Brett Rants

Economic Confessions

A summer reading list... assuming, you know, it's still summer.

I'll Read Yours If You Read Mine

That's really all there is to it. We were talking of books, movies, television shows, and who knows what else... probably politics, religion, and music, as well.

I mentioned my book.

They mentioned theirs.

And a deal was struck: I would read theirs if they would read mine.

Um, their book sucked; mine did not. Go figure.

DEBT: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber versus The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins the ultimate smack down.

DEBT: The First 5,000 Years
by David Graeber

I'd say this was one of the best 100 reads of my lifetime, but I haven't kept track, so I don't really know. One way or another, it's up there. And what is most definitely true is that if I had a bookcase (which I don't) and I had a copy of this book (nope on that, as well), I would display this book on that bookcase as a sort of trophy; and also, so if others wanted to know what I considered a good read, they might have the opportunity to peruse this book.

Now, it's been a while (a few years, at least), since I've read DEBT. But going from memory, I would say what I enjoyed the most about DEBT was:
Oddly, I could not care about the modern day application of the theories, because that sort of analysis tends to be politically driven. Whereas, I like to think we can all be a little more objective when it comes to the realities of the Ancient Greek City States.

Anyhow, DEBT: The First 5,000 Years was my book.

It is an awesome book!

It is a great book!

Go read it!

And get you some learning, today!

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
by John Perkins

This is a tedious shell of a book written for self-aggrandizement and to sell copy. It is not a thinking man's book. Rather, it is a rail against the current political regime, which places the blame of... probably everything on schmucks like you, me, and the author of this book. Now, I am not saying that you, me, and the author of this book are not schmucks, but I find that particular tidbit of information to be old news; and at this point, hardly worth the copy.

