What is Life Worth? by Kenneth Feinberg

Everyone has a story from that day. I was a sophomore in high school. Old enough to know something historic was happening, yet too juvenile to understand its impact. Things changed after September 11, 200, but I was maturing alongside those changes. I am on the cusps of two generations. The older generation can see and feel how the world changed after that day. The younger generation simply sees 9/11 as a matter of fact, inevitable part of history. For better or for worst I get to see both sides.

Pain is a funny thing. I have tried studying it psychologically, physically, medically, and theologically. We all experience it and respond to it differently. Collective grief can be even worse.

The nation grieved on September 11. We were the most advanced country in the world and our greatest city was attacked by a few radicalized men. It was a gut punch to our psyche.

As a country, we needed to act fast. Not just in defending our borders and interests, we needed to bounce back emotionally. Suddenly our cities, local governments, infrastructure, transportation industry, and more were vulnerable. To save these entities, Congress needed to act. In a nutshell, Congress decided to provide limitations on litigations against certain industries. In order not to upset potential claimants, Congress provided billions of dollars to be bestowed to victim’s families.

In their rush, Congress did not set a lot of restrictions on the money. Enter Kenneth Feinberg. He was appointed special master of the fund by the Attorney General. This book is about Feinberg’s journey.

This is book is a quick read. I was hoping to learn more about the process of allotting the funds but instead, I learned more about the tumultuous journey of Feinberg. While a nation grieved and victim’s families wailed, he had a find a dollar amount. That’s not easy. Obviously, no dollar amount can bring back a human life, but helping the victim’s legacy move forward through their family was the goal.

Feinberg was in a lose-lose situation and somehow he won.

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