Arnold Kling mentions the War on Terror within the context of Snow Crash and gives me an idea. He writes:
In Neal Stephenson's 1992 science-fiction classic, the two main characters have been hired by the Mafia and other ethnic corporate franchises to deal with a fanatic religious cult whose chief warrior possesses a hydrogen bomb. In the novel, governments are too powerless to deal with this threat. It is a brutal, post-national world.
He doesn't develop this idea much farther in his essay, but why can't corporations bring their ruthless efficiency to bear against the forces of evil? All we need is a way to motivate them, a way for fighting terror to be profitable. Now, it's arguable that the airline industry and others already have a profit-motive that could induce them to put their clout behind the War on Terror. The defense industry already makes money off the fighting, but so indirectly that the corporate efficiency is lost because the amazing weapons systems that get created have to be put into use by governments.
I say, let's cut out the middleman and just have the governments put up bounties, not merely for individual terrorists, but for less tangible goals.
- One month without a bombing in Baghdad? $1 billion bounty, with a bonus for six bomb-free months in a row.
- Return of Corporal Gilad Shalit to his family? $5 million.
- $1000 for every acre of poppies eliminated in Afghanistan.
- $10,000 for publishing the addresses of the families of radical imams.
And so forth. I'm just pulling numbers out of the air here, but you get the idea. Sure, innocent people might get caught up in all the bounty hunting, but then they could sue and it would be bad business for the corporations involved. There's plenty of incentive for them to avoid unnecessary casualties.