The Value of Nothing Analysis

2000 Words Jul 4th, 2011 8 Pages
Paper #1
In The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel makes the argument that we are encouraged by culture to think of ourselves as essentially greedy, selfish, pleasure seeking, and utility-maximizing individuals. Patel introduces the concept of homo-economicus, which states humans are covetous and self-centered beings who are solely interested in maximizing their resources and profit. During my first semester here at Babson, I had the pleasure of taking Honors Applied Calculus II, a course that focused on the business applications of calculus and how quantitative methods could potentially be used in the field of business. Throughout this course, we were challenged to maximize our materials with linear optimization and the use of calculus. We
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Human conception regarding value is often distorted because of prices that are driven by profit-driven markets. “Corporations are hardwired to wriggle out of paying social and environmental costs if they can possibly avoid it.” (48) This is significant because our culture is presented with cheap food, but in reality we are being given “cheat food” in the words of Raj Patel. This cheap food does not mathematically measure all expenses that it is incurring, and is in turn creating large scale problems that its price is unable to account for.
Water contamination, ozone destruction, climate change, and health issues are only a few of the problems that have emerged as a result of “cheat food.” These problems are estimated to cost roughly around $47 trillion according to Patel. This number is important to know because this large number is what grasps our attention. We are not intrigued by the damage something is causing, but rather the price that is attached to the problems we have generated. The price tag of something has become our primary concern. This idea has led to our inability to measure something’s value, and has led us to label rather than know something. This idea of labeling can be seen in Run Wrake’s Rabbit when the young children are overtaken with greed, and only see animals as standing reserve for their profit driven activities.
In The Value of Nothing, Patel explains the inability of

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