Friday, July 11, 2008

American Lives Worth Less, Not Yet Worthless

Economists have decided that the value of an American life is, well, just not worth what it used to be. The price of an American is worth about $6.9 million, down $1 million in the last five years, according to an AP report. Remember that scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton explains that his company has a formula to determine if it’s worthwhile to do a recall on a deathtrap car? Apparently the government has a similar formula for figuring out if it’s worthwhile to enact safety policies:

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.

This is the result of the Environmental Protection agency “reevaluating” how much a life is worth. So this means a lot of environmental regulation, especially where the causes are harder to trace like asthma or pollution-related deaths, is just not worth it given the declining value of an American human. On a weird side note, apparently we’re worth more than our grandparents. The AP article says that the elderly are worth “38 percent less than that of people under 70.”

Cross posted on pushback.

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