The Price of Everything

10/02/2011 at 6:30 am 33 comments

The Price of Everything, a book by Eduardo Porter is about finding the true value of things that don’t exactly have a price tag.

The book has an observational stance and different points of view are presented.  It’s up to the readers to make up their own mind about what’s really valuable and what’s not.  This is the whole point of the book, the fact that personal perspective plays a big role in decision making and cost/benefit analysis.

Porter is interested in more than factoids.  Most of his attention is devoted to teasing out the rationale underlying the “cold accounting” that determines the value of things people think are priceless, like human life and national security.  What he relates has unmistakable urgency.  How much should we spend today to address environmental problems that may be more cheaply tackled by future generations, especially given the number of development projects that clamor for financing now?  Should we even attempt to protect against risks that would be more costly to prevent than the damage they would cause?

At a time of seemingly proliferating risks, Porter’s searching book is a welcome reminder of the necessity of prudent decision making.  “The truth is,” he writes, “we can’t afford it all.”

Entry filed under: Business, Economy, Environment, Sustainability. Tags: , , , , , .

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33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jaredblakedicroce  |  15/02/2011 at 8:17 am

    I think that putting a monetary value on anything other than “a Good” is foolish, and imprudent. Life is not, and should not, be subject to such basest measurements, but big corporations do this every day to project earnings… I wonder about the authors stance on it all.

    • 2. Save Creatively  |  15/02/2011 at 1:06 pm

      I have to agree! All too much is looked at in a fiercely competitive world as having some value defined monetarily. But stepping out and address what goes beyond money… things they can’t touch. Emotions then are the only credit and value. If there is no feeling to it then it is worthless.

  • 3. Liz  |  15/02/2011 at 8:18 am

    Great post! That is an awesome video–made me want to buy the book!

  • 4. Mikalee Byerman  |  15/02/2011 at 8:22 am

    Interesting topic. I used to work in a College of Agriculture that had a degree program in Resource Economics…students studied the value of human/natural resources and the impacts on the environment, economy and life. Fascinating study!

  • 5. ElenaSC  |  15/02/2011 at 8:23 am

    Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  • 6. Sister Earth Organics  |  15/02/2011 at 9:09 am

    I would imagine there is such great diversity among those of us here in the states….thanks for posting!

  • 7. ferkung  |  15/02/2011 at 10:05 am

    I saw a lecture by Kip Viscusi, whose main work was doing exactly this under the Reagan administration. He spoke on the financial cost of a human life — one that he felt made people more uncomfortable than the audience seemed to be to me…

    These kinds of issues are very much so at the core of all the talk about budget cuts and how much a public works project really costs… I just hope he doesn’t have any agenda…

  • 8. elenamusic  |  15/02/2011 at 11:20 am

    Hm, very interesting. Thanks for writing about this book. I will have to look into it.

  • 9. Andrea Avena  |  15/02/2011 at 11:49 am

    This is really intersesting, I really like the video too .

  • 10. freelanceallison  |  15/02/2011 at 12:40 pm

    I just read about this book in the Sunday paper – great post and video! It was a book that tickled my interest before and one I definitely think I will pick up at either the store or the library. It is just SUCH an interesting concept. I can’t imagine thinking of every decision in dollars and cents but I feel like money is intertwined in choices regardless. Can’t wait to read it! Thanks again!!

  • 11. FinallyFast  |  15/02/2011 at 1:01 pm

    This is an interesting idea. I know for myself I tend to come up with what is important based on my feelings. But actually figuring out the true ‘value’ of something is another issue. Can’t wait to read the book

  • 12. DennisaurusRex  |  15/02/2011 at 2:17 pm

    There are many comments here that sort of indicate how there is a general approval to this kind of study, and it seems to resemble the sort of discussions I’ve had with some of my friends about the existence of abstract concepts like love and god. Certainly, I believe that measuring does take away from the perceived experience, but I also find it quite essential to know why you like something or at least why you should like it the way you do.

  • 13. zandormaz  |  15/02/2011 at 2:40 pm

    Very interesting book…

  • 14. Samantha  |  15/02/2011 at 2:43 pm

    Just went and ordered this book online. Hope it holds up to its expectations. The video definitely held my attention.

  • 16. Meghan  |  15/02/2011 at 4:48 pm

    What a refreshing spin on economic value. The most important job in the world (staying at home and raising little people, like myself) has no fiscal value but it’s significance and importance are so important. So much so that while chasing and raising children 14 hours a day renders you an “economic dependent,” while a solider that sits and monitors a silo 8 hours a day is a functional and contributing member of the society. I hear you!

