General Question

kevbo's avatar

A "to what extent do we control our own destiny" type question.

Asked by kevbo (25621points) July 29th, 2009 from iPhone

Author and speaker John Perkins writes in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and talks (from first hand experience) about a “mutant” form of capitalism that has gobbled up the resources of independent nations in service to a globalized empire of corporations. Typically, the method is:

1. Coerce nation’s leader to accept loans for massive infrastructure projects (such as a power plant), bury the nation in debt, and exert control as a creditor;

2. If that fails, assassinate the leader; and

3. If that fails, use western militaries to invade (and then give the corps what they want).

All of this was done all over the world from the end of WWII to the present and in relative darkness (i.e. the American public was mostly unaware and perhaps mostly believed we were doing good things in the world).

Perkins also takes time to mention that this phenomenon is not a conspiracy, but rather a fraternity of ideas—an evolution of capitalism, albeit an unhealthy one.

His conclusion is that this capitalism is a reflection of society’s imagination and ideals, so we are responsible for its existence and the antidote is to start living and thinking differently.

I buy it to an extent, but I wonder about how culpable we are a) for being duped most of our lives, b) for the continued perpetuation of illusory assumptions that hide this awareness, and c) for the inertia that must be overcome to not only eliminate the effects of said mutant capitalism but also awaken the brainwashed multitudes to whom the mutant capitalists have a vested interest in keeping distracted and dulled.

To what extent are we (am I) responsible, especially if the old advertising adage is true that no one asked for a microwave?*

*in other words, few are really asking for mutant capitalism.

EDIT:: I guess a simpler way to say this is have we been given the opportunity for informed consent and are we still culpable (vs blame/responsibilty of other parties) if we haven’t?

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8 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

We are responsible insofar as we do not examine history, and insofar as we acquiesce. These methods you speak of are far from secret. Dwight Eisenhower’s last gift to America was to warn about the Military-Industrial complex. He wanted, in that speech, to call it the Congressional-Military-Industrial complex but was dissuaded from doing so. Of course, he was right the first time.

If you continue to believe that it “matters” who our elected leaders are, or fail to realize that they don’t become “leaders” without assistance, permission and cooptation, to that extent you have not examined the facts.

The old Watergate adage, “Follow the Money” can be most instructive here. Obama, for example, is owned by the Chicago Board of Trade, which has essentially securitized agriculture. Do you suppose, in this new flurry of market regulation, Obama will allow the regulation of commodities futures? Watch and see, and you will know who is, at least partially, in charge.

The entire operation is geared to encourage people to vote against their own interests in favor of the interests of the Power Elite. Why do you suppose we will have no single-payer health care system in America? Hint: it is not because it wouldn’t be superior to and less expensive than what we have in place now. (Blue Dogs are called “dogs” because they roll over for Big Pharma and Big Medical.)

peyton_farquhar's avatar

@pdworkin can you explain what you mean by “Obama…is owned by the Chicago Board of Trade, which has essentially securitized agriculture”?

dpworkin's avatar

It would have been more accurate if I had said commoditized rather than securitized. I do not know if they sell financial instruments based on futures.

Obama has gotten sufficient financial support from the Chicago Board of trade to make him beholden to them for his election to the Senate and the presidency.

It is not in the interest of the Board of Trade to have regulators watch their futures transactions in agricultural and other commodities too closely.

Let us watch and see if the Obama Administration cracks down on the excesses of the commodities market. I say they will not.

dpworkin's avatar

As an addendum, I think we can fathom from their behavior that the Health Insurance industry does not own Obama, but does own the Repubs and the Blue Dog Democrats. Watch and see if you come to agree.

galileogirl's avatar

Of course your answer is yes and no. First if you buy everything a profit-seeking author writes after the fact, don’t expect to be fully informed.

The minority of Americans (and people of other developed countries) understood what was happening to some extent. I knew the housing market was being run by Humpty Dumpty and that the deregulators were students of the Wizard of Oz. “Disregard the man behind the curtain. I am the great OZ” I had little idea of what the financial Houdinis were doing, I thought the government and investment bankers had learned something from Milken.s junk bond debacle. Evidently punishing 1 guy every generation wasn’t a good teaching tool

And greed can change your ability to think like a lobotomy. While a large number followed the siren call of get rich quick without working for anything, many of us worked harder, saved more and put it in the safest place we could find. I have to admit when my bank got shaky in Sept and other banks were failing, I took some cash home just in case there was lag time before the govt stepped in.

Also when the Alfred E. Neuman of Texas showed his inability to lead a horse to water, I did everything I could to get him and his cohorts out and their opponents in, including voting, teaching and even spending money!

But in the final analysis the majority rules even against their own best interests Gandhi and MLK and others like Benigno Aquino managed to change people for the better but it was a full time job for decades and in the end they gave their lives. Call me selfish but I’m not willing to do that. I’m go to hunker down and continue to make good economic choices and teach anyone willing to listen.

JOIN ME, WON’T YOU?

YARNLADY's avatar

@galileogirl I have not read a better essay of the economy. GA

Zendo's avatar

@galileogirl and @pdworkin…Hear Hear!

“To what extent are we (am I) responsible, especially if the old advertising adage is true that no one asked for a microwave?*

You are completely responsible for your actions in this life as are we all. But then, you must live within this system, even if you see its flaws and wish you could change them. There are ways to cut down your complicity, but they require you refuse to pay into the system.

kevbo's avatar

This article thankfully shows that the pendulum does swing the other way.

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