How do we measure the value of a human life?

How do we measure the value of a human life?

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….

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