Get news updates from WGBH
BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
Mon September 10, 2012
Putting a Price Tag on Tragedy
What is the value of life? This might sound like a rhetorical question but it’s one that that Brockton, Mass., native Kenneth Feinberg has been answering for years.
In the aftermath of the tragedies of 9/11, President George W. Bush appointed Feinberg to head the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. About that experience, Feinberg wrote, “I was asked to play Solomon, to be both judge and jury, in calculating appropriate compensation in each individual case. But how do you presume to put a dollar value on a life that ends prematurely? How do you calculate a victim’s pain and a survivor’s emotional distress? It is a near impossible task.”
Since then, Feinberg has navigated other tragedies, from the Virginia Tech massacre to the BP oil spill. It's all detailed in his latest book, “Who Gets What, Fair Compensation After Tragedy and Financial Upheaval.”
Kenneth Feinberg, managing partner at Feinberg Rozen LLP and former U.S. special master for executive compensation.