Author Archives: Jeremy

Elephant and the Dragon.

The Elephant and the Dragon (2008)

-Robyn Meredith

This book was one that I liked reading and didn’t like reading. It had ideas and explanations that were new to me and also, sections that seemed lengthy and redundant. I would really get in to a chapter and find 4 pages later that she was describing the same thing in with different props and characters.

The book is a dichotomy between India and China. It’s a compare and contrast piece that gives the reader a much expanded look in to the history, cultures and workings of these countries. It is generally transitioned chapter to chapter with alternating main topics and the respective country being talked about.

The history of China and the oppressive reign of Mao basically collapsed all point of life in China. Freedoms completely eroded, properties divided by communal collectives, and separation from the outside world. The people were starved, ruined, children unschooled. They became animals of agrarian labor, which had to give up most if not all of their bounty to the govt.. all in the name of keeping Mao happy and alluding to a successful empire. Since all people die, change came gradually after his death, but the people were so brainwashed and numb, they had no spirit left. By chance a village had decided against the ways of ‘The Man’ and started a slow revolution. Eventually their leader Xiaoping decided to investigate neighboring countries and basically copied what they had done to prosper with his own well meditated twist. Make the people think and fear Communist China, while economically sell out to the Corporatocracy. He enticed, attracted and basically begged big business to come in to China.

Freedom still did not exist. Thousands of people kicked out of their villages in order to lay down infrastructure and let factories come in. he was smart by throwing the people of China a bone here and there. Little by little the people got more money, but barely enough. He knew that there was a line that would be just enough to keep revolution chances minimal. When revolts sprung up, China became Communist again and killed them. People are ‘better off’ there now, but barely. To his credit, he did insist that companies coming in share their production and technology secrets. So in a nutshell, China gets trade secrets and doesn’t have to worry about their own R&D. Kind of scary.

India has more freedoms, but still has a culture of not trusting globalization or big business thanks to the UK. Generations are fed Ghandi’s teachings and that’s jus the way it is. Slowly, the country realizes they can’t go on like this forever and starts to open it’s doors to the world. The problem?  India doesn’t quite have the heartless authoritarian way of beating it’s people down. They do it to themselves in a lot of ways through their customs and culture of misogyny and other oppressive traditions. This is not to mention their accepted system of bribery and ridiculous licenses (Much like the video we watched) When they finally decide to get serious, they run in to the hurdle of infrastructure. It doesn’t exist. Until massive amounts of money are spent to build roads, sewage, water sanitation, etc….they just can’t reach potential.

Ms. Meredith (U of M grad) compares the types of work between the two. China is more blue collar uneducated type of work where as India is the typical ‘call center’ or ‘back office’ work. She very thoroughly describes the difference in the boom time of America vs. India and China’s. Where Henry Ford had set up an ‘Assembly Line’ where multiple different workers each had a different specialized part of the process housed in one factory, the way globalization works now is like a ‘disassembly line’ or ‘SUPPLY CHAIN’ where a product travels to many different countries based on the cheapest place to assemble a specific part. This SUPPLY CHAIN drives down costs and speeds up time to get product to market.

The author also attempts to compare the rise of these economies to the US, but it always seems to fall back on a few main points. The US may havelost jobs, but hope is not gone (this is over and over through the book). At the end it culminates to the fact that the US needs to invent new jobs and most of our problems stem from our public education and the fact that we overspend. Basically she thinks if our public education had more money, we’d be okay and if people would stop filling their garages with junk and buying big houses that we could live more modestly and not think we have the right to make as much money as we do. I found this odd since she explains how in India, people that make 40k a year live like kings, with housekeepers and private drivers.I thought sending work overseas was supposed to make things cheaper for us? She explained how Indians only spend 5 dollars a month on cell phones. 5 dollars!!! It sounds like we are the ones be exploited.

