Using jobs to lure Taliban

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At least they are starting to understand the power of employment.

Too bad they haven’t figured out how to do it in local currency.

Wonder how this will sell politically to unemployed voters here in the States:

Afghans Offer Jobs to Taliban Rank and File if They Defect

The meeting is part of a battlefield push to lure local fighters and commanders away from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select, paid by the American military and the Afghan government.

By enlisting the tribal leaders to help choose the development projects, the Americans also hope to help strengthen both the Afghan government and the Pashtun tribal networks.

These efforts are focusing on rank-and-file Taliban; while there are some efforts under way to negotiate with the leaders of the main insurgent groups, neither American nor Afghan officials have much faith that those talks will succeed soon.

Afghanistan has a long history of fighters switching sides — sometimes more than once. Still, efforts so far to persuade large numbers of Taliban fighters to give up have been less than a complete success. To date, about 9,000 insurgents have turned in their weapons and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution, said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, the chief administrator for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Kabul.

But in an impoverished country ruined by 30 years of war, tribal leaders said that many more insurgents would happily put down their guns if there was something more worthwhile to do.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe, which spans three eastern provinces. “We just need to make them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”


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9 Responses to Using jobs to lure Taliban

  1. Warren Molser says:

    $8/hr was selected as I thought it would be ‘non disruptive’ to the private sector, and not draw people from private to public domain, but instead attract the unemployed.

    Congress can determine if that wage is too high or too low for that purpose.


  2. Mike S says:


    I’ve worked in a variety of jobs. I’ve worked as a construction worker, as a trader, as a pizza deliver driver, in a very corporate setting and as a clerk.

    My experience is that about 95% of people screw off in their jobs. About 1 in 20 is diligent, and 1 in 20 of those is extremely diligent. Highly diligent people are the rare exception, not the norm.

    I am only productive for about 4-6 hours every day. If you are highly productive for more than 8 hours a day and not making over 200K easy, then you are in the wrong job.


    Floccina Reply:

    Mike I have also worked a variety of jobs and I understand that most people do not work hard for 8 hours (or how many hours they put in each day) but in that state job people worked less than an hour a out of 8, the magnitude of the slacking was huge. I worked for a private landscaper and worked steady except when moving from job to job. I have worked in restaurants were there was slack time. I have never worked for a private company where people got away with working less than 4 times the work that those folks on the state job worked.

    Also some people do not have the talent to make 200k per year even if they work hard.


  3. warren mosler says:

    good point.

    what’s guaranteed with my proposal is a $8 job with minimum performance requirements.

    but note, and making it clear i’m not proposing this- the $8 job in fact defines the value of the currency. And the harder it is to earn the $8 the more the currency is worth. And even if you only have to show up and do nothing, as long as you are selling your time, the currency will be worth that much- the difference between the ‘price’ of having to go somewhere and do nothing vs doing something else.

    This means, for example, if getting the $8/hr meant having to suffer through an electic shock to your left foot, the relative value of the currency would increase by the aversion to getting a shock. That’s just how markets work.

    When discussing exactly this point with a UK central banker, he mused that the eurozone (before the euro) might indeed do this and then the national govts would be separated into the high voltage and low voltage countries.

    (Again, this is a point of logic and not a proposal!)


    Floccina Reply:

    My concern comes from my experience working for the state of RI in landscaping and workers would punch each other in and out, drive around all day in trucks hiding on their bosses, sleep on the job etc. Very little work was done. Make work jobs tend to degenerate into that sort of thing. A big part of the problem is that the bosses do not care, they understand that the goal is to provide jobs rather than to get anything done. It is the old question of who will oversee the overseers. This is normally the role of customers in a private company if the overseers do not make the works produce the customers stop paying for the service. in your example why would they even bother to institute the electric shocks. You could argue that voters could play the role of customers but IMO they are to far removed. Now if work needs to be done, like building/repairing roads, picking up litter, now is a good time to get it done but even now it is probably better to bid out the work. If it needs to be done and is visible the voters may take notice.

    Also $8/hour seems too high, I would think that you would want the worker to be able to get 30 of 40% more for getting any real job.

    As an alternative replacing the minimum wage with an hourly wage subsidy may be workable.


    Floccina Reply:

    BTW I just saw this on marginalrevolution:

    Hand-cranked penny-dispenser allows anyone to work for minimum wage
    Blake Fall-Conroy’s “Minimum Wage Machine” is a penny-dispensing Rube Goldberg machine that “allows anybody to work for minimum wage.”

    Custom electronics, change sorter, wood, plexiglas, motor, misc. hardware, pennies (approx. 15 x 19 x 72 inches)

    The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 5.04 seconds, for $7.15 an hour (NY state minimum wage). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money. The machine’s mechanism and electronics are powered by the hand crank, and pennies are stored in a plexiglas box.

    Maybe we should pay people to produce electricity by pedaling. Just joking.


    RSJ Reply:

    When you described the penny machine, I thought you were talking about banking. Then I realized, in a “real” job, instead of pennies, you get dollars. In a “workfare” job, instead of dollars, you get pennies.

    Now I understand why the paper pushers holding meetings and making powerpoint presentations all day get to make 100K/year, whereas slackers mowing lawns should be making only 1/10 of that.

  4. Floccina says:

    Believe me, I once worked for the state of RI landscaping, if you guarantee a person a job, you cannot make them work. The purpose for a job has to be the need to get something done.


    RSJ Reply:

    This may be due to some linguistic confusion.

    You can have a “Job Guarantee” without having “Guaranteed Jobs”. I.e. people can be fired from jobs, and then can reapply to other jobs, but each job can require satisfactory performance.

    That all depends on how you run the program, and there is no reason to run it in a way to pay people just for showing up.


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