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Holistic Survival #23 – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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Jason Hartman talks with John Perkins, a man who has lived four lives: as an economic hit man (EHM); as the CEO of a successful alternative energy company, who was rewarded for not disclosing his EHM past; as an expert on indigenous cultures and shamanism, a teacher and writer who used this expertise to promote ecology and sustainability while continuing to honor his vow of silence about his life as an EHM; and as a writer who, in telling the real-life story about his extraordinary dealings as an EHM, has exposed the world of international intrigue and corruption that is turning the American republic into a global empire despised by increasing numbers of people around the planet. Visit: https://www.holisticsurvival.com/category/audio-podcast/.

As an EHM, John’s job was to convince Third World countries to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development—loans that were much larger than needed—and to guarantee that the development projects were contracted to U.S. corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel. Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the U.S. government and the international aid agencies allied with it were able to control these economies and to ensure that oil and other resources were channeled to serve the interests of building a global empire.

In his EHM capacity, John traveled all over the world—to Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East—and was either a direct participant in or witness to some of the most dramatic events in modern history, including the Saudi Arabian Money-laundering Affair, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the assassination of Panama’s President Omar Torrijos, the subsequent invasion of Panama, and events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, how to understand threats, and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host, Jason Hartman. This is episode number 23. If you’re a regular listener, I want you to know that we’ve had a few problems since we rebuilt our website with a feed to ITunes. So please re-subscribe if you need to. Make sure you’re still subscribed so you can get the updates and the feed for our shows as they progress. Today we’ve got a very special show for you. We’ve got my favorite economic hit man. Yeah, that’s right, John Perkins. I’m going to talk with him today on the show and he did a great interview that I recorded just last week and I first became familiar with him through his very famous book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

He’s written several other books, they’re all very, very interesting. And what they show you is really some of the inner workings of what goes on behind the scenes and how America really throws its weight around internationally, not through guns and bombs and violence, but through economic hit man like John Perkins. He was a guy that was really there. He really did this and it’s fascinating. And look, all in all, America is of course a great country. It’s the freest country that has really been sort of the last great hope for humanity, and hopefully will continue to be the last great hope for humanity with all the promise that his founding fathers intended it to be.

But like any organization, it’s not just America this happens to. Any human organization, you’re going to have certain interests and certain power struggles and political climbing and backstabbing and all kinds of little things going on behind the scenes that really are always there in any human organization. So today I think you’ll get a very interesting taste of this in my interview with economic hit man John Perkins. So listen in to that, but before we go to that, I want to remind you that my Creating Wealth show has just loads of listeners in nearly 30 countries around the world. And you can subscribe to that on ITunes. Just type “Jason Hartman” in the ITunes search and also go to JasonHartman.com where you can also listen to that show.

And we have got, if you’re interested in the three pillars of holistic survival, protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Well the profits pillar is explored in depth on the Creating Wealth show. So we touch on it in the Holistic Survival show, but in the Creating Wealth show it’s explored in depth. So make sure you’re listening to that show. We’ve got a very special event, the Master’s Weekend coming up on March 6th and 7th in Costa Mesa. We’d love to have you attend. More information on that at JasonHartman.com, and again, that’s on the profits element of holistic survival. So without further ado, here is the interview with John Perkins. I think you’ll find this interview fascinating. Here we go.

Interview with John Perkins

Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome John Perkins to the show. He is the author of several books. I discovered him at the book entitled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and he’s got a new book out called Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded and What We Need to Do to Remake Them. John Perkins, welcome to the show.

John Perkins: Thanks, Jason. It’s great to be with you.

Jason Hartman: Great to have you on. Your work has fascinated me. I tell you, before I read the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man book, I didn’t know what an economic hit man was. I didn’t really notice undercurrent of really war even existed. Tell us about that and how it all works.

John Perkins: Well, you know, I think it’s fair to say economic hit men have created the world’s first truly global empire. And it’s also the first empire that’s been created primarily without the military. And we worked many different ways, but I think the most common is that we will identify a country that has resources our corporations covet, usually a third world country with resources like oil for example, and then arrange a large loan to that country from the world bank or one of the other similar organizations.

But that money doesn’t actually go to the country. Instead, it goes to our own corporations to build the infrastructure projects in that country, power plants, highways, industrial parks, things that benefit a few wealthy families, as well as our own corporations, but don’t help the majority of the people because they’re too poor to buy electricity or to have cars to drive on highways. They don’t have the skills to get industrial jobs in industrial parks. And actually, they don’t have many jobs with those parks anyway. But they, the people, the country, is left holding a huge debt that it can’t repay. So at some point we go back to them and say since you can’t repay your debt, sell your oil to us real cheap and without any of our metal restrictions or vote with us on the next critical United Nations vote or allow us to build a military base on your soil.
And in the few instances when economic hit men fail, and I talked, Jason, in Hoodwinked in how I failed with the democratic elected president of Ecuador, Jaime Roldós, and also the head of state of Panama, Omar Torrijos. I wasn’t able to corrupt them, I wasn’t able to get them to buy into this system. And when we fail like that, then the jackals step in. And they either overthrow governments or assassinate their leaders. Both Roldós and Torrijos were assassinated because I didn’t bring them around. And in the few instances when the jackals also fail, like with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, then the military steps in. So the military’s always there, but unlike other empires, the military’s not the first line of defense. It’s the final line of defense, sort of the ultimate weapon.

