P.J. O’Rourke on capitalism and free trade

The Business Herald interviewed USA satirist P.J. O’Rourke who said on capitalism:

The free market is simply a measurement. It’s a yardstick; a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on a bathroom scale, but you can’t pass a law making yourself thin. And I feel there are a lot of politicians out there who think that you can, or want to tell the public that the public can.

On China:

Two years ago, I spent quite a long time there. And I was there a year ago too, although that was more Hong Kong. But it’s an amazing place. The changes are great. People who say the Chinese economic boom has not come with greater freedoms are only talking about a limited range of freedoms. When people are able to feed themselves, as opposed to unable to feed themselves, that makes them a lot freer. Economic freedoms are a big part of the freedom we use every day. They’re easy to mock, but the freedom we use most often, and to the greatest extent, is economic freedom. And so the Chinese all of a sudden have that, and it’s extraordinary to see. But it also is an important lesson that economic freedom is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of complete freedom.

And On free trade:

People will lie about this. Even if they don’t always understand the free market is to their advantage, they do understand that free trade is to their advantage, in a macro sense over a long period of time. But nobody seems to understand yet that when you restrict your imports you are restricting the actions of your own people and you are hampering the freedoms of other people around the world to indulge in the harmless exchange of goods. People say free trade causes dislocation. In actual fact, it’s the lowering of trade barriers that causes the dislocation. It’s not the natural state of things that causes dislocation, so much as it is the changing from the previously unnatural state of things.

The full interview is here. 

He doesn’t know how to use a computer and writes with a typewriter. As a specialist in work avoidance I concur with his view on the danger of distraction with computers, but there is no way I’d choose a typewriter over a word processor and not just because it’s easier to make corrections when I type faster than I spell.

There’s a link at the bottom of the interview for information on O’Rourk’s John Bonython lecture in Auckland on April 30th. It didn’t work but I found if on the Centre for Independent Studies’ website.

Hat Tip: goNZo Freakpower

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