Monday, 24 July 2017

@ $132 Million Per Life...

Many pixels have been typed in anger and confusion, in support and, well, more confusion, over Omar Khadr's settlement from our government. At $10.5 million, it's not small change, and it's fair for us to question if the amount is excessive, or insufficient (though Khadr clearly is in a position to determine if it were enough, and he seems to think it is).

I've been more interested in another figure: the $132 million awarded to Sgt. Christopher Speer's family for his death in Afghanistan. A death caused by a grenade allegedly thrown by Khadr.

I'm not, repeat NOT, going to get into whether Khadr is guilty or innocent, or somewhere in between. What I will say is that the matter has never been tested before a competent body, including the judge who made the civil award in Utah as Khadr, jailed at the time in Canada, could not defend himself. He was ruled in default, the basis of the finding against him being a confession made in dubious circumstances.

I'm more interested in what value Speer's life was judged to be worth, and the outrage that some have over his death.

The coalition forces in Afghanistan have killed thousands of civilians over the years. The numbers are higher in Iraq. Millions of civilians died in the Vietnam War.

I have no idea how many more civilians have died as a result of the direct and indirect action of America in its various current and former client states (The Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Panama, Nicaragua, Cuba...) over the ages.

Let's just round it all the way down, and call it two million.

Let's see: 2,000,000 X $132,000,000 = $264,000,000,000,000.

That's 264 TRILLION dollars!

America's GDP for 2016 was $18.7 trillion.

The world's estimated GDP for 2016 was $126.69 trillion.

So, at the Speer Life Value Rate, it would take America over 14 years to pay that off. Of course, America would not have a penny left for itself for things like food and water. So, instead, let us have the US pay it off at 2.5% of the balance per year, at a reasonable 6% interest rate. The payment would work out to being $610 billion a year, and it would take 49 years to pay.

$610 billion is roughly the size of America's military budget. Hmmmm...

If a life killed in war is worth $132 million, a world war wiping out all human life would be worth

    7 billion * $132 million = $964 000 trillion!

If I survived that last war, I'd be rich! If only I could find a competent court in that instance...

The US has, famously, thrown cash around on the ground in Afghanistan (perhaps in other places too) to placate local families for their 'collateral' losses. Somehow I doubt it was at the rate of $132 million a pop.

My point is this: the Speer award is clearly excessive. As is the glee many have that Khadr owes it. If only people were as outraged at all the civilian deaths in war.


Canadian Lawyer has an excellent piece covering civilized principles, the law and previous court rulings pertaining to Khadr's settlement: Dislike of Khadr settlement does not entitle critics to disregard law or facts

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