Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man Essay

An Offer They Can't Refuse

Why did the corporatocracy enrich the wealthy and impoverish the poor? John Perkins explained his job:

"Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other foreign 'aid' organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization." [18]

"In the years since I first went there [to Ecuador -ed] in 1968, this tiny country had evolved into the quintessential victim of the corporatocracy. My contemporaries and I, and our modern corporate equivalents, had managed to bring it to virtual bankruptcy. We loaned it billions of dollars so it could hire our engineering and construction firms to build projects that would help its richest families. As a result, in those three decades, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion, and the share of national resources allocated to the poorest citizens declined from 20 percent to 6 percent. Today, Ecuador must devote nearly 50 percent of its national budget simply to paying off its debts - instead of to helping the millions of its citizens who are officially classified as dangerously impoverished." [19]

John Perkins described his training to be an "EHM". He was told [by his recruiter]:

"'No one can know about your involvement - not even your wife. . . . I'll teach you all I can during the next weeks. Then you'll have to choose. Your decision is final. Once you're in, you're in for life'. . . .

Claudine told me that there were two primary objectives of my work. First, I was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN and other U.S. companies (such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster, and Brown & Root) through massive engineering and construction projects. Second, I would work to bankrupt the countries that received those loans (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S. contractors. . .) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we needed favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources. . . ." [20]

The corporatocracy assassinated foreign leaders who wanted to improve the living standards of their people. John Perkins dedicated his book to two of them:

"The book was dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been my clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMs failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA- sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in." [21]

If the corporatocracy couldn't assassinate a leader, they fomented a revolution or contrived a reason to attack their country.

"In tiny Guatemala, the Central Intelligence Agency mounted a coup overthrowing the democratically elected government in 1954, and it backed subsequent right-wing governments against small leftist rebel groups for four decades. Roughly 200,000 civilians died.

In Chile, a CIA-supported coup helped put Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power from 1973 to 1990. In Peru, a fragile democratic government is still unraveling the agency's role in a decade of support for the now-deposed and disgraced president, Alberto K. Fujimori...

The United States had to invade Panama in 1989 to topple . . . Manuel A. Noriega, who, for almost 20 years, was a valued informant for American Intelligence." [22]

Why did the U.S. attack Iraq in 1991 [the first Gulf War]?

"It hardly mattered that he (Saddam) was a pathological tyrant, that he had the blood of mass murders on his hands, or that his mannerisms and brutal actions conjured images of Adolph Hitler. The United States had tolerated and even supported such men many times before. We would be happy to offer him U.S. government securities in exchange for petrodollars, for the promise of continued oil supplies, and for a deal whereby the interest on those securities was used to hire U.S. companies to improve infrastructure systems throughout Iraq, to create new cities, and to turn the deserts into oases. . . . By the late 1980s it was apparent that Saddam was not buying into the EHM scenario. This was a major frustration and a great embarrassment to the first Bush administration. . . . As Bush searched for a way out, Saddam played into his hands . . . he invaded the oil-rich sheikhdom of Kuwait." [23]

Why did the United States attack Iraq in 2002? I will cover that subject next month. "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" can be ordered by calling 800-544-8927. I hope to have a 4-tape set of interviews with Mr. Perkins you can share with your friends.

Steven Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley, fears the United States has a 90% chance of facing a "financial Armageddon." I suggest you get out of debt, and prepare for difficult times.

I close this letter with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "A Psalm of Life":

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! -
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul. . . .

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "A Psalm of Life" [24]

Our job is to labor in the fields, and wait for God to reap the harvest.

[snip]

I appreciate your faithful support, and your prayers. Yours in Christ, Stanley Monteith

Confessions Of An Economic Hitman Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Confessions Of An Economic Hitman by John Perkins.

The New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hitman(2004) by John Perkins is a confession of his time at a private US consulting group that deliberately raised the debt of third world countries. Translated into thirty-two languages, the book is similar to author Michael Lewis’s insider exposés on Wall Street, though many of Perkins’s statements have been questioned, and some critics consider him a conspiracy theorist for not providing enough evidence.

