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Old 26th Jun 2020, 06:29
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Dick Smith
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,250
Human lives are priceless

Recently this interesting extract of an article in The New Daily by Michael Pascoe was sent to me in relation to the value of human life. Of course we all know that aviation is different and safety is more important that cost.

“I wrote in another place three years ago that an Australian life was worth not more than $4.2 million, on average, according to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Young lives were worth a bit more and we’re also prepared to pay more to avoid particularly painful and gruesome deaths.

The latter is a factor in our willingness to spend disproportionately large amounts trying to minimise the already very low risk of death by shark attack, while doing very little to counteract that much more successful serial killer, the common ladder.

Sharks killed just two of us the year before that article, but ladders averaged 23 deaths a year over the decade to 2012.

The statistics are useful in busting two of the more common myths regularly regurgitated by media: “Human life is priceless” and its close relative, “If it only saves one life, it’s worth it”.

The reality is that human life is constantly being priced – every time a road is designed, every time another safety regulation is mooted, every time an expensive new drug is considered for government subsidy, every time a court decides appropriate compensation for wrongful death. Abacuses of actuaries are constantly on the case.

If it was true that “life is priceless” and “if it only saves one life, it’s worth it”, all our cars would be speed limited to 30 kilometres an hour and every intersection would at least have traffic lights, if not a flyover.”

You could forget horse riding and rock fishing, bicycles would be kept to walking pace, and anyone attempting to mount a motorcycle would be shot to save them from falling off.

As we routinely price lost life, rational economics would also have us pricing saved and improved lives.”
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