Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Kill Grandma: Iain Murray tackles a controversy deep in the bowels of beauracracy, how the federal government should value human life when doing cost-benefit analysis related to federal programs. Most B-schoolers go through some exercise to grapple with the idea risking a loss of life to save money, and they should. Would a shipping company ever put a tanker to sea, what with the chance of shipwreck and all.

Anyway, it reminded of how the sensitive and big-hearted P.J. O'Rourke put it in Parliament of Whores. "Would you kill your grandmother to pave I-95."

Quick summary: Grandma must pay taxes. If she doesn't the IRS may come to collect them. If she refuses to pay they will call the police. If she flees they will chase her. If she is caught and resists they will use force. If necessary they will shoot her. So every time the government spends tax dollars on a program, think: would I kill kindly, gray haired grandma to secure funding for this. So people who utter platitudes like

"To me it's almost an immoral exercise to place a dollar value on any human life."
ought to realize that at some level we do it every day. And we'd all be broke if we didn't.

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