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US planes rain dollars on Afghanistan
February 16, 2002 3:21 PM   Subscribe

US planes rain dollars on Afghanistan Brings a whole new dimension to the term "throwing away taxpayers' money". What kind of logic does the US govt put behind a stunt like this?
posted by ssheth (29 comments total)

 
That it's cheaper to drop money then it is drop bombs?
posted by geoff. at 3:23 PM on February 16, 2002


What kind of logic does the Times of India put behind printing a ludicrous bit of fiction as news?
posted by EngineBeak at 3:25 PM on February 16, 2002


Wouldn't it be cheaper to actually *handout* the money to money than to drop it from 30,000 ft up? How many of these bills end up scattered across the mountainsides and stuck in trees, etc.?

I suppose it does give those exploring the countryside a whole new incentive (if only there weren't so many landmines out there also).
posted by ssheth at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2002


This is a brilliant, perhaps unintentional metaphor for government spending. It's generally useless, they might as well just throw away real money, as it is probably more economical.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2002


It was reported on NPR. It's a Reuters wire story. What more do you want?
posted by dhartung at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2002


Pretzel Logic? Thanks! I'll be here all week!
posted by machaus at 3:26 PM on February 16, 2002


EngineBeak .. the story in the Times actually originates comes from the Reuters wire and looks like it is backed up with interviews, etc.
posted by ssheth at 3:28 PM on February 16, 2002


Strange. I can't imagine how this was authorized, especially given that there are still Al Qaeda people in Afghanistan; This seems like it's possibly dropping money into their hands as well as average Afghanis' hands. Maybe this is a false report. I've only seen it on the Reuters pipe thus far, and I can't imagine other news sources not snapping up a story about something as ludicrous as this (and one bound to raise the ire of just about everyone here in the states).
posted by evanizer at 3:31 PM on February 16, 2002


Okay, okay, I thought double immediately. Then: it could just as well be phoney money--
posted by EngineBeak at 3:34 PM on February 16, 2002


If they wanna bomb people with money, I vote they hit Bridgeport, CT next. I'll be waiting in my back yard with a football helmet and a butterfly net.
posted by jonmc at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2002


after this, I'm really no longer surprised by any idiotic US military decisions. They've always wasted money, and at least this time there's no blatant lie involved (no, not saying it's better)
posted by mdn at 3:47 PM on February 16, 2002


Well, to be fair mdn, propoganda and psychological warfare, have a long(and occasionally illustrious history). You know, winning hearts and minds,and all that. It's an unfortunate fact of life that people aren't always going to choose the right side based on morality alone, and that's where public relations comes in. Al Qaeda uses charisma and powers of persuasion to woo recruits, we should do the same to steer people in the opposite direction.
That said, the leaflet with the Gomez Addams-lookin' Osama you linked to and dropping a couple Benjamins in the desert is not an example of PSYOPS at its finest. I can imagine some laid-off Enron employee in Houston would have preffered that 200 bucks be sent their way.
Here in America, we have battalions of experts in the art of persuasion slaving away to promote the latest soft drinks and athletic sneakers. Perhaps we should put the to work in the service of something useful for a change. I'm not kidding.
posted by jonmc at 4:06 PM on February 16, 2002


I'm all for those bills being dropped over east Los Angeles. I'll call in the air strike myself.
posted by bingo at 4:15 PM on February 16, 2002


I can't believe anything anymore. Perhaps a climax will erupt in people's minds, producing an epiphany...or maybe not....(headaches.)
posted by Espoo2 at 4:16 PM on February 16, 2002


Let's just get one thing perfectly clear:
I AM NEVER PAYING TAXES EVER AGAIN.
posted by dong_resin at 4:25 PM on February 16, 2002


It was reported on NPR. It's a Reuters wire story. What more do you want?

Reuters also ran the 'man smothered to death by giant breats' story. So maybe its safe to be a bit skeptical here. There are a couple problems with this approach, first of all an envelope doesn't have much mass and is easy to miss. If the USA was dropping money it would be in brightly packaged boxes with obvious markings.

Second, $200 is what, something like a couple years wages for an Afghan? When these things do fall people might just decide to blow each other away instead of sharing nicely. If $100,000 fell from the sky like manna I would probably go a bit crazy myself.

