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...If all you know is economics, everything looks like cost-benefit analysis. By everything, he means literally everything, life, death and love, freedom, religion and culture, parenting, shopping, and garbage. Where you buy your coffee, where you plan to live and even the number of kids you plan to have and will it be a boy child or a girl child; it all boils down to prices – and it’s all relative.

By Fareeha Qayoom

 

Y

ou must have heard of the law of the instrument, attributed to Maslow and Kaplan, ‘if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”? Well, Eduardo Porter’s book, ‘The price of everything’ is something like that, if all you know is economics, everything looks like cost-benefit analysis. By everything, he means literally everything, life, death and love, freedom, religion and culture, parenting, shopping, and garbage. Where you buy your coffee, where you plan to live and even the number of kids you plan to have and will it be a boy child or a girl child; it all boils down to prices – and it’s all relative.

 

Eduardo Porter

Eduardo Porter – the author of ‘The price of everything’

For example, the blurb on the back cover reads, “The Price of Everything starts with a simple premise: there is a price behind each choice that we make, whether we’re deciding to have a baby, drive a car, or buy a book. We often fail to appreciate just how critical prices are as a motivating force shaping our lives. But their power becomes clear when distorted prices steer our decisions the wrong way.”

 

Not that the book is not interesting. It’s very interesting; in fact, it’s one of those dry tomes that you don’t want to put down because a. it’s very readable b. it’s full of fun facts and c. it connects the dots in real interesting ways to make a whole new picture out of an old hat. Nowadays, time is money. Best of all, it gives you value for your money and indeed time. It’s funny, engaging and very, very entertaining. I enjoyed it and finished it in couple of days flat.

 

Do I agree with Porter? Am not sure I do. But it sure is interesting looking at the world through his eyes.

***

Here’s a short excerpt from the book’s introduction – enjoy!

price of everything book cover image

Quote

 

The prices are everywhere

 

Anybody who has visited a garbage dump in the developing world knows that value is an ambiguous concept. To most people in the developed world, household waste is worthless, of course. That’s why we throw it away. Apparently, Norwegians are willing to pay about $114 a ton for somebody else to sort their recyclables from the general garbage. A survey of families in the Carter community of Tennessee several years ago found they were willing to pay $363 a year in today’s money, to avoid a landfill nearby.

 

But slightly beyond our immediate experience, waste becomes a valuable commodity. In Kamboinse, outside Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, farmers pay municipal trash haulers to dump unsorted solid waste in their sorghum and millet fields as fertilizer – bits of plastic included. The going rate in 2003 was 400 francs per ton. In New Delhi, a study in 2002 found that waste pickers earned two rupees per kilo of PET soda bottles and seven rupees per kilo of hard plastic shampoo bottles. A child working on foot on Delhi’s dumps could make twenty to thirty rupees per day.

 

Unquote

 

 

 

 

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
The publisher and editor-in-chief for Tkfr.com and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), Fareeha is currently working at a media company as Content development Manager (or as they call it, the managing editor); she also served as the managing editor for Valuemag (Jan 08-July 09 – Print editions Valuemag 1-13). She has over 15 years of solid management experience in managing products, brands, projects, processes, staff, customers, vendors and time, plus, she has a MSc degree in Economics (and Business Administration) from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA and BA from Kinnaird. She also freelanced for The News on Sunday (1994-95). Tkfr.com chronicles some of her work – editing, writing, reporting and print and online media management. (1994-to date).

5 Comments

  1. more reading?

    The Price Of Everything: Most Surprising Discoveries
    Most of us think of prices in the context of shopping expeditions. In the marketplace, prices ration what we consume, guiding how we allocate resources among our many wants. They prompt us to set priorities within the limits of our budgets. Just as prices steer our purchasing patterns, they steer the decisions of the companies that make what we buy, enabling them to meet our demand with their supply. That’s how markets organize a capitalist economy.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eduardo-porter/the-price-of-everything-m_b_800747.html#s214519&title=008

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  2. Author’s the official website –
    http://eduardoporter.com/

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  3. Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    The Price of Everything by Eduardo Porter – Book review

    “Every choice we make is shaped by the prices of the options laid out before us – what we assess to be their relative costs – measured up against their benefits”, writes New York Times editorial board member, and commentator specializing in business, regulation, trade and international economic relations, Eduardo Porter in his fascinating and insightful book The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do. The author describes how prices affect peoples’ decisions and lives, and how a deeper understanding of the importance and influence of prices, can help people make better choices.

    http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com/2011/03/price-of-everything-by-eduardo-porter.html

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  4. Bestselling author Eduardo Porter explains why people are compelled to ascribe value to everything in life
    Vivek Kaul, ET Bureau Jan 13, 2012, 01.01AM IST

    As a member of the New York Times editorial board, Eduardo Porter writes about business, economics and many other things. He has worked as a journalist in Mexico City, Tokyo, London, Sao Paulo, and Los Angeles. Most recently, Porter authored The Price Of Everything: The Cost Of Birth, The Price Of Death, And The Value Of Everything In Between. In this interview with CD , he talks about how price impacts various aspects of human life.

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-01-13/news/30623831_1_dancers-lap-illegal-immigrant

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  5. At What Cost
    By MEGAN BUSKEY
    Published: February 4, 2011

    In 1992, Lawrence Summers, then the chief economist of the World Bank, caused a minor uproar when it was reported that he had signed a memo arguing that poor countries should lease out land to house waste produced by rich countries. To many, Eduardo Porter writes in “The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do,” the memo demonstrated that the World Bank “believed poor countries were dumps.” While Summers back­pedaled, calling the argument an exercise in “sardonic counterpoint,” it nevertheless cost him a lot of political capital in ­Washington.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/books/review/Buskey-t.html

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