The latest episode of CBS Sunday Morning features a 7+ minute segment on the recovery of body parts from a military transport plane that crashed in Alaska in 1952.
Perhaps most viewers will get out of it what CBS producers wanted them to: how neat it is and how important it is to recover body parts to relatives. I don’t challenge their values; Different people have different values. My own is quite different. When I came to Toronto to visit my sister in November 2018 and found out that she had died 2 days earlier, I had the option of going to the morgue to see her body. I chose not to. To me, that body was not his.
What I got from the segment was very different. It was an indicator of how rich we were. Different people with different values of time, some of them probably quite high, go out every year to help recover property and body parts. The cost in terms of time alone must be huge. Which means the value is even bigger, or they wouldn’t do it. (Unless, of course, they are subsidized by the government, but my guess is that the subsidies, if any, are small.) So why are the prices so high? Because we are very rich. Economists call such activities “natural goods”. As our wealth increases, we want more of them.
Note: The photo above is of a C-124 Globemaster, the type of plane that went down in Alaska.