Byron's Babbles

Regenerating Leadership

share_01John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Since then, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and been printed in over 30 languages. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. His new book, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, can be found on Amazon.

*****

It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they themselves can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.

The excerpt below shows just how pervasive corruption is. In 2015, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), hit the front pages as evidence of bribery, fraud, and money laundering were brought into the open. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 42 of the book and the events that became my confessions.
I’d like say a special thanks to Byron for his support of my new release and for his willingness to post this on his blog. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!

EHMs, FIFA, and the Growing Problem of Poverty

I was struck by how anesthetized the American public has become to being exploited. Our willingness to wear blinders is similar to attitudes in the countries I’d exploited during the 1970s. In addition to the relatively secret schemes of the bankers, we are exploited by overt measures that we quietly accept as standard practice. These include the skyrocketing student debt caused by state and federal cuts in public education, the constantly increasing medical debt resulting from deficient national health care and insurance policies, predatory payday loans, tax laws that subsidize a few of the richest at the expense of the many, and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. The mantra “We will do whatever it takes” echoes from bank boardrooms into the halls of Congress.

This was brought home during the 2015 FIFA soccer scandal. The EHM system is so pervasive that it infects all areas of society, even sports. According to charges brought by the US Justice Department against leaders of international soccer’s governing body, the perpetrators employed many of the tools that had been part of my EHM kit, including bribes, fraud, and money laundering, and it was done in collaboration with the big banks. The corruption was unchecked for nearly two decades and cost the communities and taxpayers of many nations fortunes while making a small number of elites wealthy.

At first, I was relieved that the Justice Department had taken action. This seemed a step in the right direction. The regulators were finally regulating. Then I saw a different aspect.
The soccer scandal was a smoke-and-mirrors diversion. Media attention focused on a nonessential aspect of life—sports—at a time when the real criminals were stealing the global economy. Individual FIFA officials were carted off in handcuffs while bank executives awarded themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses. Why were individual bank officers, whose admitted crimes affected all of us, not indicted?

The obvious answer is that the bankers are members of the corporatocracy, whereas FIFA officials are not. The story that the Justice Department had uncovered so much wrongdoing among the FIFA people and was aggressively pursuing indictments diverted attention from the bigger story. The banking lobby owns the Justice Department. Banks are so wealthy and powerful that they can buy our elected officials, the regulators who serve us, and the media that is supposed to keep us informed.

I found myself once again thinking a lot about [former colleague] Howard Zinn. He and I had discussed the growing power of lobbyists. “We vote,” he said. “But those we elect don’t seem to listen to us anymore. They obey the commands of the people who finance their campaigns, corporate lobbyists.” He pointed out that I’d done something similar. “You obeyed the World Bank.” He paused. “Did you really think the World Bank wanted to end world poverty?”

I saw an image of myself in 1967, while I was still in business school, standing at the entrance to the World Bank and reading the motto “Working for a World Free of Poverty.” I believed those seven words. But not for long. Within a few years, I discovered that the motto was symbolic of the deceptions that characterize the bank’s work.

Since the publication of the original version of this book, I’ve participated on panels and in debates where development professionals try to defend the World Bank. They argue that the work I did, and that the bank has done since, has gone a long way toward ending poverty. The facts, however, tell a different story.

A recent Oxfam report revealed that almost half the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population and that seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the past thirty years. Slum dwellers in countries where I promoted World Bank projects, such as Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, and Indonesia, might now have mobile phones, but they are by no means free of poverty. In fact, from a comparative standpoint, they are worse off than when I was an EHM. According to World Bank statistics, 2.2 billion people still lived at a poverty level of less than two dollars per day in 2011—a huge number of people, considering the billions of dollars paid to global corporations to “free the world of poverty.” These are just a few of the many statistics that expose deceptions related to World Bank and other development policies.

Over the past three decades, sixty of the world’s poorest countries have paid $550 billion in principal and interest on loans of $540 billion, yet they still owe a whopping $523 billion on those same loans. The cost of servicing that debt is more than these countries spend on health or education and is twenty times the amount they receive annually in foreign aid. In addition, World Bank projects have brought untold suffering to some of the planet’s poorest people. In the past ten years alone, such projects have forced an estimated 3.4 million people out of their homes; the governments in these countries have beaten, tortured, and killed opponents of World Bank projects.

My colleagues and I did whatever we thought it would take to expand the corporate, capitalist empire. That was the real goal. The World Bank motto was a subterfuge. We convinced government leaders that, unless they accepted our loans and paid us to train their militaries and build up their infrastructures, their citizens would be ruled by brutal Stalinstyle dictators. Corporate capitalism would boost them out of the dark ages of feudalism and into the modern era of US-driven prosperity.

It is a system that has mushroomed since Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was first published. Today, in addition to the World Bank, it is promoted by the private banks—by the individuals who admit to criminal activities and, instead of prison terms, receive multimillion-dollar bonuses. They and their corporate colleagues convince people around the world that success is defined by personal assets rather than by contributions to the greater community, that privatization and deregulation protect the public, that government assistance for the needy is wasteful and counterproductive, that personal debt is better than government investment in social services, and that men and women who live in mansions and travel in private jets and luxury yachts are icons to be emulated.

Howard Zinn understood why a majority of us accept these platitudes. Those in the middle class, he said, who have the material trappings of prosperity, are complacent because they possess the things they were taught to covet, and they don’t want to lose them. Those who live in poverty are complacent because they have to devote their energies toward simply surviving. All of this is expertly managed by a whole new breed of EHMs.

*****

During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us. To learn more please visit www.johnperkins.org, and join me in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: