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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Value of life

I was on training this week. One part of the course was about doing a Cost-Benefit Analysis: to introduce a program or law, you need to show that its benefits outweigh the costs. We were working on one example and brainstorming all possible benefits and costs. Someone mentioned that the proposal would save lives. The instructor then said, pretty casually, that we can't usually include "lives saved" in a cost-benefit analysis unless we do a calculation for the "statistical value of life." Those were the exact words he used. The term didn't really sit well with me.

Of course we can't give a statistical value to life. Life is worth way more than the number of days we live, the number of hours we work, the money we make, the money we spend, the taxpayers' money we use up... the value of our lives can never be represented by one calculation...

Each one of us is unique and precious and valuable. If we were all sheep (baa), and God were our shepherd (well, God is our shepherd), and one of us got lost (many are lost), He would go searching for us everywhere (He actually does this), all through the fields and forests, over the hills and valleys, until He found us. Then He would throw a huge party to celebrate that He found us (He actually does this too). That's how precious we are.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 13-14).

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