My success as chief economist at a major international consulting firm was not due to the lessons I learned in business school. It was not due to the competence of my staff of brilliant econometricians and financial wizards.
Those things may have helped at times. But there was something else that made it all happen. That something else was the same something else that elevated George Washington, Henry Ford, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs, and other successful people to the heights of their success.
That something else is available to everyone of us.
It is the ability to alter objective reality by changing perceived reality, what we might think of as the Perception Bridge.
As described in my book The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, my job was to convince heads of state of countries with resources our corporations covet, like oil, to accept huge loans from the World Bank and its sister organizations. The stipulation was that these loans would be used to hire our engineering and construction companies, such as Bechtel, Halliburton, and Stone and Webster, to build electric power systems, ports, airports, highways and other infrastructure projects that would bring large profits to those companies and also benefit a few wealthy families in the country, the ones that owned the industries and commercial establishments. Everyone else in the country would suffer because funds were diverted from education, healthcare and other social services to pay interest on the debt. In the end, when the country could not buy down the principal, we would go back and, with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “restructure” the loans. This included demands that the country sell its resources cheap to our corporations with minimal environmental and social regulations and that it privatize its utility companies and other public service businesses and offer them to our companies at cut-rate prices.
It was a strategy of using perceived reality to change objective reality. In these cases, Objective Reality 1 was that the countries had resources. The Perceived Reality was that using those resources as collateral on loans to finance the building of infrastructure projects would create economic growth and prosperity for all the citizens. Objective Reality 2, however, was that economic growth occurred only among the very wealthy. Since economic statistics (GDP) in such countries are skewed in favor of the wealthy, the fact was that only our companies and the wealthy families benefited. The rest of the population suffered. In many cases this has led to political unrest, resentment, and the rise of various forms of radicalism and terrorism.
“Reality is merely an illusion.” –Albert Einstein