Somebody asked on a different platform: How many would be worth “Sacrificing at the alter of capitalism”? I figure the value of saving a human life depends whether we’re talking about the value of their work, the economic value of life for its own sake, and the value of avoiding wrongful deaths. What follows are the heuristics I use based on gut feel:
The average economic value of a person’s lifetime labor is $1 million. 25k in lost productivity (man-hours) would be worth $25 billion.
The average economic value of a person’s life is $10 million. Families and friends would work hard enough to earn $250 billion, cumulatively, to get 25k of their loved ones back.
The average economic value of a wrongful death is $100 million. If the 25k were all wrongful deaths, such as work accidents due to know poor working conditions, they’re worth $2.5 trillion in loss of good faith business and consumer relationships, bad press, etc. If you’re considering murder for economic reasons, it should be preferable to do what’s necessary to create a $100 million business that goes around the problem.
On the risk side of the equation, from iSteve:
From a new study (PDF) of several thousand New York patients, “Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with Covid-19 disease in New York City.” The first tree is for chances of hospitalization. Don’t think of these as actual decision trees used to make decisions, but as post-hoc reconstructions of what happened. (On the other hand, they may have some self-fulfilling prophecy aspects.)
How to read this: 3,282 people were considered for admission to the hospital. 49% were selected, including 87% of those over 65 and 37% of those under 65.
Second, who got critically ill:
Also from iSteve, an excellent new op-ed in Taki’s:
Q. What will it take to restart the economy?
A. Consumer confidence that leaving the house to spend your hard-earned money won’t put you on a ventilator.
If current trends outside of New York hold up, that should naturally grow over time. But to hasten the process, we need data on what has been dangerous and what hasn’t. We simply don’t know enough yet about which kinds of activities are likely to spread the coronavirus and which aren’t.
What’s a bigger risk: touching things or talking to people? That’s a reasonable question, but at present, it’s hard to know what to think. So consumers will likely err on the side of caution until they get more trustworthy advice.
The most plausible way to obtain this needed knowledge of which economic activities are risky for customers and which are not is by data-mining the health records of employees in different occupations. Presumably, the fate of employees who put in eight-hour shifts are informative about the risks to customers.
For example, how threatening are various kinds of shared transportation, such as subways or airliners?
As of April 8, two of American Airlines’ 28,000 flight attendants were said to have died of COVID-19.
Is two a big number? By way of comparison, at least 59 of the 71,000 employees of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs subways, buses, and commuter rails, have died of coronavirus as of April 14.
My guess is that to reboot low-priority spending like going to the movies, we will need reliable masks. To provide everyone in America with a fresh N95 mask every day would require 10 billion masks per month. I’m not aware that anybody in a position of power has been thinking about that very large number.
On the other hand, spending even $100 billion over the next 12 months on masks sounds cheaper than letting most of the businesses in America go broke.