Letter: Cost valuing human life
Cost valuing human life is the process of willfully trading lives for profits. In the 1970s, the Ford Motor Company sold cars in which it knew hundreds of people would needlessly burn to death.
At that time Ford introduced a new subcompact car called the Pinto with a design flaw. This design flaw turned the Pinto into a lethal incendiary bomb.
Simply put. the Pinto’s fuel tank was placed behind the rear axle instead of over the rear axle, as was customary. This resulted in numerous people being killed or injured.
It was later determined that Ford knew about the defects in the gas tanks before the accidents started happening. However, executives had decided not to do anything about it because it was too expensive.
Ford figured that paying damages in wrongful death lawsuits was less than the cost of recalling the cars and putting safety measures on the gas tanks — cost valuing human life. The cost of the safety measures on the gas tanks was $11 per car.
I was reminded of the Pinto experience when I read that U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana, commenting on the coronavirus, was recently quoted as saying it’s time for policymakers to “put on their big-girl and big-boy pants” and decide between the “lesser of two evils:” Do we try to save more lives or our livelihood? Restart the economy and kill more people or keep staying home and kill more jobs?
Reopening the country will require skilled public and private sector leaders who are willing to make unpopular decisions for the public interest.
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