Among the Hidden
Planning an epic fight for freedom? You'll need some brutally gruesome bad guys. Enter, the Government and their favorite henchmen, the Population Police.
It might seem strange to give the Government a character analysis—it's not a real person, after all—but Luke actually envisions the Government "as a very big, mean , fat person , two or three times as tall as an ordinary man, who went around yelling at people, 'Not allowed!' and 'Stop that!'" (1.10). Yup, that sounds pretty accurate.
It might be a thing to complain about nanny-state government in the real world, but in Haddix's world, the Government is beyond controlling. They don't just tell you to wear your seatbelts and eat your kale. They dictate how many kids each family is allowed to have. They force you to tell your woods. They force you to sell your kids. We're surprised people are permitted to go to the bathroom without checking with the Government first. But what's worse is that, according to Mr. Talbot, the Government intentionally keeps people in poverty, "right on the edge of survival" (28.36). Major party foul.
And the Population Police, as the nastiest wing of the Government, aren't any better. They have a reputation of doing "anything to enforce the law" (2.34)—not surprising, since they get "some ridiculously big reward for every illegal they find" (18.38). These guys could probably even find Waldo if there was a big enough price tag on his back.