Predatory Islamic State Wrings Money From Those It Rules
Across wide expanses of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State, with the goal of building a credible government, has set up a predatory and violent bureaucracy that wrings every last American dollar, Iraqi dinar and Syrian pound it can from those who live under its control or pass through its territory.
Interviews with more than a dozen people living inside or recently escaped from the Islamic State-controlled territory, and Western and Middle Eastern officials who track the militants’ finances, describe the group as exacting tolls and traffic tickets; rent for government buildings; utility bills for water and electricity; taxes on income, crops and cattle; and fines for smoking or wearing the wrong clothes.
The Human Impulse to Live Beyond the Law
The problem in our politics, I think, and certainly the problem of the connection between violent rhetoric and violent action, which is real and growing, lies in the fact that the people who run campaigns—and, increasingly, the people on whose behalf those campaigns are run—construct them along a consumer model and as branding exercises aimed at faceless target audiences. For all the stories of real people that we hear from the stump, the people who organize and run our politics have grown so distant from the actual human beings they seek to represent that many of them have forgotten human nature entirely in their attempts to capitalize on those aspects of it that will close the deal for them at the polls. They have forgotten that humans are not by nature social, and that humans construct laws—and, therefore, governments—to keep both the lone wolf and the pack at bay. Once you’ve forgotten that, you can appeal to the worst instincts of both and walk away from the consequences.
Charles Pierce nails it.