Line By Line Comments

As I read (this book, which has no place on any bookshelf of mine), I made notes (on my reactions, not necessarily on the contents of the book) and these then are those: my thoughts, my reactions, and my interpretations of reality (and/or dis-reality), which are not necessarily founded upon anything written in the book or intended by the author. In fact, I am sure it is quite the opposite, as I've come to the conclusions (about halfway through, now) that the author is... um, not rooted in the same reality as I.
  1. The author confesses to a lack of morals, which he utilized for economic gain. But, hey. You should care about other peoples lack of morals, as they, too, seek economic gain.
    • Hypocrisy, anyone?
  2. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.
    • My words; not his.
  3. Have we really gotten poorer? Cell phones? Air travel? I don't know about you, but I certainly have more. Maybe that's because I buy less.
    • In short, I don't know how one compares differing economic cultures or weighs the pros and cons of certain technological advances effectively.
    • I do know, I feel richer than I did ten, twenty, or thirty years ago... but maybe not forty years ago when I was but a child, someone else took care of all my needs, and Work was but the name of a game that we played, right up there in popularity with Doctor and House.
  4. Mr Perkins (can I call you Mr Perkins) comes across as someone who does not know how the world works. 'What? Are you saying most people spend the vast majority of their lives in pursuit of the All Mighty Dollar?'
    • I might have been a cynic before I could walk.
    • And if not, a Healthy Rebellious Attitude has always been prized by certain subcultures, which just so happens to include many of my High School Teachers.
    • Though, in truth, some of my Junior High Teachers were probably a bit more... um, seditious.
  5. 'Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned... and acted in the same manner as everyone else around me.'
    • Try to define Honour. I defy you.
  6. Is it morally wrong to sell to another that which they want, but which you do not think they need... or possibly, deserve? And when (or if, but the presumption in many instances is when) they default (on the loan they took out to make the purchase), can one (with a clean conscious) transfer the debt to the debtor's family, spouse, and children?
    • Please see DEBT: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber for an in depth discussion on this topic.
    • Personally, I believe a great many economic pitfalls could be remedied if money was restricted temporally to when it was created.
      • 'Here's a dollar. It will lose value at the rate of a penny a day. Might I recommend spending it this very afternoon.'
      • Oh, such a policy may well cause more problems that it would solve. But it would definitely solve a bunch of problems. More importantly, since no one is ever (like, ever-ever-ever) going to implement such a monetary system (take the medicine, as it were) we don't have to worry too much about the side effects... like the complete and total collapse of society as we know, just as a possible for instance.
      • Which is to say, sure the world sucks, but not enough folks are ready for a change.
        • Not yet, anyway.
        • And maybe not ever.
  7. So, here's the quandary. There have been corrupt political regimes (in the USA and elsewhere, appearing consistently over time) that have contracted debt for the (corrupt) rulers benefit and to the (poor innocent) average citizens detriment.
    • Do the citizens have an obligation to pay off their ruler's debt?
    • Does the next generation of rulers have an obligation to pay off the previous ruler's debt?
      • I'd say no.
      • But then, I no longer believe in Right & Wrong.
      • I believe that Might Gets to Say What is Right. And you can argue the point, but it will only lead to a sound thrashing.
    • These ideas do not originate with Mr. Perkins. As of yet (halfway through the book), he has not espoused these (or in fact, any) theories. And in a nutshell, this is the main reason why I find the book to be lacking.
      • 'There is a problem.'
      • Yes, I agree.
      • Oh, that's all you got. Well then, the flap jacket copy pretty much covers the book, doesn't it?
  8. Because of the lack of Solution, the book reminds me of those old Mysticism books I used to read as a kid.
    • Once applied, The Mysterious Solution will solve all.
    • Listen to these case histories.
    • Listen to these wonderfully Tall Tales.
    • Carefully read that last chapter, but soon realize there is no Mysterious Solution; and rather, the purpose of it all, was to sell a book.
      • Yeah, I became a cynic at a really young age.
  9. Do you feel guilty about the poor? Wish there were more? Or simply that they did not exist, at all.
    • It took many a long year. But I am OK with you working for me, as I find the alternative (something I find synonymous with me working for you) to be untenable.
  10. Mr Perkins was a very important person.
    • Oh, the stories he could tell.
      • If only he would...
  11. In the end, one wonders (or at least, I wonder) if Mr Perkins is a double agent, commissioned by The Man to write a totally ineffectual expose.
    • 'Yo! Yo! Yo! Economic Hit Man is in the house, dog!'
  12. Doubt & Regret do not buy Redemption. Only an Act of Redemption buys Redemption. Doubt & Regret are merely part of the Human Condition.
    • I do not expect to find a significant Act of Redemption at the end of this book.
      • If I did, I would likely have a better opinion of the author.
  13. "The new plantation is mass incarceration."
    • Artist Unknown (some song)
    • The pertinent point being: the common outrage misses the fact that oppression is near universal.
  14. Hey, I'm looking forward to reading Confessions this evening.
    • So, that's good. The book has something going for it.
    • On the other hand, it's late, and I tend to gravitate towards fluff (and away from technical journals) as the night progresses (start slow, end slow).
  15. Yeah, I've really decided to kick this book.
  16. I suppose I don't want to know about the evil in the world.
    • But that doesn't mean I don't know about the evil in the world.
  17. Oh, no! He retired!
    • I was enjoying hating him.
    • I, certainly, hope he doesn't do anything to redeem himself.
      • I know, strange thought.
    • As a consolation prize, he stayed with it for a short twenty years.
    • That's a pretty respectable career, you know, considering how important he was.
    • Whoops! Sorry! His career only lasted ten years.
  18. If he does redeem himself, I'm thinking the structure of the book would have been improved by his stating that fact first.
    • I have a great capacity to believe in the evil of others; in the good, not so much. So, if any credentials need proving, it's the good, not the bad.
  19. The book is a pain free way to take in a little (but I do mean, a little) political history.
    • So, there! That's a compliment of sorts!
  20. I have serious doubts as to whether Mr Perkins termination from the company was voluntary.
    • As in, I don't think that it was.
    • A person as clever as he is could see the writing on the wall, after all.
  21. Sometimes an opinion is just an opinion.
    • And sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.
      • But, yeah. Sometimes the CIA is to blame.
        • But probably not as often as some folks would like to believe.
  22. John Perkins is an astounding Egoist: he vastly overstates his importance.
    • I understand the allure of the delusion. For, I too (wish to) believe that one day my website will change the world.
      • Who would not?
