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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: A Book Review

Mona is a veteran writer, educator, and coach. She is presently affiliated with Enrich Magazine and Pressenza

John Perkins founded the Pachamama Alliance, "a global community that helps  people learn, connect, engage, travel and cherish life for the purpose of creating a sustainable future that works for all."

John Perkins founded the Pachamama Alliance, "a global community that helps people learn, connect, engage, travel and cherish life for the purpose of creating a sustainable future that works for all."

An Author's Swan Song

This book is like a swan song for Perkins where he talks about his previous work in the larger corporate world. In sum, his job opened his eyes to how large businesses, the American government, the World Bank, et al would collaborate to keep smaller countries poor and in debt by encouraging leaders to undertake construction and engineering jobs that would require the country to undertake loans that they could not possibly expect to repay, even 30 years down the line.

Perkins' product was electricity. He convinced leaders of developing countries to sign on the dotted line on electrical construction projects, with assurances from Perkins of inflated expectations of profits and growth.

This is how the target country gets entangled:

1. The leader agrees to a highly expensive electrical building project which will be built by an American company in the leader's country.

2. The developing country would pay for the project through loans from the World Bank.

3. The electrical project will only service rich neighborhoods. Poor areas won't benefit from the electrical building project.

4. The poor become poorer because the project has resulted in a huge debt that the country must pay for.

5. The debt prevents the country from being able to finance programs that would benefit the poor.

6. The country is indebted to America. Meanwhile, the US has enlarged its global empire.

7. The American company that is building the electric plant is getting a huge profit from the project.

swan song

swan song

Owning Saudi

In Perkins' book, which he wrote in 2004, he noted that he closed deals with leaders from many countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia, Saudi, and Panama, among others.

But a ray of light sometimes cuts through the blackness of the night. Perkins sometimes, for example, got a rise of conscience and played his own hand in this corporate electric biosphere.

In Torrijos, Panama, for example, he tweaked a design so that it would benefit the poor. He also tweaked a project in Saudi, an extremely rich country that grew its economy by raising the price of oil over and over, again and again.

The goal was to make money and to make sure that the country is in a situation where it's owned. How did the US own Saudi? Perkins said it was all in the deal. The US would handle the building of all the infrastructure the country needs. The money for these projects, however, would be placed in American banks. And both countries had to be in agreement regarding which projects they would spend the money on.

This is an old movie but it's a good movie and if you want to see it, I recommend that you do so. Here's a link if you want to see the movie:

This is an old movie but it's a good movie and if you want to see it, I recommend that you do so. Here's a link if you want to see the movie:

See No Evil

In 2005 the movie Syriana was released to the public. It was loosely based on the book, See No Evil. But there was one scene that reminded me of Perkins' book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman. In this scene, a character played by Matt Damon talks to the leader of the fictional country Syriana. Damon recommends that they change the grid of the original electrical plant so that electricity reaches the poor people of that country. I guess there were more economic hitman than just one.

What was compelling about this book is the geopolitical expertise of the author. The book is so informative and it explains many global events at that time that we had seen, except through the author's lens we get a deeper understanding of what had occurred in the past. We also benefit from having a more informed opinion of that time which came before.

I also loved learning about countries in South America, about rain forests, about indigenous cultures in these countries. I was truly intrigued about what happened in Saudi, in the House of Saud, and how America made much out of a less than perfect situation. And the story of Iraq and Saddam, let me not even begin.

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What is he doing today?

Reading this book is a very good way to spend one's time, whether or not you may agree with him in the end. His is a narrative worth one's consideration. He continues to write and has written 8 books in all, translated into 35 languages.

What else is Perkins doing today? He has accomplished the following:

1. He founded The Pachamama (Inca's word for Mother Nature) Alliance, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower Indigenous Amazon people from the rainforest, and seeks the preservation of their lands and culture; as well as to develop "ambassadors" who are willing to learn about, and educate individuals on how they can help to bring about a just and sustainable world.

2. Perkins also founded and is on the board of Dream Change, another nonprofit which buttresses the wisdom of indigenous people and their advocacy for "'life economies' with long term benefits for all life."

3. He is a lecturer and has addressed over 50 universities globally, including Harvard and Oxford University.

4. He has written eight books on indigenous cultures and global economics.

5. Among others, he's been featured in The New York Times, the History Channel, Time, The Washington Post, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications.

6. He has guested on programs in CNN, ABC, and NBC among others.

7. His awards include the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace in 2012, and the Challenging Business as Usual Award in 2006.


Mona Sabalones Gonzalez (author) from Philippines on April 16, 2021:

I very much agree with you Devika, the book is so interesting. I'm particularly excited by the updated version because times change and ways of doing things will change accordingly.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez (author) from Philippines on April 16, 2021:

Hi Sp Greaney, yes, it's true, a lot of it is human nature. I was pretty amazed by what the author said. There really is a difference between the people of a country and the government that leads them. But I would say some governments are better than others, and I very much appreciate our democracy. I'll take it over any totalitarian government any time.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez (author) from Philippines on April 16, 2021:

Yes, Mary, come to think of it, you're right.

this book would really be interesting for to people who are interested in the development of poorer countries.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez (author) from Philippines on April 16, 2021:

How wonderful to hear from you, Flourish Anyway. Yes, this book has gotten a lot of feedback from readers who, like you found the story interesting but doubted its conclusions. We are all human, anyway, and we would be a lesser world if we all shared the same opinions about everything.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 16, 2021:

grand old lady this is an interesting and unique book review I have not read the book but do understand what you mean here.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez (author) from Philippines on April 15, 2021:

Thank you, Mr. Bill:). You know, I keep trying to comment on your articles, but they are in the new style and I can only comment on the old format. I still read your articles though especially about writing. You are a true mentor in so many different ways.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 15, 2021:

Your review is so interesting. It seems like a book we all should take time out to read. It's not surprising big enterprises forget about the locals.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 15, 2021:

I haven't read this book, but you have piqued my interest. An interesting read for those who are into development.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 15, 2021:

Very interesting. When I was in Peru I saw devastating poverty and had the notion of Pachamama explained to me by a local who believed. I’d be interested in reading the book but am not sure about the anti-American sentiments.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 15, 2021:

Thank you for the book review and the brief biography! This sounds like something I would enjoy reading.

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