Tag Archives: military

Noise

I am indoors steaming because of machine noise.  My formerly peaceful, rural environment has become a cesspool of cacophony in my lifetime.  Even as I write, my neighbor brother-in-law is mowing the lawn between our houses.  He couldn’t do it over the weekend, when all the neighbors were outside with their power tools, and the Gun Club was a’popping down the street.  No, he had to wait until today, so he could rev his lawnmower for an hour, complete with backfires and my slim and waning hope that it would stop for good, or that he would give up.  The grass doesn’t even need mowing.

It may be said that I am adding to the noise by my complaints.  It seems the world is overpopulated with people and machines screaming for attention.  There are so many demands on attention, from so many sources, that it’s tempting to shut them all out, if that were possible.  I understand now why people go deaf.

Last night it occurred to me that I look forward to the evenings and the relief from the constant demands on attention—and my rooster is crowing—from phone ringing for sales or survey calls, or the daily hang-up calls.  I get enough noise from the nags inside my head, who are constantly badgering me to do something or other.

Am I the only person on the planet who likes peace and quiet, with emphasis on quiet?  There are people who say they like “white noise.”  They can’t sleep without it.  It is said nature abhors a vacuum.  Even formerly empty space—phone rings, and I hang up without even looking to see who’s calling—is now said to be full of “dark matter” and “dark energy,” suggesting there are no vacuums anywhere.  I wonder if the theorized black holes are actually vacuums, with the common characteristic of sucking everything into them.  Is gravity, then, a vacuum begging to be filled?  Does silence attract sound, like magnets attract iron filings?

Ahhhh . . . The lawn mower has stopped.  My rooster Squire, who I moved to the filing cabinet next to me, is quiet for the moment, looking quizzically at me.  Now, the lawn mower is back.

I used to frequent coffee shops, but no more.  I’m tired of asking the personnel to turn the music down.  How many grocery store or big-box store cashiers have I asked if they get paid extra to listen to the “I Died and Went to Hell” music at top volume?  I tell them to tell their bosses the music is driving customers away.  Has it made a difference, in the years I’ve complained?  “I just tune it out,” a cashier once told me, “but that’s harder to do when it’s skipping.”

In my lifetime, “progress” and “development” has occurred all around my neighborhood.  Not only that, but the perpetual US wars have contributed to an increase in size and activity of Georgia military bases.  One of them, the Hunter Army Airfield, is within a couple of miles—as the jet flies—from my house, with its flight path directly overhead.  I always know when troops are being deployed, because planes fly low overhead every five minutes, headed for Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever they are sending the testosterone-poisoned to make war this week.

Savannah has grown up around Hunter over the past 60-odd years, but Yankees have invaded on the ground, too, with the conversion of International Paper’s island and former tree farm to a gated community real estate development, complete with three taxpayer-funded bridges over the intra-coastal waterway.  My formerly peaceful residence happens to lie between town and this gilded prison, which  has led to an increase in traffic and more development along the route.  Because of construction and clearing of trees for same, vegetation no longer blocks or absorbs the noise, and the traffic becomes a roar at rush hour, especially when the tide is high.

In order to serve these Yankees and their ilk, the county has courted “progress” in the form of a Walmart and Sam’s Club within hearing distance and adjacent to a new parkway so that the Yankees can get home from town faster.  This brought three stoplights and attendant congestion, along with a street sweeper in the wee hours in the Walmart parking lot.

I put the fear of the lord in the street sweeper at 2 a.m. one night, when he woke me up, because this “progress” along with the “progress” of the grass seeder at International Paper’s real estate development golf courses, has caused my property taxes to double in the last ten years.

Now all governments claim to want “progress” and “economic development,” but the flaw in this reasoning is that current residents are expected to pay for the governments’ desire to attract future residents.  The Yankees gloat about how living expenses are lower here than in the urban cesspools from which they escaped, but they have raised my living expenses, taxes, and have created mayhem on my stomping grounds.

