“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday faced criticism after saying that the $600 direct payments included in a new economic relief package are ‘significant.’” – Newsweek, 12/22/20

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As we all know, due to all-out nuclear warfare that brought about the collapse of civilization, the Earth’s atmosphere is full of radioactive fallout, forcing us surviving humans to remain indoors and making it difficult to get the global economy back up and running. However, we here in the capital of our fledgling post-war nation-state, Panem, have been working tirelessly to devise a plan that will get our citizens the help they need to get through this difficult time. Finally, after a lengthy debate, we are pleased to announce that our much-anticipated relief program is a twenty-four-child, fight-to-the-death reality TV competition we’re calling “The Hunger Games.”

We realize that many people are going to question whether rounding up two teenage tributes from each district and having them compete to the death for a single truckload of canned goods, bottled water, and medical supplies to take home with them is really the best way to get folks in Panem the help they so desperately need. Some are calling it “grossly inadequate,” “too little, too late,” and “literally just child homicide.” But rest assured, this compromise was the best we could do.

Radicals from some of the more progressive districts had proposed giving every single resident of Panem enough monthly income to pay for necessities like food, water, and shelter until the fallout dissipates and it’s safe to go outside again. But it scarcely bears mentioning how ridiculous it is to expect a majority of our national government to all agree that we ought to treat our citizens with compassion. Just because other post-apocalyptic city-states have implemented comprehensive stimulus to great success, it doesn’t mean it would work in Panem. We have to respect the differences of opinion within our government. Besides, what kind of dystopian, dictatorial police state would we be if we agreed to always act in the best interest of the people all of a sudden?

Rather than complain, these radicals should be on their hands and knees thanking us for getting our kid-killing stimulus deal passed after just nine short months of inaction. Some of the more bean-counter-y types in the Capitol argued that Panem’s government couldn’t afford any kind of child-battle-royale-themed stimulus at all. And many of the real hard-liners in the death-cult faction of the government wanted to take half of the nation’s children, grind them into a nutrient-rich paste, and feed them to the other half. So to walk away with a stimulus package that only results in a handful of nationally televised child murders is actually quite a significant accomplishment.

Sure, none of those anti-stimulus ball-busters were complaining when they approved the Trillion-Dollar Orgy a little while back, which was also billed as an economic stimulus, but was really just an excuse for wealthy people to have lots of sex and do a ton of drugs. And maybe reminding the Panemian people of their hypocrisy would be a way to win over some hearts and minds, and shame those politicians into passing a more substantive relief deal. Still, we think these elected officials should get a pass for choosing a cocaine-fueled sex party over helping struggling families. Besides, many of us moderates had a pretty good time at the orgy, too, even if we didn’t publicly admit it.

On the bright side, there is plenty to celebrate about the Hunger Games. No, they aren’t actually going to stop anyone from going hungry, or stop them from dying from radiation poisoning. But just think of all of the TV ad revenue, merchandising, video game spin-offs, and other secondary benefits that will come out of millions of people tuning in to watch an utterly brutal teen-against-teen bloodbath. Yeah, most of that wealth will end up concentrated in the hands of media company executives, but much like how the nuclear fallout has slowly seeped its way into our groundwater supply, we are sure that the wealth will eventually trickle down.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m first in line for the new state-of-the-art skin suits that prevent radiation poisoning. I realize it might seem unfair of me to be outfitted with a skin suit ahead of everyone else. But given all of the highly popular work we’re doing in the Capitol, we think it’s safe to say we’re pretty essential. Rest assured, though, that you, your friends, and your loved ones will all be able to get your skin suits soon enough. Except for those of you that die of radiation poisoning before then, of course.

May the odds be ever in your favor!