Raj Patel

The Value of Nothing

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Credit has crunched, debt has turned toxic, the gears of the world economy have ground to a halt. Yet despite its failures, the same market-driven ideas are being applied to everything from the food crisis to climate change. It’s time to ask one of the most fundamental questions a society can address: why do things cost what they do?

Radical and original, The Value of Nothing uses basic but forgotten economics and cutting-edge neuroscience to show how the price we pay for everything, from burgers to ballistic missiles, is systematically distorted and to explore some rich alternatives to market fundamentalism.

‘With great lucidity and confidence in a dazzling array of fields, Patel reveals how we inflate the cost of things we can (and often should) live without, while assigning absolutely no value to the resources we all need to survive. This is a deeply thought-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness — argued with so much humour and humanity that the enormous tasks ahead feel both doable and desirable. This is Raj Patel’s great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. A brilliant book.’ —Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine

‘Bracingly written and full of surprises, The Value of Nothing is itself invaluable, showing us a path out of the darkness of the economics woods.’ —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma
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301 printed pages
Original publication
2009
Publication year
2009
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Quotes

    b0174785621has quoted2 years ago
    In other words, there is nothing natural about buying and selling things for profit, and allowing markets to determine their value. Before commodities can be bought and sold, they have to become objects that people think can be bought or sold.
    b0174785621has quoted2 years ago
    there are now even prohibitions on the way we can place ourselves into markets. We are not, for instance, legally allowed to sell our organs. Give them away, yes. Sell, no.
    b0174785621has quoted2 years ago
    Professors Binding and Hoche took it a step further. They suggested that not all human life is worth the same, and that society as a whole could save money by killing the mentally ill.

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