What is the value of human life?

ncvcoinWhile watching the unavoidable news coverage of the incredible tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma the story often turns to interviews with parents wondering why the schools did not have storm shelters.  The response from officials was that they were very expensive.  The response from parents was, what is the value of the children’s lives?

Well, that made me think.  What is the value of children’s lives?  What is the value of human life in general?  How do we measure such value?  A search on the internet turned up much on the subject but no actual values.  Putting a numerical value on human life could be a rather difficult and maybe debatable subject.  Perhaps such a thing could be done only by a cold, indifferent person.  Fortunately I am such a person so let’s get started…

First, what kind of unit would you use to measure the value of human life?  Most people might say dollars?  I don’t think so.  Money is not a good unit.  Money is not what life is about.  Money is a means for living.  It is used to buy goods and services.  I think it would be more of a measure of contribution to society.  Money can be a means to contribute to society but it is not the main way.  There doesn’t seem to be a set unit of societal contribution so I am going to have to make one up.   I’m not sure it needs a name but let’s give it a scale of  -100 to 100.

Let’s start with a newborn baby.  What value would it have?  Pretty much just sentimental value.  Sentimental value counts for something but not a lot.  This newborn unit might be thought to be a zero right in the middle of the scale but maybe it would be  better categorized as a negative number considering that it is not contributing much to society and is, perhaps, more of a drain.   There is some positive value in “Love” yet there is negative value in the cost to raise.  Hospital bills, Diapers, formula, day care while the parents have to work harder to make enough money to offset these expenses.   Formula for newborn:  Love – drain.  15-10= 5 units.

An older child already in school, say first grade through 12th grade begins to gather value as his knowledge increases.  He is able to help around the house, mow neighbor’s lawns and do other helpful things.   Formula for Grade School Student:  Love + minor contributions + basic knowledge.  20 + 10 + 10 = 40 units.

A High School graduate wold then hopefully get an entry level job and pretty much stay there for the rest of his life.  He would immediately have a number of children which would start out as a drain on society.  Formula for High School Graduate:   Love + Knowledge + Job – Children.   40 + 15 + 20 – 10 = 65 Units

A College Graduate would have much greater knowledge and likely get a job in a specialized industry, Maybe a Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer etc..  He would have maybe one or two children and would ensure that they received a good education.  He would make enough money that he can afford the children so we could say the the value of the children could be zero rather than a negative number.   Formula for High School Graduate:  Love + High Knowledge + Quality Career.  40 + 40 + 20 = 100 Units

As a person reaches old age and begins to receive social security or welfare the numbers start to decrease.

Now on the negative side of the scale, A High school dropout would have limited knowledge and be susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse,  multiple marriages and a large number of children of which they will be unable to afford to raise.  Formula for High School dropout:  Love +  Knowledge – Children – welfare.   5 + 5 – 15 – 20 = -25 Units.

Next might be a drug abuser, homeless, no family, possibly in jail.  A major drain on society.  Formula:  Love + Knowledge – children – welfare/incarceration.  2 + 4 – 5 – 50 = -49 Units

Last might be a mass murderer or terrorist bomber.  Incarcerated for life plus incredible costs in the court system, the formula might be:  Love – court costs – incarceration.  1 – 49 – 50 = -100 Units

So there you have it, the value of life on a scale of -100 to 100.   Considering the range value of a non-graduated grade school student, at elementary level, there’s not a lot of value in building them a storm shelter.  An elementary school student is easily replaced and short of sentimental value, there is little life value at that point.  Don’t drain society further by building unnecessary storm shelters.

These numbers are generalizations for certain categories, everyone will have a different value number.  How about me?  What is my life worth?

I have a partial college education but did not get my BA in Engineering.  I lost interest and went into the world of self taught computer gurus.  I have a good amount of knowledge but fail to really contribute to society.  I support scientists and engineers who do so that is something.  Love in my life is minimal.  I have no children.  My formula:  Love + Knowledge  + Job – Children.  15 + 30 + 20 – 0 = 65 Units.

My score is equal to a High School Graduate.  I have greater knowledge and a better job but fall short in the love category.

So where do you fit in?  Your life is what make of it.  If you want to have the value you think you have then be sure you are a contributing member of society.  Get a good education and a quality job or career where you are making the world a better place and find somebody to love.



2 thoughts on “What is the value of human life?

  1. You forget one thing in these calculations. What IS life? Bill Gates fell out of college, and he would be very close to the 90s, because he went on to make Microsoft, the most successful computer company on the planet.

    In the end, I believe it is what you do in life that matters, not what happens to you. This article is very thought provoking, though!

    1. Actually, I did think about philanthropists but didn’t include them in my article. Bill Gates both changed the world with his company and after retirement is doing his best to make the world a better place. People like him top the list. I would give him a 100.

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