    • 17. Sally Albright  |  16/02/2011 at 6:35 am

      So true, Meghan. Why are the jobs that have the most value — moms and teachers — granted so little monetary value, and even worse, so little honor. Hopefully people will not take offense at the idea of trying to place monetary value on things like life and dreams in the book, and instead realize that it’s meant to give readers perspective.

  • 18. Cara-Marie  |  15/02/2011 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you for posting! That was an awesome video and post about the book – I’d never heard of it until now and I’ll definitely be looking into it. In school we learn about things like opportunity costs and lost time. Everything can be calculated in terms of time and money and when they are, how productive are we really being as individuals and as a society…
    Thought provoking.

  • 19. My Camera, My Friend  |  15/02/2011 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Sounds like and interesting book, and it sure has a unique trailer. Honestly, I don’t think we can or should put a price on some things.

  • 20. austinsaffordableauto  |  15/02/2011 at 6:42 pm

    very interesting!

  • 21. leadinglight  |  15/02/2011 at 6:54 pm

    I think money has an impact on any decision we make because our financial circumstances determines the time we have to contribute outside areas of expertise but experiences that cannot be defined by monetary value also benefit every society as long as it is done with purpose.

  • 22. Nathan Cornett  |  15/02/2011 at 7:12 pm

    This video is excellent! It makes me want to buy the book. I have long wondered myself how people decide what something is worth. I think some people are better at it than others. It struck me when a good friend of mine and I were at breakfast and he picked up a salt shaker and just rattled off the cost of that salt shaker, like he’d been thinking of it for years. I just don’t think of things in terms of monetary value, but rather their intrinsic value and their functionality. I’ll look forward top reading that one!

  • 23.  |  16/02/2011 at 12:09 am

    That is a great book, it is true that we should value everything that can’t be bought and am learning how to value and appreciate them after reading the book. My body and life can’t be bought they are more worth. directtohomeappliances

  • 24. Roda  |  16/02/2011 at 12:32 am

    Gosh I think my comment would totally upset the applecart re all the comments above. When you are discussing man’s contributions to this earth … have forgotten to factor in its original creator namely God. Earth and man are both God’s creations and no one not the earth or man will ever want for anything as when more resources will be required for use by man it will be replenished into the earth. Its high thinking but one which we must undertake in order to gain exponentially in this life on earth. I am an author and you may like to read my book too. One thing is for sure you will begin to understand a lot of things about you and this world we live in.

  • 25. l0ve0utl0ud  |  16/02/2011 at 1:04 am

    This book sounds excellent and very relevant to modern society. Thank you for sharing.

  • 26. karlwood  |  16/02/2011 at 2:27 am

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • 27. didiwright  |  16/02/2011 at 2:31 am

    The book sounds interesting and seems to fit perfectly in what I think is a new trend in the developed societies of returning to a simpler, more meaningful life and rediscover its true values. The beneficial impact of such changes on the environment and our life on this planet would be, I believe, huge.

  • 28. countoncross  |  16/02/2011 at 6:06 am

    Thank you for the post….love the video and can’t wait to read the book. Love the site.

  • 29. oncealittlegirl  |  16/02/2011 at 7:57 am

    As many others indicate, the book trailer compels me to take a hard look at this book. Thanks for posting.

  • 30. SherryGreens  |  08/03/2011 at 1:28 am

    It is true, prices don’t always reflect the true cost, in fact most of the time they don’t! One solution for the environmental cost of items would be to price in the cost of carbon. Then carbon intensive products would cost more! This would do a better job on pricing the full impact a product has on the planet and future generations. Just a thought!

  • 31. joshua gen  |  08/03/2011 at 5:29 pm

    I can’t really go there. Like jaredblakedcore put in his comments, I wouldn’t put ‘numbers’ against life. There are other things like emotion etc that we can’t put ‘numbers’ against them. let those that require number value remain as that and those that are more than ‘numbers’ be left alone. Putting everything into one basket is not a good idea.

  • 32. greenliver  |  14/03/2011 at 8:29 am

    First of all, I was not aware that books had trailers, that’s very interesting in itself. And what a great trailer that was! I’m kind of hoping the book will be made into a film as well.

    Anyways, this is a great topic. In my community, we are preparing for our annual Earth Day event and this year’s theme is ‘The True Cost of Stuff.” I’m looking forward to it; I think this topic confuses people a little bit, but once its explained I think it will be a big eye opener for everyone.

    I think it would be great if the true cost of products was the price the public paid. It would encourage more people to buy local goods (thus supporting their community). Ideally, it would make sure that everyone’s getting their fair share of the money involved. And best of all, it would encourage people not to waste, not to consume recklessly, and to truly value each and every product.

    So glad to see so many “likes” and comments!

  • This is really intersesting, I really like the video too .


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