How much are human lives worth?

I repeat: How much are human lives worth?

If one examines the shenanigans perpetrated by the coal mining companies, I would have to guess, according to them, the answer would be “not much”.

WASHINGTON — Coal mine operators have paid just 7% of the fines they have received for major health and safety violations in the past three years, a USA TODAY analysis of federal records shows.

The low payment rate is eroding the government’s ability to pressure mining companies to improve safety, particularly at coal mines with repeated serious violations, officials and advocates say.

Unpaid fines mean coal companies “may keep on doing (unsafe) things because it hasn’t really hit their pocketbook,” said Tony Oppegard, a former mine-safety prosecutor in Kentucky.

This quote is from a USA Today article titled “Mines carry backlog of $90M in Violations” If you haven’t read anything about it, you may want to read it. It’s the same story we hear repeatedly coming from business.

A spokesperson for the mine owners said unpaid fines do not mean mines are less safe, because violations must be corrected whether or not a fine is appealed.

However, a spokesperson for the Mine Safety and Health Administration replied to lawmakers the unpaid fines can protect repeat offenders. “Mines have the ability to continue that pattern unabated,” Main said.

According to the latest figures I could find, the human body is currently worth approximately $4.50.

When we total the monetary value of the elements in our bodies and the value of the average person’s skin, we arrive at a net worth of $4.50!

This value is, however, subject to change, due to stock market fluctuations. Since the studies leading to this conclusion were conducted by the U.S. and by Japan respectively, it might be wise to consult the New York Stock Exchange and the Nikkei Index before deciding when to sell!

Our skin, is by far our most valuable possession.Basing the skin’s value on the selling price of cowhide, which is approximately $.25 per square foot, the value of an average person’s skin is about $3.50.

Now I realize some of you may wish to comment that on the black market some of our organs are really quite pricey but that’s a different blog.

My point is, it is my opinion, for those of you who are shouting to the skies that we need less government, we already HAVE less government. Actually, Uncle Sam has been relegated to some old toothless fogey. It seems more and more that we have lawmakers who peek out of the pockets of big business every once in a while to shake hands and, after wasting months putting on Broadway worthy shows arguing across the aisle, they pass a bill just to make their constituents happy…or unhappy as the case may be. However, they are puppets controlled by the big corporations who line their war chests with millions+ dollars. This is especially true most recently when the Supreme Court stepped in to allow them (the corporations) to spend as much as they wished.

In a stunning reversal of the nation’s federal campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that free-speech rights permit groups like corporations and labor unions to directly spend on political campaigns, prompting the White House to pledge “forceful” action to undercut the decision.

No one wants too much government. I don’t want too much government. What I do want is a government with the ability to carry out all the laws we already have on the books, and, to make the anti-government Tea partiers happy, I want  government lawmakers to review the laws that have already been passed in those 1,000-2,000 page laws and actually discover what is said in them. I want Uncle Sam to get a new set of dentures that will allow him to put some bite into our regulations. Ever since deregulation, our standards of living, health, and safety have gone down hill fast because there are fewer and fewer controls to keep business from doing whatever it wishes.

Now whether or not we should even be using coal anymore is another blog. That’s not the point. The point I am trying to make is I think the mine owners should have their feet held to the fire and be held accountable for the latest mining accident.

It is time Americans put more than a $4.50 value on human bodies. Perhaps that is the figure they use when calculating the risks they take with their miners’ lives. Isn’t it about time big corporations are forced to consider the cost of the spirit contained within those bodies? That amount must be priceless. At least their families and friends surely think so as they mourn.

Namaste. Attic Annie

PS A commenter sent me the following link about the value of a life. It makes me feel much more valuable than $4.50! However, leave it to the government to decrease my value in order to bypass EPA regulations. I’m either a bargain, or I’m cheap! AA



Filed under Casual conversation, diary, economics, general topics, life, musings, spirituality, Uncategorized

6 responses to “How much are human lives worth?

  1. freedomactionnow

    “… Ed responded with an interesting article …”
    I probably haven’t been paying attention. Who’s Ed? Is it the MSNBC article? If it is…

    You may have guessed that I’m opposed to the whole idea of putting a value on a life – especially in general – “the average life is worth $X”.

    And it really gets my goat (his name’s Henry) when it’s the EPA doing it. What the heck do they know about it? The EPA is one of my least favorite agencies – they’re the ones handing out all sorts of silly laws that reach down into our cellars. (But that’s another long rant.)

    I’ll refrain from going on at great length.

    “You and somebody named ZZMIke seem to thrive on keeping me on the defense.”

    Dang!! You’ve blown my cover! But not to worry – my ticker is in great shape, and I hope you’ll agree that I’m not one to get all steamed up about things. I’m on the other side of the political fence from you, but all that really means is that we see things differently.

    • atticannie

      I guess my problem is I try to sit on the fence. That way I end off honking off people on both sides. Wouldn’t it be great if we could walk down the road where there is no fence…or aisle? The point of my coal mining blog that I tried to make was that I believe all life…human, lesser human, and plant have purpose and value on this earth and should be treated as if we are all in this together with no one group being superior to another, just different. Therefore, all life is sacred and priceless. AA


  2. freedomactionnow

    Trying to put a value on human life is a pointless exercise. What value would you put on your son’s?

    Not only pointless, but degrading to human beings. It’s sorta like putting a value of $2.50 on a Rembrandt painting, because if you broke it down into its parts, that’s what they’d add up to.