Jason Hartman: Well, really the final line of offense, right? Because this is an offensive maneuver.

John Perkins: You’re right. Yes, thank you.

Jason Hartman: Yeah. It’s interesting, John, because I saw a movie, and maybe you were involved in this deal, I’m not sure, but I saw a movie a few years ago entitled life and debt and it was all about Jamaica and how the world bank basically just put that country sort of out of business and they loaned the money and then they said you have to devalue your currency to make your exports attractive. And initially that seemed like a good idea to Jamaica, but later it turned into a real disaster and that country is just basically completely broke now. They haven’t built a new hospital there in years. Are you familiar with that movie or that specific area?

John Perkins: I have seen the movie and I was not part of it. But it was a couple of years ago. And that’s a typical scenario, you know? And right now everybody’s feeling very sorry for her and compassionate towards Haiti, but we did the same thing to Haiti. And we’ll probably do it even more as it recovers from this terrible tragedy that’s happened there.

Jason Hartman: Well, so that’s a good point. I’ve heard a little bit about the Haiti scenario and how in some ways people are blaming the US, saying the US is somewhat responsible for the problem. And to me that just sounded a little farfetched, I mean what happened in Haiti for example.

John Perkins: Well, obviously we’re not responsible for the earthquake, but Haiti has this very long history. It was the first country to declare itself slave free back in the early 1800s, the first country in the western hemisphere.

Jason Hartman: When France pulled out?

John Perkins: Yeah, when they drove France out they declared their independence, declared themselves slave free back in the early 1800s, the first country in the western hemisphere.

Jason Hartman: When France pulled out?

John Perkins: Well yeah, when they drove France out. They declared their independence, declared themselves slave free, and France sued them for a tremendous amount of money saying that the loss of slaves had hurt the French economy. Imagine that.

Jason Hartman: Wow.

John Perkins: And that lawsuit stood for 100 years. Then the US Marines went in in 1915 and occupied the country for almost 20 years. And during that time, they essentially forced Haiti to pay off its debts to France. And ever since then, we’ve been very much in control. So most people have heard of Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier, terrible dictators. But they were very supported by our CIA. We have to take a lot of responsibility for the fact that that country was extremely corrupt.

And in the meantime, our companies are going in there and using very cheap labor in sweatshops and agricultural businesses and fuel businesses more recently. And so we’ve had a very, very strong presence there and when Aristide was elected, he was elected twice and both times overthrown or kidnapped essentially by armed forces, by our people, because he had the gall to demand that minimum wage in Haiti be increased. And incidentally, this is the same thing that happened in Honduras recently when Zelaya democratically elected something similar and he was also overthrown by forces for a couple of reasons. In both of those countries, you have very, very cheap labor, the lower labor rates in the hemisphere. And so there’s a lot of athletic companies. There are companies that make athletic equipment, baseballs, t-shirts, tennis shoes, etcetera, and also [00:09:50] businesses in both countries, particularly in Honduras in this case, Dole and Chiquita. And they don’t like to see wages increased because of two reasons. Right there in each of those countries, they’re making huge profits off low wages. But in addition to that, those two countries hold the bottom line for minimum wage in the hemisphere. And standard minimum wage goes up, then El Salvador and Honduras and Guatemala and every other country in the hemisphere is gonna have to raise their wage rate because nobody wants to go below 80 or Honduras.

Jason Hartman: But isn’t the minimum wage argument really just in a relativity or an inflation argument? Because when you see minimum wage increase in the states, inflation follows very closely with minimum wage increases. Now of course we’re talking about minimum wage here that’s somewhat reasonable versus in these countries it’s dirt poor minimum wage. I do understand that. But as soon as the minimum wage goes up, prices start to rise because it’s a pass through, it’s it? Or no?

John Perkins: Well, it may or may not be a pass through. But if you’re really paying people $2 or $3 a day and they’re working under terrible conditions also, so you’re not really spending much money on the conditions, and you get yourself this amazing work force that some of your competitors don’t have access to and then they’re paying $5 or $6 a day, two or three times what you’re paying, it does make quite a difference. And it may not even make such a big difference in the price of the product at the store, but it may make a huge difference in the profits that are made and the salaries that the executives make and so forth. And I also think that again a lot of it is psychological. So you want to keep that base down low because if it starts to rise in the lowest countries, it’s gonna rise even more in the countries that are already paying higher wages.

