are supposedly fantasies about the future where people hunt and kill one another live on TV for the amusement of the ruling class in the fictional nation of Panem.
But author Suzanne Collins says she was inspired when images of reality TV began to mash up with TV images of the Iraq invasion in her head.
The Hunger Games is really about who we are right now. We're at each other's throats and the people who actually run Panem, sorry, the United States, couldn't be happier.
Take Black Friday. People are injured and even killed, and the Thanksgiving holiday for employees and shoppers alike, is disrupted so we can save a hundred bucks on an iPad or buy a smartphone for $99.99.
Why? Partly because of human nature, the thrill of the hunt and the search for a bargain and all that. Partly because we've become a nation of discount shoppers. The crash of 2008 destroyed so much wealth and so many jobs that American's standard of living – which had been merely stagnant – dropped.
So now, average household incomes are much lower than they were a decade ago. Layoffs mean the survivors do the jobs of two or three people.
People with jobs are always looking over their shoulders – worried about layoffs.
New jobs have lower wages and no benefits.
So we work harder, for less, and jump at any chance we can grab to get a bargain. Like Black Friday – which reinforces the cycle of low-wage people selling low-priced goods to other low wage people.
But despite all that, the overall economy is not too bad. That's because productivity is upand that's because you're working harder.
Corporate profits are upand that's because a lot of your co-workers were laid off and your wages are either stagnant or shrinking.
Which gets us back to the Hunger Games and Black Friday. The owners and executives of corporate America are doing fine, paying you less and selling you discount goods.
So maybe when you go to the bookstore, you should really look for the Hunger Games under non-fiction.