It was nice that the author brought up how devastating the rise in economies in these countries are to the environment. Corporations get to go in for almost nothing, set up shop and use up natural resources like it’s going out of style, exploit and use the people for the corporations bidding and then pollute the hell out of the environment to boot. SUSTAINABLE?

All in all, it was readable and had great anecdotes and history blurbs. It was a nice soft read, but it left me wanting more, especially with solutions for us in the US.


Hoodwinked; a book that left me feeling uneasy.


by John Perkins


John Perkins tries to explain the emerging problem of ‘corporatocracy’ and ‘predatory capitalism’ through a blend historical events and personal anecdotes. He is a self proclaimed EHM, or Economic Hit Man who has supposedly been in the forefront of multinational corporations exploiting undeveloped nations. While he now feels remorse and guilt for his dark history, he attempts to explain how these multinational corporations weasel their way in to these small nations and proposes some hope for the future. Through his unbelievable life happenings and recollections on encounters with people, both perceivably good and bad, his work really opens your mind up to some new concepts and makes you go..huh?

Mr. Perkins easily gets you in to the mood to start questioning things and quickly starts weaving a tale of an almost James Bond lifestyle. At a young age he got a job for a Consulting Firm and worked his way up the ladder at a fast pace. He starts the intrigue quickly with the story of being confronted in a clandestine encounter with a fellow MAIN (his consulting firm) employee. This confrontation is with an extremely beautiful and seductive lady who swears him to secrecy. She sets up private meetings with him to have sex and ‘train’ him in the ways of the world. His training is to infiltrate political leaders of undeveloped nations and bribe, manipulate and coerce the leaders in to paving an easy path for multinational corporations to come in and set up shop. Basically through loans and austerity the corps come in and exploit, exploit, exploit, basically the same things we learn in Unit 5. He does admit that these corps are bigger than any one nation and that if leaders give them trouble, then the CIA or other large institutions basically kill the rebels or other such means to shut them up (house arrests, military coups, assassinations). While this stuff leads the reader to feel dismay, betrayal and anger, one has to wonder how they could ever fact check what he says. He does a fine job of presenting the facts of scenarios to back up his claims. Perkins goes on to list famous person after famous person that is extremely rich and connects the wealth these people have with the political power they gain through philanthropy and diversifying their affairs. He claims the American people were asleep and that we admired these peoples lifestyles instead of questioning the power they were gaining. He definitely has a Keynesian outlook and frowns on all things free market.

The real meat of the matter came when he started bringing up the toil and wreckage that these corporations leave behind in undeveloped nations and their classification of ‘externalities’. The economic aid that was supposed to strengthen their economies and help the people prosper, basically turns in to helping the corps rip resources from the country cheaply. The climax was his descriptions of Ecuador. Finding huge deposits of oil, Ecuador could have used these profits to help it’s own people. Instead it was privatized, and Texaco came in and got it and destroyed the land and it’s people. Huge pools of oil sitting for decades. Local people becoming diseased from the contaminated water. Animals killed. All for profit. Many costs were never taken into account when Texaco determined the price of oil that we consume. This price, the social and environmental costs are called ‘externalities’.

There are a few chapters of people high positions in dismay at the enormous power the predatory capitalists are gaining and the dismay at what America once was compare to now. The book then shifts forward to the future and Perkins lets us know it’s not all lost. Hope is still there. He attempts to use the second half of his book to explore his solutions of social and environmental responsibility that we consumers have. He insists that we have the power to change the economy and state of affairs with choosing sound purchases that were made in responsible ways. Paying extra is an investment in the future. He also goes in to great depth at how responsible China is how he feels their values of family are much stronger than ours. At the end I felt like his solutions were actually a solution to make his book longer. I think he may have had a little bit of material he wanted to add to his earlier book, but needed to pontificate the end to make it buyable. The first half was really a shocker though, especially to see how premeditated our ‘global’ events are. On a side note, I may have been let down half way through the book, because I perused his website, where it explains how he is a world renowned Shaman and spiritual guide. It took down points in street cred for me.