Parliament of Whores is a lot more rollicking than this meditation on the federal budget. Mr. O'Rourke gives the best, shortest, explanation of the savings and loan scam, and notes, "Beginning in the late 1970s, savings and loan lobbyists produced a bloody flux of political-action-committee funds and other influence effluvia, and members of the House and Senate stood by like toilets with the lids up."

He takes apart U.S. farm policy, which he calls, "along with North Korea and the Stanford liberal arts faculty, one of the world's last outposts of anti-free-market dogmatism."

And consider his coverage of a march for the homeless. He notes that the demonstrators seemed to come from "the kinds of homes that demonstrators generally come from -- homes where they had sufficient resources to become half-educated and adequate leisure to hate their parents."

He goes on. "They were all present and account for: World Council of Churches sensible-shoe types who have self-righteousness the way some people have bad breath ... Angry black poverty pests making a life and a living off the misfortunes of others ... even angrier feminists doing their best to feminize poverty before the blacks use it all up ... College bohos dressed in black to show how gloomy the world is when you're a 19-year-old rich kid."

He concludes, "Together these people constitute America's loudest special interest (and only true, permanent underclass) -- the Perennially Indignant. As always these days, they were joined by greedy celebrities who aren't contended with fame and money and want a reputation for moral goodness, too." And their message: simply and entirely, 'give me some money.'"

It's not only that throwing money at a problem never solves it, according to Mr. O'Rourke; it's that government in general "isn't a good way to solve problems."

He continues, "I'd been to Washington and seen for myself that government is concerned mostly with self-perpetuation and is subject to fantastic ideas about its own capabilities. I understood that government is wasteful of the nation's resources, immune to common sense, and subject to pressure from every half-organized bouquet of assholes. I had observed, in person, government solemnity in debate of ridiculous issues and frivolity in execution of serious duties ... What I hadn't realized was that government is morally wrong. The whole idea of our government is that this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it."

That's not exactly what the Foundling Fathers had in mind. But one look at government at all levels right now, and you realize this: It's time to pay up.

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