Paul’s Perambulations

January 10, 2009

Another side of the “good” war.

Filed under: Peace,Politics — admin @ 9:12 pm
  

The following is a story that I recall from my psychology classes at Tufts. This is all that I remember of that course.

 

During WWII, when fighter planes in North Africa took off for enemy territory, it was customary to check the guns by firing a few rounds shortly after take-off.  Typically a pilot would choose a target on the ground such as any sheep, goats, or cattle in range, as a test of sights and accuracy. Shepherds would regularly appear at the airbase with stories of animals killed in this way and be reimbursed by the U.S. government for loss of property.  The going rate was $10, $20, and $100, for a goat, sheep, or cow, respectively.  Unfortunately this custom resulted in occasional collateral damage in the form of the death of the attending shepherd. The government was unwilling to set a price tag on the value of a life, but the military psychologist in charge of winning hearts and minds of the populace (apparently my college instructor) was authorized to pay a burial expense to the nearest relative of the deceased, in the sum of $50.  The incompatibility was obvious. After some discussion (should a cow be worth $40?), it was decided to pay the cost of a more elaborate funeral and give the nearest relative $150 toward this final expense.

 

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