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Governors in some states have taken steps to begin reopening businesses in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Any easing of social distancing measures inevitably leads to uncomfortable conversations about the value of human life versus economic prosperity. Those types of conversations are nothing new, according to, a statistician and health economist at Columbia University. He says people have long calculated how much human lives are worth, including those working in the courts, the health care industry, and the government.
- In his book, “ ,” Friedman explains how price tags on human lives can be biased for lots of different reasons. He says the public has the power to challenge decisions that may seem unfair. Take the EPA’s move to place less value on the lives of the elderly. The policy, dubbed the "senior death discount” by critics, because of so many complaints.
- The value of human lives is always changing and the amount depends on who is making the calculation and how. has been tasked with overseeing many different victim compensation funds, including those set-up after 9/11, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the , which all used different criteria for payments.
- Publicity can impact how much a human’s life is valued, as was the case with the 1987 rescue of , which America watched live on CNN. Friedman says it was also evident when celebrities and sports stars to be given access to limited COVID-19 tests at the start of the pandemic.
- Find out what Kenneth Feinberg has to say about how he values human life in his .
- Read about the challenges that health care rationing could mean for some vulnerable populations, including .
- Look at of saving human lives during the pandemic.