Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Listened to: "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins

Listened to: Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, 2004, downloaded from Overdrive.

Straight to the big question: Is Perkins a bullshitting liar? A lot of what he writes about makes perfect sense. But, some of what he writes about is laced with paranoia, suspicion, and guesswork.

What makes sense is that banks and construction companies are driven by greed and supported by government who want to get money to their pals and gain control of other countries. Nothing revolutionary there. What seems like a stretch, to me, is that Perkins makes some things seem so conspiratorial and espionage-ish.

A good book and an entertaining listen. Perkins makes many good points and has lead an interesting professional life. I want to look at reviews and critiques of Perkins to see what his detractors have to say. One thing that annoys me about the book is that Perkins fears personal sabotage and character assassination after having written the book. Perkins mentions this multiple times and that feels like a set-up to make the reader disbelieve whatever people may say about Perkins. That feels like a con job.

In short: Perkins grows up poor compared to the rich kids at the private school his dad teaches at. Perkins joins Peace Corps. Perkins recruited by consulting company after his experience in South America with Peace Crops. Perkins given job as economic analyst. His analyst job is to inflate and manipulate numbers to justify the World Bank lending tons of dough to developing countries. Developing countries are not expected to have economic boom but are expected to owe lots of cash and get under the foreign policy sway of the U.S. That way both the U.S. companies get lucrative contracts (mostly US aid money) and the government gets control.

Perkins moves up the ranks at his business but always feels a little weaselly about his job and justifies his job to himself while pulling in a huge salary. He eventually breaks away and starts a private electric power company. Perkins gets out of power business and does hippie work in Central and South America. Perkins starts and stops writing Confessions over several years. Perkins finishes Confessions.

8 March 2010: I just read a review in LJ from the Dec., '09 issue about Perkins latest book. Here's another set of tall tales written in purple prose from the self-proclaimed Economic Hit Man...we again behold Perkins's pro-wrestling worthy persona...can be a fun bit of infotainment for those willing to play along.

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