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David Martin: The Price of Life in Kandahar

There is so much wrong with this recent Kandahr massacre…like what if this was a “human killer program” gone bad? The cynicism of “reparation” while never acknowledging any actual culpibility smacks of duplicity…like, “oops! sorry about the family, here’s a check”

David E. Martin comments: 

Life Arbitrage

Having returned from Dubai at the end of this week, I had intended to write a post about the decade of my experience there and the observations I made about the state of the region. However, the U.S. government’s announcement today that it was paying $50,000 per death in the recent Afghan homicides and $11,000 for every wounded victim trumped my plans. At a ceremony in Kandahar Province, the families of the dead were assembled to receive this extraordinary compensation. Extraordinary in that the going rate for previous civilian casualties had been typically $2,000. That’s right, the going rate for a human life authorized by a country that has a significant percentage of its population described as “pro-life” values human life at $2,000. Or maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe the only life that is valued is those born in the right jurisdiction.
Now before I dive more deeply into this matter, I trust that you pause for a moment and let this fact settle in. Our response to show that we, as a nation, care about the human tragedy of recent events is to pay the families of victims $50,000 per life extinguished. How are we feeling about this? Is this the ‘family values’ that we want for our legacy?

Let’s dig a bit deeper. Under the Military Compensation schedule, the U.S. Department of Defense offers a tax free “Death Gratuity” of $100,000 to surviving family members of those who fall in conflict. And government contractors, the class of citizens who have experienced the greatest number of reported casualties since 2010 in Iraq and Afghanistan, have much more opaque consideration for loss of life. L-3 Communications employees lead the somber statistics with the leading casualty count. Civilian government employees killed in conflict are entitled to a $10,000 Death Gratuity – reduced by burial allowances and costs associated with being terminated from employment by virtue of death. Mind you that civilian employees operating in areas under the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) are authorized to be paid (during their ‘living’ employment) up to $230,700 in a calendar year (capped at the annual salary of the Vice President of the United States).

At what point in our history did we decide that the principle of “blood money” was a legacy of the human experience worth keeping? In a world where we campaign against slavery of all sorts – child labor, sex trafficking, sweatshops, and the like – where is the impulse of William Wilberforce to finish the abolitionist movement he had the courage to pioneer for 26 years before the passage of the 1807 Slave Trade Act? When thousands of people in organizations across the globe are philosophizing about the prospect of an evolutionary leap in human consciousness, where are the voices saying that exchanging money for life is a stain on civilization that must be ended? Read the rest..

1 Comment

  1. unbelievable..just unbelievable, although not surprising………Canada did this (and others) with Clifford Olson…who slaughtered children and the gov't paid the sob (his family also) to divulge the whereabouts of the victims bodies…similar insanity…omg, is this ever going to be righted..?…only upside to this ka-ka is that the sob died not too long ago…ALMOST hate to say it, but i hope he suffered way past what he put his victims and their families through…..cat


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