I’m Not Worth as Much Anymore

At least that’s what the US government has decided. I read yesterday, in The Express (a publication of The Washington Post) that the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that “the value of a statistical life” is $6.9 million, which is down almost $1 million from the last valuation five years ago. Apparently this plays out when “government agencies put a value on human life and then weight the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.” The AP reports this story and the assumed political motivation for such a devaluation.

What I want to know is what has happened in the last five years to make a hypothetical person less valuable? Take me for example. Greying hair? Some small lines around my mouth? A couple of new scars from dermatological biopsies? The shrinkage of my single post-cancer breast implant (resulting in a poor match now)?

Or is it because I am slightly slower to remember words sometimes? My mother-in-law tells me “the nouns are the first things to go” though hers seem intact. Or am I less valuable because middle-aged women are an invisible class?

But enough about me! What if you are 25 and in your first job? Why are you less valuable than you were in 2003? Have you lost your sense of humor since your parents divorced? Are you finding it hard to justify more nights at Beatrice when the conversations can’t win out over the soundtracks of incessant seeing-and -being-seen fun? Are you as relevant as you once were?

Value… it’s relative isn’t it?

A former New York model told me that she moved to Alaska because she was “tired of being judged by what she looked like and wanted to be judged by her skill with an ax.” But what happens when Alaska has dulled her looks and her ax skills over the dwindling years? Then where’s the value?

All of our subcultures have rules that establish value:

  • Can you hold your liquor?
  • Did your children make the travel soccer team?
  • Is your stomach flat?
  • Did the boss notice that you stayed late four nights last week?
  • Do valet parkers compliment your wheels?
  • How big is your big-screen tv?
  • Do you have tenure?
  • What size diamond did he give you?

You get the idea. Are we really only as valuable as our ability to follow the rules and fit into the stratagems we buy into? Even when we didn’t consciously know we were buying in? Endless, isn’t it?

Yet could it be that no matter what the EPA says, my value can’t really diminish? In fact Zephaniah 3:17 says the unimaginable: “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love and rejoice over you with singing.”

Talk about ultimate worth!! And it’s still true even if, most days, I barely believe it.

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~ by Cary on July 12, 2008.

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