Robert Hahn, a leading scholar of the American regulatory process who is now a professor at the University of Manchester in England has said that putting a price tag on life was worthwhile because it would help politicians to choose among priorities and to shape the details of their proposals.
What if a price tag had been placed on a soldier’s life, would we have gone to war in Iraq? Would any result that might have been achieved, let alone the actual “result” we see now, be of more benefit than the cost in lives lost? And here there were relatively few lives lost, compared to earlier wars, to Vietnam, when there were some tens of thousands of American dead, and in the World Wars of the past century, when all lives lost numbered in the millions?
Just as we place, for insurance and regulatory purposes in regard to our industries, in most of which there are risks of loss of life, some much greater than others, a dollar value on one human life, a value that the Obama administration would place between $5 and $10 million, what if we were to place a similarly sized price tag on the life of one soldier?
Wouldn’t that bring about an end to war, war becoming simply too expensive in respect to the loss of human life for a government, any government, to bear? In a sense that’s what’s already happening. Now, much more than ever before, lives lost in wars are not soldier lives, but civilian lives, the cost of which governments are rarely if ever required to meet.
The risk of going to war for our soldiers is becoming more and more like the risk of driving a car, a risk that one readily assumes for the benefits gained thereby, given that at once the costs are limited and when they do occur are adequately met.