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‘Economic Hitman’ author to speak in Sonoma on Nov. 6

“We’re undergoing the greatest revolution of our time,” said author John Perkins, when the Index-Tribune reached him by phone this week. “We are living at a watershed moment in history. We’ve created an economy that is consuming itself – and us – into extinction. We must change.”

Perkins, who has just published “The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman” will be at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club this Sunday – just two days before the election – to discuss his new book and the ways that bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives and others “con governments and the public into submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer and has destroyed our planet in the process.”

His first book on this topic, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” spent 73 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Since its release in 2004, it has sold more than 1.25 million copies worldwide and been translated into 32 languages.

Perkins was formerly chief economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments around the world. He describes himself as a front man for a system that traded in fraud, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex and even murder.

“New Confessions,” published earlier this year, brings the story of “economic hit men” up-to-date and offers detailed proof of the nefarious activities of corporations and governments via articles, reports, websites, Wikileaks and NSA documents, and more.

His follow-up book, however, includes specific ideas and strategies for how Americans – students, entrepreneurs, middle-aged people, retirees and corporate executives – can “regenerate devastated resources and provide abundance for future generations.”

“We have to,” he said passionately.

In the 10 years since his first book, Perkins has been traveling around the country speaking at universities, business schools and law schools and says he is optimistic about changes he is seeing.

“It used to be that students were very focused on making money and having power,” he said. “Today, they are talking about having children and wanting to leave them a better world.”

Perkins says his followup book is more hopeful in that he believes “it is within our power to clean up pollution; help starving people grow, store and transport food more efficiently; develop new technologies for energy, transportation, communications, banking and wholesale and retail trade; bring diverse communities together with the understanding that we all live on a fragile space station that has no escape shuttles; and live less materialistic and more spiritually fulfilling lives.”

Perkins can pinpoint almost the exact moment in time when he believes things started to fall apart.

“When Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, his message was that the only responsibility of business is to maximize profits, regardless of the social and environmental costs,” he said.

“This convinced corporate executives that they had the right – some would say the mandate – to do whatever they thought it would take to maximize profits, including buying public officials through campaign financing, destroying the environment, and devastating the very resources upon which their businesses ultimately depend.”

Today, he advises corporations, executives and entrepreneurs on ways to make the transition from what he describes as a “death economy” – exploiting resources that are declining at accelerating rates – to a “life economy” – cleaning up pollution, recycling and other technologies that create lifestyles millennials want to inherit.

He says, “We need rules, regulations and laws that support ideas and processes that clean up pollution, regenerate destroyed environments, and that develop technologies for new, more efficient energy, communications, transportation and other systems.”

He divides his time between speaking and his work with two nonprofits devoted to establishing “a world our children will want to inherit” (dreamchange.org and pachamama.org).

Watch a video featuring Perkins below:

Perkins has been brought to Sonoma by the Praxis Peace Institute. He will speak at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Tickets are $20 and are available at praxispeace.org.

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