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On the Colbert Report a few days ago, author Raj Patel was discussing his new book "The Value of Nothing." Patel said he got the idea for his title from an Oscar Wilde quote saying that, in modern times, we all know the price of everything and the value of nothing. So true!
During Patel's interview, he mentioned that the true cost of a typical fast-food hamburger (if environmental damage, health care costs, and the like are factored in) is actually $200. He compared this logic to what analysts say about shopping at Wal-Mart (i.e. "the high cost of a low price"). For example, when we shop at Wal-Mart we pay back what we saved at the register by subsidizing the health care of Wal-Mart employees, by paying for the welfare of their high percentage of qualifying workers, and by putting our own local businesses into bankruptcy.
The $.99 cent hamburger is the biggest lie since, well, I don't know--but it's a lie! Most of these hamburgers are grown on deforested land in the Amazon delta (bye bye rain forest). I'd like to know how many people would line up at the drive-thru for one of those $200 burgers!
Definitely check out Raj Patel's "The Value of Nothing." It sounded fascinating, well-researched, and full of interesting information about how we can better vote with our hard-earned dollars.