Jason Hartman: I want to explore, John, just for a moment, making sure the listeners understand what an economic hit man is. I mean you were an employee of the US government?

John Perkins: No, never. My official title was chief economist at a private consulting firm, [00:12:00], and we have about 2000 employees, mainly in Boston. And I had several dozen people working for me. I was chief economist. I was one of the owners of the company. It was a closely held corporation like a partnership – about 5% of us owned the company. And many of our contracts for the company were with the US government, the treasury department, the state department, USAID, or with the World Bank or one of those organizations. They didn’t pay me directly, but they did hire my company which then paid me.

Jason Hartman: And your company was hired under sort of what terms? I mean what did the government…They came to your company and said go negotiate and said go negotiate a deal for us in a foreign country? Is that basically the…

John Perkins: No. Usually they came to us and said do a study. Let’s look at Indonesia for example or Columbia or whatever. Say we want to invest a billion dollars in Indonesia. In 1970, my first job was Indonesia. It was looked at as the place to stop the domino effect. We knew we were going to lose Vietnam at that point. And there was a theory that if the [00:13:02] went down, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the whole southeast Asia would fall to communism. And Indonesia was looked as the place to stop that. It was also a country with a lot of petroleum reserves and also had the highest Muslim population of any country in the world. And so Indonesia was looked at as a key place.
So the decision was made to invest a large sum of money there. And my company would be hard to go in and do a study, and decide whether that money would be better spent on building power plants or highways or ports or communication systems. What kind of infrastructure would best serve our interest in that country? Our interest being basically what would serve the industry best and multinational corporations best?

And then my job was to go in and convince the leaders of that country, the president or various cabinet ministers, to accept this loan. And these men would know this loan for the most part was not going to help their people. It was primarily going to help big multinational corporations. And their country was gonna be left holding a huge debt. And eventually they would have to pay off that debt by selling oil cheaply. But in the process, they and their family and their cronies would get very wealthy in the process. They would get extremely lucrative deals. They would get major bribes, and usually those bribes work, legal bribes. There’s many ways to legally bribe someone. We did that proficiently.

But in the long run, the people to gain were the big companies, our companies that went in and built the power plants or the ports or the highways and provided all the equipment, the general electors, all the companies behind the scenes as well as insurance companies that insured these companies, banks and so on and so forth that got involved, and the other big winners ultimately would be the oil companies because at some point we go back to Indonesia and say hey, you can’t pay your debts. So sell oil really cheap to our oil companies.

Jason Hartman: And what you’re saying is that this didn’t benefit the regular citizen in Indonesia at the time. It only benefited a very small number of people. And this is where I think, John, a lot of people are really going wrong in their thinking about “capitalism”. Because when you look at the US, the knee jerk reaction of the people on the right is to say “Oh, big business is great. Get government out of our lives. Deregulate. Big business, I’m on the front of big business.” But it’s really not capitalistic. It’s not that way on Wall Street. Wall Street is a rigged game in my opinion. And all the wealth seems to be getting so concentrated whereas the middle class, now I’m talking about the US of course, is really disappearing.

John Perkins: Yeah. And Jason, you’re talking about the US, but this all started in these other countries and the US now is following that example. And the economic hit men have come home to roost here. And yes, you’re exactly right. What would happen in countries like Indonesia or Panama or Ecuador or Congo, you name it, any of the places where I work, is that these big loans would go and these infrastructure projects would be built. And statistically you could show the GDP that the economy grew as a result, but only a few people in these countries really benefited from the economy. But most of the people really live outside the economy. They live on existences. And that doesn’t show up in GDP.

So what you have in fact was our big company’s getting rich, we being able to exploit resources, oil, natural resources, and human resources, and the poor getting poorer – the gap between rich and poor growing significantly as it has over the last 40 years throughout the world. And so we were creating this form of capitalism that I call predatory capitalism.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, good distinction by the way. I really like that phrase, predatory capitalism.

John Perkins: Yeah. And it’s resulted in an extremely dangerous world and a very unsustainable world. Really, we cannot continue like this. We’ve produced a failed system. It’s all you can say about a system where less than 5% of us live in the United States and we consume more than 25% of the world’s resources. Now you cannot call that a model that you can sell to India or Africa or Latin America, the rest of the world. You can’t do it. You would need another 5 or 6 planets just like this one without human beings on it in order to be able to replicate that model on the rest of the planet. So it’s a failed system.

And I have a 2 year old grandson. I hold this baby in my arms and look down at him, I think what in the hell is this planet gonna look like when he’s my age six decades from now? If we continue on this course, it’s gonna be disastrous. We must turn it around. We must recognize that this is a failure and we’ve got to come up with something a lot better.

Jason Hartman: In the Hoodwinked book, you start out by saying that this is not a fluke. And I assume you’re talking about the financial crisis. What about it is not a fluke?

