Guest Post: “I Quit” by John Perkins


ipad_ebookBACKGROUND:

John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Since then, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and been printed in over 30 languages.  He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. His new book, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, can be found on Amazon.

PROLOGUE *****

It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they themselves can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.

In the excerpt below, I had just learned that the president of my company, MAIN, who was my personal mentor, had been fired. I slowed down to reflect on the things my job had entailed. I had to admit that it was about more than oil, profitability, and global empires. It was about real people, real families, and how I had exploited  – enslaved- them. I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 25 of the book and the events that became my confessions.

I’d like say a special thanks to John E. Smith for his support of my new release and for his willingness to post this on his blog. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!

share_02I Quit

In late March 1980, still smarting from the firing [of Bruno Zambotti], I took a sailing vacation in the Virgin Islands. Although I did not think about it when I chose the location, I now know that the region’s history was a factor in helping me make a decision that would start to fulfill my New Year’s resolution.

I entered Leinster Bay, nestled into Saint John Island, a cove where pirate ships had lain in wait for the gold fleet when it passed through this very body of water. I nudged the anchor over the side; the chain rattled down into the crystal clear water and the boat drifted to a stop.

After settling in, I rowed the dinghy ashore and beached it just below the ruins of an old sugar plantation. I sat there next to the water for a long time, trying not to think, concentrating on emptying myself of all emotion. But it did not work.

Late in the afternoon, I struggled up the steep hill and found myself standing on the crumbling walls of this ancient plantation, looking down at my anchored sloop. I watched the sun sink toward the Caribbean. It all seemed very idyllic, yet I knew that the plantation surrounding me had been the scene of untold misery; hundreds of African slaves had died here—forced at gunpoint to build the stately mansion, to plant and harvest the cane, and to operate the equipment that turned raw sugar into the basic ingredient of rum. The tranquility of the place masked its history of brutality.

The sun disappeared behind a mountain-ridged island. A vast magenta arch spread across the sky. The sea began to darken, and I came face-to-face with the shocking fact that I too had been a slaver, that my job at MAIN had not been just about using debt to draw poor countries into the global empire. My inflated forecasts were not merely vehicles for assuring that when my country needed oil we could call in our pound of flesh, and my position as a partner was not simply about enhancing the firm’s profitability. My job was also about people and their families, people akin to the ones who had died to construct the wall I sat on, people I had exploited.

For ten years, I had been the heir of those earlier slavers. Mine had been a more modern approach, subtler—I never had to see the dying bodies, smell the rotting flesh, or hear the screams of agony. But I too had committed sin, and because I could remove myself from it, because I could cut myself off from the personal aspects, the bodies, the flesh, and the screams, perhaps in the final analysis I was the greater sinner.

I turned away from the sea and the bay and the magenta sky. I closed my eyes to the walls that had been built by slaves torn from their African homes. I tried to shut it all out. When I opened my eyes, I was staring at a large gnarled stick, as thick as a baseball bat and twice as long. I leaped up, grabbed the stick, and began slamming it against the stone walls. I beat on those walls until I collapsed from exhaustion. I lay in the grass after that, watching the clouds drift over me.

Eventually I made my way back down to the dinghy. I stood there on the beach, looking out at my sailboat anchored in the azure waters, and I knew what I had to do. I had to take responsibility. I knew that if I ever went back to my former life, to MAIN and all it represented, I would be lost forever. The raises, the pensions, the insurance and perks, the equity… The longer I stayed, the more difficult it was to get out. I could continue to beat myself up as I had beat on those stone walls, or I could escape.

Two days later I returned to Boston. On April 1, 1980, I walked into Paul Priddy’s office and resigned.

****

During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us. To learn more please visit www.johnperkins.org, and join me in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments.

Five Reasons Why Voting Matters …


Voting is an act of civic and personal leadership.

Why bother?   I can think of five distinct reasons:

5.  If you do not vote, you have not completed your involvement in the decision-making.  

Arguments and Facebook posts are tons of fun, but they are not voting.  They are talking about voting.  Voting is the act of entering your decision about important things into the system which makes those decisions.  We have a tendency sometimes to confuse the process with the duty.  

Voting is not about convincing someone else to do something – it’s about doing it yourself.  Lead by example.

4.  Your individual vote does count.  Everyone’s vote counts.  

With the sheer numbers involved, it is sometimes easy to forget that those large numbers are composed of individual votes or actions.   I know your vote will cancel out your oddball neighbor’s, or your bosses, or even your spouse’s vote.   If you don’t vote, that does not happen.

The point here is that individual actions are the elements of large-scale actions.  If your contribution is missing, the results are different.

