Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guns and Peanuts

Do you know why one has to be extraordinary patriotic to become an Indonesian military man?

I'll give you one possible answer: because according to this book, he/she will get a basic salary of 2.515 million IDR per month, or around 272 USD in today's exchange rate.

And mind you, that's for the highest rank, the four-stars General.

But we also pay peanut salary to university professor, local government administrative staff, and any other public servant position, don't we? So why bothers?

Because, to me, the combination between peanut base salary and guns (plus assigning a legal monopoly power of violence) just doesn't add up --if not worrisome.


  1. Is Rp 2.5 million/month about 2.5 times the per capita income in Indonesia?

    I wonder how much a general in the US Army is earning, especially whether it is 2.5 times the per capita income in the US.

  2. Daniel, a US army general gets 14 to 17K USD per month. The US nominal GDP per capita is 45K per annum.

  3. Jal, I would include the gun (or more broadly, power) as part of the return for the general. Once we "monetize" this power, it ain't peanuts anymore. So, it's not necessarily a matter of being patriotic or not (I know, yo were being sarcastic, hahaha).

  4. Aco, exactly. It then would be a small wonder for them to "monetize" their guns --I am thinking of a black market monopoly pricing for security and order when you set your maximum price too low.

    Do we really want the men with guns "monetize" their guns? The gun kills. Instantaneously. :-))

    I think I have to revise my words: one has to be very patriotic to become an Indonesian military man who doesn't monetize his/her gun.

    That's better :-)

  5. So those generals must be very good at monetizing their guns, or rather, it is easier to "monetize" with guns.

    I don't know.