Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing
An economist and a law professor debunk the use of cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether human life and the environment are worth protecting. Engaging: A great approach to a potentially dry topic: instead of talking about deregulation, the authors talk about how much we are willing to pay to save animals on the verge of extinction, the rights of phone-talking drivers versus the rights of people they tend to hit, why we spend a disproportionate amount of research energy on diseases that afflict wealthy men in their 70s. Written by a lawyer and an economist, Priceless argues that the politically fashionable and wide-spread practice of applying cost-benefits analysis to subjects including environmental protection, health, and conservation is inappropriate and misguided. Issues of life and death - protecting the ozone, deciding whether or not to ban cell phone use while driving - call for informed public debate beyond market-based assessments of whether such measures are a good investment. myth behind it, Priceless is the first comprehensive rebuttal of the Bush administration's anti-regulatory legislation. There is no meaningful monetary price for life or nature, say economist Frank Ackerman and law professor Lisa Heinzerling in their critique of recent market-based assaults on health and environmental protection. Though cost-benefit analysis sounds like a reasonable way to gauge the extent to which we should regulate smoking or water quality, when applied to priceless concepts such as childhood disease or the value of a stable climate in years to come, the paradigm is misguided. In nine chapters, from Prices Without Values to An Ounce of Prevention to Values without Pricing, the book tells us how legislators today are turning away from environmental protection and regulation and are choosing instead to let the all-mighty market determine the value of life. discussion of policy, the book also includes a particularly timely discussion of why only military expenditure is afforded the kind of moral weight the authors wish was put on other issues.