ironphoenix (ironphoenix) wrote,

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Recent reading

I burned my way through John Perkins' book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man over the weekend, dropping all other reading for it.

The basic scheme he claims to have been a part of runs like this:

  • The US Government (and, to a lesser extent, European powers) wants to control other countries and enrich the US.

  • The US Government (and, again, the Europeans) controls the major "international" financial structures (World Bank, IMF, etc.)

  • Companies want to increase their profits.

  • People in power in developing countries want to have The Good Life and stay in power.

  • Some developing countries have valuable resources.

  • US Government encourages a US company to propose an infrastructure development scheme to a developing country.

  • The project is presented to target country's rulers as enhancing the country's total wealth as represented by GNP.

  • The contract is awarded to US companies, and financed by loans from the WB, IMF, etc.

  • The terms of the debt are set so that the country cannot successfully pay it off.

  • The US Government "rescues" the country in exchange for UN votes, resource extraction rights, etc.

  • The resource extraction rights are given to US companies or subsidiaries.

  • The cooperative local rulers are given a sufficient cut of the proceeds to keep them onside.

  • The consequent environmental and societal damage causes hardship for poor, often unemployed, rural natives and aborigenes.

He gives examples, of course, and discusses a bit of where to go from here. It's a big, complicated problem in which the pieces fit together snugly, so alleviating this is hard. In essence, though, he seems to me to propose that we:
  • Reduce consumption, particularly of products and services (especially energy) whose prices are kept low by unethical extraction and exploitation practices;

  • Become informed about current projects like this; and

  • Protest against governments and comapnies which use these tactics.

  • It's a pretty interesting book; he tells the stories well, and gives them a personal angle. I recommend it highly. If you agree with him, it ties things together nicely; if not, I'm looking for a credible, thorough refutation.
Tags: books
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