I've been working all summer writing my next book, which many of you have inspired.
In the interim, the question of how easily the American public continues to be influenced by propaganda continues to come up. Here are a few thoughts on this topic:
We have been very, very susceptible to propaganda, perhaps more than any other population in the world today that I am aware of at least. We don’t realize that we’ve built an empire. And partly that’s because it’s been done subtly. It has been done through economic hit men. When you send your young men and women off to foreign lands, as the British did, to build their empire, or the Romans, or the Spanish or the Portuguese, everybody knows it’s happening --- and in fact it’s usually applauded, like the colonial powers. But we’ve done it very differently.
We haven’t for the most part sent our young men and women off with a few exceptions like Vietnam and now Iraq, but is has been done very, very subtly. Consequently, people aren’t aware that it is happening, though we should be aware of it. People in other parts of the world are aware of it. If you go to Nigeria, or Brazil or Bolivia, or Indonesia, you find people there who see it and experience it. They know that a huge loan has been given by the World Bank or one of its sister organizations, to their country. They know. They can see the logos on the construction equipment, that they are huge US companies involved, building some sort of a project, like a big hydro-power plant project or an industrial park, which is going to serve the very wealthy in their country. They are not going to get electricity. They don’t even have light bulbs. They are not going to use the highways. They are not going to work in the industrial parks, because the few jobs that an industrial park has these days are high tech jobs. They are not going to benefit from this at all and they know that. They also know from experience that their country is going to be left holding a huge debt, and that as a result they are going to get fewer and fewer health services and education services. Most of them don’t have health services to begin with, but they have learned that new health services aren't going to come from projects like these. So they know that they are being genuinely ripped off in this process.
Most Americans don’t believe this. We believe that foreign aid is altruistic, we think we are out there doing great things in the world. And so the wool has really been pulled over our eyes and now it’s coming back to haunt us at a very personal level. We are having many of the same things done to us that were done in these other countries. Of course we are starting at a higher level on the economic scale, at least most of us. Or many of us are anyway, so we won’t feel it quite as quickly but we are feeling it.
When I wrote, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, I knew I was sticking my head in a noose in a way and I am not suicidal or self-destructive so I only did it with the feeling that we can change all this together. I am very optimistic, but the way we've got to change this situation is by more people becoming aware. I hear this a lot: Americans are so busy just trying to struggle for survival. I don’t really think we are struggling to survive. There is a very, very poor segment of our country that is struggling to survive and I don’t mean to speak of that lightly at all. However, for so many Americans, we are living pretty comfortable lives.
Ask yourselves, what did most Americans do this last Saturday and/or Sunday? My guess is that an awful lot of them watched the football game and spent tremendous amounts of energy. Think of the energy and money that’s spent on these things alone.
It’s taking us away from what’s really happening in the world. We are very comfortable doing living our lives this way and we need to change this truth. We need to think about our children and our grandchildren. And if we think about them, we know we have a tremendous amount of work out there to do. I am struck by what an amazingly selfish, self centered generation mine is. Anybody that’s an adult at this point in time --- we are so oriented towards the next widget, the next meal, the next restaurant we are going to, the next quarterly report, the price of stock today; very, very, very short term things. No other culture in history that I am aware of has looked at things this way.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CHANGE HOW YOU OPERATE?