    • But the actions of one man (or even an organized group of men) are not all that important. Yeah, sure. If one is paddling a canoe, they work the paddle, and can control where the boat goes. But they have absolutely no control over the water. None! The eddies and currents will do as they will, controlled by other factors like gravity, wind, rain, and the cumulative effects of a billion other paddlers. And more so than any other factor, this current, this rising tide will determine the overall direction of travel of any boat... no matter the skill of the paddler.
    • Or as my fictional and semi-retired assassin (a true hit man, like) friend likes to say, 'If I wanted you dead, you would be dead. I do not waste time with the death threat. I put the bullet behind the ear... and then, go have the drink with money I take from your pocket. Skoal!'
    • Thus, I am not saying my world view is by definition the correct one. But I come at it with so many different assumptions than Mr Perkins, that his analysis seems lacking, at best; and delusional, at worst.
    • 'So, this author is saying,' and this would be Nikolai talking, once again, 'rather than kill him, the Professional Jackals, as he calls them, would rather pay him off. Eh, this is why I love America. No longer must I kill traitorous scum. I get big pay day simply by writing gratuitously large check to traitorous scum and we all live happily ever after... until, of course, traitorous scum cash the ridiculously large check and I put the bullet behind ear for the old times sake! Skoal!'
      • Note: I have nothing against John Perkins, I mean, not to the extent any of this should be taken as rage. Rather, in my estimation, the 'Jackals' may well offer a pay-off and resort to murder if the pay-off is not accepted; but I do not think they ever threaten to kill, change their minds, and then offer a lucrative consulting contract, instead.
        • 'I am just saying, as long as you are resigned to spending the money, does it not seem foolish to fund traitorous scum's decadent lifestyle, when your good friend Nikolai could put money to so much better use drinking himself to death?'
        • 'Ah, I see. I give him money. For we are men of honor.'
          'No. No. I do not laugh at you. I just think of something funny.'
          'And then, after that, well, if he find himself immediately afterwords in same room as psychopathic killer...'
          'Ah, I say no more.'
      • I admit, I was a bit annoyed at the presumption that such an obviously amoral person could be trying to take the Moral High Road. But now, I merely think Mr Perkins is delusional. I am sure he would disagree. But in my experience, being retardedly optimistic is a common trait amongst salesman.
        • Once again, it is perhaps best to let Nikolai do the talking. 'I am just saying, I am not worried. I think I am best man for job. And I think soon you come to same conclusion,' even if I have to kill every other Hit Man in waiting room, first.
        • Yeah, I like Nikolai.
        • 'This is good. I think you make wise decision. And seeing as how we are friends now, if you buy me the drink, I will not shoot you in the face until you are dead.'
        • Nikolai: an honest, straightforward, hard working man, who knows what he wants.
        • 'Skoal!'
  23. I am inspired to learn more about South American History.
    • Oddly, I know I want to hear the opposing side: the Pro-American War Hawk Right Wing Version.
    • I, also, don't want to go into too much depth. Political History is never going to be my area of speciality.
  24. When I was in High School, I assumed I would go off to college, study some sort of Science (probably Physics), and become a Rocket Scientist.
    • This did not come to pass. Not so much because I didn't want to be responsible for bombing Innocents, but because the rewards (wife, family, house, and children) never held much appeal.
    • Subsequently, I have learned to appreciate money and the hedonistic lifestyle it affords. If I had come to this understanding sooner, I may have chased the Almighty Dollar much-much more.
    • This doesn't make me a better person or worse... or even give me a better understanding of world politics. But it does cause me to question John Perkins' intellectual honesty.
      • John grew up in the shadow of money, not having; and eventually achieved. He did not achieve because of guilt, but because of desire... likely aided by an ability to blend and pretend to be that which he was not (he was a teacher's son at a prep school, a perennial outsider). I find a confession that focuses on the guilt (with some hints of Imposter Syndrome) to be a bit lopsided.
        • I want him to be honest and dig deeper... or at least, to glorify in his accomplishments and exploits, as he would have at the time.
  25. There is a difference between Fearing the Truth and I don't believe your truth; and as such, you sort of come off looking like a crackpot to me. Thus, lack of support for his Tell All Confidential among his peers may have arisen for a variety of reasons.
    • Trust me, I know about this. Some of my ideas are outlandish. And even as I write these words, I wonder how much the system will censor them.
      • Did I say censor? Sorry, in the digital era (and likely, in any era) ignore is the preferred methodology.
        • But They cannot keep me down! I will not be silenced!
  26. I believe, the statistic of 24,000 people starving to death per day is given by Mr Perkins... even if I can't be bother to dig through the book long enough to confirm he states this factoid or qualify the year for which the data applies.
    • But of those (starving to death), I would note than none are Neanderthals.
    • It's something to think about.
    • Um, actually it is. In the wild, without humans, what is the starvation rate among animals?
    • And throughout history, what has the starvation rate been for Man?
    • And how has that varied over time?
      • It would make for an interesting graph.
  27. John has a 9/11 story.
    • Um, we all have 9/11 stories.
    • It took me a while to get with the program and mourn alongside everyone else. At first, it was just exciting.
    • Another time, I remember watching a missile fall to Earth.
      • Yeah, this could be the end!
      • What a rush!
  28. People hate us!
    • As in, people hate Americans.
    • So, does that mean we are doing something right?
    • Fine! Fine!
      • Nuke 'em!
      • Nuke 'em all!
      • Nuke 'em all until they are dead!
  29. It's less and less about John being an Economic Hit Man.
    • I'm guessing he stopped being a player...
      • which is true, for the last few chapters, he's been focusing on non-profits and leading cultural tours in the Amazon.
  30. I am sure that a lot of my own comments (in this article alone) have reduced the confidence many readers will have in anything I say next.
    • Still, that cafe incident was not an attempt on Mr Perkins' life.
      • 'I do not know,' Nikolai is more than happy to interject, a gleam in his eye. 'Many the time I have been ordered to kill, took my target to lunch, maybe nice deli, feed him dessert, and drop him off at friend's house, having such the good time, drinking the toast after the toast, I forget to put the bullet through his head at the end of the evening. It happen, maybe, the more than I like to admit.'
      • 'Really?'
      • 'No.'
    • So, why was John urged not to write this book over and over again? Because when he talked about the subject matter, some of his theories were less than convincing.
      • 'He come off as the nut job, be all that I am saying. Skoal!'
  31. John nails it when he writes, 'I had taken on a mind-set of paranoia and guilt.'
