Atrocity and war are big bucks; everyone knows that. But there is a specific small group of people that actually profit from such crimes against humanity. Some are front and center; others stay on the sidelines as their bank accounts inflate. These are a few ways that tragedy equals dollar signs.
War profiteers, mercenaries and private security contractors
Usually, rational, peaceful people run away from the terrors of war. These guys wear body armor and their best sociopathic smile and fly directly into the face of imminent demise. The reason is money; although the information regarding salaries and compensations for on-the-ground mercenaries is convoluted and conspiracy-theory laden, the consensuses (of the more credible sources) agree that the compensation is around 200,000 to 300,000 dollars a year. Employees of military contractors that have a more support-based role actually still make around 100,000 to 150,000 dollars a year. That role might involve washing a soldier’s skivvies that have been in oppressive heat and humidity for 10 hours, so maybe the compensation is appropriate. The money doesn’t just come in from the offering of service to governments though. There is also a huge industry that deals with the education and training of mercenaries. On the other hand, if you work for a company like G4S (the second largest private employer in the U.S.), you could be rubbing shoulders with Afghan warlords that are on the company’s payroll.
Revision: Somebody threatened me… I mean, asked me very nicely to punctuate the ‘warlord’ statement above with ‘allegedly’. I can’t say who, though, but just remember: ‘…with Afghan warlords that are on the company’s payroll. Allegedly.’
A much smaller scale of tragedy-profiteering but much, much newer is tragicrafting. Basically, anytime a tragedy happens, troves of Etsy creators commemorate the event or events. These creators shamelessly try to profit by crafting objects that venerate tragedies such as the Aurora shooting and the deaths of famous individuals. This isn’t restricted to just Etsy, mind you; this bog of ethicality also runs under Ebay and Amazon. After the Boston Marathon Bombing, people started listing their medals for sale. I mean, it’s not wrong, but don’t these people feel just a little bit slimier when they receive payment for a Steve Jobs beer cozy?
Gun manufactures capitalize on tragedy and fear for the win!
Companies are these legal entities that are on a constant mission to maximize profit. Gun manufacturers found that the best way to do this is to take advantage of mass paranoia and fear. I’ll give you a few examples, too. Almost every tragic school shooting results in a heated discussion about gun safety, which many a time reaches the steps of the White House. In a blind panic, pro-gun advocates run out and purchase ammo and weapons in fear that they will not be allowed to in the near future. There is a further effect, too. After the Aurora shootings, stock prices of gun manufacturers skyrocketed, some 150% more than the week’s before, and the stock of theaters plummeted. Although this sounds horrifically inhuman, when issues of gun control arise, gun companies get their fair share of (free) exposure in the media. Maybe it’s about time I leave this planet.
Do you know any other organization or individual that capitalizes on human tragedy? Let me know in the comment section below.