Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eat the Rich

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - in fact, I found myself feeling guilty at how much I was enjoying it, due to P.J. O'Rourke's irrevent and sometimes crude manner.  I'm not sure I could have read this one out loud with my queen.

To understand economics, he traveled to Wall Street, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Russia (and I may have forgotten a few places) to see good and bad versions of free market and socialism.  I think his press pass may have gotten him into some places that the regular Joe like you and me might not go, but his insights are spot on.

His last chapter is the best - he talks about four ways to spend money:
  1. Spend your own money on yourself
  2. Spend your own money on somebody else
  3. Spend somebody else's money on yourself
  4. Spend somebody else's money on other people
He does this to demonstrate why it is always best if we can earn and spend our own money - there is greater accountability and tendency toward wisdom and frugality with #1.  In #4, you buy whatever the heck you want no matter the cost (which is what government spending looks like.)

This book goes up there with Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson - it is a treasure.  But be prepared for the vulgarity and frankness...