  32. Oh, and I literally laughed out loud when in the previous chapter he starts by saying, 'I have been a martial artist for much of my adult life...'
    • I have no respect left.
    • I don't take him seriously.
    • Though, I would like you to know that I am a lover, not a fighter.
      • 'All I am saying is that the pen is mightier than the sword... and my tongue, mightier still.'
  33. I think the book would be improved by a little humour.
    • Either he knows (at times) that he comes off as an idiot... or he is a true and complete idiot.
      • So, embrace it!
    • I mean, sure, I am as arrogant as he.
      • But at least, I know I am arrogant.
    • And although I am amazingly smart...
      • way smart...
        • super way smart...
      • I make stupidlier mistakes on occasion.
      • But really, it's more profound than that, we are talking embarrassingly basic mistakes.
        • That I make Every Fr#cking Day!
  34. A non-profit is a more of a tax designation than a moral designation.
    • If I were more business oriented, I may well have founded my own non-profit by now.
    • Though in truth, I don't think the tax write off is worth the extra headaches involved.
      • I, also, would (tend to) avoid depreciating assets, opting for simplicity instead of the (often meager) tax benefits of such a maneuver.
  35. Let's be honest, this is not my type of book. As in, it's not the book so much, as the genre that I dislike.
    • I read blessed few biographies or autobiographies. And since even after reading his autobiography, I find John Perkins to be a rather unremarkable person, I doubt I would have ever been inspired to read about him, in the first place.
      • But by his own account, John has led a remarkable life. And I will put him in the top 5-10% (maybe even 2%) of wealth holders, but this does not make his story one in a million... or particularly insightful or interesting to me.
    • There are actually a whole lot of book types that I find un-compelling: most of the mass market stuff.
      • I want the intellectual market stuff.
    • But actually explaining what I want is a bit harder.
      • First, an explanation (reasoned discourse, discussion) is part of what I want. I want an analysis (not a list of complaints).
        • I do not care about your complaints.
          • Note the irony...
      • Second, I want original thought (not second hand reflections), so if the author is doing a one off research report because they want to be a paperback writer, I'm not interested.
        • Actually, to be fair, my book recommendation, Debt: The First 5,000 Years might be a lot like this book. So, the main difference between the two might be a little more than the addition of some analysis... and a great deal more willingness on my part to ignore the boring stuff.
          • I'd skip the next few chapters, I believe (or at least skim, speed read, go through quickly, or whatever you want to call it), if I hadn't made a deal to 'read' this book.
  36. Have I mentioned? I like make fun of this book!
    • "See, there was this time, I was just sitting around, watching the television, eating junk food. I mean, I had gotten to the point I could open a bag of chips with my toes. And I'd put on the weight, so I could balance a bowl of cereal on my stomach; and then, just lie back and bring the spoon to my mouth without dripping too much, I mean, there's always a drippy trail, but without dripping too much on my flabby chest as I brought it up to my mouth."
      • "But then, The Simpson Trial happened and it changed my life!"
        • Thus goes the introduction to my, personal, Trial Watch Chapter.
    • Some of the chapters (a visit to 9/11 Ground Zero and/or a Viet Nam Prisoner of War Camp) feel reminiscent of this sort of fluff to me.
      • And it's really not bad reading. It's just not teaching me anything about economics, which (foolish me) is what I was expecting from this book.
  37. I don't follow The News.
    • I don't think The News is overly important. Or let me put it this way, The News tends to include segments on politics, business, weather, and sports. And I find them to be all about equally important.
      • I lie. The weather is far more important to me.
    • Anyhow, John is currently trying to bring me up to date.
      • Apparently, bad things have happened.
      • Apparently, I still don't care.
      • In other news, Winter Is Coming!
  38. The legal issues involved are complicated. And the ethics of the situation do not matter.
    • I believe that laws should be enforced. But they are not enforced.
      • For instance, I see folks Jay Walk on an almost daily business, often right in front of police officers.
      • But I've never seen a police officer issue a ticket for Jay Walking.
      • So, is Jay Walking against the law?
        • Is it illegal (in any meaningful sense other than in the crybaby sense) to break an unenforced law?
          • And then, let us be facetious and point out that Roman Law (with all of its Slave Owning Morality) has never been repealed.
    • Ethics or Morality without Legal Enforcement are just your opinion.
      • And, um... opinions differ.
    • In short, the adherence to the Rule of Law is not as great as one might expect.
      • Currently (2018), 1 in 50 Americans are either on probation, in jail, or on parole, meaning they are in The System.
        • I think that number is too large.
          • Screams of oppression.
        • But then, maybe it is not nearly large enough.
          • Higher levels of criminal behaviour indicating... um, freedom of thought and action.
    • It's hard to get a conviction on a banker (because that requires proof of intent, or so I believe). And if we are not going to go after the low hanging fruit (Jay Walking), I have no expectation we will go after the high.
  39. If John has founded non-profits (and companies he has founded/owned have been singled out for preferential treatment by Congress) as I believe he states in his book, then John has benefited from preferential government treatment... and by his logic, denied local, state, and the federal governments of much needed tax revenues.
    • Not too ironically, he seems to take umbrage when others take advantage of the government programs that benefit them.
    • That's all fine and dandy. Take all the umbrage you want. But it's misplaced and unconvincing.
      • Seeking the best deal is good sense.
    • To me it makes more sense to be honest and simply advocate for the reduction in the size of business and an across the board elimination of special treatment.
      • It won't happen.
      • But it's an honest position that is easy to understand and implement: raise taxes to 100% (and more) as the size of a business (or person's income) increases.
        • See, simple.
        • And we can stop pretending that there is something morally repugnant about a social structure (call it a business) trying to grow ever larger or seek the best deal possible.
    • I am reminded of how it is legal to try and escape from prison in the Netherlands (or some such liberal country), as this is what a rational actor would try to do.
    • Getting all uppity at the rich trying (and succeeding) at being rich is... um, inane.
      • As long as The Rich exist, some will do what it takes (whatever it takes) to be among them.
      • The problem is not the nature of the game, but that the game exists, at all.
      • So, you know, don't hate the player, hate the game... oh, and stop playing along at home.
  40. All is lost.
    • I have lost all hope.
    • There is nothing further to add.
  41. Chinese Foreign Policy (economic and otherwise) is another area I may want to look into.
  42. I do enjoy a nice turn of phrase.
    • Death Economy
    • Predatory Corporate Capitalism
  43. John Perkins is just not my guy.

