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Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded & What We Need to Do to Save Them
Release Date: November, 2009
Publisher: Crown Business
Robert Baer Reviews Hoodwinked Robert Baer is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States; and See No Evil, which recounts Baer’s years as a top CIA operative. See No Evil was the basis for the acclaimed film Syriana, which earned George Clooney an Oscar for his portrayal of Baer. Baer has contributed to Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Middle East. Read his guest review of Hoodwinked: I wasn’t twenty pages into Hoodwinked when I realized Perkins nailed it. What got us into the mess we’re in today, the worst recession since the Great Depression, is the same grotesque capitalism cum corruption we shoved down the throat of the Third World since the end of World War II. (Yes, the Third World’s elites were cheerfully corrupted.) We, and the rest of the West, learned the trick of selling unneeded infrastructure, services, over-sophisticated weapons--stuff that could never benefit anyone other than the people who lined their pockets. And yes, Perkins is right, the international economists and press were handmaidens to the thievery. It was all fairly routine until 9/11, when the real gorging started. Tell the people their roof is on fire and they’ll give you whatever you ask for. Between 2001 and 2009 the Department of Defense budget increased 74 percent, and that is not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars in related contracts. Nigeria on the Potomac. Perkins is quick to state he doesn’t believe in a grand conspiracy theory. Few of the people who call the shots have ever met each other. They don’t have a playbook other than a couple of fraudulent economists like Milton Friedman and the others who worship at the altar of deregulation. No, what they have in common is an obsession with the winner takes all. Perkins's message isn’t going to be popular. We’re a country invested in a system in which five percent of the world’s population consumes 25 percent of the world’s resources. It's a system we’re trying to sell to the world, only we don’t mention that we’ll need five planets to sustain it. Perkins isn’t the pessimist I am. He says we can save the world if we green it--and, of course, start telling the truth to each other. Otherwise we end up a banana republic like the ones we know so well how to despoil. --Robert Baer
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'Part II: The Solution' is more actionable than you may think
Posted by Jennifer Atlee on 12/28/2009
I feel no need to add to the reviews in appreciation of Perkin's first hand account of how we've used Friedman-based economic policy to generate the crises we find ourselves surrounded by. If you can't believe the kind of thing he's seen and reports on is actually happening there are many books that provide further substantiation - such as A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.). I want to delve deeper into `Part II: The Solution', in response to those who think we cannot/willnot change. In Part II, Perkins presents a solid framework for effective action through five pathways for change:
1. Accepting consumer responsibility
2. Creating a new economy
3. Adopting attitudes that encourage good stewardship and make icons of a new type of hero
4. Implementing new rules for business and government
5. Honoring our individual passions
These are all fully actionable, and initial small steps are accessible to anyone.
#1 is a simple, extremely effective pathway to change via individual acts - and doable even if you're over-busy and strapped for cash (see [...] - the latter two in Perkin's book). It may require some re-orientation of priorities - for instance, buying less stuff or more used or less processed food or less meat in order to have funds to make a higher proportion of purchases from fair, environmentally responsible companies. Many of my friends make - and spend - very little, but make their remaining purchases with this level of care.
#5 is the best pathway out of apathy out there (not to mention making life way more interesting and fun). Find the place where your talents and passions meet the world's need and, however slowly, start moving in that direction. It's bound to be a better party than the apathy crowd puts on.
With #3, any parent, child, teacher, friend can influence those they're close to by shifting attitudes, behavior, and what and who you choose to admire and discuss. Cultures change, sometimes rapidly, and largely via social networks. Those in the media (or with friends and family in media) can play a wider role, but we all can make a difference here without any extra money or time - just a shift of emphasis.
#2 and #4 are to me perhaps the most key, and admittedly harder to see how to act on. Anyone who starts or runs a business based on ethical and green principles or develops a new green technology or service is working on #2, but so is anyone who supports organizations (such as [...]) that are developing and enabling alternative economic approaches. #2 is also #1,4 and 5 combined. Anyone can help create a new economy by using your $ to support things in that economy (#1), and by buying less stuff and using your resulting economic flexibility to make your life fulfill your passions (#5), and to also give $ to support those fighting for #4.
