realitybites (13041)

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Journal of realitybites (13041)

Sunday December 18, 05

How much is a human life worth?

10:38 PM

It seems to vary greatly from country to country, citizen to citizen.

Take for instance one life on death row. In China, this life will cost $400.00 to be paid to the hangman. But, the organs of the freshly killed will be a commodity on the black market. So, this life is worth more dead. Contrast this with a US death row inmate. He (or she) typically spends an average of less than ten years on death row while appealing his/her death sentence. In the end, the cost of this life is, on average, $2,000,000, plus burial expenses. And no black market organ sales will be allowed, which might otherwise help offset the cost to the state.

So, it seems that America clearly places more financial value on a human life. Right? Not so fast.

Looking at another example suggests that the values of human life in the US vary greatly. It is not life itself, which is valued, but rather just certain lives. A twenty-year old woman boards a bus from Pennsylvania to New York. There she meets with a Haven host. She then enters an abortion clinic and pays $2,000 to have her 24th week, third trimester fetus aborted. The first day at the clinic, a drug is injected into her womb to stop the heart of the fetus. And, seaweed stalks are inserted into her cervix to dilate the organ. The following day, the dead fetus is sucked out through the dilated cervix. Cost of that life? A financial burden of a little over $2,000.

But, just across town, a couple enters a hospital ER. The woman is 24 weeks pregnant. An emergency C-section is performed. The 11 0Z baby is rushed to the NICU immediately after birth. The baby remains in the hospital for five months. At 9 months of age he now weighs 8 LBS. The cost of this life so far? $400,000.

Reminds me of the Christmas classic Silver And Gold by Johnny Marks:

  • Silver and gold, silver and gold
    Ev'ryone wishes for silver and gold.
    How do you measure its worth?
    Just by the pleasure it gives here on earth.
    Silver and gold, silver and gold
    Mean so much more when I see
    Silver and gold decorations
    On ev'ry Christmas tree.

So, human life seems to have no intrinsic value. But rather, its worth fluctuates from season to season, city to city, country to county -- not unlike the stock market.

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  • On the radio when I was driving into work this morning, they had a segment on the news about Australians going to China to have organ transplants for amazing amounts of money because of the waiting lists here.
    LizzieCat -- Sunday December 18 2005, @10:51PM (#189366)
    (User #14284 Info)
    Mrs Forman
  • I just had a vision of a stop-motion animation squirrel biting down on a fetus head because it weighed more than a pile of nuts. eccch! Maybe some visions should be kept secret.

    Those are excellent points you make there. How do you measure its worth? Just by the pleasure it brings here on earth??
    alainsane -- Sunday December 18 2005, @10:51PM (#189367)
    (User #460 Info)

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