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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; First Edition edition (February 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565848500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565848504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,622,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How does one put a cost on a human life? And what effect does air pollution have on our health? Ackerman and Heinzerling focus on such questions in this volume, a skeptical and instructive look at how economists put a dollar value on intangible risks and rewards. What sounds like a purely technical process has enormous political implications, thanks to the pervasive use of cost-benefit analysis in government decision making. Because this analysis is used to quantify the impact of often controversial regulatory and tax policies, the economists' numbers loom large in public policy, which Ackerman and Heinzerling clearly deplore. They've 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. While it's no surprise to anyone who has worked with statistics that numbers are frequently massaged to advance a particular point of view, the authors argue that in some cases the massaging leans toward misrepresentation or outright incompetence. For example, one study attempted to downplay the hazards of toxic waste dumps by noting that accidents with deer hurt more people every year; but then, there are many more deer than toxic waste dumps. This is a thoughtful book that is partisan but not strident; at the same time, it assumes a certain degree of mathematical sophistication.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If someone tells you that a regulation will cost $100 million but produce only $50 million in benefits, you'd probably think it was a good example of government bureaucrats running amok. But what if you then found out that what the regulation would really do was force polluters to cut emissions in order to prevent thousands of cases of life-threatening illness over the next three decades? And that the $50 million benefits "pricetag" was developed by a bunch of green-eyeshade types who regard each life as worth about $3 million, and who then use a statistical trick to make 87% of that value disappear?
Ackerman and Heinzerling have written a brilliant and scary book that lays out in chilling detail just how widely such techniques are now being used in making decisions about when to adopt health and environmental safeguards - and when NOT to. They also reveal that many of the horror stories repeatedly trotted out by critics of environmental and health standards NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
The authors' prose is engaging and their arguments are compelling. Essential reading for anyone who cares about health and the environment - and who thinks that industry shouldn't be blindly trusted to do the right thing in safeguarding them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great insight into why environmental economics is so hard to judge. What is the value of a flower? What is the value of a life? Is Bill Gates life more valuable than yours? Some would say yes, some would say no.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book will truly open your eyes. This book presents a rare chance to peak behind the curtain and see how our government goes about making life and death decisions.
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