The CEO of the Sofa

Having a family is one way of expressing your natural liberty. By propagating your line, and imparting upon them the principles of Liberty, then you are demonstrating your hope for the future. Amidst the struggles of parenthood and marriage, some self-deprecating humour is well deserved.



What happens when you settle down and bring forth new life into this world? A comedy of errors, at least according to the author, that’s what. In flattering imitation of Oliver Holmes’ The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, O’Rourke pontificates, in perfect libertarian fashion, to his assistant Max, the teenage babysitter from next door, his godson Nick, the Political Nut, his daughter Muffin, and his long-suffering Catholic wife. He nonchalantly lectures about cellular telephones, stock market investments, phony celebrity culture, drug prohibition, Earth Day, and worst of all, the 2000 presidential election.

When discussing intellectual property, the “CEO of the sofa” tells his babysitter:


“There is no human liberty without property rights. The most important property right is your own inviolable right to self-possession. You own you. When other people get mixed up about the notion that you are your personal property, when they start thinking they own you, the consequences are horrendous: slave trade, the draft, my first marriage.”


Essentially, this is the Self-Ownership Axiom in all but name, albeit with a humorous twist. But of course, since this is a satirical work primarily about middle-aged family life, it wouldn’t be complete without a joke or two about the subject:


“Having kids defines fun down – just in time for middle age when having fun isn’t much fun anymore anyway. I used to think booze and sex would bring me joy. Now it’s a nap. Or a business trip to a Motel 6 in Akron. Where I can go to the john in peace. Wow, a dry towel. And twenty-six channels to myself.”


I think many parents would agree.

P. J. O’Rourke’s The CEO of the Sofa is, like all of his satire, laced with political commentary. Admiring the birth of his latest daughter by smoking Cuban cigars in the garage does gives a rather Mad Men feel about the whole endeavor. Perhaps most libertarian husbands should start becoming the CEOs of their own sofas and engage with their (possibly) non-libertarian wives in dialogues that might help them come around….or maybe they already do?

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