Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, March 30, 2020

A regimen of moderate social distancing, like what many areas of the country are doing now, has the potential to save well over a million lives. And those saved lives are worth $8 trillion to the U.S. economy.


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The lieutenant governor of Texas set off a firestorm by suggesting that older Americans should be willing to sacrifice their lives to save the economy, which has been devastated as businesses shutter to stem the virus's spread and people stay home.

But in many respects, the either-or choice is a false one. A new working paper from Michael Greenstone and Vishan Nigam of the University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute for Economics underscores that the two goals are complementary.

"When you have a comparison going between money and something else, money almost always wins in our political debate," Greenstone said in an interview. Converting lives to dollars puts those lives on equal footing and helps "focus the mind," he added. To do this, they turned to a tool regularly used by policymakers in evaluating the costs and benefits of a given piece of legislation: the value of a statistical life (VSL).

Greenstone and Nigam used previously published work to set an average VSL of $11.5 million for American adults, which is in line with the number used by the federal government to assess clean-air regulations.

They then apply the $11.5 million VSL to the total number of lives saved [by social distancing practices], which they estimate at 1.76 million, accounting for the age distribution of the lives saved. They arrive at a staggering number: $7.9 trillion, or about $60,000 per American household. And it all happens in the next six months, according to their estimate.

"$8 trillion is over one-third of US GDP and larger than the entire annual federal budget," they wrote. "Whether in regular times or during a pandemic, it is difficult to think of any intervention with such large potential benefits to American citizens."

Who knew saving lives would be so beneficial to the US economy? Obviously not the posters here who erroneously believed that pausing the economy is far worse than continuing on and letting the virus run more rampant through vulnerable sectors of our society.

Social distancing is both pro-life and pro-growth. Who knew?

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2020-03-30 11:35 AM | Reply

MB is SO upset!

#2 | Posted by Corky at 2020-03-30 03:04 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

Step 1: Take a large made up number multiply it by another larger made up number get an even larger made up number. Use that as the basis for a specious argument.
Step 2: ???
Step 3 Profit.

#3 | Posted by visitor_ at 2020-03-30 03:40 PM | Reply | Funny: 1


#4 | Posted by Effeteposer at 2020-03-30 06:05 PM | Reply

South Park

#5 | Posted by visitor_ at 2020-03-30 06:15 PM | Reply

LOL, of course EffeteSocialist (or should that be Tweekposer) wouldn't get the reference to the Gnomes episode of South Park, especially since, as posited by Paul Cantor, that episode was "the most fully developed defense of capitalism" ever produced by Parker and Stone.

#6 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2020-03-30 08:17 PM | Reply


I heard all the late nineties dot-coms etc. got 20th century butthurt by that episode.

That they were making fun of the '' startups etc who never bothered to figure out what a viable business plan was.

#7 | Posted by schifferbrains at 2020-03-30 08:24 PM | Reply

That may well be 'the most fully developed defense of capitalism' you're referring to, though.

#8 | Posted by schifferbrains at 2020-03-30 08:28 PM | Reply


Judging by the number of memes that single episode created, I think that you are 100% correct.

#9 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2020-03-30 08:36 PM | Reply

Professor Cantor, who teaches entire courses at UVA that are based on the message in Gnomes had this to say about it:

"Contrary to the anti-corporate propaganda normally coming out of Hollywood, South Park argues that, in the absence of government intervention, corporations get where they are by serving the public, not by exploiting it."

#10 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2020-03-30 08:39 PM | Reply

" corporations get where they are by serving the public, not by exploiting it."

Want some teflon? in your body?

DuPont insists.

#11 | Posted by Alexandrite at 2020-03-30 08:55 PM | Reply

ROC- go google " PFOA" or "C8" and get back to me about corporations not exploiting people.

#15 | Posted by Alexandrite at 2020-03-30 09:25 PM | Reply

Does anyone remember the cartoon that episode was based upon? Yankee Dood It.

#28 | Posted by visitor_ at 2020-03-30 10:29 PM | Reply

Wow so that means one person is worth 8 million dollars, dang I feel much better now. And jiminy crickets the whole population would be worth about 2 quadrillion 400 trillion dollars, man, no wonder our employers, politicians, and police treat us with such high regard.

#29 | Posted by grumpy_too at 2020-04-01 03:01 AM | Reply

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