What's To Be Done

Let's see how much John and I differ while I read this appendix-like chapter.

OK. Not only is that the wrong attitude, but I may veer far off into My Personal Dream Space. Which is to say, I am going to list off a bunch of Good Ideas in Regards to Improving the World (whatever that might mean) regardless of the source: my previous conjectures, his words, or momentary inspiration unrelated to the text.

People as the Solution.
If we assume that many purchases are made to impress other people, then simply impressing other people directly is more efficient. Or in other words, I confess to wearing clothes (in part) to elicit an effect from other people. If I could achieve this reaction directly, there would be no need to concentrate on the clothes, house, car... or a personal website. I mean, if I could hold court in a coffee shop, I probably would not bother to write. So, by People as the Solution I mean the direct (rather than indirect, non-efficient) consumption (or if you prefer, enjoyment) of other people.

And that's all I got from this section. Though, to be fair, I like this idea. And do not be fooled by its brevity.

As in,
If children are the future,
then their parents are the present.
And although I find that to be a powerful idea, overall the section was not as productive (did not elicit as much thought) as I would have liked.

What are you going to do?

Eh, I'm probably going about this all wrong. Perhaps, I should start the next chapter with a different goal in mind.

A Bunch of Things You Can Do To Secure a Place on the Do Gooder Talking Circuit

As inspired by John Perkins list with a different name and assembled for a different purpose, perhaps to save the world. Me? I say, 'Save yourself first.'
  1. Proselytize
    • Spread The Good Word, Dude.
  2. Put your money where your mouth is.
  3. Do things for a reason.
    • You know, have a plan and work your plan.
  4. Stand for something.
    • For instance, I stand for sarcasm.
    • While you can simply stand over there.
      • A bit further on, if you please.
  5. Root for the home team.
    • After all, if they don't win it's a shame.
  6. Proselytize!
    • Proselytize! Proselytize! Proselytize!
  7. Demand change.
    • Don't accept excuses.
  8. Don't be poor.
    • In this regard, being rich helps.
  9. Have you thought about erecting a statue?
    • Have you thought about erecting a statue of me?
    • How about a statue of my statuesque erection?
  10. The truth is out there.
    • Good luck finding it.
  11. Don't trust liars.
    • You know, because they lie, the lying liars.
  12. If it feels right, it is right.
    • Don't make things harder than they need to be.
  13. Find your tribe.
    • Yeah, that's right, boy. Tuck your tail between your legs and it's back to the reservation with you.
  14. Know that you are right.
    • Others are wrong.
    • And it is your job (nay, moral duty) to set the record straight.
      • You know, just like I am doing here.
  15. Have I mentioned how helpful money can be?
    • That stuff rocks!
  16. Every action should take you closer to your goals.
    • And every goal should take you closer to your actions.
  17. Be a joiner.
    • For, there is safety in numbers.
  18. Pics or it didn't happen!
    • Thus, with the magic of Photoshop™, everything is possible.
  19. Get wild!
    • Be creative!
    • Feel free to think outside the box.
  20. Stay alive.
    • Life is for the living.
    • The zombies will get you soon enough.
  21. Don't be afraid to help others.
    • They need your help.
    • They want your help.
      • Even if they don't know it just yet.
  22. Make your money work for you.
    • You're the boss. Don't forget that.
  23. Become political.
    • The bar for Public Service is low.
      • Do you have what it takes to ooze your way under it?
  24. Be a die-hard blow-hard.
    • You will listen to me.
    • And you will learn from my mistakes...
      • of which, there have been many.
  25. Stop! Look! Listen!
    • Hit and run drivers are everywhere.
    • And they are ALL out to get YOU.
      • Even I'm out to get you.
        • And I don't even drive.
  26. Be a good listener.
    • Pay more better attention to my words.
  27. Stand up to The Man.
    • What do we want?
      • Change!
    • When do we want it?
      • Now!
  28. Blog!
    • Because I am the most social conscious activist in the world.
    • Oh, mark my words!
      • With a bookmark in your browser if you please.
    • My words will change the world.
  29. Rich people suck!
    • Which is probably why their sex lives are better.
  30. Read my blog!
    • Well, I just had one of those Eureka! moments. If I write but nobody reads... well, that's not nearly effective if I write and you read.
      • So, read my blog.
      • Then, tell your friends about it.
  31. Ignore that little voice in your head.
    • After all, it's probably telling you not to bookmark my blog.
    • Besides, everyone knows your emotions don't have your best interest at heart.
      • And in case it wasn't clear, that's sarcasm, as emotions exist to help guide your actions.
        • As in, they help you stay alive and stuff like that.
          • This person is good to/for me. Thus, I am happy when I am with them.
          • This person is bad to/for me. Thus, I avoid them like the plague.
      • Still, sometimes your emotions are going to get in the way.
  32. Democracy, Dude!
    • Isn't it time you joined the winning team?
  33. Be a shareholder activist.
    • Have you ever been to a stock meeting? Well, if so, you know that any stockholder can talk for two or three minutes about anything they like.
      • I like to recite my grandmother's recipe for waffles.
  34. Save the World!
    • Just like me!
    • A full ten percent of all unsolicited donations will go to a worthy cause... and/or my day to day living expenses.
  35. Saving the world is not an optional activity.
    • Nor is making a contribution.
      • Nor is that meal out, so don't even start to suggest ways I could tighten my belt.
  36. Know what you're buying.
    • It comes from knowing what they're selling.
  37. Fair's Fair!
    • And isn't it time you got your fair share.
  38. You can get more with a smile and a gun than just a smile.
    • But failing that gun trick, a smile is a good start.
      • Seriously, have you ever met a sad psychopath?
      • Oh, mad as hatters, the lot; but they love what they do, as they change the world, reluctant victim by reluctant victim.
  39. Enjoy yourself!
    • Please see above.
  40. Non-Hierarchical is the new hierarchy.
    • Well, that and anarchy.
  41. A fool and their money are soon parted.
    • Which begs the question, how did that fool get any money in the first place?
  42. Learn from your mistakes.
    • Remember, learning never stops... no matter how much you've already learned.
  43. You are special.
    • So is everyone else.
    • But you are more special.
    • You know, I'd use the snowflake metaphor here, but it's been done to death.
      • So, see? I'm special, too.
      • Maybe even more special.
  44. Brand yourself.
    • Remember your brand.
    • Push your brand.
    • And don't get lost in side-projects (like this post, just as a for instance) that don't advance your brand.
  45. Follow your instincts.
    • In your heart, you know you're right.
    • Which doesn't necessarily mean everyone else is wrong.
      • Even if they are.
  46. The longest journey starts with a single step.
    • But are they all the same step?
    • And more importantly, how does this metaphor carry through into the modern car culture?
      • Remember, every journey starts with a trip to the gas station to top off the tank and check your fluids.
  47. No man is an island.
    • No woman is a peninsula.
    • We are in this together.
    • No one does it alone.
      • Excepting hermits, but I'm being serious, so you should be, too.
  48. Be the change you want to Be.
    • Be.
    • Be!
    • Warning! Beryllium is toxic!
    • Prior to switching base elemental composition, please discuss possible side effects with your Family Chemist.
  49. Don't stop here!
    • Find a better list.
    • After all, this list is a joke, not to be taken seriously.
    • Like you could switch your elemental composition to Beryllium!
      • Wow! Talk about conceited.
      • You're obviously more of a Lithium type guy.
It might be interesting (to some, weird folks that they are) to compare what I wrote (in jest) to Chapter 47: Things to Do by John Perkins (presumably written in earnest), which inspired it. I mean, an apple inspired Newton; and gravity has never seemed overly fruitish to me, so Stranger Things have happened. Now, in it's third season! Ah, such a crappy show.


