Unless you’ve read Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’, I bet you’ve never heard of Davison Budhoo. I certainly hadn’t, until I read the book.
Budhoo was a Caribbean economist, trained by the London School of Economics, who worked for the IMF in Washington. He worked for the IMF for 12 years, designing ‘structural adjustment programmes’ for countries who fell under the IMF’s measures in return for IMF loans.
Budhoo quit in 1988, claiming that he could no longer collude in the deliberate destruction of nations’ economies in order to force them to accept the IMF’s structural programmes, including mass redundancies, wage cuts and de-regulation.
Budhoo wrote an open letter to the head of the IMF:
“Today I resigned from the staff of the International Monetary Fund after over 12 years, and after 1000 days of official Fund work in the field, hawking your medicine and your bag of tricks to governments and peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. To me resignation is a priceless liberation, for with it I have taken the first big step to that place where I may hope to wash my hands of what in my mind’s eye is the blood of millions of poor and starving people”
Budhoo went on to accuse the Fund of using statistics as ‘lethal’ weapons, explaining in detail how, on behalf of the Fund, he had been involved in ‘statistical malpractices‘ to exaggerate the numbers in IMF reports to make Trinidad & Tobago – a country rich in oil resources – appear to be unstable. He accused the IMF of more than doubling an important statistic measuring labour costs so that T&T appeared unproductive even though the Fund had the correct information.
Moreover, he alleged that the IMF ‘invented, literally out of the blue‘ massive, unpaid government debts. Budhoo claimed that these acts were deliberate and not accidental or ‘sloppy calculations’ – and they were treated as fact by the financial markets, who classified T&T as a bad risk and cut off financing to the country.
A drop in the price of oil, combined with the cut-off funding, meant that Trinidad and Tobago’s economy collapsed and they were forced to ask the IMF for help. Badhoo described what the IMF demanded in return as ‘deadliest medicine‘ – a ‘whole gamut‘ of structural adjustment policies. Budhoo described these events as the ‘deliberate blocking of an economic lifeline to the country through subterfuge’ to ‘see T&T destroyed economically first and converted thereafter‘.
Budhoo also made it clear that T&T was not an isolated case and called the IMF’s a form of torture in which “‘screaming in pain’ governments and peoples [are] forced to bend their knees before us, broken and terrified and disintegrating..begging for a sliver of reasonableness and decency on our part..but the torture goes on unabated“.
Hearing Budhoo’s accusations, the T&T government ordered two independent studies to see whether the claims were true – and found that they were entirely correct: the IMF had deliberately inflated and even invented numbers in order to damage the country and bring it to its knees.
Reading this, you might find it incredible that you’ve never heard of Davison Budhoo. But that’s because the international news media chose never to publicise the story, the allegations or the eventual proving of them via two independent enquiries. That’s what happens when the media colludes with those who are perpetrating what can only be called crimes.
Our excuse for a chancellor, George Osborne, is very chummy with Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF. Britain recently lent it another £10 billion – the maximum amount it could lend without parliamentary debate and approval. That tells a story in itself – and should make you very cautious about believing anything that Osborne says about the UK economy, its ‘excessive’ public spending, the ‘inherited mess‘ the coalition claims it needs to ‘clean up’, or the need for/aims of austerity.
The IMF and World Bank pose as neutral organisations that aim to benefit struggling countries. But over the years they’ve been taken over by economists devoted to Milton Friedman’s neoliberal theories and their actions show that they’re anything but benign. Together with revelations about deliberate crisis-engineering in Canada, these events show that the whole neoliberal system and ethos are rotten to the core.
If the treatment of Trinidad and Tobago, and the draconian measures imposed on the country, remind you of what is happening currently to Greece, Portugal & Spain, and of what was done recently to the Republic of Ireland, I agree. Government economists and the media paint a dire and almost irretrievable situation, particularly for Greece, and make predictions about ‘contagion’ and domino-effects designed to make us all afraid and ready to acquiesce to the ‘planned misery’ being imposed on a succession of countries.
If you haven’t read ‘The Shock Doctrine’, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you do. Naomi Klein’s well-researched and clearly-presented exposé should be compulsory reading. Be warned, it will be like taking the red pill in the Matrix – once you’ve read it, reality will change and you’ll never view the world in the same way again. And you’ll certainly take every IMF, World Bank and newspaper pronouncement about countries’ economies and ‘necessary’ measures with an entire mine of salt.
But ignorance is not bliss, and what you don’t know can hurt you. Get informed, help others get informed, and know what’s being done to you, and/or in your name. Know your enemy, and then you know the right ones to fight.
(If you want to help send a message to Osborne and co, please consider signing the two petitions below and getting those you know to do the same: