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In which Hank discusses The Hunger Games, the extreme inequality of our society, and what it means to be a citizen of The Capitol. Inequality is so difficult to fight in our world because there is no President Snow. I'm not saying that there are no bad people, but inequality is natural, and so we can't hate ourselves for being a part of it. But because it is so inevitable, we have to create structures to reduce it, because inequality is terrible both morally and economically.

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Good morning John. Let's talk about The Hunger Games, a story about action, and love, and a really, really screwed up society. There are some really easy things to relate to in here. Most of us can relate to love, a lot of people enjoy a good action sequence, and yeah, we like to see the underdog rising up against the evil oppressive regime. An unimaginably inequitable society in which people starve while other people gorge themselves so much that they have to then go puke so they can eat more. A world where a table is worth more than a human life. That's like the hardest thing to relate to out of the whole movie, except that it's not because we kinda live in that world.

Suzanne Collins does an amazing job of this; of showing us basically a world that looks a lot like the world that we live in and having us look at in and say 'how could anyone live in a world like that?' She also does a really admirable job of not blaming the participants of that society. Katniss and Effie are friends, they love each other. Katniss is her friend despite the fact that Effie has always been and continues to be a participant in that culture of oppression. Why is that? Well it's because Effie isn't evil. There's one thing that exists in abundance in The Hunger Games though, that does not exist so much in our world. As nice as it would be if this weren't true and as impossible as it kind of is to believe, our deeply inequal society is not the result of a bunch of bad guys.

We don't have a President Snow. Or we do have a President Snow, but he's not a person. The thing that causes inequality isn't some corrupt politician, it's not a bunch of psychopathic CEO's. Inequality is caused by human nature, psychology, sociology, and math. It's caused by math, and you can't fight math. It's math! 

Let's take an example. Two people: one of them is rich; one of them is middle class. They both want to invest in Netflix a year ago. The middle class person invests ten thousand dollars. The rich person invests a million. Both of their money doubles in the next twelve months. That's a tremendous success for both of them except that the rich person has a million new dollars and the middle class person has ten thousand new dollars.

Inequality is also created by greed. Yes, and it's created by societal structures, like rich people helping out rich people makes rich people much richer that poor people helping out poor people. And rich people hang out with rich people, and poor people hang out with poor people. That's a problem; it's not an easy problem to solve.

I'd love to discuss all the different cultural and psychological and sociological and mathematical reasons for inequality perpetuating itself. But I'm not making a documentary film here, I just wanna point out that inequality is not a result of animosity; it is just the result of the status quo. It's complacence that causes it, not evil. It's just the simplest path. Like I probably spent enough money on like fancy dinners with my wife this year to save the lives of other people. But I didn't do that, I bought fancy dinners with my wife because that's what felt like the right thing to do like that's just the normal thing to do. That's the status quo, the complacent, the path of least resistance. That makes me President Snow. I'm not evil, but I am complacent in that system.

And just like Katniss doesn't hate Effie, I don't hate myself for that. But I do recognize that because inequality is the path of least resistance, we have to have structures to fight against it. Because inequality isn't just bad for poor people, it's bad for the economy, and it's bad for people's happiness.

There is a very strong correlation between the equality of a society and the happiness of the people in that society. Not just the happiness of the poor people either, the rich people are happier too. We have to fight it. We have to re-calibrate for equality and we can do that in a lot of different ways. We can do that by helping people ourselves. We can also do it by making the government do it. We can also start on that path by signing the Harry Potter Alliance Odds in Our Favor Campaign.

And it's also why you should be thinking about what you're going to do for the Project for Awesome this year. And if you're curious about how to make a great Project for Awesome video, I just made a video about that and uploaded it on the Project for Awesome youtube channel which you can go check out and learn how to make good videos promoting great charities. 

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.