Friday, January 27, 2006

A different kind of reward

It's been nearly a month since I last posted. In addition to the normal hectic holiday stuff, my little boy had a severe arm fracture from a bicycle accident with his sister while playing outside. He is doing well now and things are getting back to normal.

I was thinking recently about why our offers of $5 million or $25 million reward for certain terrorists has not met with much success. This led me to consider an alternative. What if rather than paying $5 million to an individual, we built $5 million worth of improvements in a tipster's village or province? Imagine: schools, clinics, road improvements, better access to water, better roads, almost anything. A $25 million reward would build schools, clinics, hospitals, maybe even a college. This would cause people to think not about how such a reward could help themselves personally, but how such a reward could help their entire community. They could remain completely anonymous as a $25 million dollar cash reward would cause them to stand out and make it obvious they were the ones. The building of new schools, a new road, a water treatment plant would improve the life of the entire community and not bring attention to the individual. It also does something else. It causes people to think about what the terrorists are actually doing for them. Has Osama build them a clinic? Has Osama improved the education of their children? Offering the reward in this way would more completely expose the terrorists for what they really are.

So take this as an open suggestion to the US Government to offer an alternative in the way these rewards are paid. Rather than cash, offer improvements worth the same amount as an alternative with the improvements going to benefit the village and region of the informants. You might get more tribal elders on board that way. If turning in Osama will bring several schools, a few clinics, a hospital or two and maybe a college or clean water, or better roads, or electricity or other infrastructure improvements that increase quality of life and commerce, maybe people won't be so reluctant to be seen as individually selfish and "selling out" to the US for personal gain. I suspect that is the reason it hasn't been successful. A person doing such a thing would be seen as turning against their cultural values for personal benefit if they received $25 million in cash. While a person might be more willing to see a clinic and schools built in their village. Offer a reward that has the potential to improve the life of the entire region and I suspect we will see some progress.


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