The book is considered autobiographical, though because many sources question the validity of some of his conclusions and observations, some consider it autobiographical-fiction. The book is based on a nine-year period in the 1970s when Perkins worked as an economist for Boston-based consulting group Chas. T. Main Inc., which went under in 1985. The themes include systematic injustice, strategic inhumanity, and individual redemption through confession.

The autobiography establishes Perkins as a young man with a good conscience. He is born to a middle class family in New Hampshire. Though poor in comparison to people in his affluent boarding school, his parents encourage a sort of snobbery in him with regard to professional positions and higher education. Perkins is offered a full athletic scholarship to Brown, but rejects it for another school, Middlebury, which he soon drops out of. Not prone to violence, he joins the Peace Corps, hoping to dodge the draft for the Vietnam War.

In Boston, Perkins is recruited by Chas. T. Main, Inc. (referred to as MAIN for most of the book), an elite consultant group specializing in large scale engineering projects. Claudine Martin, a mysterious, attractive woman tells him about work at MAIN over cocaine and red wine. She also flirts with him, hoping he will join MAIN.

Later, Perkins reveals that he believes she had a strong relationship with the National Security Administration (NSA); Perkins believes this is just one small example of the US government practicing immoral acts through the use of private companies. Several newspapers and scholars have debated this contention, noting the NSA focus on cryptology, not economics.

Though he has no training in economic forecast models, Perkins successfully bluffs his way through, appeasing his bosses and convincing representatives of poor countries to accept large loans they are unlikely to pay back.

Perkins travels to Kuwait and is trained by a woman to be, what he calls, an Economic Hit Man (EHM). He learns that his job as an economist will be to convince foreign governments to accept large, unfair loans for various construction projects. The sites include dams, power plants, airports, and highways. Once countries inevitably default on the loans, they come under the control of The World Bank or The International Monetary Fund. The creditors have substantial US ties, and when the US wants favorable treatment in certain areas, it can have its representatives deal (some would say exhort) favorable outcomes from these poor countries. According to Perkins, some of these past favors included a favorable UN vote, access to oil extraction, or an agreement to build a military base within the country’s borders. Along with a diplomatic advantage, the US gains an economic advantage because these less developed countries (LDC in the book) become beholden to US companies like Bechtel, Halliburton, and Boeing.

Perkins learns more about Indonesia as a successful example of these policies. The US purportedly wanted to fight communism. But Perkins learns the US wanted to secure oil and political leverage in the region; helping the country’s population was a distant concern. Countering this statement, critics have noted that Indonesia’s infant mortality rate and literacy rate increased by 60 percent through taking these loans.

Perkins travels to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, for work. He is amazed by the gap between poor and rich and sees beautiful, well-dressed women walking down the same streets as beggars their own age. He learns that the policies he presents helps the local elite, but are not designed to help the poor at all.

He repeats the process he completed in Indonesia through dozens of other less developed countries, including Iran, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, and Panama.

Perkins comments on how often corporations and upper management relied on people with his temperament — kind and optimistic — to exploit for their more strategic, often nefarious goals.

To get through his participation in an unjust system, Perkins tells himself that he is very good at what he does, and he is not actually coercing these countries to accept these shady deals.

Perkins experiences a wide array of amoral and shocking things. He is encouraged to ask a friend to be a prostitute and hears Panamanian President Omar Torrijos’s fear of assassination first hand (a fear that would be realized).

Eventually, Perkins starts to feel more like a hit man against these poorer countries. Though employed by a private company, he feels that his true employer is the US government. In 1980, he quits.

Perkins founds an alternative energy company and works as an interpreter. He also writes books about dream traveling and self-help books based on Latin American shamanistic rituals. He concludes the book with a call to readers to end the systematic extraction of wealth from poorer countries.

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