2b Balancing Act. Lives vs Regulation - Balancing Act Lives vs Regulations The Wall Street Journal Friday By John J Fialka What is the value of a human

2b Balancing Act. Lives vs Regulation - Balancing Act Lives...

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Balancing Act: Lives vs. Regulations The Wall Street Journal, Friday May 30, 2003 By John J. Fialka What is the value of a human life? That is the question vexing John Graham, the White House's regulations czar. The answer is crucial to cost-benefit analyses used to determine whether new rules and laws are justified. If a proposed health-and-safety measure would reduce the risk of premature death for a certain number of people, analysts want to put a value on that to see if the rule is worth the expense of implementing it. When Mr. Graham became the Office of Management and Budget's regulatory- affairs chief, he found different agencies used widely varying values. The Environmental Protection Agency priced a life at $6 million. The Department of Transportation figured $3 million was plenty, even though it relied on many of the same studies the EPA uses. The Food and Drug Administration uses a third formula - a sliding scale based on how many more years a new regulation might allow each person to live. "This is one of the things that's been very perplexing - to see this variation between federal agencies without a clear and obvious rationale behind them," Mr. Graham says. The values have huge ramifications, because the higher a value assigned to a person, the easier it is to justify costly life-saving rules. So environmentalists and interest groups that support aggressive business regulations favor higher life-value estimates, while business groups and like-minded activists tend to favor lower estimates. Mr. Graham pushed agencies to come to an agreement. He made clear that he favors a nuanced approach that, in effect, discounts the value of older people's lives, given that they have less time to live. Though he is a skeptic of regulations working for a pro-business regulation, Mr. Graham insists his goal is to make sure cost-benefit analyses are based on sound science. Critics don't see it that way. More than 20 environmental, health and religious groups - including some key administration allies on other issues - attacked Mr. Graham's approach. "To me it's almost an immoral exercise to place a dollar value on any human life," says Charles Short, secretary of social issues for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. But to slight the value of the elderly, he argues, is even worse. "Some of the

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