In Memoriam: P.J. O’Rourke

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From Rolling Stone to nearly 20 rollicking books, P.J. O’Rourke explained the inexplicable, from war and every imaginable human privation to the peccadillos of Congress and exploding federal appetites. Often described as a satirist, he was a generous journalist with a special talent for naming the irreverent, fallen features of human nature without meanness. O’Rourke was familiar with vice, but never viciousness. He gave us great writing and powerful, first-person imagery for 50 years. We are better for it, as individuals and as a nation.

In a 2006 tribute to CEI, O’Rourke explained his affinity for the organization.

But the thing for which I’d like to thank CEI most is its optimism.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been a lonely voice in the wilderness of worry, reminding us that our highly populous, highly capitalist, high-tech, and high-energy-use modern world is, in fact, a good world.

As a result of market freedoms, market innovations, and the classical liberalism that the market enforces, this is an optimistic moment in human history.

Yes, we have problems. Some people are using terror to achieve their goals, and we don’t seem to be able to stop them—after all this time, Ralph Nader is still on the loose.

And later, the essence of voluntary relationships and free enterprise.

This is the key difference between politics and free enterprise. If politics were a product, it would have no customers. And yet, somehow, we end up spending a quarter of our gross domestic product on political goods and services that wouldn’t get a single bid if they were for sale on eBay.

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