Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's A Body Worth

The EPA has reevaluated the statistical value of a human being and determined we are each worth $6.9 million dollars. That's down about 11% from their last calculation. I'm not sure what caused the decrease—we aren't like a new car. You buy it at full price, and the minute you drive it off the lot, it depreciates.

Every organization has its own way of figuring out the value of a human life, and according to the others, the EPA is being generous. They use this figure to determine the cost-effectiveness of a project. If a project is more costly than the value of the total number of people effected, then it's likely to be scrapped. It sounds harsh, but it may actually be a legitimate way to encourage project managers and planners to be more efficient.

It seems gruesome to put a price tag on a person as a whole but not as ghastly as putting a price on each individual part. In a previous life, I was an insurance agent, and I was shocked to learn that actuaries had priced out things like legs, arms, and eye balls in order to figure out the potential liability of an average insurance policy. The body is expensive to maintain or repair when it breaks, which is why they don't like when their insured take up flying or motorcycle riding.

Maybe all of these organizations and insurance companies should get their actuaries to look at the body broken down into its basic elements. In that state, it's only worth about $4.50. With that price in mind, the EPA could afford to institute nearly every project on their plate, from national emissions to the stinky and apparently defective landfill up the road from Small Town. Pee-u.


dive said...

Wow! $4.50!
It would be nice to be worth that much, Robyn … to somebody other than an insurance company, of course.
My life's insured for the cost of a burlap bag and a hole in a field (unconsecrated, of course … you know me). I had a tremendous argument with my mortgage company about that but in the end they gave way. Luckily I have no dependents; they'd get jack when I snuff it.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Do you remember the TV series called "The Six Million Dollar Man" from the '70s? He had "bionic" parts? I guess that's inflation for you if standard models are worth 6.9 million.

Brenda said...

Sure sounds better than the $40-some dollars my body was worth using the cadaver calculator! ;)