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The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life [ THE COSTS OF LIVING: HOW MARKET FREEDOM ERODES THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE BY Schwartz, Barry ( Author ) Dec-01-2000[ THE COSTS OF LIVING: HOW MARKET FREEDOM ERODES THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE [ THE COSTS OF LIVING: HOW MARKET FREEDOM ERODES THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE BY SCHWARTZ, BARRY ( AUTHOR ) DEC-01-2000 ] By Schwartz, Barry ( Author )Dec-01-2000 Hardcover [Hardcover]

4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic and important book Feb. 18 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Read this book if you have ever been concerned about how some of our societies great institutions are being weakened by the market pressures of today. Ever worry that your doctor has the HMO profit margins in mind more than your care? Ever get disgusted by big time college sports? Ever worry about the erosion of values and cohesion in your community? Then this book is for you.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A good attempt at explaining the costs of living in capitalism. A bit dated considering the World Trade Organization, computerization and downsizing, but he makes points most people need to hear and consider. Well worth reading and thinking about. Order a copy and begin to think!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since Barry Schwartz mentions that this is not academic material he argues from an academic and practical perspective. As a result most to all of his points are bang on, the one aspect i did not agree with, was his stance on reintroducing religious concepts into society to build good moral character, I personally believe one can build good moral character without the need to introduce religion.

Overall the book i am entirely satisfied, it provides good accounts and arguments from how society is in some ways rotting. What is our human nature in the end?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vision of the Future Sept. 29 2004
By Richard Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Costs of Living isn't what you'd call light reading. Published in 1994, its subject could be broadly classified as the meaning of life. But the subtitle, "How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life," offers the constraint on the topic that prevents this book from being endless.

It's an enchanting but difficult read. Barry Schwartz, whose more recent Paradox of Choice garnered a New Yorker review and positive press for dealing with the same topics on the level of the individual, here demonstrates instead the powerlessness of the individual to stop the relentless advance of market forces into every domain of life. Moving from business to medicine to law to sports to love to education to democracy, Schawrtz shows how the things we purport to value most in life are now subject to market influence--and argues, persuasively, that they are far worse for it.

This is enchanting because Schwartz is a fantastic writer, good at using examples to make his points and capable of humor and serious concern in equal measure. The reading is made difficult by the fact that the book was written in 1994. Rather than the doomsday prophet that Schwartz surely seemed upon publication, he now appears oddly prescient about the continuing advances the market would make into all spheres of life if people did not band together to stop it. While he could not have anticipated the ways in which people's yearning for community in the face of these forces would be exploited by politicians willing to wield those communities' principles as marketable commodities--and how those politicians would use their resulting power to help the market forces advance ever faster--the ingredients of that recipe for disaster are all quite plain to the reader with benefit of knowledge of the ensuing decade.

Can we still turn things around? The task is undoubtedly even more difficult now than Schwartz suggested it would be ten years ago. But we ought to try, and Costs of Living still offers a good way to start constructing the framework by which we might begin to do so. Highly recommended.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Provocative, and Readable May 11 2001
By Book Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ever worry that your doctor has the HMO profit margins in mind more than your care? Ever get disgusted by big time college sports? Ever worry about the erosion of values and cohesion in your community? Then this book is for you.
This is a marvelous book that explores how people should think about their places in our society. Schwartz, a Professor at Swarthmore College, has a well-deserved reputation for debunking commonly held myths promulgated by economists and others who seek to explain all human behavior by supply and demand curves, and irresistible biological imperatives.
Yes, we do have a choice about how we want our communities to function, and Schwartz tells us how we can ``reintroduce the language of responsibility and morality into our public life.''
Schwartz also has a rare gift for making complex topics seem easy to understand. This is a surprisingly readable book, full of anecdotes and examples that will help you relate the ideas to your own life. Its conclusion, about a dilemma Schwartz faced in his own community, is notable for its drama as well as for the fact that Schwartz declines to offer easy answers.
Read this book, and you will think differently (and more perceptively) about the world around you. It is *that* good.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good description of the choices of middle class life. June 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A good attempt at explaining the costs of living in capitalism. A bit dated considering the World Trade Organization, computerization and downsizing, but he makes points most people need to hear and consider. Well worth reading and thinking about. Order a copy and begin to think!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cost of living May 23 2008
By cyn ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Even though this book is a tad outdated, it is still pertinent to today's lifestyles. Schwartz points out how we've commercialized everything from medical care to education to sports, and due to that, we've lost touch with ourselves and each other. The need to "have" and "have more" are discussed as well as the cost of this notion and its impact on society. We are continually in competition with each other in a variety of ways we aren't even aware of - until you read this book - and that creates fear and anxiety in everyone. Schwartz says we need to stop and take an account of our behaviors - but doesn't really tell us how to do so. Still a good book to make you ponder your own lifestyle.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic and important book Feb. 18 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Read this book if you have ever been concerned about how some of our societies great institutions are being weakened by the market pressures of today. Ever worry that your doctor has the HMO profit margins in mind more than your care? Ever get disgusted by big time college sports? Ever worry about the erosion of values and cohesion in your community? Then this book is for you.
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