Thursday, August 9, 2007

an eye opening confession

I know I'm a bit late on this, but I just finished reading John Perkins' book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (CEHM), and I loved it. I can't say that I'm surprised by his book so much as enlightened. The book is basically a memoir chronicling his role as an Economic Hit Man (EHM) which he describes as, "highly paid professionals who cheat countries aroudn the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the Word 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" (xi). Part of Perkins' redemption is the writing of this book. It is his tell-all expose. He explains how and why he bought into the system and why he got out.

I say that I'm not surprised because these methods of advancing the American Empire are not new, just more sophisticated. Ancient Empires around the world have used each of the tactics (with the possible exception of "fraudulent financial reports") to further their power. Also, because of my education at Ozark Christian College and the focus on world evangelism, I have been exposed to missionaries from all over the globe. I have heard from missionaries who see first hand the affects of the American Empire. Missionaries have shown me statistics on poverty and hunger. In addition to missionaries, my education in the NT has helped me to recognize the danger of "the powers and authorities." Through studying Paul and Jesus I have seen the politics of evil. I have even had the privilege to visit a third world country and see the affects of the American Gospel of capitalism and "free-trade."

Aside from confirming what I already knew, what I found most interesting about the book is how the American Empire uses completely legal means to further its global dominance, and how no one, in America, seems to care. The ideology that underwrites these practices is at the very core of American economics, "the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits" (xv). This idea just isn't true. "Over half the people in the world survive on less than two dollars per day, which is roughly the same amount they received in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of third world households accounts for 70 to 90 percent of all private financial wealth and real estate ownership in their country" (xxii).

Using multinational banks and major engineering corporations the United States has raped and pillaged the natural resources of the world. "With less than 5 percent of the world's population, we [the United States] produce almost a quarter of its greenhouse-gas emissions. We consume nearly a third of the world's electricity (mostly from coal) and 43 percent of its gasoline" (Paul Schell and Denis Hayes, Seattle Times, December 29,1999). Foreign policy is dictated by oil and the corporations who will use any means necessary to have it. CEHM is a revealing book. It shows that, "No one had to be bribed or threatened--they had already been recruited by comapnies, banks, and government agencies. The bribes consisted of salaries, bonuses, pensions, and insurance policies; the threats were based on social mores, peer pressure, and unspoken questions about the future of their children's education" (240).

I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding Christian pacifism. He asked me, "How can we be against Christians fighting in the military and not be against Christians being employed by corporations that exploit the world?"

I looked at him and said, "I don't know."

3 comments:

michael defazio said...

Eye opening indeed!

Sparksaz said...

I will take a little trip to borders and pick that book up, and tell you what I think. But in the mean time don’t you think we can combat Christian pacifism under the current government in which capitalism and free trade exists? What do you see as an alternative to the system?

I am by no means condoning what is going on, exploitation of other countries and/or people, fraudulence, etc. Every government is corrupt and does things just as bad or worse maybe in different ways but most all governments are shady and dishonest. I see what your saying in the second paragraph and specifically when you said “studying Paul and Jesus I have seen the politics of evil. I have even had the privilege to visit a third world country and see the affects of the American Gospel of capitalism and "free-trade." Because of the fall life and people and governments and all the rest will always be horribly sinful. Yet God will work his good out even through the sin and even through the corrupt greedy American Empire.

When I was in Morocco we saw first hand how capitalism and the American economics made a huge difference for the better. Morocco and the U.S. have a program set up where business men and women will go over to Morocco and set up small businesses and provide business consulting all non-profit. This enables the country’s GDP to steadily rise and provides jobs for women. This also allows Christian workers (missionaries) into an Islamic country in which they would have been rejected. These missionaries are now not just meeting the spiritual needs of this community by spreading the gospel of Christ but also the physical and emotional aspect which Christ also taught we need to do. Many of these small businesses that they are starting in Morocco are physical therapy clinics, which is a very high profit job for the men of the community who owns it. Women are able to be trained and employed with a paycheck, which the never were able to do before, and special needs children and elders of the community are being cared for. Not only that but medical companies here such as, Gateway Medical, can send over supplies, wheel chairs, x-ray machines that do not make U.S. quota for the Moroccan clinics. Gateway also pays for the full cost to ship all equipment over, plus the upkeep. Moroccans are also being shown that those with disabilities are useful and can be apart of the community which they never did before. Just by westerners coming over and through the principles of capitalism a city in Morocco is made better.

Like I said in the beginning I will go out and read the book because I am not sure what it fully entails or what the author’s job used to be or what an “economic hit man’ truly is but I’ll definitely give you my thoughts on that.

Tyler Stewart said...

Sarah,

Good thoughts. I definitely agree that good has and will continue to come from America, even with all its faults. God used Assyria (an evil nation) to punish Israel and bring about his purposes. I don't think there is an exact comparison between America and Assyria, but it is instructive. Also, I'm not necessarily opposed to capitalism. But, I think that we need to confront some of the lies that we are taught in school about big business, and corporate "rights."

I think that what the missionaries are doing in Morocco sounds great, but I don't think that has much to do with capitalism. I think it is Christianity. Also, I don't think capitalism is a Christian economic system.

It is a good book so I'm glad you're going to read it. I will say that although the story is good, it is not backed up with hard evidence. I think that what he is saying is true based on works by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, but I think Perkins is a lot more readable.

I'm glad your interested in a different perspective. I'll look forward to having more input from you.