John Perkins: Well, you know, we could all see it coming, couldn’t we? I mean if you really looked at it, if you looked at the huge amounts of debt that we were taking on, if you look at the fact that businesses were operating essentially without regulations on [00:18:09] and so we had the obvious ones like Enron, but there was so much going on behind the scenes and still is. But we’re seeing bankers today making huge profits and bonuses, Wall Street people making huge profits and bonuses, just like the fact that they’re doing it off of our taxpayer money to a large degree. We bailed them out.

This is a terrible system. And it’s bound to crash and the crash is not over. We’re not gonna come out of this. I mean we maybe blipped and we seem to come out of it and right now we’re being told well looks like recession’s ending because GDP seems to be growing, but so is unemployment, so are housing foreclosures. And so it’s kind of like what I described in these third world countries. Statistically you may be able to say “Well, it seems to be getting better”, but that’s only for a few people at the top who are getting a lot better. And so they’re spending a lot of money. They’re investing money, so that increases GDP.

Jason Hartman: Sure. And the statistics are also so manipulated by the government. I just can’t trust any of it anymore. But the government’s response has been, and by the way, just a dovetail on what you just said. I say we’re at the middle of a W right now. And we’re gonna see a further collapse. I think the stock market is completely manipulated. And I don’t think we’re gonna see that sustained, unless the dollar just becomes so debased where it’s so worthless that this stock market stays up there but in real constant value. It’s not really true. But the government’s response has been pretty much the John Maynard Keynes response, prime the pump, inject money into the system. And chapter 2 you say the titans clash, Keynes vs. Freidman. What are your thoughts on the government’s response so far?

John Perkins: Well, I grew up. I mean I went to business school in the 60s and we were Keynesians. I know even Nixon said we’re all Keynesians and everybody was until Reagan came along in 1980 and really embraced Milton Friedman’s form of economics. Keynesian economics that I was taught was the aspect of it that most appealed to me was that it was fairly compassionate. I had professors in business school that used to say, you know, if you become CEO of a company…They always said WHEN you become CEO of a company, you want to look out for the long term interest of the company. Make sure it’s sustainable for the long term. And realize that your company needs to take care of its employees, its suppliers, and its customers, as well as its stockholders. And also it needs to be a good citizen in the community. Company needs to be a good member of the community.

Jason Hartman: A good corporate citizen.

John Perkins: A good corporate citizen and that was drilled into me. Now that all changed under Milton Friedman’s form of economics as to the Chicago School, which I think is based on essentially three principles. One is the only responsibility of business is to make profits regardless of the environmental and social cost and to make them in the short run. And two, businesses should not be regulated because regulations get in the way of making profits. And of course we all know that business executives have totally complete integrity and are totally honest and wouldn’t steal from anybody.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, right.

John Perkins: That seems [00:21:20]. And three, everything should be run by private business, including school, jails and the military which we’re seeing happening now in Afghanistan.

Jason Hartman: You’re talking about like Blackwater?

John Perkins: Yeah. I mean right now they’re saying that roughly 60% of our forces in Afghanistan are private military, not government military. And so these three principles I think have created a very greedy world and a world where the rich and the powerful have become much more rich and much more powerful. And it is an unsustainable form. It was adopted by Reagan in 1980 when he was elected, by Thatcher and Oddsson of Iceland many other of the other world leaders. And it’s been accepted and adopted by every major leader since, every President of the United States including the current one. Obama’s accepting this too.

And I think it’s a very, very dangerous forum. It’s very predatory. It’s the first time in history we’ve had a form of capitalism that is so predatory and so uncompassionate. And other times in history there have been…You know, robber barons would kind of sneak into the system, sneak past it. But there have been a lot more controls on these things. And eventually they came around. But in this case, it’s really spun out of control.

Jason Hartman: I think though on the other side of that, John, you have the government that is just so totally inefficient and doesn’t have like lined set of incentives. So that becomes this bloated bureaucracy that also has its own monumental problems. And I think on the flip side of that too you have this sort of predatory government nowadays because the government is broke and you look at all these municipalities, looking for ways to increase revenue because they’re on the verge of bankruptcy, cities, states, counties. Of course the feds are, but they can just keep printing money. And they’re installing speeding cameras, red light cameras, which all under the guise of public safety. And of course we shouldn’t go through red lights and we shouldn’t speed and nobody should be driving intoxicated, I couldn’t agree more, but they’re making these fines so enormous that they’re attacking, again, a small part of the population that usually can’t defend themselves very well, and it seems like the government is becoming very predatory too.

John Perkins: And not only are they making these large fines, but it is Orwellian, it’s 1984. Somebody’s watching you all the time. I recently discovered much my chagrin that there’s thousands of people out there who can break into all my emails even though they don’t know my password and even though I may have deleted and permanently deleted my emails from my computer. They’re out there. And we have very, very little privacy. And I’m extremely disturbed by this.

