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Economic Principle #4: People Respond To Incentives, Taliban Edition…

April 17th, 2012 · 1 Comment
From The Vault · Incentives

Headline of the week: “Taliban commander turns self in… for reward on ‘Wanted’ poster”

Mohammad Ashan, a mid-level Taliban commander in Paktika province, strolled toward a police checkpoint in the district of Sar Howza with a wanted poster bearing his own face. He demanded the finder’s fee referenced on the poster: $100.

I can’t help but think that this is a fairly good argument against purchasing power parity, since I would like to believe that it would take at least a four-figure sum to elicit this behavior in an American criminal.

Seriously though, this reminds me of an old interview with the Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. that I wrote about like a million years ago. When Jon Stewart asked Mr. Haqqani why it was so hard to prevent people from joining the Taliban, he basically said that the Taliban has the resources to take care of them financially more than the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan can, and people are in large part responding to economic incentives:

Dear Pakistan and Afghanistan: I hear these guys can be bought off pretty cheap. You should get on that.

Tags: From The Vault · Incentives

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Justin // Apr 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

    To be fair, there are a lot of unseen incentives for an Afghan insurgent.

    For example, a detained insurgent is more likely to eat better, sleep in a warmer bed, and generally have an better quality of life than he had in the mountains and valleys.

    Assuming a $100 reward, this guy probably didn’t do anything that will get him hanged in an Afghan court. The guys who are facing death sentences (usually by hanging) are worth 10,000 Afghani (sooo…$200?)

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