A wry look at ‘Wealth of Nations’ - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

A wry look at ‘Wealth of Nations’

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Posted: Friday, March 9, 2007 4:58 am | Updated: 7:23 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Celebrities seen in Scottsdale often make news, but unlike certain pop stars and baseball players, one visiting this week had a full head of hair.

And with all due respect to these others’ talents, how many of them can talk about economics with intelligence and humor?

That counts out Alan Greenspan, for sure. Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke was at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort Wednesday to hawk his book, “On the Wealth of Nations.”

In his speech to a Goldwater Institute-sponsored luncheon, O’Rourke got a big laugh when listing three bases for economic liberty espoused by his book’s subject, 18th century British economist Adam Smith: the pursuit of self-interest, the division of labor and free trade

He added, “You can either have (these three) or you can have Nancy Pelosi.”

A free-market conservative, O’Rourke took aim at both sides of the political spectrum.

Of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program, O’Rourke said, “What if they deserve to be left behind? What if they deserve a smack on the behind?”

Real conservatives simply admit that they can’t fix public education, O’Rourke said. They don’t blame such things as class sizes or low funding.

They just say that “the problem is your damned kids,” he said, getting another big laugh.

And he said last year’s Republican Congress’ decision to approve a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border simply represented “a large boon to the Mexican ladder


When asked whether he approved of legislation, such as is in the current Arizona legislative session, providing for sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants, O’Rourke replied, “I don’t get it. How many of us are Cherokee? How many of us are Sioux? Where do we come from?”

Meanwhile, liberals talk often about the unfair distribution of wealth and have various plans to change that, he said.

“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should get this through their heads,” O’Rourke said. “Adam Smith is here to speak of unfairness.”

If you make everything “fair” for everyone, O’Rourke said, that’s going to mean we in the First World have to give up a lot.

O’Rourke said when his daughter didn’t get what she wanted, she would say, “Daddy, that’s not fair,” to which he said he replied: “You’re cute. That’s not fair.” And, “you were born in America, and that is definitely not fair. You’d better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair.”

Money does not buy happiness, of course, he said Wednesday. “It rents it.”

If our electorate is economically literate, he said, “maybe we’ll stand a chance.”

Just so. As he once said, according to quotationspage.com, “The U.S. Constitution is less than a quarter the length of the owner’s manual for a 1998 Toyota Camry, and yet it has managed to keep 300 million of the world’s most unruly, passionate and energetic people safe, prosperous and free.”

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