In my (ever so humble and ever so accurate) estimation, John Perkins is not an intellectual. Rather, he is a salesman. Or at least, this is how I have come to interpret the term Economic Hit Man (i.e. as a term synonymous with salesman). Mr Perkins sold loans to developing countries for the purposes of building infrastructure. And now, John sells himself, his books, eco-tourism, and some brand of shamanism. This is fine. Do what you want, dude. But he's not much of an economist (at least, not in my opinion). So, I don't care much about his back up documentation (or what some might consider a list for further reading), because if I cared about any of these topics (say the IMF), I'd read a white paper... likely one published by the IMF, as it must have a mission statement; and then, one by it's detractors to get a balanced view.

That said, here are some further thoughts that arose while reading the Documentation Chapter's Collection of Factoids.

On a Personal History

John is kind enough to include a short personal history.
The truth is I read the wrong book by John Perkins, as I believe he has written some sort of Dream Vision Shaman Book (sorry, I can't be bothered to look up the name): a topic on which I would give him leave to be an expert... or maybe not. I mean, he can be an expert on his own experience of Reality, but that doesn't mean his insight into Reality's underlying structure is either profound or accurate. Anyhow, if I had to choose one more book of his to read (at gunpoint), I'd read that one... but likely, only at gunpoint.


Better books include any notes as footnotes right on the bottom of the page where they are referenced. John's first note (at the end of the book in a separate section) reads 'this strategy', which taken out of context (as it is at this point in my reading) is totally meaningless.

Eh, the above might have been a bit premature. I went through this section lickity split, as it's really just a Bibliography, which I never have much of an interest in.

Totally (and completely) skipping the acknowledgements... wait, maybe I should not.


I would like to thank the reader of this website, whose efforts are instrumental to the reading of this site.

I would, also, like to thank all the little people (big people, too, but they already get enough thanks by way of money), who continue to make my decadent lifestyle possible. Without your tireless toil society might fall apart... and I'd likely have to work a lot harder.

I think Newton is credited for saying (nope, sorry, I looked it up and the Internet seems to think Bernard of Chartres was the first to say something along the lines of):
If I could see so far, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants.
My personal mantra is a bit more grim and goes something like:
Society is built on the bones of the fallen.
I believe John Perkins would agree. And I would also go out on a limb and say that proselytizing that fact was a major motivating factor for his writing both Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the first book being wholly (I believe) contained in the second. Well, he wrote the book for that reason... as well as the fame, the glory, and the money.

You know, so for the same reasons I write.

And thus, if after a hard day of toil you come home to read my website (your only source of succour in a cruel-cruel world), rest assured that outcome is wholly coincidental and entirely beside the point.

I write for me... and our Robotic Overlords, one day to come.
Beep-Bop! Bo-Beep!
He was a perfect example of humankind!
And thus, why we must exterminate them all!
Bop! Bop! Bop!

More Ideas

So, rather than dispensing with as one liners, I felt some ideas (as inspired or knocked loose while reading John's book) deserved fuller treatment.

On the Unknowable All

Is any specific incident a random accident or act of international terrorism? I mean, sometimes we know. But most of the time, we do not. John could be right about everything in his book... but I doubt it. And I could be right about everything I've ever written... but I have no doubt about that, as that's a negative. Rather, the world is a mystery, full of uncertainties. But for my money, I don't think the world is as full as spooks as John would have us believe. Of course, he uses the term Economic Hit Man where I would use the term Salesman, so there might be a certain... um, failure to communicate at work here.

