Several weeks ago I found myself in the square in Metamora. There was a lot of snow on the ground. The Square did not look particularly inviting.


Several weeks ago I found myself in the square in Metamora. There was a lot of snow on the ground. The Square did not look particularly inviting.

Despite that the sight of the snow took me back several decades to my youth when big snows were common in central Illinois. I have good boyhood memories of big snows.

As I looked around I noticed Picadilly Place, a place I had been meaning to check out. I was blown away by the antiques and Americana I found inside.

The old metal riding toys there were exactly like the ones I played with as a boy.

The old cabinets were straight out of my memories of Aunt Flo and Uncle Ray’s farm in Iowa.

The excitement I felt being taken back was priceless.   

As I wandered around the store and reminisced it made me think about how memories bring so much value to life.

Value, like beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder.

And, when one talks about value and human life it is not just the providence of philosophers, song writers and newspaper columnists.

A Feb. 16 New York Times story by Binyamin Appelbaum talked about how regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C., place a value on a human life. The answers they come up with, Appelbaum wrote, tells the government just how much should be spent to prevent a single death.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set the value of a life at $9.1 million.

The Food and Drug Administration sets the value of a life at $7.9 million.

The Transportation Department, headed by central Illinois’ own Ray LaHood, sets the value of a life at about $6 million.

And those vales could go higher.

The New York Times reported the EPA might set the value 50 percent higher because cancer kills slowly.
And, Appelbaum found, “A report last year financed by the Department of Homeland Security suggested that the value of preventing deaths from terrorism might be 100 percent higher than other deaths.”

The government has its view of human value.

Business has another leading to more friction between those who issue paychecks and those in government who collect taxes from those paychecks.

The values Obama’s administration have put on human life are not just some interesting numbers to business owners.

For those in the private sector higher values on life translates to higher costs. Higher costs impact jobs and prices for products.   

Some economists told the Times the numbers have been artificially low for a long time.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group for the trucking industry, gave the Times a vastly different view.

“It looks like they just cooked the books — they just doubled the numbers,” Spencer said.

It is mind-numbing to contemplate who is right.

I expect the government to assure the products I buy and use are safe.

But, if the regulations they create make the cost of that product too high for me to use what good is it?

Life comes with risks. Never-ending personal injury attorney ads on TV remind us all of that.

I suppose information like this is good for us to have.

But, I still prefer to assess the value of a human life through the romantic eyes of a song writer or the discerning eyes of a philosopher.    

In the end, I think, author Chin Ning Chu hit it on the head about the value of life when he said, “A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others.”