2010-10-31

[書評] The Price of Everything


The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity by Russell Roberts (@EconTalker)

以前ブログに取り上げた著者の前作「インビジブルハート」を超える面白さと洞察を備えている。本書は前作と同じ小説形式を取っており、経済学の洞察をところどころに紛れ込ませている。

あらすじ:
ある日、カリフォルニア州のベイエリアで地震が起きた。スタンフォード大学の学生で、天才的テニスプレーヤーのラモン・フェルナンデス(Ramon Fernandez)が地震後に備品を買おうとスーパーマーケットのBig Boxに行くと全ての商品の値段が通常の2倍になっていた。ラモンは値上げのせいで赤ん坊のミルクを変えなかったメキシコ人の女性にお金を差し出し、こんな店に憤る。そしてラモンはヘヴィー・ウェザー(Heavy Weather)とともに学内にあるBig Boxに対してデモを行う。
そんな中、スタンフォード大学の経済学教授で副学長のルース・リーバー(Ruth Lieber)はラモンに対して利益と損失のメカニズムが自分たち全てをより良くしてくれるということを教えていく。
Big BoxのCEOであるボブ・バックマン(Bob Bachman)はスタンフォード大学のOBで、大学に多額の寄付をしていた。寄付を止められないために、学長はルースにラモンの卒業スピーチをバックマンを怒らせないような内容にするよう頼む。
果たして、ラモンの卒業スピーチはボブ・バックマンを怒らせてしまうものになるのだろうか…。

本書の中で印象に残った箇所を数ヶ所引用する。

We could have passed legislation one hundred years ago mandating low prices for eggs, a price ceiling. But that wouldn’t have truly made eggs cheaper. That wouldn’t have changed how many people it took to produce one hundred eggs. In fact, by taking the profit out of egg making, a price ceiling on eggs would have discouraged people from producing eggs. So eggs would be cheap, but very few people would be able to buy them. (Ruth Lieber, P.102)
I always tell my students on the last day of class not to choose their first job on the basis of money. But I don’t tell them to take the job that pays the least. Without money and the motivation it provides, we’d have no idea how to serve our fellows. (Ruth Lieber, P.120)
Without the incentives of prices and profit and loss, you have no way of knowing what’s truly valuable. (Ruth Lieber, P.123, 124)
But economics is not about prices and money. Economics is about how to get the most out of life. That’s why I tell my students not to take the job that pays the most money. You should take the job that is most rewarding, where the rewards are monetary and nonmonetary. And to get the most out of life, you have to pay attention to costs and benefits. When you decided to come to Stanford, you ruled out the University of Miami. When you chose tennis, you gave up baseball. Doing homework with Amy is time you can’t spend doing something else together. Everything has a price. Living life without taking account of the costs of what you do―the financial costs and the human costs, the costs you can measure and the costs you can only guess at―leaving those costs out of the picture is a sure way to live a meaningless life. (Ruth Lieber, P.124)
Profits would be a terrible way to decide where to take a vacation or who to marry or how to spend your life. If you only use profits or money as the guideposts for your life, your soul will shrivel and die. What kind of moron marries the richest girl who’ll take him? But an economy without profits or losses as guideposts will create a lot of suffering. (Ruth Lieber, P.137)
When people pay less for eggs, they have more money left over to spend on other things. That unspent money is a prize that hands itself out. That’s why entrepreneurs, creative people, are always trying to come up with new things to claim those prizes. Without cost-savings from eggs and millions of other products that have gotten cheaper, getting something new means giving up something old. When we make things more cheaply through either productivity or trade, that means we can have our cake and eat it too. We can have more eggs and more iPod and more artificial hips and everything else that makes life good. (Ruth Lieber, P.141)
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Let us honor our parents by living our lives to the fullest, using our gifts in the service of others to make the world a better place. This is the best way to thank our parents for what we owe them. (Ramon Fernandez, P.172)

高校レベルの文法で十分な平易な英語で書かれていて、なにより小説としておもしろいので次々読み進められる。前作とのつながりも少しだけあり、エイミー(Amy)がラモンの恋人など、前作を読んでいるとさらに楽しめるかもしれない。

早く日本語訳も出版されて欲しいものだ。

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