"The Price of a Life"
for $500, Alex!
by Mad Dog
In their never-ending quest to cheer us up, the
federal government (Official Motto: "Whats Yours Is Ours") keeps track of
how expensive things are by way of the Consumer Price Index Market Basket.
|| You dont need me to tell you that things are getting more expensive.
All you have to do is look around. Gas prices have jumped again. Movie tickets cost almost
as much as the bucket of popcorn youll eat during the coming attractions. Even a cup
of coffee at Starbucks just went up a dime, which makes it ounce for ounce more expensive
than beer, soda, or even that gasoline you just agreed cost too much.
We should be used to it by now. After all, the only time prices go down is when
somethings outdated, out of style, or out of stock. Of course there are people who
never resign themselves to increased prices, like my father, whos chronically
outraged that bread doesnt still cost a nickel. Of course, he may be a bad example
since he has yet to comes to grips with the fact that the Dodgers arent returning to
Brooklyn, Adlai Stevenson lost, and his chances of being a grandfather are somewhere
between nil and none.
In their never-ending quest to cheer us up, the federal
government (Official Motto: "Whats Yours Is Ours") keeps track of how
expensive things are by way of the Consumer Price Index Market Basket, which really should
have its name shortened to "Too Damned Much." To calculate this, they first give
people our hard earned tax dollars to go shopping and report back with how much selected
items cost. Why they dont just have us mail them our store receipts is, well,
this is the federal government were talking about. Sorry, I forgot.
Among the items they keep track of are cookies, cheese,
shirts, computers, used cars, airplane tickets, and haircuts. Once they have the raw data
they plug it into their computers, pore over the results, then call the Psychic Friends
Hotline and sit around trying to figure out why they didnt get the phone sex
operator they usually get. At their salaries youd think theyd know the
difference between the number 800 and 900.
Theres already a law in Germany that men have to help cook, clean, and do the
laundry, but apparently they forgot to specify just how much has to be done.
|| All this
isnt to say there arent plenty of bargains out there to be had. Postage is a
deal and a half. Gripe all you want, I think its a miracle that for 20 cents I can
take a postcard of an alligator pulling down a womans bathing suit and drop it in
some blue metal box on a street corner in Florida and a few days later have a mail carrier
all the way in Alaska pull an AK-47 from his bag and hold his supervisor hostage. Now
thats a bargain even Wal-Mart would have trouble matching.
Mothers, it turns out, are a bargain too. According to a study by Edelman Financial
Services, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, (Official Motto: "We Never Heard of Us
Either") a stay-at-home mother should be paid $508,700 a year in compensation for the
work she does. They based this on how badly they wanted to suck up to their mothers to
ensure that they dont get cut out of the will. Then, since they had to rationalize
itnot to mention get their name in the newspaper since Edelman Financial Services
isnt exactly what youd call a household name like, say, Household
Financethey claimed mothers deserve all this money because they perform the job
functions of 17 different occupations, including executive chef, animal caretaker,
psychologist, bus driver, registered nurse, and dominatrix. Just kidding about the
dominatrix. That would have been included except they didnt count Joan Crawford as a
Something tells me even Edelman himself isnt paying his
wife or mother $9783 a week. But that doesnt mean he doesnt appreciate her. In
some countries, like say Germany, they may not be leaving this up to chance anymore. It
may be the law. The Green Party (Official Motto: "It Aint Easy Being
Green") is demanding that men be legally required to do an equal share of the
housework. Granted, theres already a law in Germany that men have to help cook,
clean, and do the laundry, but apparently they forgot to specify just how much has to be
done and, men being men, they keep figuring that taking a shower once a week, licking
their fingers after dinner, and wiping their nose on their sleeve count.
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has come to our rescue by offering to send meditators to each of
60 American cities so they can wipe out crime. And he says hell do this for the low,
low price of $200 million per city.
|| So lets say a
mother spends 18 years staying at home raising a child. Does that mean shes worth
the $9.2 million she didnt get paid? Putting a value on human life has always been a
tricky question. I remember hearing in school that the actual chemicals that make up our
body are only worth about 97 cents (plus applicable sales tax, dealer prep, and delivery
charges). Then there are the people who argue that you cant put a price on a human
life, but they usually say that because they want to pass yet another law trying to
protect us from ourselves.
Well forget all that. Finally we can
set a definitive price on human life, and it turns out to be a pretty good one at that.
Figuring that in 1997 there were 18,209 people murdered in the U.S., that means
wed be spending a rock bottom $659,014 per life to save those potential victims.
Thats what I call a deal.
So now that we know that a human life is worth $659,014, where
do we get the $12 billion we need to hire the Maharishi and get this thing rolling? We
could raise taxes. We could make our coffee at home and put the money we didnt spend
at Starbucks into a mayonnaise jar labeled "Save Our Cities". Or we could just
get someone to walk behind Bill Gates and pick it up as it drops out of his pocket. But
whatever we do wed better do it quicklike everything else, the cost of a life
is only going to go up.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
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