Credit has crunched, debt has turned toxic and the gears of the world economy have ground to a halt. It's time to address one of the most fundamental questions a society can ask: Why do things cost what they do?
In The Value of Nothing, writer and activist Raj Patel incorporates some basic, but forgotten, economics as well as cutting-edge neuroeconomics, history, philosophy and sociology to show how the price we pay for everything - from food, to handbags, to fridges, to entertainment - is systematically distorted, reflecting neither true value nor real cost.
He also looks at the impact of free goods and services (such as the internet and Google, TV, healthcare, even thoughts and love) and the distortions they too produce in a market economy.
The Value of Nothing is radical, original and nimbly argued. After reading it, the question 'How much?' will no longer be simply about the price on the box.
About the Author
Raj Patel was educated at Oxford, London School of Economics and Cornell. A former fellow at Yale and Berkeley, he is now at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has worked for the World Bank, interned at the WTO, consulted for the UN, and protested against them all. His first book was Stuffed & Starved.
Opening with Oscar Wilde’s observation that “nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” Patel shows how our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. He reveals the hidden ecological and social costs of a hamburger (as much as $200), and asks how we came to have markets in the first place. Both the corporate capture of government and our current financial crisis, Patel argues, are a result of our democratically bankrupt political system.
Number Of Pages: 250
Published: 1st January 2010
Dimensions (cm): 19.800 x 12.900 x 1.800