Twofish's Blog

September 15, 2007

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

Filed under: academia, economics, education, politics — twofish @ 6:00 pm

I started reading the book “Confessions of a Hitman” in the Strand bookstore, and I found to be a wonderful and insightful description of what is wrong with the world.  What I found interesting was that most of the reviews I read about the book make Jack Perkins sound like a wacko conspiracy theorist, when from the book, I think he got pretty close to how the world really works.  From my own experience, the way that the world works is far scarier than any conspiracy theorist could possibly imagine.  Let me explain…..

Jack Perkins said that he was prompted to write because out of guilt, and curiously guilt is the reason that I blog as much as I do.  I feel guilty because I worked at Halliburton, saw Dick Cheney in action, and I didn’t say anything.  It turns out that Dick Cheney and Halliburton are far scarier than any of the conspiracy theorists imagine.

Conspiracy theorists imagine that there is some secret committee within Halliburton that is plotting to run the world and make themselves rich by ruthless control of the world oil supplies, and that there are selfish, ruthless, men in power that hope to keep themselves in power by going evil things designed to enslave the world…….

How I wish that were true!!!!!!

The reality is far scarier.  Working in Halliburton, I found Dick Cheney to be a completely incompetent administrator, and Halliburton to be an extremely badly run company.  Both of them do the day-to-day stuff more or less well.  They can pour concrete competently.  But Halliburton and Dick Cheney seemed to be completely incapable of high level strategic thinking or of being able to adapt and recognize high level strategic thinking.  It is this low-level competence combined with a lot of vision and inability to listen and react that formed a vastly dangerous combination.

So I was relieved when he left Halliburton, what possible damage could he do as Vice-President?

My experience has been that the “evil schemers” of the world aren’t the really dangerous people.  “Evil schemers” who are competent will at least do nothing to harm themselves, and you can usually negotiate a deal with them so that they don’t harm you.  The really dangerous people that I’ve found are the “incompetent schemers”, people who think that they are doing good, but lack the curiousity and questioning ability to understand what is going on around them.  A loaded machine gun is far more dangerous in the hands of a four-year old than in the hands of a Mafia hitman.

The typical “evil schemer” is Henry Kissinger.  Kissinger did some nasty, rotten things while he was Secretary of State, but he had some basic competence and vision, and there is plenty that he did that was good.  He was responsible for the fact that my mother could send a letter to her father  in Mainland China for the first time in over a decade and reading the diplomatic exchanges that lead up to the opening with China is extremely emotional.  Now if my parents were Chilean leftists or East Timorese, I can understand how they would hate Kissinger.  I understand what they feel, and I understand why they feel it.  But my parents were who they were, and I am who I am.  Christopher Hitchens thinks that Kissinger should be put up for war crimes trials, and if that ever happens, I’ll be passionate in my defense of Kissinger.  This is an important point because I happen believe that after we die, in some way or another, we will be put on trial for what we did on the planet.  I will defend Kissinger.  I wonder who will defend Cheney.

Something else that the conspriacy theorists talk about is the “corporate dominated media” with the idea that again there are evil people in the world that try to mold people’s thinking to keep themselves in power.  The truth I believe is far scarier.  The big media corporations exist to make money, large amounts of money.  So how do you make large amounts of money in media……  The answer is quite obvious and shocking……

You tell people what they want to hear…….

Liberals get Fox News wrong.  It’s not a vast corporate conspiracy to brainwash people in America.  The truth is that there are lots and lots of people who want to hear what Fox News is telling them, and by telling people what they want to hear, you make large amounts of money.  Rupert Murdorch is an interesting fellow, and I’m sure that if there were large numbers of people who would be willing to pay cash money to hear liberal news, he’d put up a liberal news channel.

The problem with reality is that the truth is messy, the truth is uncertain, the truth is painful, the truth takes a lot of time and effort to get right.  It is really not worth the pain, agony, and fear of looking for the truth, unless the alternative is worse.  And the worst part of it is, you never know if you have the truth.

The comforting thing about conspiracy theories is that they divide the world into the good and the evil, and obviously the speaker is on the side of good.  The problem is that the world doesn’t quite work out that way.  One thing that makes reading confessions of an economic hitman uncomfortable is that I always have the nagging fear that something that I’m doing is resulting or will result in something very, very horrific.  I’m working in a nice office in the middle of corporate America, maybe something I’m doing is causing or will cause something horrific to happen.

So maybe I should quit my job, but wait…..  Maybe by doing what I’m doing I’m preventing something horrific from happening, and if I quit my job, *that* is the action that will cause something horrible to happen.  Scary….. Isn’t it…..  So maybe I should think some more, but maybe by thinking about this, I cause something horrible to happen, so I should stop thinking, but maybe *that* is going to cause something evil to occur…..

I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that I’m doing something bad and that on judgment day, I will be ashamed and guilty at some of the things I’ve done.  I’m just hope that it isn’t something really bad.  Reading “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” gives me scary feeling that it will be.

It’s the curse of Adam.  Chapter 3 of the book of Genesis recounts of the story of Adam taking a bite of the tree of knowledge.  It’s actually a deep story because it recounts an experience that every human being goes through.  When you are a baby, people take care of you, and you are not responsible for any actions that you take, because you don’t know the difference between good and evil.  Once you take a bite of the apple and once you are able to appreciate the difference between good and evil, then you must leave the Garden of Eden.

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1 Comment »

  1. I definitely agree, as the saying goes, “Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Comment by augustine — September 15, 2007 @ 8:03 pm


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