You know you love it when you see on television that some kidnapping was stopped because a remote camera in a parking lot picked up a man trying to kidnap some little kid. That’s wonderful, but every time I see that I also think yeah, but that means…

Jason Hartman: What else did that camera see?

John Perkins: Exactly. And isn’t that a tremendous invasion on privacy. And I think it is a tremendous invasion on privacy, notwithstanding the fact that I’m awfully glad that the kid didn’t get kidnapped. But it’s very, very Orwellian. And I feel that we’re all in a very precarious position today that way and the government has very much overstepped its bounds. And I think we need to understand that at the very highest levels of government it’s run by the same people who run the corporations, a revolving door, they just jump back and forth.

Jason Hartman: It’s really a fascist corporatocracy, socio-fascist. On one way you want to buy votes from people and then you want to get in bed with the corporations and with Wall Street. And the same guys, they work at Goldman Sachs, then they work for the treasury. I mean that’s just insanity that we have. There’s like no separation of church and state here.

John Perkins: Well, our economy policy under Obama’s being run by Goldman Sachs and Wall Street because they gave them a lot of money. And our agricultural policy is being run by Monsanto and Dole and Chiquita. There’s no question. Yeah, it’s scary, it’s dangerous. And I think it also points out to the fact that we’re at a very pivotal time in human history right at a time that I think is when city-states became nations, except now the nations are becoming less relevant. And despite the size of government…And government’s really not that important anymore. The president of the United States is not a very powerful person really anymore. The big corporations are what are calling the shots. And I think back when I was in business school, you looked at a globe, and you said well there’s about 200 countries on that globe and a few of these are very powerful back then, the Soviet Union, the United States, the British Empire.

But today you look at that globe and you say the real geopolitics are like huge clouds drifting around this planet. They’re not countries. They don’t know any particular sets of laws. They don’t know country boundaries. These are the big corporations. And they strike deals with the Chinese and the Taiwanese and the Tibetans with the Israelis and the Arab nations with whoever has the resources and the markets that they covet, they strike deals with. And they are really calling the shots now. It’s what I call the corporatocracy. The heads of our biggest corporations are the people who have the greatest power today and they wield it. And of course the recent Supreme Sourt decision made it even easier for them.

Jason Hartman: That one really scares me. And what he’s referring to is how corporations can now advertise to support political candidates, right?

John Perkins: Exactly. It’s terrible.

Jason Hartman: It seems like the world basically evolved this way. First, the church had all the power and it was religion. And that was where the power was really concentrated. And then the power got into the hands of governments. And now the power is in the hands of corporations, big, giant, multi-national corporations who are free agents, they have no loyalty to a location or a set of laws or a philosophy. Their philosophy is just pure money and resources and control.

John Perkins: That’s correct. And they have no loyalty whatsoever. They may call themselves US corporations but they don’t care. We saw Halliburton, most of Dubai, they thought it could make a little bit more money, pay fewer taxes by going there. In the end, it calls itself a US corporation. Really, it’s not.

Jason Hartman: That’s crazy. What do you think about what’s going on in Iran right now? You said we’re at a very pivotal point in human history and I couldn’t agree more. And it’s amazing to me how few American really realized that. Everybody seems like they’re worried about just these dumb little things in their normal everyday life. And it seems like we’re really at a time where things are dramatically changing.

John Perkins: Dramatically, yes.

Jason Hartman: And the Middle East is a powder keg. I mean we’ve got Israel and Iran, and Iran this morning said they’re stepping up their enrichment of uranium to the next weapons grade level. They insist it’s just for energy and peaceful purposes. And what do you think is going on there?

John Perkins: Well, I think it’s very complex. I think part of our real issue with Iran is that Iran has threatened to open an oil exchange. They call it the oil burst where they would sell oil for yen or euros or something other than a dollar. Right now you can only buy oil with dollars in the international market in any large amount. And they threated to change that. And Saddam Hussein threatened to do the same thing and so did Chavez before the first coup against him back in 2002. We don’t want to see that happen, so we don’t want Iran to do that. The nuclear issue is a convenient one that’s a very emotional one. Nobody wants more nuclear weapons in the world. Nobody wants more nuclear weapons. So that’s a really good one to shout about because who can object to it? And the oil exchange one is something very few people understand or even want to talk about or care about. But you know, when you come right down to this nuclear issue, think about it if you were Iran, how would you feel? You’re surrounded by nuclear weapons. Russia is real, Pakistan, India, we’ve got them in Iraq now, we got our military there. We’ve got them on Diego Garcia and a huge military base in the Indian Ocean. Iran is surrounded by nuclear weapons and we’re saying you can’t enrich uranium?

Jason Hartman: Sounds like a double standard is what you’re saying.

