P.J. O'Rourke is one of America's leading political satirists and the best-selling author of ten books. After graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and attending the graduate program at Johns Hopkins, O'Rourke began his career of telling it like it is with his razor-sharp one-liners and political humor. O'Rourke has written for The National Lampoon, Automobile, American Spectator, Playboy, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Harper's. He is currently the Foreign Affairs Desk Chief for Rolling Stone Magazine, a position he especially enjoys. O'Rourke divides his time between homes in New Hampshire and Washington D.C.
In his book Eat the Rich, copyright 1998, O'Rourke tackles the subject of economics from the standpoint of the person who doesn't have a deep love for the subject. O'Rourke sets out to answer the question he poses on page one of the book, "Why do some places prosper and thrive while others just suck?" A good question, it grabbed my attention immediately and kept me interested until the last page.
While this book is set in present day, it explores history from the late 1700's through present day, and speculates about the future.
O'Rourke headed to Hong Kong on his quest for information because of its "laissez-faire" (meaning allow to do) approach to government and economy. Basically, Hong Kong was owned by Great Britain until midnight on June 30, 1997, at which time it was given back to Communist China. Until that time, however, the government interfered in people's lives only to keep the peace, ensure legal rights, and protect property. Beyond that, the people of Hong Kong were living without an economic safety net. The corporate tax rate was 16.5%, and the individual tax rate was a flat 15%. This lead to a permanent budget surplus, and the government of Hong Kong consuming only...