08 August 2007

Insurance against media hype

Amongst other points well made, Edward Luttwak says:

[H]umanitarians should note that the dead from Jewish-Palestinian fighting since 1921 amount to fewer than 100,000—about as many as are killed in a season of conflict in Darfur. The middle of nowhere
Media attention distorts many of our priorities. It means we are far less concerned about Darfur than the Middle East. If we were indifferent between war-induced deaths in either region, we'd focus a larger share of our scarce peace-making resources on Darfur. Even if policymakers are genuinely so indifferent, the clamour arising from unequal media coverage means their resolve to do the rational thing quickly crumbles.

A Social Policy Bond regime would be different. Its goals would be stable over time. Say a consortium of peace-makers, in conjunction perhaps with the United Nations, aimed to reduce global deaths arising from violent political conflict. Investors in the Conflict Reduction Bonds that such a body might issue would concentrate their efforts impartially on those regions where they could maximize the number of lives saved per dollar. Importantly, they would not be swayed from that goal by ephemeral events, such as the availability of film footage from the Middle East, and the absence of reporting from Darfur.

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