Lastly, it isn't a small bill. No one is going to be able to break it short of the bank in Kabul. So either people are going to sit on them until they can make it out to the bank or get ripped off by the local merchants.
posted by skallas at 4:30 PM on February 16, 2002


The US always bombs a country to pieces, then comes in afterwards to rebuild. My theory is that you bomb your enemies with rolled up quarters. From 30,000, they would do a heck of a lot of damage, but afterwards the villagers could go around picking up the quarters and purchasing supplies to rebuild their infrastructure with them. Cuts out the middle man.
posted by Hildago at 5:16 PM on February 16, 2002


No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, Johnny, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this!

Les? Are you there? Les isn't there. (composing himself) Thanks for that on-the-spot report, Les, and for those of you who just tuned in, the Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at eleven.
posted by willnot at 5:17 PM on February 16, 2002


Given the cost of all that fancy ordnance the USAF dropped on Afghanistan, I wouldn't be surprised if dumping plane-loads of bills is actually cheaper. Hmm.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:39 PM on February 16, 2002


Not bad, but wouldn't gift certificates and Sears catalogs be a little more effective? Everyone could redeem the certificate for some useful item for their home, and acquire a conversation piece that might cheer people up a bit. Sortof like a cargo cult.
posted by sheauga at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2002


Not bad, but wouldn't gift certificates and Sears catalogs be a little more effective? Everyone could redeem the certificate for some useful item for their home, and acquire a conversation piece that might cheer people up a bit. Sortof like a cargo cult.
posted by sheauga at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2002


Thank you, skallas. I still think there's something very, very fishy about this story. The govt (or, the war department) tends to try to do things that make at least a modicum of sense -- which this don't. (Please, please, ignore the numerous counterexamples.) & as evanizer points out, it's pretty unlikely we'd be giving money to the enemy. (again, ignore the counterexamples, PLEASE.)
posted by EngineBeak at 7:37 PM on February 16, 2002


I'll bet only some of the white envelopes had $100 bills inside. They were probably air-dropped so the poor and hungry could see them fluttering tantalizingly into the countryside, all the better to lure the suckers out into the areas where all those unexploded landmines remain from the Soviet Union invasion days. Modern military rules of war and prevailing political thinking would deem such a tactic an acceptable, cost-effective means of inflicting civilian casualties -- Oh, I'm sorry, "cause collateral damage" -- sufficient to induce someone, anyone to hand up Osama bin Laden. Already I can hear the project name: Operation Missives Not Missiles. If it is true, of course.
posted by tnadeau at 8:03 PM on February 16, 2002


Leave it to W to try to buy votes from people who aren't registered.
posted by caraig at 8:08 PM on February 16, 2002


Generally, the psyops in this war have been focusing on the American populace, not the Afghans. That's the lesson of Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf proved that it was the most effective use of researches.

Quoth "How To Make War":

"The art and science of promoting one's beliefs and ideas through the media continues to grow in power and effectiveness. In warfare, these media campaigns increasingly decide whether or not there will be a war, and if there is one, how long it will last. The 'will to fight' can be sold like cornflakes, and increasingly it is and very effectively at that. You can look forward to this year's wares being promoted as effectively as the latest consumer products."
posted by Ptrin at 8:27 PM on February 16, 2002


Quarters following from 30K wouldn't do that much. It's like shooting bullets into the air. People rarely get hurt. A quarter would reach terminal velocity at 1,000 feet just as it would at 30,000 feet.
posted by bloggboy at 12:23 AM on February 17, 2002


"Quarters falling," rather. Sorry.
posted by bloggboy at 9:01 AM on February 17, 2002


When I was a kid at a school I hated I used to collect my lunch money for a few days, convert it into the lowest denomination I could, get to a high point overlooking the playground, scream 'rumbles' and throw the money in the air. Fights would erupt and people would get hurt as they went for the money.

I got detention for being a disruptive influence.

Seems like I was really onto something that no one recognized at the time eh?
posted by skinsuit at 4:21 PM on February 17, 2002


If they're going to deploy currency in this manner, I would have recommended obsolete Susan B. Anthony dollars. Nobody uses 'em in the US, as they tend to scare small children.

"...and, in a startling escalation of the war on terrorism, Secretary of State Colin Powell has announced that Baghdad is now being carpet bombed with envelopes containing 30-year Treasury Bills, accompanied by a picture of Dick Cheney's ass..."
posted by groundhog at 8:51 AM on February 18, 2002


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