Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Perkins’ Confessions… a rough book tour is not punishment enough!

I just read the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. It is a repulsive autobiography, I guess about the mother of all mid-life crises, as the author describes his remorse with the active role he played in a conspiracy aimed at inducing developing countries to incur excessive debts so as to subjugate them and control their natural resources. That individuals could on purpose miscalculate in order to gain benefits is a fact of life, but that this would be happening with malice on a worldwide scale and as part of an American conspiracy is just too much to fathom—and then just sit back.

I haven’t the faintest clue whether the book is true or not and in fact I don’t care because, in either case, Mr. Perkins needs to be prosecuted. Either by American or international courts for committing fraud and crimes against humanity, or, by the same courts, for seeding that kind of distrust that makes it so much harder for good people to trust good people—a basic requisite if the world is to stand a chance.

Something should be done, soon, before it gains more credibility. The book is already a New York Times Bestseller and even though it states that the “World Bank doesn’t help them [the poor countries] to defend themselves. In fact, it forces them into this position,” on the back cover we read a former lead economist of The World Bank saying that it “succeeds as a wake up call because the reader cannot help but assess his or her role on a personal level, thus providing impetus for change.” Pearson ends his book with, “Like all confessions, it is the first step toward redemption.” Good for you! But, pal, a rough book tour is not punishment enough!

I have been vociferously arguing against the Debt Sustainability Analysis of poor developing countries which is currently so much in vogue, basically because I feel that debt should always be contracted because it is productive, not because it might be sustainable. Nonetheless, against Perkins’ Confessions my arguments do sound hollow and naïve though, come to think of it, I much prefer to live out my life with this kind of naïveté than to live with the cynicism otherwise obligatory. Perkins says he wrote so that his daughter could have a future. So do I—for my daughters and for his.