What exactly is the value of a human life? This is a question that philosophers and sociologists have speculated on and pondered for centuries.
In many countries, civil courts are often forced to ponder this question when awarding compensation to the families of the deceased victims of someone’s mal-intent or negligence, as they assign some specific cash value.
Historical attempts to make restitution for those unjustly deceased have rarely resulted in the creation of peace and stability. Wounds are rarely healed in this manner.
After the abolition of slavery in the United States, and the deaths of millions of Africans in both the journeys across the Middle Passage to the US and during the 500 years of forced labor, an attempt was made to give compensation to freed slaves in the form of an agrarian reform program commonly known as ‘40 Acres and a Mule’. The program was reversed by federal authorities, shortly after being instated.
Survivors of the Nazi holocaust received reparations, as did the Israeli government. The Haitian government was forced to pay reparations to France, to ‘compensate’ the empire for the slave uprising of 1791 which resulted in dead French soldiers, and the liberation of slaves.
In 1977, Mother Jones Magazine exposed the famous ‘Ford Pinto Smoking Gun Memo’. The owners of the Ford Motor Company had discovered that it was cheaper to keep a dangerously defective automobile on the market and pay compensation to those who died as a result than to conduct a consumer recall and save lives. Ford Motor Company kept a dangerous and defective product on the market, knowing people would die, but it could afford the legally-required financial restitution.
In many cities across the US, police officers have been sued for wrongfully killing innocent people, and the family members have been awarded millions of dollars. Despite costing taxpayers millions in compensation, the accused police officers are rarely fired and usually remain patrolling the streets.
Recent events in Ukraine show how politically-charged and logically-confused attempts to financially compensate for wrongful deaths can truly be.