Safety vs. Economy

Here’s an honest question – would you be OK if the government reduced the posted speed limits by 50%, required all motorists to wear helmets, and outlawed all left turns? If not, why not? Doing so would save almost 40,000 lives a year.
The reason most people would not agree to those new protocols, is because we’ve already come to terms with the human cost of driving the way we want to drive. We believe, collectively, that 40,000 annual deaths are an acceptable price to pay. It’s a steep price, but we pay it, year after year after year. Sure, we’ve made things much safer with safety belts, air bags, ABS brakes, and so forth. But we haven’t done ALL we can to eliminate traffic fatalities. Nor will we. Because when it comes to driving, safety isn’t first.”  – Mike Rowe
Those who are older might remember Mike from the show Dirty Jobs, where he features, well dirty jobs, while for the younger folks, he is the host of the Facebook show, Returning the Favor, a show where he and his crew,  returns the favor to people who are slightly better than the rest of us for serving their community in their own selfless way. 
Mike was responding to a fan’s comment on his social media post, where he mentioned that Safety is not necessarily first at all cost.
Being one of the thousands if not millions of people whose work hours have been shortened by this stay home lockdown, I too am torn between needing a steady work to continue to survive or stay home to be safe from what’s spreading. Basically which should we prioritize, our safety or our economy? Mike being the eloquent speaker and orator he is, caught my attention with his response. He made a good point which I never really thought of until I read it.
Mike says,
“What I suggested in my post last week, was that Safety is not a thing to be “ranked,” but rather, a state of mind, to be applied as needed to a myriad of situations in varying amounts. But if we were to rank it, it would rarely be “first.” Were safety truly “first,” no level of risk would ever be encouraged or permitted, and no work would ever get done. Or play, for that matter.
Obviously, this does not mean that Safety isn’t a critical part of living.  It is. And there are times, like right now, when extraordinary circumstances compel us to temporarily elevate safety above everything else – even our individual liberty. Which is why I’m hunkered down in my bunker, waiting for the all clear. But the notion of telling people that safety is always first, no matter the cost, is not only untrue, it’s counter-intuitive.
On Dirty Jobs, I was struck by the number of safety professionals who repeatedly insisted that nothing was more important to them, than my personal safety. “Your safety,” they said, over and over again, “is our top priority.”
I usually heard these words moments before I was invited to walk up the cable of a suspension bridge, or field test a stainless-steel shark suit, or climb into a bosuns chair to wash windows at the top of a high-rise. I still hear them today from pilots who invite me to strap myself in as they attempt to defy gravity in a pressurized aluminum tube that travels through the air at 600mph. And now Roger, I’m hearing them from you. You’re telling me safety must always be first, no matter the cost.”


Well said Mike! 
It is true all of Life is a risk.  Nothing will get done, built or achieved if we didn’t take any.  His simple analogy with car safety was quite revealing. I does not even mention of how mundane we treat our driving. We do not realize the risk yet there are still those who text, put on make up and converse on the phone while driving.


Most, if not all successful people we look up to have risked and sacrificed a lot to get to where they are. They did not just stay safe.
Mike goes on to say,


“Assigning a cost to preserving human life is hardly a new calculus, or a sign of misanthropy. We humans are constantly deciding which calamity to worry about, which disaster to panic over, and which tragedy to outright ignore. Just yesterday, 24,000 people died of starvation. The same will happen tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and the day after that. Over nine million a year die of hunger related illnesses. Why is this not a global emergency? Why doesn’t cable news report these tragic deaths every minute of every day, like they do with this virus?”


It is just the way we are I guess. Our focus and memory are short and mainstream media lives only on hype.
As much as I am worried about the health and safety of my family, I am also worried about our finances.  Not everyone can work from home. Will there be more people who will suffer from a collapsed economy than a deadly virus? I just hope we do not get to find out.

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