Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Cash rules everything around me (but perhaps less than you might think)

Daniel Davies's post about arseholes, and more formally about the importance of the reactionary mob as an institution, has been a well deserved hit. Here's something interesting, though. Fairly serious rumours reckoned that the arseholes were being paid as much as $68 a day. In theory, if an arsehole was on duty 340 days a year, they'd make $23,120 a year (presumably cash in hand, too). Egypt's per capita GDP for 2010 was $6,200.

To put it another way, when the state needed thugs, it had to pay four times the per capita average income. Of course, it's possible that these numbers are seriously in error. But the principle isn't obviously false - mercenaries are usually paid a much higher spread over the typical income of the country where they operate, an implicit recognition of the fact the people want nothing to do with them or those who hire them.

In more advanced markets for thuggery, though, it's typical to hire someone for a specific act of violence, at rates considerably lower than per capita GDP. What does this tell us?

1 comment:

Koranteng said...

In Libya, He of the Little Green Book seems to have been going for the foreign option at $500 a day.

Quoth the Telegraph:

'While low-paid Libyan army recruits are always likely to desert, the dictator's third son, Saadi Gaddafi, was said to be coordinating African mercenaries to act as shock troops against the protesters.

A Libyan journalist who is currently banned from writing about the trouble because of a news black-out imposed by Gaddafi said: "Some of these mercenary shock troops have been killed or captured, and some of them are said to on the equivalent of around 500 dollars a day.

"These killers are coming from countries like Chad. They're vicious killers. People are so terrified of them that they've been doing everything possible to get away."'

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