My brother-in-law is not a Yankee, but he loves his power tools, just as the coffee shops love their “Feel My Pain” music, the military loves its helicopters and jets, the Gun Club loves its guns, the whole world loves its SUVs, trucks and other gas guzzlers, the neighbors love their barking dogs, and my roosters love to crow.

What’s the difference between a Northerner and a Yankee?  A Northerner visits and goes home.  A Yankee buys real estate for inflated prices, gets a parkway and bridges built for him, owns a couple of SUVs, and stays to criticize those they have elbowed aside, like the deer on the former tree farm, which now grows houses and golf courses.

I contend the noise is driving everyone crazy, but can people hear themselves think anymore?  Do they want to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Commentary: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  Today, Thursday, November 26, 2015, I am feeding poultry, rather than the other way around.  I’m contemplating the market value of feathers from live chickens, and other tangible assets on the here-and-now front.  The Golden Goose, and all that.

I seem to be scoring hits with these Process Commentaries on books about current events.  Here’s another one.  Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was published in 2004.  I read it in March, 2006.  It was an eye-opener.  Perkins doesn’t go into the domestic implications of EHMs.  Think about the domestic implications of the EHM mentality, and you’ll never think the same again.

With out further ado, I’m uploading my 2006 take on Confessions:

bksperkinscon2004

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, 2004, http://www.penguin.com

Book Synopsis: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

by John Perkins
Copyright 2004
A Plume Book
http://www.penguin.com

Synopsis by Katharine C. Otto, March, 2006

“Economic Hit Men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign ‘aid’ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources.”

Thus begins John Perkins’ personal account as an economist hired by a background corporation to promote US government and corporate interests in foreign–primarily third world–countries. The method was simple: if there were resources to be exploited, he worked to seduce foreign governments into enormous debt obligations for infrastructure built by American contractors, financed through the World Bank and others. He achieved this by exaggerating predictions of economic growth. The arrangement resulted in huge contracts to large American corporations. Another goal was to obligate the borrower far more than it could ever repay, in order to tie that government to American political interests.

“I was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN [the company Perkins worked for] and other US companies (such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster, and Brown & Root) through massive engineering and construction projects. Second, I would work to bankrupt the countries that received these loans (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S. contractors, of course) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we need favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources.”

Perkins writes that if EHMs fail at their jobs, “CIA jackals” step in. “If the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.”

The purpose is to promote US commercial interests by ensnaring world leaders “in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty . . . . In turn, they bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people. The owners of U.S. engineering/construction companies become fabulously wealthy.

“Today, we see the results of this system run amok. Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages to toil under inhuman conditions in Asian sweatshops. Oil companies wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killing people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures. The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of HIV-infected Africans. Twelve million families in our own United States worry about their next meal. The energy industry creates an Enron. The accounting industry creates an Andersen.

“The US spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq,” and now Bechtel, among others, holds US government contracts to rebuild Iraq from the devastation the war has created.

EHMs provide favors as “loans to develop infrastructure–electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

Ecuador provides one striking example of this system’s results: About the size of Nevada, Ecuador has 30 active volcanoes, over 15 percent of the world’s bird species, and a land of diverse cultures. In 1968, Texaco had just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region. Since then, a trans-Andean pipeline has leaked more than a half million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest. Now there’s a new $1.3 billion, 300-mile pipeline by an EHM consortium, and oil accounts for nearly half the country’s exports.

“Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming cesspools.”

Perkins says that since 1970, public debt in Ecuador increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Overall, third world debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it is over $375 billion/year, as of 2004.

The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies. One of the reasons the EHMs targeted Ecuador is the sea of oil beneath its Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of the Middle East.

“All of those people–millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet–are potential terrorists,” Perkins says, “not because they believe in communism or anarchism or are intrinsically evil but simply because they are desperate.”

Perkins describes similar tactics in Java, Kuwait, Iran, Panama, Guatemala, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Columbia and Venezuela. In rich countries like Saudi Arabia, he says, the goal was to induce them to spend money already in their coffers, buy US Treasury bonds, and use the interest to pay American contractors.