OPINION

How much is a life worth? Perhaps a bit more than your inconvenience

This woman is free. She is not oppressed by her mask.
This woman is free. She is not oppressed by her mask.


Remember when we used to talk about economic rationalism, as a set of assumptions or priorities - a belief system among other belief systems, as if it wasn't the only way to place value on things?

Deep down the sewers of social media occasionally one finds a link to something interesting. In this case, a Federal Government document that puts a price on a life.

Developed to measure (in dollars) the impact of regulation that attempts to preserve life (e.g. seat belts, warnings on cigarettes), Australia's Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) calculated the benefits of reducing the risk of death. Don't scoff, that's a verbatim quote.

"The value of statistical life is an estimate of the financial value society places on reducing the average number of deaths by one," is another.

The answer was $4.2 million per life.

This would no doubt amuse fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the meaning of "life, the universe and everything" was said to be 42, calculated by a very big computer over a very long time.

Not so funny are the ghouls who argue with a straight face (and a smirk) that the economic effects of a covid lockdown are too steep, not worth the lives saved.

The Australian newspaper's economics editor Adam Creighton calculated the cost to the budget of saving lives was somewhere between $30-$60 million each life - which was way above the OBPR figure of $4.2m.

He uses Sweden as a better example, because it remained open for business. Of course more than 5,500 Swedes died - per capita, that's about 14,000 in Australia. And there you have it: 14,000 deaths is the acceptable cost of doing business.

Creighton claims Victoria has become an "effective dictatorship" where respect for the individual has gone. "What's the point of being alive if you can't live?" he said.

Mate: it's so others don't die.

People often talk about freedoms that our forebears fought and died for.

But liberty is not the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you feel like it. That's called infancy.

Liberty isn't the ability to go to the day spa, the pub or the football whenever you get the itch. It's the ability to vote, form opinions, and criticise the government without being locked up.

It's not the freedom to refuse to wear a mask when if we all did, it lives would be saved. It's the freedom from masks being enforced without good scientific reason.

It's not the freedom from being asked questions by the police during a crisis. It's whether or not we're shot on the spot for refusing to answer them.

This story How much is a life worth? Perhaps a bit more than your inconvenience first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.