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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

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Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

by and

Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"[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

Publisher Comments:

EPA estimates of the value of one human life:
  • in 2000: $6.1 million
  • in 2002: $3.7 million
      Is the price of human life going down? Does it cost any less to protect the natural world? There is no meaningful dollar 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 private industry, when applied to “priceless” concepts such as childhood disease or the value of a stable climate in years to come, the paradigm is misguided.

      Decisions such as removing arsenic from drinking water or weighing the risks of cell phone use while driving should not be left to back-room bean counters. Such issues call for informed public debate drawing on moral, philosophical, and societal considerations beyond market-based assessments. Debunking the overall concept of cost-benefit analysis and the fuzzy math behind it, Priceless is the first comprehensive rebuttal of a strategy at the heart of the current administration's anti-regulatory binge.

Review:

"[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)

Synopsis:

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781565848504
Subtitle:
On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing
Author:
Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling
Author:
Ackerman, Frank
Author:
Heinzerling, Lisa
Publisher:
New Press, The
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Business Ethics
Subject:
Environmental economics
Subject:
Commercial Policy
Subject:
Consumer protection
Subject:
Product safety
Subject:
Economics - General
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Environmental Studies-Environment
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
1279
Publication Date:
20040224
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 17 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing Used Hardcover
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$12.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages New Press - English 9781565848504 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "[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." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
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