WASHINGTON, DC—A report released Monday by the Federal Consumer Quality-Of-Life Control Board indicates that the cost of living now outstrips life's benefits for many Americans.
"This is sobering news," said study director Jack Farness. "For the first time, we have statistical evidence of what we've suspected for the past 40 years: Life really isn't worth living."
To arrive at their conclusions, study directors first identified the average yearly costs and benefits of life. Tangible benefits such as median income ($43,000) were weighed against such tangible costs as home-ownership ($18,000). Next, scientists assigned a financial value to intangibles such as finding inner peace ($15,000), establishing emotional closeness with family members ($3,000), and brief moments of joy ($5 each). Taken together, the study results indicate that "it is unwise to go on living."
"Since 1965, the cost-benefit ratio of American life has been approaching parity," Farness said. "While figures prior to that date show that life was worth living, there is some suspicion that the benefits cited were superficial and misreported."
Analyzed separately and as one, both the tangible and intangible factors suggest that life is a losing investment.
"Rising energy costs, increased prices on everyday goods and services, and the decreased value of the dollar have combined to drive the cost of living in this country to an all-time high," Farness said. "At the same time, an ever-increasing need for additional emotional-energy output, low rates of interest in one another, and the decreasing value of ourselves all greatly exceed our fleeting epiphanies."
Experts nationwide have corroborated the report's findings.
"The average citizen's lousy, smelly, uncomfortable daily-transportation costs rose 2.1 percent in January," Derek Capeletti of Wells Fargo Capital Management said. "Clothing costs were up 2.3 percent, reflecting an increased need for the pleated khakis, sensible sweater-sets, and solid ties we have to wear to our awful fucking jobs. And grocery expenses were up almost 4 percent, reflecting the difficulty that light-beer, microwave-burrito, and rotisserie-chicken makers have faced in meeting the needs of a depressed economy and citizenry."
Capeletti added: "The benefits of living remained stable or decreased. Especially—surprise, surprise—in our love lives."
According to the study, high-risk, short-term, interest-based investments in the lives of others cost thousands of dollars a year and rarely yield benefits, financial or otherwise. Although conservative, long-term partnerships do provide limited returns, the study indicates that they tie up capital and limit options.
Child-rearing, a course taken by many people who choose to live, is actually contributing to the problem.
"The fact is, the supply of Americans greatly outstrips demand," said Evan Alvi of the Portland-based Maynard Institute. "Americans seem to believe that minting more lives will increase the value of their own holdings. All they are doing, though, is inflating the supply and reducing the dividends paid by long-term familial bonds."
Despite life's depreciating value, Alvi did not recommend that shareholders divest themselves of their holdings.
"Limited dumping could result in a short-term increase in available resources for those who remain in the market," Alvi said. "However, it's a risky move that could affect perception of value, leading to mass divesture."
Alvi added, "And let's not fail to mention that some religious experts say there are penalties for early withdrawal."