|Are you coming to the stoning?|
How much is your life
worth in dollars? This question might make you uncomfortable, but it is
easy to compute by answering another simple question: How much would you be
willing to pay to for a safety device which had a significant chance of saving
your life in an accident?
For the maths nerds, VOYL (the Value Of Your Life) is given by
MC = Maximum Payment (the most you would be willing to pay)
PSYL = probability of saving your life.
For instance if buying an airbag had a 0.1% chance of saving your life **
and you were willing to pay up to $1,000 for it, you have just valued your life
at $1,000,000. Not a bad sum, and probably realistic for most people in
$AU1M is a lot of money, but let's face it - we are a nation of Volvo
drivers, even if we don't have the phallic symbol on the front of our cars, and
the bad taste to drive around with the lights on during the day. The free market thrives in the
risk of death.
Of course, when comparing the value between people, socialists would want to
scale these values for personal income. For example Fred might be only willing
to pay half as much as Jane for the same device, but he might only be able to
earn half as much money as
Jane because he can't take advantage of affirmative action
schemes. So their relative valuations would be the same.
But when we see two people making radically different decisions (even when their
incomes are factored into the equation), we can conclude that they place a
radically different value of their own lives.
Anyone who has traveled in Asia has seen this principle in action. In fact,
anyone who has traveled with Asians has seen this principle in
action. Landing in Sydney airport in a 747 full of Asian tourists is an
extraordinary experience - the seat-belts come off as soon as the plane has
landed and people start wandering around the cabin collecting their baggage. Never
mind that the plane is still doing 300Km/h, and that a sudden deceleration would
throw them around like grains of rice, and crush them like lychees when other
passengers landed on them.
Anyone who thinks that non-Australians are somehow just 'not aware of the risks'
should think again. One of the prime-time shows on Taipei TV is the road-kill
program, which is like a macabre cross between shock-site rotten.com and
'Greatest Australian Home Videos' show. Anyone lucky enough to be carrying
their video camera who sees an accident, films the aftermath and sends it to
the local TV station.
In fairness, it should be pointed out that the editors have the good
taste to use Vaseline-style effects on the crushed skulls and the pools of
bloodied brains oozing down the road. It's quite tasteful really. Like a love
scene from a bad movie. A very bad movie.
Of course, while traffic accidents might be regarded as a necessity for the
convenience of modern motoring, or a blunt instrument used by God to resurrect the principle of
Survival of the Fittest
in an age of first-world socialist health care, a
great deal of blood seems to be spilled in wars. And even in the aftermath of
wars - like in Iraq.
Yesterday, 50 people died in a very successful suicide attack in Iraq. The targets were not
Americans this time, but a Kurdish political group in the north. After wringing
our collectivist hands
and bemoaning that it's all the fault of the Americans ("if only Saddam
were still in power, this wouldn't have happened"), readers are reminded
that 251 people also died yesterday in a holy stampede at an annual Muslim
festival in Saudi Arabia.
There seems to have been a rush to get the ritual stoning, worthy of the
hysteria in a Monty Python skit. Alas, this was only a pillar of rock
symbolizing the devil, not a young woman who chose to have sex with someone without the
permission of the Muslim
clerics, but it was still exciting enough to kill 250 people in the rush.
This may sound like a tragic accident, or a Who concert ^^ gone mad, but 14
years ago, 1400 people died doing the same thing! Averaged out over 14 years,
this is 100 people per festival. There are around 1 million people there, so
this is one chance in 10,000.
Would you run a 1 in 10,000 risk of death to throw pebbles at a piece of
rock? What price have these individuals placed on their own lives?
are unhappy that the US places a much higher value on the lives of US citizens
than those of other countries - the Middle Eastern expression is "Americans have expensive
blood". They fail to realize that the US is reacting to their own market
And as for the suicide bombers in Iraq - they represent the
people who send them. Guys - don't expect anyone to value your life more highly
than you value it yourself.
** Note this is not 0.1% chance of saving your life in an
accident, but of saving your life. For instance, you had a 1% chance of
having a accident, and it had 10% of saving your live in an accident, then it
would have a 0.1% chance of saving your life. Don't let the lefties confuse you on this
^^ In the 1980s 8 people died in a stampede before a Who concert when
organizers opened the stadium gates at the last minute, and fans rushed in to
get the best places.