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Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothingby Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling
"[A] vividly written book, punctuated by striking analogies, a good deal of outrage, and a nice dose of humor. The authors raise several good questions about cost-benefit analysis....Ackerman and Heinzerling would prefer to replace cost-benefit analysis with a European-style precautionary principle. But in many contexts, that principle is worse than unhelpful; it is utterly incoherent." Cass R. Sunstein, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
EPA estimates of the value of one human life:
"[Ackerman and Heinzerling have] composed a lively and engaging attack, both well reasoned and well documented, on the myriad ways that these little-scrutinized figures are manipulated for political gain....This is a thoughtful book that is partisan but not strident." Publishers Weekly
Book News Annotation:
In a 2002 report, the US Office of Management and Budget argued that the government's roadless forest initiative would cost $184 million and only produce about $219 thousand in benefits. They arrived at this number, which made the initiative look indefensible from strict economic turns, by counting only the money saved from not building roads in the benefit column. This is but one example Ackerman (Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts U.) and Heinzerling (Georgetown U. Law Center) give of the problems with the increasingly popular practice of applying cost-benefit analysis to health and environmental policy. Blending political philosophy and economic research, they criticize both the practice and theory of mainstream economists and political thinkers championing cost-benefit analysis of policy.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Priceless: Human Health, the Environment, and the Limits of the Market exposes the error of using cost-benefit analysis to decide whether human life and the environment are worth protecting.
About the Author
Frank Ackerman is an economist at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University and the author of Why Do We Recycle? He has served as a consultant to the EPA and state environmental and regulatory agencies.
Lisa Heinzerling is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center who has represented environmental groups and state agencies in numerous legal battles.
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