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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Value of an Afghani Life?

Posted by on Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 2:33 PM


The United States gave $860,000 to the families of people in Afghanistan killed or wounded in a shooting rampage that is being blamed on U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, two Afghan officials said Sunday.
The money includes $50,000 for each of 16 people who were killed, as well as $10,000 for each of six who was injured, the provincial council members said.
Average individual earnings in Afghanistan is around $500.


Comments (22) RSS

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And Trayvon Martin's family gets nothing.
Posted by xina on March 25, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
David Thompson 2
The guy who shot Trayvon was not an agent of the government.
But what about the families of the folks gunned down by Nidal Malik Hasan at Ft. Hood?
Posted by David Thompson on March 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
It's "Afghan", not "Afghani"
Posted by oscario on March 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
seandr 4
Adjusted for cost of living, that's about $2.5 million.
Posted by seandr on March 25, 2012 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 5
Capitalism can put a price on anything. It's the American way.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 25, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
As the watch captain of his gated community's neighborhood association, Zimmerman was the security agent of the private residential government. He was acting in that capacity when he shot Trayvon Martin. That won't make the city liable, but the neighborhood association might well be sued.…

Bales had been part of a squad that had reportedly gone to threaten the villages earlier in the day. The Afghan government believes that the killings were premeditated and committed by Bales' entire squad as revenge for earlier attacks on U.S. soldiers. Compensation for wrongful deaths is a standard practice throughout much of the Muslim world. In the U.S. we instead have civil suits.
Posted by dirge on March 25, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
The dollar value is typically significantly less. Special circumstances increased the payout about tenfold.
Posted by BLUE on March 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
Posted by dirge on March 25, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 9
@5 I won't disagree that Americans are materialistic, but paying blood money is common practice in Afghanistan. The custom goes back centuries and an Afghan who murders another Afghan would pay considerably less.
Posted by thatsnotright on March 25, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
I've read that Zimmerman wasn't officially a member of any local neighborhood watch. Anyway, regardless of his criminal case, you can bet he'll be sued in civil court for wrongful death, and I predict he'll owe a lot of money (more than $50k), whether he ever pays any of it is another question.

As for the price of an Afghan life, it's a fallacy to conclude that because compensation was paid for the loss of a life, that that assigns a dollar to that life. It's compensation, nothing more. We can't raise the dead.

It's only when such figures are used in cost-benefit analyses that it takes on the perverse meaning implied by the headline.
Posted by madcap on March 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Also, how much does the Taliban pay to families when they blow up civilians? And do they ship women off to plastic surgeons to reconstruct their faces after throwing acid in them?
Posted by madcap on March 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
meanie 12
@5 @9 What do you think insurance companies in the USA do for injury claims? Its naive to think that we all dont have individual dollar values assigned to us. I would be shocked if there wasn't a web calculator for exactly this purpose.

oh look the first google hit on the subject…
Posted by meanie on March 25, 2012 at 4:25 PM · Report this
This is actually fairly cost effective, when you consider sending a few cruise missiles to blow up all the remaining family would have been significantly more expensive.

We'll do anything not to offend a bunch of fucking savages. They'll be offended anyways, though; they're fucking savages.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on March 25, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Banna 14
So about 20 years' wages. The average Afghan life expectancy is 48 years, so it sounds like the accountants did their due diligence.
Posted by Banna on March 25, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
@10 His gated community's neighborhood watch wasn't registered with the national organization or with the state, but he was his association's volunteer watch captain. The leadership kept him in place despite repeated complaints about his aggressiveness and his racial profiling.
If his community had had a registered neighborhood watch program then perhaps he would have been following the national rules: only patrolling in pairs, no getting out of your car except to aid the injured, no touching, no guns, etc.
Posted by dirge on March 25, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Zebes 16
And then the various suited villains in the government tearfully realized "you can't put a price on a human life, we're so sorry" and paid the victims' families an unlimited amount of money.
Posted by Zebes on March 25, 2012 at 5:51 PM · Report this

Afganis play polo with the heads of think they wouldn't be taking the 500 Gs and saying "if I knew this, I would have invited Aunt Josie for Sunday dinner".

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM · Report this
@ 5 We did it also because it the right thing to do, they get justice when Bales is convicted and executed and pain and suffering money with this.
Posted by Seattle14 on March 25, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
@6, people file civil suits in the US for monetary amounts. There's usually a demand amount and then judge/jury decides what survivors/victims get.
Posted by sarah70 on March 25, 2012 at 11:21 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 20
@5: Actually, it's the human way. We put a price and a cost on everything. Haven't you ever heard of the practice of blood money? It has been around far longer than America or capitalism has.

Also, people get paid money when these kinds of things happen (also life insurance, for instance) not to make up for the loss of the person, but to ensure they can still live comfortably without the earnings that person contributed to the family. It may be the least we can do, but it is also the only thing we can do.

Suggesting this is simply the "value of an Afghani [sic] life" to an Amercian is just a way to troll/criticize America with no real basis.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 26, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 22
@1 for the win.

Bring the troops home today.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
It's long been common in Africa and the Muslim world for a killer's family to give monetary compensation to the victim's family. In "Debt: The First 5000 Years" David Graeber argued that the money's real purpose is not to pay off the debt - no amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a life - but to acknowledge that the debt can never be repaid. Because the amount of money used is invariably large, parting with it shows that the contrition is real, and that allows the victims to forgive without losing their dignity and status. Because the alternative to this kind of settlement is a blood feud, both parties are typically under intense social pressure to settle.

$860,000 is the kind of money the US government can lose under a mattress and hardly miss, of course, but for an Afghan family $50,000 is a hundred years' pay. Given the mismatch in the size, wealth and power of the parties to this dispute, it's hardly comparable to a family feud, but paying them money was the least we could do, so I'm glad we did.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on March 26, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this

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