Friday, June 24, 2005

A Book Review, and Random Hilarity

First, I want to draw your attention to this article from the N&O about how Southern Baptists want people to monitor the actions of gays and their allies in schools. All politics aside, I think this leads to some hilarious Photoshop opportunities. Like a reverend running down a beach with the word "GAYWATCH" emblazoned on the bottom. Anyone who wants to take a crack at that, go right ahead.

Second, I want to introduce you to a book I just finished reading. It's called Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. In it, Perkins reveals the dark side of our foreign "aid" programs and how they're used to manipulate governments throughout the Third World. Perkins concentrates on the cases of Saudi Arabia, Panama, and Ecuador.

The premise of the book - that our economic interests trump our concern for Third World peasants - is an obvious statement. It's very interesting, though, to see how American organizations entrap Third World governments in deep debt, thus ensuring that we have complete influence over them.

Perkins takes pains to point out that there is no conspiracy at work here. Instead, Perkins blames our takeover of Third World governments on two things: our desire to ruthlessly protect our economic self-interest, and our mistaken belief that all economic growth is good for everyone.

The book is published by a small publisher, and it shows - it is not well edited at all. But it's still worth a read for all those concerned about the plight of the developing world.


Ben said...

Fareed Zakaria might disagree with Perkins. Whatever the case, has an interesting article on how to approach dictatorial regimes here:

It seems to go with the old argument that free trade brings more freedom and contrasts it with the sanction-them-and-wait-for-them-to-fall approach. Whether correct or not, it does raise the question of what to do when encountering unfree governments....and whether what "feels" right actually accomplishes the most good.

Jeff said...

The problem, of course, is that most "free trade" agreements are not free trade-based at all. Like CAFTA, NAFTA, etc., they are designed to protect corporate interests through loopholes such as subsidies and weak penalties for labor law breaches.

And history is full of dictatorships that we've propped up in the name of a "free" economy. Ask Guatemala, Chile, Indonesia...

Ben said...

Well, did you read the article? It's not just about economics. It's about engagement with unfree regimes instead of isolation of them. It's operating under the assumptions that these are dictatorial regimes we want to change and not ones we prop up.

He's contrasting the RELATIVE advances in, say China, Libya, or Vietnam (whom we've engaged diplomatically and economically) with the continued total repression in, say Cuba, North Korea, or pre-war Iraq (whom we've isolated or at least tried to isolate).