You can't put a price on the joy that comes from rescuing a loved one swept away at sea, but you can calculate how much it costs the taxpayers.
After four football players went missing in the Gulf of Mexico, the US Coast Guard spent three days searching 20,000 square miles. One man was rescued, but tragically the three others are presumed dead. The cost to the Coast Guard? $1.6 million.
If the boaters had carried an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon), there may have been less need for the pricey fuel, high-powered aircraft, two Jayhawk helicopters, and other expensive vessels.
Is any price ever too much for a government-funded search and rescue? I don't think so. But, maybe we can start by making EPIRB devices mandatory for everyone's benefit, especially the boaters'.