Imagine your neighbor knocks on your front door.
“Can you spare a dime? It will help save the life of one person. If we all chip in, it won’t cost much.”
Almost all of us would spare a dime to save a life.
Then your neighbor comes to see you and says, “It is a bigger problem than we thought. Can you spare $1 to save 10 lives?”
For $1, most of us would gladly save 10 lives.
Then your neighbor comes and asks you to save 100 lives. It will only cost you $10. You say yes. You care about human life.
Then your neighbor asks for $100 to save 1,000 lives. You say, “Count me in.” Possibly, you are wondering when your generosity will run out. Perhaps, you hope he doesn’t come back again.
Your neighbor returns, this time requesting $1,000 from your household. If each household chips in, we can save 10,000 lives. Very reluctantly, you say yes. You don’t have $1,000, so you put it on your credit card. Hopefully, this is the last time.
Your neighbor returns. “Please contribute $10,000. We believe we can save 100,000 lives.” Although that seems like a lot of money for your household, you believe in the sanctity of human life. You borrow against your home’s value to help save 100,000 lives.
Your neighbor returns one last time.
“We need $160,000 from your household to save two million lives,” he says.
You are in shock. Your family doesn’t have that kind of money.
“Liquidate your assets and borrow the money,” you are told by your neighbor. “We need to save two million lives.”
At what point in this example did you tell your neighbor – “No. I’ve given enough.”
This is not a theoretical conversation. The Coronavirus discussion we are having right now is about the value of a human life and how much we can each afford to contribute.
Your federal government says every American life is worth $10 million. That’s their statistic, not mine. Young, old; employed, unemployed; rich, poor — according to our government, every life is worth $10 million.
Our government regularly borrows money, imposes new regulations and creates new cost burdens on businesses and consumers. If the new debt and new cost burden to businesses and consumers is not more than $10 million per theoretical life saved, our government believes their new regulations are a great return on investment.
The challenge comes when the number of lives at risk is huge.
To save the lives of two million Americans from the Coronavirus, our federal government is willing to borrow, or impose cost burdens on business and households in the amount of $20 trillion. That figure equals their metric of $10 million times two million lives saved.
Spread out over every household in America, 10 million dollars to save a life is an affordable 10 cents per life saved. The dimes start to stack up in a crisis like the Coronavirus. $20 trillion to save two million lives is about $160,000 in new debt or lost income per household in America.
How to decide we’ve spent enough to save a human life is one of the most difficult conversations a human can have.
Those who want more quarantine and those who want to open up can’t agree on the value of a human life — or how many lives we can afford to save before we have spent more than we have.
This is a hard conversation. That is as it should be. Thank God our conversations about what value to put on a human life are difficult and emotional.
I am proud of America. This is a great country because we still agonize over the value of a single life.
Let’s be patient with each other as we ask our neighbors to save another life and be accepting if some of our neighbors tell us, “No – I’ve given enough.”
David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Winter Haven Sun, Polk News-Sun and Four Corners News-Sun, as well as additional newspapers in Lake, Highlands and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media.com.