John Perkins: It’s totally a double standard. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t like nuclear weapons. I don’t want to see Iran getting nuclear weapons. But it’s pretty hard to demand that Iran not have these when everybody around them, including their enemies, have them? It’s kind of like us telling the Lakota Indians you can’t have guns.

Jason Hartman: Fair enough. And I get where you’re going with that, but if they want to be a member of the nuclear club, Ahmadinejad has got to shut his mouth. I mean he says such inflammatory things.

John Perkins: Yes. But Ahmadinejad, the Iranians are so clever. I lived in Iran. I spent a lot of time in Iran in the 70s. I know Iranians pretty well. Throughout history, they’ve been incredibly clever. Let’s remember that they essentially defeated Israel in Lebanon. We say it was Hamas and Hezbollah, but they were both backed by Iran, but Iran’s never taken credit. That’s the way they work. They’re very quiet. They’re very behind the scenes. And Ahmadinejad is probably crazy, and he stuck out there to make the world think the Iranians are crazy. But behind Ahmadinejad is the real power. He doesn’t have it. The Moolahs have it and they’re not crazy. I think that they’ve got probably a pretty good chess game going there, and they’ve got their front man out there, their pawn Ahmadinejad is out there making a fool out of himself and having a good time doing it because he’s off his rocker. And we’re all saying Jesus, Ron’s crazy. But the fact of the matter is they have a tremendous amount of power in the middle east today. They’re the ones who when Palestinians die, they give money to the families. When the suicide bombers blow themselves up, who pays for the families afterwards? The Iranians do. They often do it through Hezbollah, Hamas, or some other organization. But they’re the ones doing it. And they appeal that they can control a lot of the oil lanes in the Middle East. And they want to get recognition for this. So we’re dealing with a very, very tricky situation here. And I don’t think the Bush administration had any idea how to deal with this, and it appears that the Obama administration doesn’t have much better idea. The fact of the matter is that we’re just not dealing with Iranians the way that you should be dealing with Iranians.

Jason Hartman: How should we deal with them?

John Perkins: Well, I think you’ve got to go in there and you’ve got to recognize. First of all, you gotta say listen, we understand that you guys have got a lot of power. Do you want to negotiate as equals? And maybe you do have a right to nuclear weapons, you’re surrounded by nuclear weapons, but how can we work this out? Can we work toward a deal where nobody has nuclear weapons pointed at you? Or some such thing where you get to sit down and talk to them like equals rather than constantly calling them crazy just because they’ve got one front guy out there who really that’s all he is. He’s a mask, Ahmadinejad, that’s the way they work.

And we’ve got to remember too that they’re extremely angry at us. We overthrew a democratically elected premier, Mossadeq, back in the 50s. Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, democratically elected. We threw him out on a coup that the CIA initiated, Kermit Roosevelt. He said his grandson went in there, this card carrying CIA agent, and threw out a democratically elected president and replaced him with The Shah, who is still strongly resented. And so there’s a long history. It’s not an easy task to deal with the Iranians. I’m not suggesting it is, but it’s gonna take time and patience, and to cut out the saber rattling, which is what we’re doing right now.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, I want to ask you about a couple o things in the Hoodwinked book. In chapter 8, you talk about the coming deregulation. Now, it sounds like you’ve already been arguing that we have too much deregulation and we need more regulation. But then you talk about the regulation scam and I have some thoughts on that regulation scam, but what are you getting at in the Hoodwinked book on those two?

John Perkins: Well, when I was in business school, and Jason, I was told by many professors that we’ll never have another depression like the one that we had in the 30s or even a recession like we’re having now because we put rules into place after the depression to keep that from happening. And I think that was true. I think we really did do that. But over the years since I was in business school, in the late 60s, we’ve thrown away those rules. And you know the most famous one is Glass-Steagall back in 1999 under the Clinton administration when we got into that one, but there’s been a lot that we’ve gotten rid of. And so we have had this recession and we’ve all seen how getting rid of those regulations has allowed many firms, Wall Street firms, banking firms, insurance companies, companies like Enron and many, many others, had to get away with what should be considered terrible crimes because the regulations weren’t there. So we need to understand that these businessmen are like the rest of us. They succumb to temptation. They need some laws to regulate them just like the rest of us do. We’re not allowed to go out on the street and pick people’s pockets. We’re not allowed to break into our neighbor’s homes. They shouldn’t be allowed to do those things either on a corporate level. But I think we need to also go beyond that.

