Cost Benefit Analysis
Interesting "greatest good for the greatest number" problem, in the Philippines.
Several feet of rain. Dams about to burst. Authorities have to release very substantial amounts of water, even though it means villages downstream will likely be washed away. Because if they DON'T release the water, the dams will break and even more people will be lost.
"The release of water from the San Roque Dam flooded the Agno River, flooding at least 30 towns and dozens of villages downstream...'There was really heavy rain, so water had to be released from the dam, otherwise it would have been more dangerous,’ Nathaniel Cruz, the government’s chief forecaster, told The Associated Press." (article)
This happened in NC during Hurricane Floyd, in 1999. Authorities were blamed for "killing" people, but in fact the release of water almost certainly saved lives and reduced the total damage. You lose the dams, the floods are MUCH bigger, and then you have to rebuild the dams.
The problem is that the same thing is true about opportunity costs of a monetary nature. Dams are physical, but so are school buidlings and teaching resources. If we decide we are going to save everyone, with programs such as an unlimited focus on special needs children, or people with handicaps, then another generation of children are going to get swept away when the dams burst.
You can't save everyone. As I always tell my students, an economist is someone who believes, sincerely believes as a matter of moral justice, that the infant mortality rate should be positive.