John Perkins – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
This book is the system exposed by an insider and it gets to the simplicity that is lacking in so many other works exposing the truth of the system we currently live in. Perkins began his life as an Economic Hit man (EHM) at Chas T. Main, an engineering consultant company, as an economist. His job was to produce inflated reports of economic growth that would justify huge infrastructure projects which the World Bank would finance, and which would benefit only the richest families in the country. These forecasts of growth would not happen of course and the countries would be burdened with a debt that they could not repay, allowing the USA to demand its “pound of flesh” whenever the corporate agenda was in need of natural resources.
This is empire building. The control is indirect, but that is how the British ruled their African colonies, the fact of the matter is though that effective control lies in foreign parliaments. This control has also opened the door to a less blatant form of imperialism, that of consumption. In an earlier book Perkins wrote, he talked about the world is as you dream it. The USA has created the American Dream, based on conspicuous consumption. Some of the world has bought in to it, and that part of the world is now a colony of the USA, because they depend on it for their dream products.
The truth is that this system is widening disparities of wealth and killing the world we live in. The world we dream of has to change, we can’t dream of big houses with infinity pools that disappear into the ocean. We have to dream of sustainable living with decreasing disparities of wealth. Interesting that I can describe the dream of conspicuous consumption but just the idea of equality, there needs to be a vision of it. So the world may be as we dream it.
My dream world is a world where all the products are fair trade, where there is no 3rd world debt, where there is no desire for conspicuous consumption and it isn’t pushed in our faces everyday, where we don’t rely on oil, and indigenous cultures that hold some answers we need to look to. The world where public services are not privatized, healthcare and water and education will be accessible by everyone.
The wizard of economic growth is just an old man behind a curtain. It is not the saviour it is made out to be. Perkins had a good point that the US economy isn’t invincible. It has a 7 trillion dollar debt (securities mostly exchanged by China and Japan for consumer goods) this isn’t a problem because the world economy is in US dollars, if they want their money Bush just goes to the basement and photocopies enough money to pay them. But if the world economy switches to the Euro, which could be done by OPEC selling oil in Euros instead of dollars, then Bush can’t go to the basement, the USA actually has to produce goods to trade. Paul William Roberts (reporter for Globe and Mail) projected that if this happens the US dollar will fall by 40% immediately, the US economy will fall. I find it ironic that the fate of the US economy is in the hands of the leaders of the Middle East. Maybe its time the Middle East demands its own pound of flesh. The only hope though is that the disease of conspicuous consumption isn’t transmitted in that pound of flesh. But I am not holding my breath.
This gets to something that I have been thinking about. It actually is expressed in the idea that the world is as you dream it. Institutions can’t change people’s dreams. The institutions however can support a different dream, so we don’t have to worry about changing the systems so much as the people in them.