3.  You are modeling behavior for your children and others  

An “I Voted” button is a powerful message.

Young people are watching.  If you have children or are around children, they see what you do.   Every single day, you are a teacher, whether you realize that or not.   Teach responsibility and our society will be responsible.  

2. Voting forces you to consider things larger than yourself.

Yes, voting is inconvenient … a hassle … a real pain.  At least, our fears on election day are usually that we will lose a few hours of productive time or that we will have to stand for a while.  Most of us have no real concern with armed violence or attempts to stop us from voting.

Voting is an opportunity to rise above our daily grind and routine focus.  Voting is larger than me because I do it with many others.

1. It’s your civic duty    

Voting is simply one of the requirements of being a citizen.  I learned at an early age that this was what you do because it is what is expected of you.   I was taught that the outcome was not the point.   Whoever wins and whoever loses is a separate issue.  

Voting ultimately is my act of civic duty.  Sitting it out was and is not an option.  

Vote today, if you live in the United States …

I know this is skimpy on facts and statistics, but I’m sure you can find more logically-constructed arguments about the reasons to vote today, if that’s what you need.  

To me, it’s ultimately about responsibility.  Many of us appear to be real tired of the campaigning and are ready for this to be over.  I agree … but it’s not about waiting for the ads and attacks to stop.  It’s about doing what a citizen does.

If you have already voted … Thank you.   Sorry about the unneeded rant.  

If you have not and know little or nothing about the candidates and issues, file this for the next election cycle.   Voting is not an act to do without conscious thought and preparation.   

If you will be voting today … take your time waiting in line to talk to and share with your fellow citizens.  Not about your vote, not about who or what you are “fer” or “agin“, but about daily life.  Reach out and connect to people with whom you may not usually come into contact.

Polishing my “I Voted” button and smiling contentedly in the Heartland ….

John 

A Few Words About Voting …


I understand an election is coming up soon here in the US …

In that regard, I would like to say something:

The RIGHT to vote must be firmly attached to the RESPONSIBILITY to be informed about the issues and the candidates.

This means:

1)  Learning not just about those positions with which you agree, but also about those with which you disagree.  

This means in-depth exploration with an open mind, and not a superficial scan to spot what you see as flaws in the other argument.  After you have done your homework, consider how this new information might change or otherwise affect your position.

Take the time and make the effort to honestly learn holistically and then use that knowledge to make better decisions.

2)  You have to separate personalities from issues.  

Disagreeing with someone about an issue is not a reason to argue with or dislike that person.  The most effective politicians are the ones who can disagree with you and still make you feel comfortable enough to hang around them.  They can get things done.

If you insist on voting based on a personality issue, honestly acknowledge that fact.

3)  Be able to spot fallacious thinking and illogical statements.  

This can be very difficult because much of our political conversations are marketing and persuasion-based, rather than fact-based.   It’s not about what’s valid or true, it’s about how it makes you behave.  

4)  Look past the words and see the intent and the belief system in place.    

Words are used to make you feel a particular way about someone or something.  They are chosen and delivered to support that intent.  The belief system of the speaker drives their choice of words and how they say those words to you.

5)  Be able to articulate why you favor a person or an issue, instead of stating why you are against a person or an issue.

If your position is well-formulated and well-stated, we will know why you are voting the way you are.   You do not need to belabor the points of dissension or disagreement.  Words matter and positive words are more powerful than negative words, which usually only serve to tear down.

Your vote on an issue or for a person is a valuable thing.  Treat it that way.

Already voted by the time you read this in the Heartland ….

John

About Battleground States …


It’s on …

The media is full of reports about politicians at the national level swarming to what they are calling “battleground states”.  This usually means that either the state is particularly important because of the number of available electoral votes or the state’s key races are too close to call.

Some election cycles, I have lived in a “battleground state”, but these days, we apparently are either already “in the column” or “a lost cause“, depending on your viewpoint and political persuasion.

In other words, the election has apparently already been held and the votes counted, so a decision can happen … official or not, energy, emphasis, and funds shift based on what someone “thinks” is probably going to happen.

The result in the same … either you get a lot of attention or you get very little or none.

This has always struck me as a little unfair.  It certainly undermines the idea that every vote counts, doesn’t it?  We’re all important, but my fellow citizens in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida are just a little more important than me … or so it seems.

I have two words for those who put us into this position:  “Dewey” and “Truman”

Never underestimate the power of the people to be contrary and change their minds, maybe as they enter the polling place or even when they start to mark or poke that ballot.

For many of us, this may be the only way to demonstrate our independence:)

Still trying to make up my political mind in the Heartland ….

John