Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raj Patel's "The Value of Nothing" (*Barely* Steak Knives)

This came to me, circumventing the stack, based on a few chance stumbles across news items on the author over the days preceding this purchase/reading that made it seem like a (pressing and) important read.

Patel's "The Value Of Nothing: Why Everything Costs So Much More Than We Think" was ultimately a review of what a 30 minute brain storm session of 5 social science grad students could come up with for the next great leap forward away from the status quo of free market capitalism. That's not to say there weren't points I didn't completely agree with, but they didn't seem prescient or particularly insightful beyond what you might pick up from a decent progressive blog. 'Yeah, externalities... got it. Yep, already got it. Had it a while ago, thanks.'

What redemption there was in the read came in an exploration in the history of the commons, and it's (sadly, only broadly) mapped out potential for future change. This was tantalizing when it should have been comprehensive.

I'd give the author another chance, but only with more diligent consideration than the impulse buy that this was.

Important note: One of the reasons I picked this up was seeing a quote posted to a blog (though it appears that Patel is not the origin of the idea) that made me 'LOL' for it's ability to capture a truth - I simply MUST repeat it here...

"There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kld’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs."

Having read both (though Atlas Shrugged was read in my 30's), I can relate...

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