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Friday, July 11, 2008

You Aren't Worthless, Just Worth Less

Somewhere, some years ago, I heard that if the human body was ground-down to it's "bare minerals", it would only be worth aruond $.96.

Well, it seems that government always puts a value on human life ( that's a nice thought ) and right now they have decided to list a sale-price for each of us.

It's not just the American dollar that's losing value. A government agency has decided that an American life isn't worth what it used to be.

The "value of a statistical life" is $6.9 million in today's dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency reckoned in May _ a drop of nearly $1 million from just five years ago.

The Associated Press discovered the change after a review of cost-benefit analyses over more than a dozen years.

Though it may seem like a harmless bureaucratic recalculation, the devaluation has real consequences.

When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted.


The data isn't compiled like insurance agencies formulate their costs from.

I think this scene from Fight Club pretty much sums up how the value of human life is determined in relation to 'government regulations':

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