More on choices and risk

 We have address the disparity between cost and benefit.   Often that relates the value of human life and money.  Just to let you know what you are worth, not to your friends or enemies, but to a cold hearted businessman or businesswomen.  Most insurance companies use a number of $50,000 as the international standard.  Stanford economists argue the figure should be much higher, or nearly $130,000.  The EPA puts it at 9.1 million and the FAA has raised it to 9.2 million.  You may think life (and in particular, yours) is priceless. I am sure you are right.  Lets hope those have power of attorney for you agree. 

 Putting value on life has many practical consequences.  For example, the FAA weighs the benefit of mandatory upgrades to aircraft to their value in saving human lives.  If the recall is more expensive than 9.2 million dollars times the projected number of lives it would save, then they do not consider it “cost effective”.  That is “risk assessment” and “cost – benefit” analysis for  you.

 We know that “people kill people”, but they do it more effectively with guns. Remove either of those elements and it would solve the problem.  I am not sure the framers considered AK-47 with huge clips, or the most powerful standing army by far in the world.

 However the argument is not that guns are ineffective, but that the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Clearly some of those clauses get less attention,  and certainly conditions were much different in 1780 than now. However, this amendment is essentially reduced  to  “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  And that trumps all.

 As a small child I thought this meant people could have massive hairy arms with claws on the end, and we couldn’t or shouldn’t tease them about it. 

 However, on the side of gun owners, there is something more honest about growing your own food, and killing your own meat. 

Two hundred years ago there was no Publix, and if you wanted a steak, you had to go get it yourself.  I am sure there would be a lot more vegetarians or Pescetarians if we had to slaughter your own dear, turkeys, cows, pigs, chicken etc. 

 The bottom line is sometimes the risk is weighed by a highly valued principle that is held akin to a religious belief.  Then there is usually no compromise possible.

But think also of Eisenhower and the plan or decision to invade Normandy and the inevitable loss of many thousands of lives, or the Sargent who sends out a patrol in Fallujah, Iraq to clear a building.   Think of the heroes who defy the risks to save someone else’s life, and often at the expense of their own.

 The great French philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal, is reported to have said he believed in God because the rewards were so great if there was a God, even if he believed the probably was low. And there was no risk in believing in God if there is no God. On the other had, if there is a God and you don’t believe, you risk going to Hell. So, by believing in God, there was no way to loose.  A perfect risk assessment.


Consciously or unconsciously, we all, every day, make a calculation of the RISK FACTOR in most of the things we do.  And those decisions define who we are.