Published on: February 18, 2011
One of the realities of the way MNB is run is that we’re never all in the same place at the same time. In fact, Michael Sansolo and Kate McMahon had never met each other.
So, it was a kind of fun for us last weekend when we actually all got together again for the first time. A picture was taken ... and if nothing else, it’ll tell you what Kate looks like. (And will confirm a simple fact - she’s a lot better looking than Michael and me.)
The New York Times
had an interesting story about the worth of a single human life.
The piece didn’t explore this issue from ethical and philosophical grounds, but rather looked at it from an economic perspective. Various agencies of government have established baseline prices for a single life as a way of justifying different kinds of standards.
As the Times
writes, “The Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a life at $9.1 million last year in proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. The agency used numbers as low as $6.8 million during the George W. Bush administration.
“The Food and Drug Administration declared that life was worth $7.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2008, in proposing warning labels on cigarette packages featuring images of cancer victims.
“The Transportation Department has used values of around $6 million to justify several recent decisions to impose regulations that the Bush administration had rejected as too expensive, like requiring stronger roofs on cars.
“And the numbers may keep climbing. In December, the E.P.A said it might set the value of preventing cancer deaths 50 percent higher than other deaths, because cancer kills slowly. A report last year financed by the Department of Homeland Security suggested that the value of preventing deaths from terrorism might be 100 percent higher than other deaths.”
The politics of this is interesting. According to the Times
, “The pattern of increases is scrambling a long-standing political dynamic. The business community historically has pushed for regulators to put a dollar value on life, part of a broader campaign to make agencies prove that the benefits of proposed regulations exceed the costs.” But now, not so much, because establishing specific and increasing dollar figures to the value of a human life means that costs are going up for business.
There’s probably nothing that can be done about the politics, even if the whole discussion is a little disconcerting.
Here’s where I come down on the whole value of a human life issue.
My life = Priceless.
One of my favorite newspaper columnists is David Pogue, who writes about technology for the New York Times
, as well as contributing pieces to CNBC
and other outlets. Pogue is a prolific book writer, and last year published one called “The World According to Twitter,” was consisted of answers to provocative questions he’d posed to his half-million followers on Twitter.
Pogue wrote on his Times
blog yesterday that he’d had a “blast” writing it, and in doing so, discovered “that Twitter followers are an entirely different slice of the Internet. This is not the sophomoric rabble that leaves comments on YouTube (usually averaging one misspelling per line and favoring the suffix ‘-tard’). These are funny, clever, very intelligent people.”
Now, Pogue also concedes that the book “tanked,” which, he wrote, “breaks my heart. My theory is that bookstore shoppers somehow thought the book was about Twitter, and weren’t interested.”
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that it caught up in all the noise that so many of us are exposed to each day. I like Pogue’s work, and somehow the book’s existence slipped through the cracks - I didn’t even know he’d written it.
But now I want to, because of this paragraph from his blog:
“To this day, I can’t stop laughing at some of the replies to, “Make up a prequel for a famous movie.” The responses included ‘Young Yeller,’ ‘Flirts With Wolves,’ ‘Conceived on the Fourth of October,’ ‘Mr. Smith MapQuests Washington,’ ‘There Goes Private Ryan—I Hope He’ll Be O.K.,’ and my personal favorite, ‘We’re Running Low on Mohicans’.”
That’s funny. I’m going over to Amazon right now to buy one.
We talk a lot here about the value of private brands, and so it is entirely appropriate that my wine of the week is a private label blend from Bin 36: the 2007 Proprietary Red (Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Petite Sirah/Petit Verdot/Merlot) Duncan & Sachs, “D&S,” from California, which is a lovely, smooth and highly drinkable wine.
Find it online. And enjoy.