July 11, 2008

American lives: worth less

Posted in News tagged , at 4:32 pm by Katharine Lackey

American lives are worth less today, the Associated Press is reporting. An American life is worth just $6.9 million, down nearly $1 million from five years ago. While I’m incredibly surprised to learn that my life is worth over more than just a few bucks, this revelation apparently has some 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 article goes on to detail what the EPA uses to come up with this number and why it has changed.

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