There are usually at least 2 sides to every issue - certainly two sides to every coin - and maybe several sides to right and wrong. Some of the "bad" things in Among the Hidden, could have been written as "good" things with a different story bent.
In the book, Jen points out that the Government wants people to become vegetarian because more food can be produced from plants than from animals. Now - this is fact - it takes about 16 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef. Not hard to see that cutting out meat would mean more food (grain) for the world’s people. Yet, the idea of the government forcing people to become vegetarian is seen as bad. Whereas, with different circumstances and a different plot - vegetarianism might be seen as a positive.
The Population Law (the basis for the entire book) could be seen as a good thing under certain conditions. Particularly if overcrowding had reached the tipping point - such as the concerns of overpopulation in China. (I won’t go into all the issues that have sprouted out of that experiment in population control.)
In Among the Hidden, the Government disallows hydroponic farming supplies because of fears of illicit drugs being grown in secret. Or, so they say... However, is that much different than various over-the-counter drugs being unavailable nowadays (except by individual request and mandatory tracking) because they are used in the manufacture of illegal drugs?
So - what is good and what is bad? Not always an easy question to answer.
Beth did mention that I might drift into Government and Media discussion. And, it is very easy to do with this topic.
The totalitarian Government in Among the Hidden came to power because people were scared. They believed whatever the ever-present Media told them (a media controlled by the government - duh!) and were willing to give up their freedoms - the ability to make their own decisions about how many children to have, what kinds of food to grow and eat (no more potato chips, folks!), and so on - in order to feel safe.
And, to reinforce things - the Population Law in particular - the Media began a campaign of portraying pregnant women as criminals! Not hard to convince the general public of a thing when it’s constantly coming at you from TV, billboards, magazine ads, etc. (Think about our own views of women that are driven by Media images.)
Sadly, it’s not difficult to come up with current examples of our government moving in the direction of the totalitarianism seen in Among the Hidden.
One recent example that seems, on the surface, to be innocuous, but is being enforced due to its good for the general population is...
The Department of Energy is going to start enforcing federal regulations that require shower heads to deliver no more that 2.5 gallons per minute. How will they enforce it? By not allowing manufacturers to make shower heads capable of delivering more than 2.5 gal per min. And, fining them if they do. Currently it is mostly only the very wealthy who use these huge (24” diameter) shower heads and/or multiple shower heads (shades of the Barons!) without regard to the wasting of water.
Now - it doesn’t seem an awful thing to want to conserve water. I've lived in places where there have been droughts and watering the lawn was a ticketable offense. But, where does the public’s common sense jump ship, thereby allowing the Government to step in and mandate rules about how you can (or can't) take a shower?
It could only happen in a book - right?