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?


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