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Bush-enomics and the value of human life


Fri, Dec 16th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

“I would say 30,000 more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis,” President George W. Bush said matter of factly last Monday in response to a question of how many Iraqis have died in the war. “We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.”

Bush was talking to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. He wasn’t sure where he got the number 30,000. His handlers said it was a “credible” number. A John Hopkins study in the Lancet, the British medical journal, has put the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war at more than 100,000.

Another questioner challenged the administration’s linkage of the Iraq War to 9/11. Bush said, “I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I’d make the same decision again. Removing Saddam Hussein makes the world a safer place and America a safer country.”

Wow. This guy knows that more than 30,000 (or is it 100,000?) people have been killed and he would do it all over again. I suppose if God had told me to invade a country I too would feel as if I had some kind of divine immunity. Maybe God said, “George, don’t worry about the numbers.”

Numbers do seem rather impersonal:

“Yah, our group got 30 walleyes.”

“We met our goal of 20,000 units in April and second quarter demand looks good.”

“The movie King Kong took in 75 million dollars over the weekend.”

Numerical details give meaning to what they refer to - as in the examples above - fishing, production and sales.

Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, the authors of “Freakonomics - A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” apply economic principles to answering everyday questions. Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

Which raises the question, how much is a human life worth?

One American insurance company has a life value calculator, which asks several questions about age, income, etc., and assigns a life value quotient. It’s purpose is to sell life insurance based on the notion that a life has value in relation to other lives - spouse, children, etc.

The economist Allan Feldman argues that the value of life is the amount you are willing to pay to extend life for .....
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Nature’s Toys

Fri, Dec 16th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

At this time of the year, when people labor over their Christmas lists, I think looking into your heart and asking what is really important you find that being together and sharing should be at the top of your list.

This collec ..... 
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Minnesota school funding falls $1 billion short

Fri, Dec 9th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Financial experts announced last week that based upon the educational resources needed to meet federal law and state standards for student achievement, Minnesota schools are underfunded by nearly $1 billion annually.

The study, ..... 
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We can’t wait much longer to fix Congress

Fri, Dec 9th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

I am a great fan of Congress. It is, to my mind, the American institution that best represents our democracy and guards our freedoms.  Without it, there is no way for our nation to guarantee freedom, ensure that the passions ..... 
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The road less traveled

Fri, Dec 2nd, 2005
Posted in Commentary

When I used to travel into the remote areas of southwest China in the 90s, it was common to meet villagers who would donate one day per month to work on public projects. In mountainous Yunnan Province, villagers would set off with their hoes, shovels ..... 
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Minnesota needs strong state policy for renewable energy

Tue, Nov 29th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

On November 15 The Department of Commerce came to Preston Minnesota and proclaimed Minnesota as “America’s Clean Energy Capital”, but they did not provide you with the entire story. Minnesota currently only generates about 3% from renewables like win ..... 
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Our leaders have failed our country on Iraq

Fri, Nov 25th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Dick Cheney said his critic’s comments were “reprehensible;” President Bush called them “irresponsible.”

Somehow those words coming from these two men remind me of those Phillip Morris commercials where the tobacco company give ..... 
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Rural schools face a critical future

Fri, Nov 11th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

The recently concluded election highlights the problems the state faces in funding education. On Tuesday, more than 80 school districts throughout Minnesota put levy referendums to their voters; another 26 districts had bond referendums. This include ..... 
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It’s time to investigate the Vice-President’s office

Fri, Nov 4th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

President George Bush did the only sensible thing he could do in the aftermath of the latest debacle to hit his administration, he nominated Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. What better way to steal the front ..... 
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