And during the first 100 years under this country’s history as the United States, no corporation could get a charter unless it proved that it was going to serve the public interest. And then it had a charter for about 10 years on average with some exceptions. It had to go back and prove that it had sort of the public interest and would continue to do that. I think we need to reinstitute some sort of theory or policy along this line where corporations that’s recognized, they’re there to serve the public interest, as you said, to be good corporate neighbors, community neighbors, good citizens, corporate citizens. So if we look at Milton Friedman’s idea that the sole responsibility of corporations is to maximize profits regardless of the social and environmental cost, and we just change that a little bit to say the responsibility of corporations is to make profits but within the context of creating a sustainable and just world, in other words, while maintaining standards of environmental and social responsibility, let’s only buy some corporations that are committed to being sustainable. They’re creating a sustainable world and a world that my grandson will want to inherit and every child on this planet will want to inherit. And let’s create a set of laws and hold corporations to that standard whereby they have to operate in a way that keeps things to make this world a place that we’re all gonna want to live on.

Jason Hartman: There’s so much abuse with entities nowadays, corporations and LLCs and Enron with their special purpose vehicles, their SPVs, we’ve got to really reexamine how we look at that because it’s not right that these crooked businesspeople can just set up these entities, take investor’s money, take all the money out themselves and just bankrupt the entity. That’s just crazy the way people are abusing the system.

John Perkins: It’s the Wild West. When I was a kid, the westerns were very popular, movies, and there was a lot of them about the lawless town. There’s a town without laws or without a Sheriff to enforce the laws, then you get this criminal element that goes in. Of course we see that in ghettos, places like that where criminal elements go in. In a way, we’ve created a form of capitalism. It’s almost lawless, but it’s permitted to let these corporations run wild, run amok. And it just creates a foundation for terrible, terrible abuse and we’ve certainly seen that happen. We must change that.

Jason Hartman: We really must change that. I completely agree. So here’s the regulation scam though in my eyes. I don’t know if this is what you’re writing about, because as I mentioned, I have not read the Hoodwinked book yet. But the regulation scam is that a lot of these large companies, these multinationals usually, they ask to be regulated as a way to keep competition out of the game. Because they know that the little guy engaging in a free enterprise system will never be able to afford the compliance. They can’t jump through all the legal hurdles and hoops in order to comply. And so that’s kind of like the law of unintended consequences in a way, isn’t it? I don’t know what you’re getting to when you talk about the regulation scam, but I’d love to hear that in your comments.

John Perkins: Well, I’m talking about regulations that don’t permit these companies to have such power. Like Glass-Steagall did not investment banks to also do the things that commercial banks do. And when Glass-Steagall was torn down, suddenly the commercial banks and the investment banks became partners. They became one company. So you’re mixing the ones that take big risks with the ones that aren’t supposed to take risks at all. And how do you do that? They created problems. So laws that don’t allow that to happen, I think we need to do exactly the opposite of the Supreme Court has done, laws that don’t permit corporations to get so deeply involved in the political process to invest so much money in supporting candidates, restrict that or don’t even allow them to do it all. And laws that do not allow corporations to control media, we used to have those laws.

I go in a lot of detail in Hoodwinked about the whole series of different laws and many different parts of our economy. Media’s just one example where it wasn’t so long ago that you could not control the newspapers and radio stations significantly in any given market. That’s changed now. I think those were important laws that kept corporations from becoming too big and too strong, that allowed the entrepreneur to own radio stations and newspapers, and not be wiped out by these huge conglomerates that can just wipe them out overnight, and cutting them.

And you get the same thing with the big box stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart that go in and just destroy entrepreneurs in community after community after community. I think we need to put some halters on that type of activity.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, it’s so hard to do though, John, because the question is it’s all a matter of degree. And what do you set that number at? Do you set that number at saying you can be this big but you can’t be that big?

John Perkins: We used to do it. And then if you just take the media business, you could define it in ways that related to not having control over a market in any given metropolitan area or any given community. So if you owned a radio station, you couldn’t also own the newspapers. And you couldn’t own more than a couple of radio stations in a certain geographic area. And you couldn’t own a television station, or you could own one radio station and one television station. There were standards like that that you can set up that make it so that no one entity can go in and control a market. And you can do that with retail establishments too so that a Wal-Mart or a K-Mart just is not in a position where it can go in and start to undercut every other local business that might be competing with them. I know a business in a town in New England where a Wal-Mart went in and this business had opposed Wal-Mart coming in. The owners had opposed Wal-Mart. And as soon as Wal-Mart finally got into the town, the products of this business sold which were chinaware and silverware and stuff like that. Wal-Mart also got all the same things at under cost to them. It was very obvious that they were losing money, Wal-Mart was, every time they sold these products, but they very quickly drove this mom and pop organization out of business.

Jason Hartman: In other words, the strategy is lose money for a little while in order to monopolize a marketplace.

John Perkins: Yeah. And I think that’s very contrary to true principals of capitalism where a corporation that’s that big and that powerful should not be in a position where it can drive people who own the family business, perhaps for generations, out of business, people who are doing a really honest business and one of these conglomerate giants comes in, I just think that that’s contrary to our principles, both of democracy and capitalism. That’s predatory capitalism. That’s preying on other people because you just happen to be bigger.

