Anyone thinking of entering politics to pursue public office, or considering employment with a government bureaucracy, or even pondering whether or not to register to vote, should go to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble or anywhere else they need to go to get a (possibly used) copy of PJ O’Rourke’s book Parliament of Whores. As it is explained on the cover, “a lone humorist attempts to explain the entire US Government”.
He’s more than a humorist, of course. He’s a thinking human being with significant experience watching the machinery of US government and politics at work, as a White House correspondent for Rolling Stone, among other “respectable” journalistic professional pursuits. He’s also damned entertaining to read.
I spent two and a half years examining the American political process. All that time I was looking for a straightforward issue. But everything I investigated — election campaigns, the budget, lawmaking, the court system, bureaucracy, social policy — turned out to be more complicated than I had thought. There were always angles I hadn’t considered, aspects I hadn’t weighed, complexities I’d never dreamed of. Until I got to agriculture. Here at last is a simple problem with a simple solution. Drag the omnibus farm bill behind the barn, and kill it with an ax.
Having read the chapter on US agricultural policy that precedes that incredible statement, I have to disagree. I think he’s being a trifle too kind.
Find this book and read it. It’s more important for forming a well-reasoned view of needed short-term governmental policy than anything else I have ever read. Seriously. Despite the fact it’s about a decade and a half old, now, the only changes it needs take the form of increased emphasis: what was true when it was written is even more true now.