Monthly Archives: July 2016

An ‘Economic’ Hit Man

Since circa 3000 BC we, as a species, have sought to create empires. Wikipedia offers that “this aspiration to universality resulted in conquest by converting ‘outsiders’ or ‘inferiors’ into the colonized region.”

Whilst in the past, this has been achieved by military might, I would argue that since the last World War we have seen the emergence of a new empire that is being expanded by other than that traditional forces of conquest, (although military might remains in the background).

I speak of the transfer of global power after the last war from the British Empire to America and the latter’s subsequent conquest of a large portion of this globe, achieved by stealth and without undue outrage.

A perfect example of US colonisation at work can be evidenced in an innocent news report of only a few days ago, which carried the story that the World Bank is ‘supporting’ a new coal plant in Kosovo that will modernise the country’s creaking energy infrastructure. It will also condemn this young nation to a future powered by climate destroying fossil fuels. So what is the World Bank up to in what appears a grossly irresponsible action?

In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  (one of many he has now written and which everyone interested in how the world works today should read), John Perkins describes his former life as a financial strategist, specialising in making countries subservient to US foreign policy through debt . . . an ‘Economic’ Hit  Man.

His book defines such people as:

“highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organisations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex and murder.”

It is a well written and gripping read about the life of a man who constantly wrestled with his conscience over his work. Finally, for the sake of his daughter’s future, he became a whistleblower for the same reasons as Edward Snowden. What he was being asked to do was simply immoral and WRONG!

His work saw him travelling the world, going into countries (many in Latin America) and making an economic analysis of their complete structure, from political to environmental and resource wealth. He would then compile a report on how that country could be transformed with new energy plants to support industry, road and natural resources infrastructures, finishing with a 25 year forecast of an economic bonanza.

The reports were always exaggerated in what could be achieved because the whole object of the exercise was to weigh that country down with the debt needed to fund this expansion, provided by the World Bank and others. The repayments, the country was promised, would be paid out of the expanded economy.

Indeed, his reports would not be accepted by his employers unless they were hugely exaggerated in economic outcomes, to give credence to the vast debt the country would be taking on, in the certain knowledge that they would have great difficulty in repaying, or even unable to repay.

By his own admission it is fraud on a global scale, designed to provide lucrative contracts no only to his employers, Chas. T. Main Inc., an international low profile consulting firm used by the World Bank to spread its global lending strategy but also US global conglomerates. It was and still is a win/win situation for US government, corporations and banking institutes (the ‘corporatocracy’ as he describes them – the 1% as we know them).

Once the loan is in place, lucrative contracts are passed out to the likes of Bechtel, Brown & Root, Halliburton, Sone & Webster and many other huge US engineers and contractors, who profit handsomely for decades into the future from installation and maintenance contracts worth billions.

Government wins from the leveraged power that comes with debt. When a country begins struggling with debt repayments, as all have done, they become targets for US favours. These will include US military bases, UN votes, or access to the country’s valuable oil and other natural resources and sovereign assets, as an ‘obligated member’ of the growing US empire.

Sometimes there would be resistance, as in the cases of Ecuador and Panama. In the former, in 1981 President Roldos administration introduced new hydrocarbons laws to reform the country’s relationship with the oil companies. Unless they adhered to these laws, designed to help the people of Ecuador, they would be forced to leave the country.

This resistance was a beacon to other Latin American countries who were also under debt oppression. Shortly after delivering a major speech to his countrymen and women he died in fiery airplane crash on May 24 1981. “CIA Assassination” (Jackals as Perkins knew them) was a cry difficult to refute, as he had challenged the might of the corporatocracy and had to be made a lesson of.

In Panama, in 1967, President Omar Torrijos had concluded three treaties with President Jimmy Carter to preserve the sovereignty of the Panama Canal, a vital waterway that conferred huge power on the country. When ‘empire building’ Ronald Reagan superseded Carter as President his policies completely reversed those of Carter.

Reagan became the servant of those who supposedly served him but actually ran government for the benefit of the corporatocracy. People like George H W Bush, Casper Weinberger, Dick Cheney and Robert McNamara, people in government with powerful backgrounds, connections and influence with global corporations.

They were incensed by the deal Carter had done over the rights for the Panama Canal and wanted Omar Torrijos and his administration consigned to history, with its anti-corporatocracy campaigns for an independent Panama. On July 31st 1981, just two months after Roldos death, Omar Torrijos died in a similar plane crash.

Latin America and the world reeled at these events but worse was to follow. In 1986 the US empire called upon its military might and invaded Panama to deter the then President Noriega, who had superseded Torrijos, from concluding a potential deal with Japan to rebuild the canal.

US corporatocracy was not going to allow this vital link to come under the control of a foreign power and so President Noriega was extracted from the country he ruled over and carried back to the US where he stood trial and imprisonment for violations of American law, committed on that rulers own turf!

American propaganda dealt with world outrage at this abusive use of power by branding Noriega as a despot and tyrant and sentencing him 40 years in prison. Many attempts have been made to uncover the truth but the media are a powerful tool in either shaping people’s minds or keeping the truth buried.

