Many newspapers yesterday reported the U.S. promptly paid $50,000 in compensation to relatives for each of 17 Afghans killed two weeks earlier in a shooting rampage said to be carried out by an American soldier, observes Grumpy Editor.
The unusually large payout may have buzzed over the heads of most editors, accustomed to U.S. life insurance policies.
But in Afghanistan that amount turned out to be a whopping number.
Average annual income there is equal to about $425.
That means each $50,000 payment corresponds to 118 years worth of average annual income in Afghanistan, based on current figures.
The Wall Street Journal reported one farmer lost 11 family members in the shootings.
“Such payments are customary in Afghan culture when a wrong like this is done," The Journal quoted a U.S. official.
The U.S. also paid $11,000 for every injured villager in the March 11 incident.
Also paying family members was the Afghan government. But the amount was much smaller: $2,000 for each person killed and $1,000 for each injured.
An Associated Press story on the compensation mentioned, “The families were told the money came from President Barack Obama.”
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Money woes put U.S. military families in bind
Meanwhile, on the same day the unusually high Afghan payouts were reported, an Associated Press story told how money woes have been hitting U.S. military members and families.
It pointed out financial struggles stemmed from multiple deployments, frequent relocations, mounting credit card debt, strain in paying bills and difficulty spouses have in getting and keeping jobs.
“The stress factors with the families is just unbelievable,” AP quoted Roger J. Mealey, a Vietnam veteran who runs a website to aid struggling military families.