Food Poisoning or Assassination Attempt?
Mechanical Miss-function or CIA Hit?
Salesman or Economic Hit Man?
Developmental Loan or Insidious Land Grab?

The Eternal Human Struggle or Coordinated Conspiracy?

In short, I believe John has done everything possible to live the best life possible for himself... with the consequences to others being a secondary concern. So have I. And so have the overwhelming majority of human beings throughout history.

Or in other words, if there is a vast global conspiracy, you (and everyone you know) are an active part of it... which sort of means its not really a global conspiracy, after all.

Of course, that doesn't mean brake lines still don't get cut on occasion...

War Hawk

I am a War Hawk. I mean, peace is preferable to war. But if there is going to be a war (and I'm pretty sure that there is), then I want that war to take place in your backyard and not mine. I want your people to die and not mine. I want your hopes and dreams to be destroyed at 30,000' by anonymous drone strikes and not mine.

So, for me, it's very Zero Sum. There are rich people and there are poor people. There are Masters and there are slaves. And I know to which group I wish to belong.

I'm OK with you dying (or suffering) so I can live (or live well), because experience has shown me this is how most people feel about me.

I am a means, not an ends.

So are you.

I will kill you if I have to.

But I would rather enslave you.

Better still, why don't I just give you a job and you can come work for me?

I mean, in the end, this is one of the things I find most frustrating about John's book, as I believe he fails to realize that I (and most of the world) have nothing either for or against his rainforest pals. John had to work. I had to work. And soon enough, his rainforest pals will have to work.

Hey, call this a bad thing if you want to, but it's better than a bullet to the back of the head.

Merchants over Warriors
Markets over War


John tells of meeting the Dalai Lama and Rainforest Ruffians. He does not brag about his plumber... assuming he has one, of course.

At some level, this is name dropping. On another, it is indicative of who and what is important to John.

Of course, what this means, I could not tell you... even if I'll try.

Let's assume I'm a struggling artist. I'm not really struggling. And I was forty or so before I even considered myself an artist. But for disclaimer's sake, let's say I'm a struggling artist. And part of my objection to name dropping is due to an inability to drop names of my own; and thereby, build my own brand.

Of course, this really isn't true, as I have spent my whole life, having a close personal relationship with Brett Paufler, one of the most revolutionary writers of the 21st Century.

Bottom line, I'll admit this gripe is perhaps very personal and related to a desire for fame.

On the other hand, I find myself in glorious spaces left and right (parks, zoos, museums, churches, temples, and all sorts of other architectural delights) and enjoying the best of what life has to offer by way of talks, conventions, free concerts and the like. And it's not unusual for me to have an entire space to myself. And it's not unusual to find a free cultural venue at far less than capacity... which is presumably why they haven't started charging admission.

And the question is:
What is everyone else doing?

Why does everyone pile onto the popular stuff, paying hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for the commercial venue, when the free venue is there for the taking?

Why is a meeting the Dalai Lama something to brag on? While your plumber is not?
I got to tell you (metaphorically speaking, at least) I learned a lot from my plumber. Maybe I should write that up... sometime.

The Ubiquity of Evil

I get a kick out of feeling Holier than Thou. I mean, it's not based in reality. If I had the means, I, too, would live a jet-setting lifestyle, flying hither and yon, pumping ton upon ton of hydrocarbon waste directly into the upper atmosphere. But I don't have the cash to spare, so I don't travel as much as I would if money were, truly, no object.

In fact, I simply don't have enough cash to do most things I might like. And therefore, I forgo such pleasures... as might otherwise contribute to Global Warming.

See (I believe), a person can figure their contribution to Global Warming pretty easily by simply counting up how much money they spend.

So, I get a kick out of folks, claiming to be Do Gooders, as they fly back and forth to and from the Amazon Rainforest, apparently oblivious to the fact that all that fuel they are consuming is destroying the planet. Oh, and that tribe they are so desperately trying to help, they are just helping to join The Market. And that's all the Global Conspiracy wanted out of that ignorant bunch of savages, in the first place.

Let me cover the one, then the next.

Every dollar spent destroys the planet. There are small exceptions... such as for hardcore physical labor. If a person gets a massage, the masseuse's labor is environmentally neutral, as it does not help or hurt the planet (though, the masseuse's existence probably does). But the act of driving a car to get a massage destroys the planet. And if the massage is happening indoors, well, that building pretty specifically destroyed all of the planet where it was built... and then, there are the construction materials (lumber from some forest, gypsum board from some mine, and so on and so forth).

Thus, overwhelmingly, any individual's hit on the environment can be measured in the dollars they spend... on basically everything. Was the store in which you purchased that beeswax candle environmentally friendly? Or did the construction of the building kill everything that was growing there (possibly only months before)? And don't think you can escape blame by purchasing things off the web, as the those come via electricity intensive data centers, land flattening warehouses, and fleets of gas guzzling delivery trucks.

Thus, in the end (and only as a slight over-simplification), every dollar you spend (and likely earn) destroys the environment.

Now, John likes (or so I gather) to fly to South America with groups of people on what I will call Eco-Tourism Vacations. He acts as a tour guide and introduces normals to natives. It sounds very cool and like a great way to spend one's life. But outside of the gas utilized in air travel, the destruction of the environment building hotels, and stuff like that, there is the cultural transference.