1973 saw a turning point for the empire when President Nixon sought $2.2 billion aid from congress to support Israel. It resulted in a Saudi oil embargo on shipments to the US and brought America to its knees. It was this trauma that welded together big corporations, international banks and government and birthed the global corporatocracy we have today.

To ensure this would not happen again the US proffered the Saudi’s the knowhow and corporate might to build a modern day kingdom out of a barren desert. In addition, American military might would always be available to the kingdom. All of this in exchange for petrodollars and the vital undertaking that there would never be another oil embargo.

To further underwrite this security, we now have the present turmoil in the Middle East that has been nurtured by the CIA and their version of ‘foreign policy’, as the empire seeks to preserve its hold on the world and divert any consolidation of power in this oil rich area.

Whilst I have only skimmed the surface of this man’s experiences and their vast impact upon our modern world, it can be seen why Kosovo is flying in the face of global climate agreements with its coal fired power plant, as well as the recent barbaric treatment of Greece. Power and profit are at stake in the growth of this modern empire, neither of which will be compromised at any cost.

All empires eventually decline and today we have China waiting in the not too distant wings. Where it will all end I have no idea but again we are indebted to a brave man with a conscience who is prepared to stand up against US imperial might and tell the world what is happening.

Like Snowden and so many others, we can only applaud their courage and moral integrity, at a time when these essential values have completely left those who rule us.

Until the next time.

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

Our NHS: Death by 1000 Cuts!

Since 21st July, with the announcement that student nurses will now be charged fees for their education, my anger has simply escalated. I have said for a long time that Parliament is no longer fit for purpose and I just wonder how many nails it will take to bury it? New Premier ‘More of the same’ May is following in the steps of her predecessors, despite what she says and our country can only fall to ever lower levels of Social inequality.

On the last day of government, before the MP’s took off with their buckets and spades (more popularly known as ‘Take out the Trash Day’), her government smugly dumped 300 documents and 30 written statements (usually between 2 and 10 a day), in the form of bad news which they hope will be forgotten about by the time they return in September.

This political connivance is one of many insults to an electorate who are not stupid. Delaying the bad news, with a view to sneaking it in later, when we have all forgotten about it, is yet another betrayal of the trust people place in those they elect to power and lacks any professionalism whatsoever. That it is done so regularly is doubly insulting, as demonstrated in recent talks with Brussels where ‘Mos’ May is negotiating delaying allowing immigrants into our country for 7 years.

Above all else, it is the fees announcement that incenses me. At a time when our country has just broken loose (supposedly) from one authoritarian state, we are now finding our own is just as uncaring. The previous Chancellor declared that scrapping nursing bursaries would pay for 10,000 new training places. What a valueless statement, (with figures probably coming out of thin air), as the introduction of training fees will decimate the number of people attracted to entering this vital profession.

It is suggested that, like university students, their nursing counterparts will be saddled with at least £51,600 of debt. The truly insidious aspect of this is that, like all political connivance, a precedent has been created, with the introduction of these fees, that will see them regularly rise as government needs to replace falling tax revenues. I say this at a time when university fees have just been increased to £9,250 a year from next year, a figure that is projected to further increase to £11,697 by 2025.

Let’s be under no illusion here, this vogue for charging ‘fees’ is taxation by any other name and a most odious form of taxation at that. No matter which educational channel has inflicted them, these debts hang around the necks of our young people into their 40’s and 50’s, reducing their chances of achieving sufficient financial support to buy their own homes, something the government seems equally non-plussed about.

What adds insult to injury is that the income from these fees will not be re-invested back into the NHS, as far as I am aware. The costs of recruiting nurses from overseas, currently £20.19 million for 3,365, is set to increase to a staggering £178.5 million for 29,755 by 2020. Surely this not only demotivates our own people but helps fuel the political call to render our NHS as only fit for privatisation.

Nursing and any care work is a vocation, a word not used by politicians or the media these days. It is a perfect description of the dedication these special people feel towards our community and their scant concern for massive financial reward, something that is a complete anathema to Neoliberalism.

In my total of 14 days in hospital last year, what was abundantly clear to me was the glaring gap between the dedication and incomes of the full time staff to that of the agency staff. That may offend some but it was my experience and saw one such person walk away from a patient who had fallen out of bed one night, which then led to a serious enquiry the following day.

The whole concept of agency staff is beyond me. If my experiences are anything to go by we should be paying the full time staff the extra cost of agency people as a reward for their commitment and dedication. Adequate reward for the support they provide to Society would be a sign of that Society and its government’s respect for this dedication and its true worth.

We should be investing in all of our young, with comprehensive education and training that will motivate them to become positive contributors to our future Society. After all . . . they are our future Society and the mind-set we shape now will be the mind-set that shapes that Society, its values and how it behaves. At present many of them train and then go abroad to try and escape the fee burden, something neither they nor Society should be proud of.

One cut at a time this Tory government is causing the death of our NHS to meet the demands of its corporate lords and masters for its privatisation. Is it any wonder ‘Mos’ May did not seek an election after her appointment by the party? She would not have got back into No 10 and she knows it.

As a tax paying electorate we are being robbed at every level, from the financial to the democratic and it has to stop if we are to receive value for taxes paid, preserve our dignity and quality of life and give our children any sort of future.

Again I cry . . . We need new leaders, with caring values and a new vision . . . NOW!

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes