Originally published in the Big Lake Times, April 22, 2020.
The idea that there was actually a value placed on human life really hit the mainstream in the early 70s with the emergence of a Mother Jones article on the exploding Ford Pinto fuel tank. For the first time, Americans became aware that a company (Ford) placed a value on human life… and if that value, times “x” number of deaths, was less than the cost of fixing the exploding tank, then Ford would not fix the fuel tank
To you and I, the value of our life is limitless. And the American Justice System generally considers a human life priceless in the sight of the law. This is what theoretically prevents human trafficking and slavery. In statistical economics theory, however, the value of a life is used to quantify the benefit of avoiding or preventing a fatality. In the social and political science disciplines it is the marginal cost of preventing death in varying situations and circumstances. This “value” could include the leftover life expectancy as well as the earning potential of the affected group, etc.
The cost of reducing the average number of deaths by one, which is known as the marginal cost, is (or should be) an important statistic in any discussion on COV-19. Currently, it does not appear this type of discussion is all that important to anyone. We have spent trillions, tanked our economy, and our leaders are blindly driving us into another depression, which could affect many millions more people, and in worse ways, than the virus.
We need to recognize that there are limited resources such as health care, medicine, food, and even money. And we need to understand that it is impossible to save every life no matter how hard we try; no matter how much, or how many, of those resources we expend or lose, or how much of our liberty we give up….