Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, while everyone is snacking on leftovers, I will be digging up some notes from events I attended the past year that never got posted. So stop back for some Thanksgiving Leftovers.

In October, I attended a lecture at Iowa State by John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Perkins was on a book tour for his new book, The Secret History of the American Empire. He started off by saying he hopes that when we walk out of this room, we will be willing to do the right, pragmatic, and sensible things to make this a stable, peaceful, and peaceful world.

Perkins outlined how the United States created a global empire, not through the use of the military, but primarily through economics and without the public even being aware of it. He explained the process through which Economic Hit Man work. First, the United States identifies a 3rd World country that has a resource we want. Then Economic Hit Man arrange loans to the country through the World Bank or IMF. The money goes to US Companies to do the construction of the project and to a few rich people in the country. The majority of the people in the country get nothing. Then Economic Hit Man will go back and ask for favors from this country because the country owes a lot of money. The favors might be deals on oil, important votes in the UN, or to send troops to conflicts elsewhere in the world. If the Economic Hit Man fails, then the jackals from the CIA comes in to overthrow the government or assassinate the leader. If the jackals fail, then the military goes in.

In the 1970's, Perkins was an Economic Hit Man. He was recruited by the NSA, but worked for a private company. Perkins then tells the story of him being sent to the country of Seychelles, a small island off the coast of Africa, to see if their new leader France-Albert Rene was corruptible. Perkins says he was called off the job and later remembered watching the failed assassination attempt on the national news in 1981. 46 jackals, disguised as a rugby team, were caught in a firefight at the airport when one of their guns were discovered. The jackals hijacked an airplane and flew to South Africa. When they landed they gave themselves up, however, they knew the police that caught them. They were sentenced to prison, put in jail for 3 months, then quietly released. South Africa ended up paying Rene's government $3 million and Rene became our friend because he knew if he didn't then his days would be numbered.

Perkins left the company he was working for shortly after and stopped being an Economic Hit Man. He said he wrote the book because Americans didn't have any understanding of the reasons behind 9/11, about the causes of terrorism, and why we are really in Iraq.

Perkins then switched gears and began talking about what we need to do create a stable, sensible, peaceful world. He said we have reasons to be optimistic about the world we live in because we know in our hearts we need to do the right thing. He said if the United States is an global empire, then we must have an emperor, which is the corporatocracy, whose goal in life is to make windfall profits. The corporations have great power, but we, as consumers, have great power over them. We can use this power to transform the empire into a viable model.

We must use consumer demand to change the corporatocracy's goal from windfall profits to creating a stable, sensible, and peaceful future. No CEO wants Florida to go under water, terrorism, or polluted water. They all have kids and want them to have a quality life.
Perkins said this will be the easiest revolution ever because it is bloodless and the opponent, deep down in their hearts, is on our side, even if they don't realize it. He said, "we need to turn the intent of our economy around." He asked the audience to be conscience of where you purchase things and to donate to organizations you believe in. He ran through a list of examples of companies changing their habits to create a more stable, sensible, and peaceful world. These including cleaning up rivers, hiring more women and minorities, putting seat belts in cars, etc.

During the question and answer portion, Perkins was asked if corporate personhood should be revoked. Perkins said companies have the rights of individuals, but do not have the responsibilities of individuals. We want companies to have the responsibilities of individuals. To strengthen his point, Perkins said in World War II corporations paid 50% of the nation's taxes and in 2006 they paid just 8%.

When asked about government contractors and paid mercenaries in Iraq, Perkins told us we should ask candidates that are coming to Iowa what they are going to do change the country's economy from a militaristic one, to one that promotes a sensible, stable, and peaceful world.

Perkins concluded with a line from Shakespeare's King Lear...
The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
He left repeating that he used throughout the speech...
Every single day do something that honors your passion and utilizes your talents to create a stable, sensible, and peaceful world.

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