    On the other hand, auto makers (among others) make that calculation all the time. “Suppose we put in a better dingus valve. It’ll cost overall about $200 million. If we don’t, our accident rate may go up, and our bean-counters tell us that maybe 10 people will be killed next year. They also tell us that lawsuits would cost us $150 million. So let’s go ahead and save the $50 million.”

    “… we already HAVE less government.” Absolutely positively untrue. Try counting the number of boards and commissions in Texas. Here in California, there are several dozen. All of them intent on justifying their existence by passing new rules.

    (I thought it was Texas, but it’s Colorado (and New Mexico): you may not collect rainwater next to your house”

    “Rain barrels there, you see, are outlawed. Colorado state law mandates that any water falling from the air is not yours. In fact, according to their site, its already been “legally allocated” — so, you don’t actually have any rights when it comes to using precipitation that falls on your property.”

    It gets worse:

    “Denver water customers are not permitted to take their bath or laundry water … and dump it on their outdoor plants or garden.”

    Way too many laws.)

    Not to mention the several dozen new agencies that this healthcare bill will create.

    “Actually, Uncle Sam has been relegated to some old toothless fogey. ”
    Also untrue. The Federal government owns most of the land in the Western States, and they’re not sky about telling everybody what they can and cannot do on that land. There are rules, regulations and laws that affect every aspect of your life. (Just consider HIPAA: suppose some old single guy goes into the hospital with a serious disease. Can any of his friends visit him? Can they even find out that he’s in there?)

    They also decide who can and who can’t get on an airplane. No recourse, no appeal.

    It’s not the fault of too little government that caused the coal mine tragedy. It was the owners doing as little as possible to safeguard the mine. They challenged every single finding that the inspectors filed. Their only interest is in getting coal to market. If their workers are killed, there are plenty of replacements ready and waiting. (In other words, politics at the local level.)

    Look up some time the history of Welsh coal mines. Things have not changed much since then.

    More government is not the solution. More government is the problem.

    “It seems more and more that we have lawmakers who peek out of the pockets of big business every once in a while to shake hands …”

    Now you’ve nailed it. It’s not too little government, it’s too corrupt government. The first thing a new Congressman does when he gets in is to start campaigning for the next election. If he’s got any time left over, he just might look into his constituents’ complaints. But they’re usually mollified by his sending them a new $100-million Federal project to build in their state.

    “.. the anti-government Tea partiers…”
    They aren’t anti-government. They’re anti the government whose only solution to every problem is to raise taxes and impose new regulations.

    If you follow the news, you’ll find out that the Tea Party gatherings are a heck of a lot more peaceful than almost all the Left’s demonstrations. (And they know how to spell on their signs.) We’ve even uncovered a plan by an Oregon guy to get his people to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings and raise a ruckus.

    “I want government lawmakers to review the laws that have already been passed in those 1,000-2,000 page laws and actually discover what is said in them. ”
    Amen to that. Of course, a rational Congress would have found out what’s in them before they voted on them. For one thing, they just found out that there’s an item in there that takes Congressmen out of their health plan.
    Obama, of course, assured everybody that “nobody would have to change doctors”.

    “… the mine owners should have their feet held to the fire and be held accountable for the latest mining accident. ”
    No question there.

    I just think it’s odd that if this had happened a year or two ago, the media would be yelling at Bush 24 hours a day. This time, the Great One is nowhere to be found.

    “Ever since deregulation, our standards of living, health, and safety have gone down hill fast because there are fewer and fewer controls to keep business from doing whatever it wishes.”

    I don’t think that either the first or the second part of that is true. for the second part, there are many more controls on businesses. The Federal agency OSHA shuts businesses down left and right if they even have the wrong kind of mirrors in the bathroom.

    If our standard of living has gone down, it’s probably due to the 100,000 jobs lost to Obama’s Hope and Change plans. They’re even trying to “fudge the numbers” by including as employed the thousands of Census workers. In fact, most of the “jobs created” so far have been in the government sector – whose salaries are paid by us, the taxpayers.

    To wrap up, you’re right that the coal mine tragedy was a real tragedy. But it was a tragedy due to local inefficiencies, corner-cutting, and mine-owner disregard of their workers’ lives. All the rules and regulations that were needed were in place. They just weren’t followed.

    • atticannie

      Hey Rigoletto, I think it’s time maybe we agree to disagree. Your comments to my blogs are approaching War and Peace in length. Your last paragraph agrees totally with with my philosophy. Let’s first make sure the rules and regulations we have now are followed.
      I still feel the businesses shut down are those with the most shallow pockets and last I heard an opinion is just that…an opinion. Like a feeling it isn’t right or wrong. It just is.
      Perhaps instead of saying we have less government I should have said we have less enforcement of the laws we already have depending on the company doing those things they shouldn’t.
      The rainwater in Denver is totally absurd but then if laws are examined since the beginning of our country we have certainly had our share of absurd laws. We currently have problems with the garbage Nazis in our town. All rules must be followed exactly or the owner of the can can be fined.
      The value of life was one of the main thoughts of this blog. Of course life is priceless but Ed responded with an interesting article about how much we are currently worth when it comes to enforcing laws. What do you think of his thoughts?
      The Great One was quoted on radio yesterday concerning the coal mine owners. He hasn’t disappeared yet.
      I’m glad you found some points that I made to agree with. On the rest of it, I may have to decide to stay away from expressing my opinions. I’m worried about your blood pressure. You and somebody named ZZMIke seem to thrive on keeping me on the defense.

  3. ittecon

    In the US, the “value of a statistical life” is $6.9 million, which was discounted from the previous value of $7.8 million.