Whitesburg KY

You’re worth what?

What’s the value of a human life? …

We do have an answer, courtesy of our national nanny — the federal government.

A human life is worth $6.9 million. To be more precise, that amount is the statistical value in today’s dollars, calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Making matters worse is that your value is decreasing. You are worth nearly $1 million less than your $7.8 million value five years ago.

Before you start feeling seriously undervalued, keep in mind the assessment is for statistical purposes only. The government is not attempting to stimulate the economy by creating a new industry merchandising people.

In addition to quality-of-life issues, federal agencies find quantifying life helps justify decisions. Bureaucrats then can weigh the cost of a proposed federal regulation against the lifesaving benefits. …

The Bush administration is being accused of devaluing human life to discourage adoption of new federal regulations, particularly environmental rules.

Placing a value on human life is not without precedent; insurance companies write life insurance policies for specific amounts and juries assess monetary damages in wrongful death judgments.

But these are practical assessments, not solutions to an elusive puzzle.

The value of a human life, like the depth and breadth of the cosmos, remains a mystery to ponder and celebrate.

— News-Tribune, Jefferson City, Mo.

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