Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's A Life Worth?

Putting a hard dollar value on a life is definitely an odd thing to do on a whim. For most folks, this conversation only comes up when fielding a call from their life insurance agent.

The customer is usually asked a series of questions to determine how much life insurance coverage is needed to take care of their loved ones left behind: balance on the mortgage, estimated college expenses of the children, and the cost for a proper burial. For most people, it is a wager most hope not to "collect on."

Another means of valuating one's worth is a simple mathematical computation in which a value is placed on all owned assets with the value of all liabilities being subtracted from it. It is a cold analysis, that when performed during an economic recession, corporate downsizing, and dwindling real estate valuations, that leaves many worth more dead than alive.

Certainly, folks who are currently both unemployed and "upside-down" in their mortgages should not be planning to kill themselves because of their current economic reality. Fortunes change, as all things - good or bad - never last.

After reading the local newspaper the other day, I came across another measuring-stick for the value of a life. It is the princely sum of $7. This was the amount of money that was realized from an armed robbery in which the murdered victim's body laid still on the street while the 18 year-old assailant rifled through its pockets.

As detailed in the paper, the assailant's lawyer has stated on the record that his client was the shooter. The issue, he argues, is whether he intended to shoot his targeted victim. The predator was apprehended mere moments after the shooting and shortly thereafter confessed to the police that he did not intend to shoot his victim after he refused to be a victim.

This difference in "intent" will determine how long the 18 year-old shooter will spend in prison. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars. His victim is dead and will remain dead because he refused to fork over $7.

The value of a life has been reduced to whatever paltry possessions a victim may have on him at the time he is targeted for a robbery. In this case, it was $7. The irony of this incident is that the killer could have gotten much more than $7 for a working handgun on the black market.

Apologists will excuse this "wayward" youth's indiscretion and apparent propensity for committing violent crime and place the blame on societal problems: poverty, breakdown of the family structure, poor education, and etc. They will say that it is no surprise that young people are being forced to a life of crime and that victims should just give the predators what they want.

Not that I am inclined to believe an 18 year-old predator who is facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his days in prison, but let's play Devil's Advocate and assume that he is telling the truth. If the bad guys are not "intending" to shoot their targeted victims but shoot them anyway "by mistake," where is the down-side to always fighting back against rapes, robberies, and murders?

The cold hard reality is that complying with a predator is no guarantee that you won't be shot and killed. It could be intentional or accidental. From the victim's standpoint, there is no diference - dead is dead.

Stop valuing your life so cheaply. Buy a handgun, get a Michigan Concealed Pistol License, and carry both everywhere.
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