The Establishment, especially through their organ of the corporate whore media, makes it a point to overcomplicate the field of economics to where it becomes utterly incomprehensible for the average man. If individuals understood that property rights formed the foundation for their own natural liberty, then people would appreciate what property they already owned, built, voluntarily traded for, and homesteaded. Realizing this, captive minds are freed from propagandized misconceptions (like the supposed validation of the tragedy of the commons and the broken window fallacy), and this gives the power back to them, instead of reinforcing this horrid system of democratically flavored indentured servitude where everyone belongs to everybody else, as long as the majority is persuaded to agree and you are allowed to choose your own occupation.
“Why are some places wealthy and other places poor?,” forms the driving question the author postulates for this book. He also tries to decipher among the three concerns of humanity – love, death, and money – why the first two are clearly understood and ceaselessly recycled in popular culture but anything to do with money is not. Actually, what he fails to realize is that microeconomics IS macroeconomics; whatever are the principles of voluntary exchange on an individual basis are just as applicable on any larger scope, whether that be an entire business, a whole industry, or even a border delineated State. If you already understood that the individual forms the necessary basis for any sort of collective, then you also understand that you cannot subjugate or even ignore the individual at the behest of the collective, whether that collective be a country, the economy, or even a family.
While I would agree that (satirically speaking) Cuba is an example of “bad” socialism whereas Sweden has “good” socialism, O’Rourke’s claim that Wall Street is evocative of “good” capitalism is really far off the mark. If O’Rourke understood corporatism, then he would have to acknowledge that Wall Street does not produce anything of real value, besides the fact that they are intensely regulated by the government. And Albania does not exemplify “bad” capitalism; it is more evocative of some post-apocalyptic hellhole with everyone scavenging for whatever happens to be left (they’re not exactly big on production, even with regards to manufacturing).
It is truly too bad that Hong Kong was ceded to the Communists by the British in 1997. As O’Rourke describes the inhabitants:
“The bippity-beep of cell phones all but drowns the air-conditioner racket. And each time a cell phone rings, everyone within earshot goes into a self-administered frisk, patting himself down to find the wee gadget. You can go weeks without talking to an answering machine, because you’re not really dialing a telephone, you’re dialing an armpit, purse, shirt pocket, or bikini top.”
Apparently, entrepreneurship was alive and well, at least until the Hong Kong industrialists had to comprise with the ChiComs and establish “Chinese-styled” corporatism for their own survival.
“A belief in the free market means a belief that people have an innate right to the fruits of their endeavors, and the right to dispose of that fruit the way they see fit, as long as other people don’t get pasted in the face with a rotten peach or something.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.