I like P.J. O'Rourke because he tells stories in a voice a lot like I imagine my father telling them. So if my Dad took a year off of work to learn about economics, this is something like what he would say. I also chose this book because I want to learn about everything, and it is easiest when you learn with humor. I am willing to read any nonfiction book if presented in a humorous, interesting way.
If, 10 years ago, (the book was written in '97) you wanted to know about how world economics worked where would you go? O'Rourke goes to Wall Street, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Moscow and Hong Kong. He has studied and read a lot, or at least a lot more than I have the time or inclination for. He compares capitalism in the first two countries, socialism in the third and fourth and just talks about miscellaneous unusual events in the last two.
After reading this I have learned about the Law of Comparative Advantage, and why it works, but doesn't make sense and that managed economies don't work because no one, including economists, know enough to run one completely. I also feel that I got a glimpse, very briefly, into what type of world the millennium and united order could bring us, using the type of economic rules we already know. That last came more from thinking about the ideas that he proposes than from anything revolutionary in the text.
This is a list of six things that O'Rourke proposes lead to economic prosperity as a nation:
- Hard Work
- Property Rights
- Rule of Law
- Democratic Government
Though property rights are definitely not going to be to a conservative's liking in the millennium, all of the others would advance and grow. I especially think that number five would improve the lot of most of the world's people. This is something I need to learn more about. I also would like to learn more about what has happened to O'Rourke's test cases in the last ten years.
I am not an economist, neither is P.J.O'Rourke, but he had some good ideas, those sparked off some good (?) ideas in my head. That is one of the things I love about reading; expanding my repertoire of ideas by building on those of other people.
Eat the Rich A treatise on economics by P.J. O'Rourke, 1998. Atlantic Monthly Press