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Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics Hardcover – 20 Nov 1998
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A conservative, prosperous American journalist gadding around the world laughing at all the ways less successful nations screw up their economy--this might not sound like the recipe for a great read, unless you're Rush Limbaugh, but if that journalist is P.J. O'Rourke you can be sure that you'll enjoy the ride even if you don't agree with the politics. Although Eat the Rich is subtitled A Treatise on Economics, O'Rourke spends relatively few pages tackling the complexities of monetary theory. He's much happier when flying from Sweden to Hong Kong, then on to Tanzania and Moscow, gleefully recording every economic goof he can find. When he visits post-Soviet Russia and finds a country that is as messed up by capitalism as it was by communism, O'Rourke mixes jokes about black-market shoes with disturbing insights into a nation on the verge of collapse. P.J. O'Rourke is more than a humourist, he's an experienced international journalist with a lot of frequent-flyer miles and this gives even his funniest riffs on the world's problems a startling ring of truth.
"I wanted to know why some parts of the Earth prosper and others suck", writes P.J. O'Rourke, to explain his two-year round the world sojourn in search of the bottom line. In this book, he samples good capitalism on Wall Street and bad capitalism in Albania, with stopovers from Hong Kong to Moscow.
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Why do some countries stay poor when they have everything, yet some countries get fabulously rich from nothing?
Why does capitalism or socialism seem to work well in some places but is disastrous in others?
With P.J's customary wit and intelligence these matters and more are discussed. This is one of his finest books and recommended for those who like satire with bite.
Looking at Russia, he shows how not to reform an economy (if there is one!). He points out that Communism has 'beaten out enterprise' from the people, whose mindset is not to take control of their lives.
His conclusion is that both systems are messy and far from ideal. But at least under capitalism the supermarket is full of food, and your not shot if you dont buy from the approved supplier.
Despite his politics, he is a very human writer. Right wingers are frequently prone to righteous puritanicalism, O'Rourke, however, enjoys drugs, sex and rock and roll as much as the next person, and more than many.
In 'Eat The Rich', he tries to do what many have tried before: make sense of economics. And he almost manages. I now understand derivatives, know the difference between a stock and a bond (you can be tied to one by the other, and then pilloried for making such poor puns). But, ultimately, PJ gives up the ghost deciding that sense cannot be made of something so abstract, obtuse and plain nonsensical as Economics.
To his credit, PJ never allows the subject matter to deter him from his primary aim, to write an urbane, amusing and witty book. Very, very, very funny. Eat The Rich has a large marginal propensity to make me laugh. You should subscribe to the law of supply and demand a copy now.
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