Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Colbert mentions that five years ago, the value of a human life (according to the EPA) was 7.8 million $, which was lowered to 6.9 million in today's dollars. A cursory check with the US Dollar Index (DX) showed that it decreased from ~100 to ~78 within the same period. Therefore, actually, the money should have been 7.8 * .78 = 6.08 million $.
This leads to some interesting questions:
Does dollar depreciation mean that employees are taking lesser risks to carry out their job functions? Why should the perceived value of a human life decrease with time? The world is currently enjoying record levels of overall prosperity, at any point in its history. The notion that a statistical human life is worth lesser now, compared to 2003/4 needs some explanation. This is also mentioned in a recent MSNBC article.
The evaluation of human life is used mainly by cost-benefit analyses, for implementing environmental regulations. Although these analyses are intended to provide guidelines to drive policy, IMO they should not be the only tools used to make public environmental policy.