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46 What You Can Do

Perkins, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“John Lennon said, ‘All you need is love,’” Samantha Thomas told me. “What better way to honor the peace prize than through a summit that reflects his ideas?”

Yoko Ono had awarded me the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace and, along with it, a major contribution to Dream Change. The organization had been relatively quiet for several years, but now Samantha, a brilliant, dynamic, and determined person in her twenties, had come on board as its executive director. She wanted to sponsor a 2015 conference that would encourage businesses to achieve higher, more compassionate standards. She and I convinced Dan Wieden, cofounder and chairman of the board of Wieden+Kennedy, one of the most successful and highly respected advertising agencies in the world, to cohost it with me. From the beginning, Samantha had called it the Love Summit. At first, Dan and I objected. We were concerned that “love” might be inappropriate for a business conference. However, our attitudes soon changed.

Like many of the attendees, who were successful entrepreneurs and corporate executives, Dan and I came to understand that when we love ourselves, the earth, and one another, everything gets better. Several speakers pointed out that marketing is aimed at convincing consumers to love a company and its products. To change the world, all we need to do is inspire consumers to love companies and products that serve life, and to persuade businesspeople that if they want their companies and products to be loved, they must commit to doing just that.

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43 Who Are Today’s Economic Hit Men?

Perkins, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Back in the 1970s, economically developing countries were looked upon as nests of corruption. People like me plied our trade quietly, but just about everyone assumed that Latin American, African, and Asian government officials thrived on bribes. The image of the banana republic politician accepting an envelope stuffed with dollars in exchange for favors granted was ingrained in the press and in Hollywood. The United States, on the other hand, was considered to be — and for the most part was — above such massive corruption.

That has totally changed. Drastically. Activities that would have been viewed as immoral, unacceptable, and illegal in the United States in my EHM days are now standard practice. They may be covered in a patina of oblique rhetoric, but beneath that surface, the same old tools — including a combination of threats, bribes, falsified reports, extortion, sex, and sometimes violence — are applied at the highest levels of business and government. EHMs are ubiquitous. They stroll from the corridors of the White House through the US Congress, along Wall Street, and into the boardrooms of every major company. Corruption at the top has become legitimized because corporate EHMs draft the laws and finance the politicians who pass them.

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45 Lessons for China

Perkins, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In 2015, a top Ecuadorian official told me, “We’d rather accept loans from Beijing than Washington. After all, China has never overthrown or killed our leaders — unlike the US.”

When I pointed out that China had a history of invasions in Asia, he replied, “Yes. They’ve seen those places as part of their ancient kingdom. But they haven’t done it in Latin America, or Africa, or the Middle East. The US has.”

We were discussing the debt audit commission that had reviewed the legitimacy of the loans taken on by Ecuador’s CIA-supported dictators during my EHM days. The commission’s findings had convinced President Correa to default on loans worth more than $3 billion. In retaliation for the president’s initial refusal to pay $30.6 million that was due on $519 million of outstanding global bonds in 2012, Standard and Poor’s Rating Services and Fitch Ratings slashed Ecuador’s credit rating.1

Correa turned to Beijing. China offered Ecuador a $1 billion loan, which soon was increased to $2 billion.2 As his government repaid that loan, Correa reestablished Ecuador’s global credit standing, but he also made his country beholden to China and its version of EHMs. By April 2015, Ecuador’s debts to China had risen to almost $5.4 billion — representing 28 percent of its external debt.3

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44 Who Are Today’s Jackals?

Perkins, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“I was walking along a street in the village where my grandparents live [in Pakistan],” said Jafar, a student I met in Istanbul, where I was speaking at a business conference. “Suddenly, the building next to me exploded. Hit by a missile from a drone. People ran out, screaming. A woman carrying her baby was on fire. I rushed to her, took her baby, and told her to roll on the ground.” His eyes filled with tears. “She survived, but many people died. Many.”

That drone was controlled by a new breed of jackal. As I listen to people like Jafar, and as I read reports about drone strikes, I am filled with feelings that I find hard to describe. I grew up on stories of World War II heroism — images of US GIs rescuing children from flaming buildings, storming the beaches of Normandy, and liberating Nazi concentration camps. I saw the 1950s, I Led Three Lives type of FBI agent, who infiltrated Communist cells, as incredibly courageous. So, too, did I view the CIA agents who penetrated secret Soviet networks, and the jackals who flew into Seychelles. Even those who did things I opposed, such as planting bombs on the planes of Roldós and Torrijos, took huge personal risks.

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42 Another EHM Banking Scandal

Perkins, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The financial world was shaken by another major scandal in 2014. It included a couple of the banks that had been involved in the earlier Libor scandal, and some new ones. Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and the Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and were fined more than $2.5 billion. Within a year these four banks, plus one other, UBS, would be fined an additional $1.6 billion, along with another $1.3 billion in the case of Barclays, to settle related claims.1

Since 2007, the banks had operated what some of their members referred to as “the Cartel.” Among the e-mails and chat room conversations of individuals involved were found their own names for their group: the Bandits’ Club and the Mafia.2

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the banks’ foreign currency scheme as “a brazen display of collusion and foreign exchange rate market manipulation.” She went on to call it a “breathtaking conspiracy.”3 The words collusion and conspiracy, spoken by the US attorney general, are especially telling, given that they were used in reference to the secret collaboration of banks that for years had been considered some of the most trusted businesses in the world. The actions of the banks demonstrate that everything — conspiracy, collusion, fraud, unfair competitive practices — is justified by the corporatocracy, so long as it earns large profits.

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