Jason Hartman: The problem is though the consumers don’t care. They just want the best deal. They want the instant gratification. And if Wal-Mart’s gonna sell things at a loss, they’re gonna go buy it there. Obviously they did.

John Perkins: Well, the consumer does have to take a role out of responsibility, Jason. And part of what I talk about when I’m on these speaking tours, and incidentally if people can check out my website, JohnPerkins.org, I would love to meet some of your listeners. And I’m traveling around, speaking at a lot of different cities and universities.

Jason Hartman: Great, great website, JohnPerkins.org. There’s a lot of resources, videos there, links. So some good stuff there. I really enjoy your website.

John Perkins: Yeah, thank you. My son in law did that. He did a great job I think. He still does it, does it every day.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, good.

John Perkins: Yeah, well I think…Yeah, we must take more responsibility. I think we have basically sent the message to these corporations that we want cheap t-shirts, and if they’re made by slaves in sweatshops in Indonesia, we’ll just turn the other way. And we want cheap petroleum. If that means destroying rainforests in the Amazon and the people who live and the animals and plants, we’ll look the other way. And I think now we’re seeing that this is coming home to roost, that when you do that, it eventually comes back and bites you too. And let’s all aim our sites higher. Let’s say, you know, that’s not really what we want. What we want is a good world for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren and to recognize that we live on a very small planet and our children and grandchildren are not gonna have good lives unless every kid growing up in Bolivia and Botswana and Palestine and Israel have that same expectation.

We’re at a time in history, Jason, that’s like none other. You know, we’re totally interdependent as a planet. Used to be you could watch out for your own city, your own state just in the United States, didn’t matter what was going on anywhere else. That’s all changed very rapidly. Today, for the first time in history, we’re all suffering from the same crises. We’re all facing climate change. We’re all facing extinction of species. We’re all facing resources at a diminishing and accelerating rate, and prices of essentials like food and fuel that are increasing at accelerating rates. Everybody on this planet is facing this, overpopulation, so many crises. And for the first time in human, and this is only a couple of years old, we’re all communicating with each other. People in the highest village in the Himalayas who never thought they’d ever get telephone lines now have cell phones and through them the internet. Same as true deep in the Amazon. We’re at a very revolutionary time in history.

Jason Hartman: And that communication, though, may be really the savior, because the fact that we are talking and we’re interconnected in a communications way, I mean look, you’re a lot less likely to go to war with someone or even economically hit them if you will, if you have friends in that place that you talk to online, that you are friends with on Facebook. It makes everybody more connected, so maybe that is part of the formula for saving ourselves, right?

John Perkins: I totally agree. I mean look what you’re doing. Where does your program go?

Jason Hartman: Listeners in 26 countries around the world, it’s just amazing.

John Perkins: There you go. You know, if you had one of those little radio stations that were restricted to southern California, you wouldn’t have that option. Today we have this amazing option. I get hits from my website every day from all over the world, you know?

Jason Hartman: I know. It’s really incredible.

John Perkins: It is incredible. And to me it’s very encouraging. I take great hope in this. .I think we’re at this pivotal time in history. But we must recognize that we the people must do it. We’ve got to demand a better world. And, you know, let’s not support corporations that don’t do a good job. When I’m speaking, and sometimes it’s audience of 100 people, I say it’s just 10% of you and 10% of the people I’m gonna speak to over the next 3 months. And the audiences like this as I travel around the country, if just 10% of all of you send an email to Nike and say, listen, I’m not buying anymore from you because you have slaves working in sweatshops in Indonesia, Nike will have to change. If enough people do that, Nike…I don’t want to disemploy the people in Indonesia, but what I do want is for Nike to give them fair wages and decent working conditions. And they can do that. And if enough of us just speak out and realize that we are terribly, strongly related to those poor people in Indonesia who are working for terribly low wages and terribly unpleasant conditions, they’re connected very strongly to us. And they’re the future terrorists and their kids are the future terrorists. We’ve got to recognize that, that in order for us to have homeland security in the United States, we have to recognize that the entire planet is our homeland. And this is the first time in history that this is true. We’ve got to recognize that we really are on a space station, but there’s no shuttle to rescue us. We’ve got to rescue ourselves.

Jason Hartman: No question about it. Well, it’s a good message. And John Perkins, you keep promoting the good message. The website is JohnPerkins.org. And his new book is Hoodwinked. It’s available in stores, on Amazon, all the usual places. And, John, thank you so much for being with us today. We appreciate the insights.

John Perkins: My pleasure, Jason, and incidentally I’m on Twitter too, @economic_hitman, and keep up your wonderful work spreading this word to all these many countries that you’re spreading your word to and expand those countries.

Jason Hartman: Thanks. We’ll try. You do the same, John.

John Perkins: Thank you.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search Jason Hartman on ITunes. This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional, information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. (Top image: Flickr | RLHyde)

The Holistic Survival Show

Transcribed by Ralph


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