Friday, May 20, 2005
A little bit of cost-benefit analysis
I am going to make a lot of dead reckoning judgements, on my way through this analysis, but I feel that the figures are accurate enough to make some broad observations. I am going to use Dr. Clam's figure of $100k as a reference value for the value of the life of the unborn at the stage they are typically aborted. I'm asserting that this value is well below the "market" value of the life of a born baby in our country, and well above the "market" value of said unborn at said stage. Based on the rough figures from the pre-Rowe vs Wade and post comparisons, it is clear that the actual numbers of illegal abortions was at least an order of magnitude lower with abortions illegal than legal. Because they can no longer be reliably counted when they are illegal, it's like the deaths in Iraq - applied best guess-work. But say that Australia's rate is reduced from 90k a year to 9k a year, we are talking about a "moral" gain of 81k*100k = 8.1 Billion dollars a year equivalent. Thats on the plus side of the ledger as far as I'm concerned. On the minus side of the ledger, the calculations get a lot trickier. There are clear indications that there is a considerable influence in demographics as the studies of the relationship of abortion law with crime in the US post Rowe vs Wade. Is 8.1 Billion dollars extra in todays terms enough to bring future crime down to the level of today? I would contend that it is by no means certain that it is possible to do that with 8.1 Billion a year. Is the level of unavoidable increase in crime a "cost" greater than 8.1 Billion? Is that cost going to include a large increase in illegal abortions? My reckoning would say yes - illegal abortions, starting from a very low base, would increase with the new generation, with criminals getting smarter at the same rate as the institutions put there to stop them - with technology to do so improving in line with the technology to stop them. Policing abortions would gradually become as tricky as policing any murder, once things reach equilibrium. I am contending that a policy of gradualism is better, where the "market" value of the unborn steadily increases year after year, pushed along with monetary incentives, until the value of the unborn reaches an equilibrium with their born peers. Then the push for prohibition will be more universal and satisfyingly less disruptive to demographics and society in general.