My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The value of human life and other things

Calibre 89, a watch created by Patek Philippe, has 33 complications and 24 hands and shows things such as the date of Easter, a thermometer, time of sunrise, equation of time, sidereal time, leap year indicator etc. The watch that weighs over 1kg costs over $6 million.

A Clive Christian perfume has a thumbnail-sized five carat diamond fitted to the bottle with an 18-carat gold collar. The price of this half liter perfume, at $250,000 includes home delivery in a Bentley.

Cal Spa's GX49 hot tub, a six-seater home spa has 49 super-charged jets, four water-falls with multi-colored lighting, a 42-inch plasma TV, high quality sound speakers, DVD and CD changers, all for a price of $31,000.

Recently, the number, 6666666, was sold as a mobile phone number for $3million. The Vertu line of mobile phones claims that it “can withstand being run over by the very F1 Porsche” and comes with a 24-hour international concierge service; all for a price of between $6,000 to $30,000.

And what is the value of human life?

From a consumerist point of view, the value of human life is the present value of his/her spend during his/her lifetime added with a multiplier accounting for the future spend by his/her progeny. Obviously, the life of a rich is worth many times that of a poor. But a small minority is yet to subscribe fully to this Discounted Cash Outflow methodology.

For example, the cryonics institutes (e.g. Cryonics Institute, American Cryonics Society, etc.) charge between $28,000-150,000 for storing dead bodies in extreme cold temperatures hoping for their resuscitation in future when science develops further.

Families of people killed or seriously injured during 9/11 received compensation averaging $3.1 million each. When train accidents happen in India, our governments typically declare compensation of around $2000 for the family of the deceased. But, an AK-47 costs $250 while its magazine (30 rounds) costs around $20. Supposing it is only used to kill one person during its life, is human life is more expensive than $270? Well, abortion of the perennially unwanted female fetus in India costs between $10-80. But hang on, consider the Nellie massacre (1983) in Assam, when over 3000 Bengali Muslims were hacked to death with fully depreciated machetes; the victim’s families received $40 each. And what about beggars, aren’t they sunk costs anyways?

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