Friday, July 11, 2008

EPA Drops Value of an American Life

[Long time reader and commenter Swampcracker sends us another guest post. As is the policy at The Impolitic, I'm posting it unedited.]

This story hit the newswire late last night. According to Seth Borenstein, a reporter with the Associated Press:
It's not just the American dollar that's losing value. A government agency has decided that an American life isn't worth what it used to be.

The "value of a statistical life" is $6.9 million in today's dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency reckoned in May - a drop of nearly $1 million from just five years ago …

Though it may seem like a harmless bureaucratic recalculation, the devaluation has real 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.=2
0 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.
So what is driving this deflation of an American Life, according to EPA? Is the administration attempting yet another relaxation of the rules covering pollution? In an era of soaring gas prices, are polluters now more valuable than people? Is our government preparing us for the age of Soylent Green?

[By swampcracker]

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3 Comments:

Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Not only are our lives devalued, but our rights, our privacy, our immunity from the abuses of power have been diminished as well. Like those huge flocks of turkeys that accumulate in October, we're here to be used.

11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Devaluation of human life. This from an administration that claims to value "life." Not to drag abortion politics into this - but the irony of it all really struck me.

11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

This has been a great few years for aficionados of irony.

12:47:00 PM  

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