As students, we always have to consider how we spend our money and how many student loans we will need to take out next year. While putting a value on our budget, have we ever considered that the government is putting a value on us? According to the Associated Press, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done just that, revealing that Americans are not as valuable as we used to be.
As students, we always have to consider how we spend our money and how many student loans we will need to take out next year. While putting a value on our budget, have we ever considered that the government is putting a value on us?
According to the Associated Press, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done just that, revealing that Americans are not as valuable as we used to be.
The fact that they can come up with a number is incredible. Five years ago, an American life was worth $7.8 million, but, according to the new study, we have lost value and dropped to $6.9 million. This figure was formed by economists using “economist speak” to value the actions and experiences a life may have.
According to the AP article, the value of life is calculated by the monetary value which people will pay to avoid risks, such as employers paying extra to their employees who take up risky tasks. The EPA attained its data from payroll statistics and opinion surveys.
Even though this all seems very unorthodox, the EPA has a justification for placing these kinds of values on our heads. If there is a regulation, such as healthcare costs, that will cost more than the value of lives it saves, it could be rejected.
This type of number crunching has proven to be controversial, such as in 2002, when the EPA reversed its stance after it said the value of people over 70 was 38 percent less than the value of their younger counterparts.
With the failing economy and tight budgets, people are looking for any good deals they can get, which could include spending less on measures that could extend their lives. What this study really says to me is not just a reduction in our pocketbook, but also a reduction of self-worth.
The EPA is designed to protect the environment with an emphasis on human health. Just because Americans are being thrifty in their lives does not mean that they would not prefer, if given a preference, to live a healthier life.
Even though more people are affluent than ever before, the decrease is in conjunction with how much people are willing to spend on their well-being. If we aren’t willing to help or save ourselves, why should the government care about its citizens beyond the bottom line?
So, I suppose, we cannot blame the EPA for giving us a low number. What we should blame it for is that the EPA may be trying to save money as well, as we all are at the moment, but they shouldn’t just base their estimates off of the theoretical value of an American life. It is their job to protect the environment, and although we are certainly a part of it, we are not all of it.
It is sad that U.S. citizens, including agencies within the government, seem to have not realized yet that our decisions don’t just affect us. They affect everyone and everything on the continent, and can even affect everyone else on the planet.
We should be held accountable for self-driven decisions that result in poor consequences for everyone. Are we the root cause, personally, for the EPA’s decision to lower our value? They would like to think so.
But if asked, how many Americans would say that they think less of their lives now than they did five years ago? I don’t think many of us would say that our personal value has gone down. In actuality, most people see themselves as increasing in value based on experiences, education and seniority.
There should be no criteria on which to value life, because everyone’s life and self-worth is subjective to what they do with it, how they choose to live it and what accruable happiness comes from it.
Subscribing a monetary value on which humans have to bargain their lives with can only bring more harm than any benefit the EPA sees its estimates attaining, because in the end, in a way, our lives are our last bargaining chip, and I would rather not “cash it in” on something so unimportant as a government produced price tag.
Thank goodness that the EPA does not control our student loans or interest rate. We might be looking at less value on the knowledge obtained by higher education than five years ago, which you might think is a tricky thing to value, but the government has already placed a value on such a necessity as life.
Can abstract ideas, such as our loyalty and knowledge, our hearts and minds, be that far behind?