Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
I just finished a book that was recommended by my friend, Shy Guy. It’s called, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. I wanted to share my impressions. Mr. Perkins claims to have been recruited to work for Charles T. Main, a large engineering firm (that he refers to throughout the book as MAIN, as if it were an anagram rather than someone’s last name). He claims that he was recruited to work for MAIN by the NSA or National Security Agency.
The NSA is a highly secretive government agency that mostly concentrates on cryptology. They’re French Connection type spooks. It seems highly unlikely that they would be involved in recruiting unschooled and ill-prepared economists for a private engineering firm. But I suppose crazier things have happened. At any rate, it provides the book with a cloak and dagger edge and a Republican masterminded conspiracy theory that makes for more exciting reading than the dry history of American foreign policy of the last forty years. Supposedly, a production company has bought the film rights for Harrison Ford to star in the movie version one day.
Mr. Perkins does say an awful lot about American foreign policy that might shock some people and would certainly educate many Americans. He claims that as an economic hit man or EHM that he was paid to inflate the cost of modernization projects that we were doing in third world countries throughout Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Not only would he pad the cost of the projects but he would also, more importantly, project inflated figures of future economic growth related to these projects. The work would then be done by American companies like MAIN or Haliburton. When the first note was due the third world country would be unable to pay it and would default on the loan because the economic growth rate that was projected from the project was well below the actual growth rate. This made all these countries indebted to the United States of America and unable to pay the debt.
Mr. Perkins claims that this was done willfully by our government in an attempt to not only further stop the spread of communism by exerting our influence over those countries that owed us debts, but also that we used it as a form of modern imperialism in order to protect our economic interests (i.e. OIL, folks) abroad. I certainly wouldn’t put this past our government. I think that it’s also possible that the loans were simply padded in the name of good old-fashioned greed with the American tax payer footing the bill and the fat cats at firms like MAIN amassing a small fortune with each new indebted foreign country. Gordon Gecko would heartily approve. However it happened, the end result is just the same. Much of the third world is indebted to us and rightfully feels shackled, burdened and cheated.
We may not occupy these countries like the Roman empire but we exert our influence just as heavy handedly. The foreign countries may not be able to pay their debts but we amass our pound of flesh somehow. If the rulers of these countries fail to do our bidding, then this is when America sends in what Mr. Perkins refers to as our, “jackals.” The jackals are CIA agents who commit assassinations, stage coups and fund revolutions with the goal of putting someone in office who will do America’s bidding, regardless of whether that leader is a “good” leader or a “bad” leader and irrespective of any semblance of a democratic process.
In addition, in each of the many instances where the United States has stepped into a foreign country with the lip service of improving conditions, things have actually worsened for the vast majority of the citizens of that country. American companies come in and take advantage of cheap labor and natural resources. The interest alone on the loans that these countries owe in many cases means that even a well-intentioned leader is unable to afford to provide the citizens of his country with basic needs such as food, clean water, and health care. This is why much of the world hates the United States. We got richer while they got poorer. The vast chasm of income disparity between the wealthiest and poorest people and nations continues to grow and yawn.
What can be done to change this? I think we do need to change. We need to wake up quickly and smell the coffee. Unless we change our dependence on oil and change our policies in accordance we are doomed to repeat the historic cycle of superpowers ad infinitum, and we are going down. Ours is such a great country that I would hate to see that happen. Despite the criticisms in this post, I think that America is great and that Americans have done a lot of good in the world as well. I think that if we changed our energy policy and also practiced debt forgiveness to those nations that need it that we could go far in achieving good will throughout the world. If you’re interested in the concept of debt forgiveness, there’s a great organization championing the idea, mostly on the internet. It’s called One, and you can join for free and find out how you can help by influencing the politicians that represent you. Their website is: http://www.one.org/us/.
Entry filed under: Books, Economy, Foreign Policy, Politics. Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Economic, Foreign policy of the United States, Middle East, National Security Agency, South America, United States.