Droning On

I used to work in a call center in which we were instructed to make 50 calls an hour. Our pay depended on us fulfilling this quota. Most hours, this didn't prove to be a problem. At 7pm, there was a list of thousands of old grannies eager to be divested of their retirement fund. Things got trickier, however, on the night shift. At 3am, who do you call to fulfill your quota?

Like any office-grunt faced with a quantitative form of evaluation, I gamed the system. I called my own mobile phone, my co-workers mobile phones... We must have been listed as the most assiduous clients the call center had ever had. So far, so stupid.

What is interesting is that it seems the drone killing-program (fn. 1) works on the same principle. The grunts in Virginia offices tasked with killing the bad guys have to fulfill quotas. These quotas have not been made public, and no one is talking to me about them, but let's say it is five targets a day -- if you are a Virginia grunt, your paycheck, and the next payment on your Lexus, depends on getting kill-targets and passing them on. It is not a qualitative assessment. There is no overseer who has a points system (+1 for every AQ member, -.01 for every civilian killed as a result of your analysis) analyzing your targets -- your pay simply depends on the fact that you have suggested enough targets to your overseer.

This is bureaucratic technocracy (performance indicators, monthly team meetings) at its worst; a largely unaccountable machine whose metric of evaluation excludes any sort of consideration of the political efficacy of its actions.

No one is going to call in their own mobile phone on this one.

Footnote. 1. To be clear, this being the program in which drones are used to kill people, rather than my so-far totally unfunded program to kill drones. Donations to the bank account below.