Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How much a human life is worth

This past Sunday I was driving to a favorite golf course of mine when NPR's "This I believe" came on. This week's contribution was from a laywer by the name of Kenneth Feinberg who had the responsibility for designing and implementing the compensation plan for victims of 911. His job was to value each human life lost and then pay them.

Mr. Feinberg understands the legal formula for how human life evaluation works, but doesn't agree with it. The law says that a stock broker is worth more than a police officer simply because the stock broker makes more money. Unfortunately Mr. Feinberg had to follow the legal guideline and compensate accordingly.

A few years after Mr. Feinberg evaluated the 911 victims, he was asked to design and implement a similar plan for the 32 victims of the Virgina Tech shootings. Since in this case the money was private, Mr. Feinberg was able to evaluate each life based on his own terms. Mr. Feinberg believes that a person's net worth should not indicate their compensation value. He believes every life should be treated equally and designed a plan that paid each victim's family the same. I agree whole heartily with Mr. Feinberg's approach.


Scooter said...

Is this based at all on looking at your coworkers in management positions and despairing that they might be valued more than you?

Mac Noland said...

While I didn't think of that, I find your logic correct and the legal compensation system even more disparaging.