The savages will always be savages until they are not: until they hire lawyers and accountants to fight for their land... and start selling Eco-Tours to make a few bucks.

Which is to say, the savages will be savages until they join the Modern Market Economy, which is all the 'Economic Hit Men' and 'Jackals' wanted in the first place.

I mean, do you get that?

There is no winning this game.

No one gets out alive.

And no body gets to say (though lots like to pretend) that they are more honourable than the next.

Welcome to the World

In my opinion (but I also think, in the opinion of those who matter, mainly members of the IMF governing board), the purpose of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is to ease the ascension and integration of Third World Counties into the World Economy. That is to say, the IMF seeks to facilitate the conversion of backwards people into exploitable members of The World Market, who will (quite naturally) start on the bottom, but eventually be able to win (and/or buy) their freedom and join the civilized nations at the top of the pile.

Forty Acres and a Mule

Most folks do not own Forty Acres and a Mule. In essence (and at contact), members of jungle tribes have (metaphorically speaking) Fort Acres and a Jungle Monkey. They are land rich. Much richer in material resources than you or I... and we've been working our entire lives.

Of course, this is where the opposition (and, yeah, I think of them as the opposition) point to fairness and say, 'It's theirs.'

Is it?

By what Right?

Certainly not the Power of Might, if you catch my drift.

And as sure as Shine'ola, they will lose their land until they've managed to amass said Might: be it by Hook or by Crook... or by the tireless efforts of First World Do Good Volunteers.

On Salesmen

First, I interpret Economic Hit Man to mean Salesman. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I was a salesman for 25 years. And although, I was never involved in multi-million (or billion) dollar contracts, I did sell items worth upwards of a quarter million dollars on a regular basis... but more often, much-much less.

Anyway, looking back on my career, I cannot identify a single sale of which I am proud or that moved society forward. And in most cases, the only difference (the only real difference, the only difference I could see or cared about) between my products and my competitor's products was that if I made the sale, I got paid.

So, usually, I only got paid if I came in low.

Now, there are two basic ways of being the low bidder:
  1. By actually being low, or
  2. By highlighting externalities that convince the buyer that your product will cost less in the long run:
    • after maintenance costs and the like.
I don't feel guilty about my sales career. I simply don't feel like I was a very good salesman. Mainly, because I competed almost exclusively on price.

Mr Perkins (I believe) competed in the world of externalities and considered himself a good salesman (he does note his meteoric rise up the corporate ladder time and time again), as he lied through his teeth (or so I assume, why else does carry such guilt) to the detriment of others (the sinner).

And that could be that, but I have every expectation that those who he was selling to:
  1. Wanted to be lied to.
    • As in, their lives would be better if the sale went through.
  2. Didn't have much choice in the first place.
    • John really latches onto this.
    • But colonization is a game of forced choices.
      • Back then (as a simplification), it was either doing business with the US or Russia.
      • Now (once again, using a simplified model), it's either doing business with the Good Old US of A or the Evil Chinese Empire.
      • And believe it or not, doing business with The Good Old US of A has a lot of positive externalities.
        • I defy you to tease it apart.
Suffice to say, I helped build a lot of buildings (architectural structures or whatever) that I do not care about, that I believe the world would be a better place if they did not exist; but I, also, realize that no one ever gave a Rat's Pass about my opinion (then or now). And those building were going to get built, anyway. So they might as well use my products, as it would cost them less money and they would be better off in the long run.

Hmm. So, maybe John wasn't the better salesman... which is a pretty damning insult, because I sucked.
'They are going to go with a lower priced alternative.'
Of course, that's not the full story. Sometimes, you're selling Coke and they want a Pepsi. And they are not really open to the idea of a blind taste test.
'It really does taste better.'
'Sorry, we already made up our mind.'

Dream Weaver
The Astral Ocean

John Perkins Sucks! Actually, I'm just kidding. I like to fancy that he'll read this page someday... but he seems to lead an interesting life; and so, likely will not.

Anyway, that whole John Perkins Sucks! is just there to bait him. You see, I read the wrong book by John. I don't respect his career (and as far as I can tell, neither does he). And I don't respect his Economical Opinion... eh, I might. There's just not much of that in this book. So, how would I know?
First World Countries are abusing Third World Countries. {2018: BHP}
That's not an economic theory. That's political reality. And as much as I live with my head buried in the sand (media, please, I will not be watching the Evening News, tonight... or any night), even I know injustice abounds. I don't need a book to tell me that.

But John is obviously a smart man (smart enough to sell out at an early age), so (just going with the odds, here) he must have something to offer. And that something is what he's done with the last half of his life.

No, I don't actually care about his tribal friends.

But he's into Shamanism. And he's into Dreams. And I'm willing to accept a lot of anecdotal evidence and first hand experience in support of such ideas... especially if such ideas are nuanced and well thought out, as refined by a Stone Age Culture with nothing much better to do with its time over the course of the last dozen millennium.

So, what's my big take-away from New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins?

A renewed desire to bob in the Astral Ocean and let the Ethereal Flow do what it will with my soul.

Gads, what a sheer and utter waste of time this book has been.

I could have been sleeping.

next Brett Rants entry

Home Brett Rants Index

To have your book reviewed by Brett Paufler, please send a copy to...

Eh, who knows where? Maybe the nearest trash bin if it's anything like this stinker.

© copyright 2018 Brett Paufler