For #4, big battles are going on right now all over the world. Here's where giving support to groups making change (like [...] or [...]) and adding your voice to pressure corporations and politicians to implement deep reform makes all the difference. Even one small step - one call to a congressperson - is important.
For a personal example, I've responded to Og8s1's specific challenge "what have YOU done in the last 30 days" in the comments to Ryan McKenney. Perkins provides a variety of resources to get started - following just one of those links and taking one step can be personally empowering and contributes to the change needed.
Perkens says "if relatively few of us, a critical mass- a tiny percentage of the population-consciously takes action in each of these arenas, we will succeed. In our lifetime." In Margaret Mead's words, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." This has been proven again and again to be true, and Perkins shines a light on how each of us can help make the changes we so urgently need today.
Posted by Ryan Mckenney on 11/18/2009
Every consumer in the States should read this book! John Perkins does an exceptional job of guiding you through the troubles and atrocities that our country has burdened not only ourselves, but the rest of the world, through greed and deception. This is a must read for everyone, especially if you have young children, grandchildren, or plan on having children. It is time for us to sustain a future for generations to come. If we don't, as John explains in his book, there will be a disastrous outcome.
Read this book and recommend it to friends and family. It will take time, but with passion, dedication, and hard work we can change the world.
My thanks goes out to John Perkins for sharing his knowledge and showing his dedication.
Reading it will simultaneously anger and depress you
Posted by Charles Ashbacher on 11/23/2009
Although I am a longtime political and news junkie, it is not possible for me to accurately determine the truth of all the claims that are made in this book. However, I do know a great deal of history and have some knowledge of economics so I can reach conclusions on many of the claims. Where I am able, I can confirm the accuracy of what Perkins puts forward.
Perkins is a self-proclaimed former "economic hit man" (EHM), a person whose job is to convince people to accept his economic claims to the long-term detriment of their country or organization. He describes some of the tactics used to press a form of economic imperialism on other countries, where their leaders are pressed to accept loans, allow multi-national corporations to enter the country and engage in rapacious development and describes the consequences if the leaders try to assert independence.
Perkins also goes into detail and explains how similar tactics have been applied in the United States, where there is the increasing consequence of wealth being concentrated in a smaller and smaller economic elite. He has very harsh words for some of the most praised business leaders, especially for the often-praised Jack Welch and Sam Walton, former CEO of General Electric and founder of Wal-Mart respectively.
This is a book that will simultaneously anger and depress you, the anger will be generated from the knowledge that the United States is more and more being governed by the equivalent of a corporate theocracy where the basis of the religion is the ruthless acquisition of wealth. Since the odds are approximately four to one that you are a victim of this movement and your real earnings have declined as a consequence, frustration and depression are a natural consequence of reading about how it has happened.
Posted by Ellen P. Lafleche-christian on 12/20/2009
I was really amazed when reading this book that these things actually go on. OK, call me naive but the thought that our government and large corporations send businessmen (ie hitmen) to other countries with the sole intention of conning them into giving us their natural resources and going into debt just disgusts me.
John Perkins really opens readers eyes to what's going on in the global market. He gives an insight into the global meltdown that many people haven't previously considered. He discusses how just a few large corporations own much of the capital, land and resources around the world and he talks about how these corporations influence and control our politicians.
The second part of Hoodwinked talks about the solution to the problem. He discusses how we can create a healthy economy that encourages businesses to act responsibly and by doing this to create a more sustainable world.
I think this is a really valuable book for people to read. It will truly open your eyes to the ways our government and corporations work and it will get you thinking about ways to fix capitalism. I do agree with John Perkins. I think capitalism can be fixed and I think it's a worthy system that deserves to be fixed.