Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Washington Post reports that the EPA has updated its assessment of the value of a human life.
Someplace else, people might tell you that human life is priceless. In Washington, the federal government has appraised it like a '96 Camaro with bad brakes.

Last week, it was revealed that an Environmental Protection Agency office had lowered its official estimate of life's value, from about $8.04 million to about $7.22 million. That decision has put a spotlight on the concept of the "Value of a Statistical Life," in which the Washington bureaucracy takes on a question usually left to preachers and poets.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission isn't quite as impressed:
An example of this kind of analysis was used by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission this year:

A proposal to make mattresses less flammable was expected to cost the industry $343 million to implement. But, a spokeswoman said, the move was also expected to save 270 people. The commission calculated that each life was worth $5 million, which meant a benefit of about $1.3 billion.

That was greater than the expense, she said, so the move made sense.
So, let's see what the cost benefit would be if an effective hospital education for new parents was nationwide and reduced the estimated 300 SBS related deaths by 50%: using the lesser CPSC value, the benefit would be $750,000,000.

The estimated cost of implementing education nationwide ($10 per birth): $41,000,000

The net benefit: $7000,000,000 in savings, even before adding in the costs of prosecuting and incarcerating the perpetrators in those cases.

And before adding in the medical, rehabilitation and educational costs associated with a comparable reduction in the 600 to 900 cases a year where children survive with significant trauma that requires significant caregiving and results in physical and cognitive disabilities (especially learning disabilities that require 12 years of special education costs). Plus even greater costs for prosecution.

And before adding the costs of those children with unrecognized cases of inflicted injury - "mild TBI" - and the resulting costs of special education.

So, spend $41 million, save more than $1 billion.

Not a bad return on investment...

Let your congressional representative know that the SBS Prevention Act also makes compelling economic sense

No comments: