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Jack Torres
Jack Torres

Sandel What Money Can T Buy



The spread of the market thinking model raises three main concerns: social justice, the deterioration of human values, and the promotion of erroneous ideas. But the main issue we talk about is still social justice. What everyone can clearly see, when more and more things are brought to market, anyone with money can buy what they want, more broadly, money is a springboard for status.




sandel what money can t buy



For example, at an airport or an amusement park, to get a priority seat in the check-in line, you only need to pay a small fee. Or contacting the doctor outside of business hours, all goes well if it's coupled with the money.


Have you ever accepted to have to do a boring job because of lack of money? If not, consider yourself lucky, but if everything is arranged, do you feel that it is unfair? Have you ever wished you were rich to get out of that predicament?


Have you ever wondered why the bakery on the street corner is so eager to sell cakes? Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, argues that trading is based not on benevolence but on the lust for money. He believes that it is the preferences and desires of each individual that are the factors that make the economy gradually form the basis of today's market thinking.


To encourage the residents of a neighborhood to donate blood, economists will choose to reward these people with a sum of money rather than impacting on inherent human compassion. As we can see, the abuse of money or assigning to any physical object a price list is not necessarily effective. With blood donation, we donate for the community, this noble act has more meaning in it than just receiving a gratuity.


Should you be able to jump a queue just because you have money? What about for medical care and doctor's surgeries and the like? Sandel gives the example of how this works in the West with private clinics and also surgeries in China. In America, you have private 'VIP Concierge' clinics that take on far fewer patients so the doctors can spend more time on each family or client. This means that the overall availability of doctors reduces for the average person on the street, they are priced out of the game. In China, there are clinics that work based on a ticket system, but it's corrupted by scalpers who queue up to get the tickets then sell them on for an enormous profit.


Market-minded people argue that all of this activity is good for social utility. Those who want it most (whatever it may be) are the ones who are able to get it. But this isn't so; those that want it and have the money for it are the ones who get it first. Those who want it but don't have the money got to the back of the line.


'If you are attending the wedding of a distant cousin, or the bar mitzvah of a business associate's child, it is probably better to buy something from the wedding registry or give cash. But to give money rather than a well-chosen gift to a friend, lover, or spouse is to convey a certain thoughtless indifference. It's like buying your way out of attentiveness.' (Page 101)


If you introduce money into the equation, you reduce the urge to act charitably because, with payment, it can't be charity in the first place. This approach reduces the overall stock of altruism present in a society. It gets crowded out.


DARPA also created a 'Terrorism Futures Market' that was supposed to use market forces to surface better predictions because people are betting real money and would reveal otherwise secret/hidden truths. It had more than a few critics across party lines and in the media.


Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons, auctioning admission to elite universities, or selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay? Isn't there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life-medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. In What Money Can't Buy, Sandel examines one of the biggest ethical questions of our time and provokes a debate that's been missing in our market-driven age: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honour and money cannot buy?


In What Money Can't Buy, renowned political philosopher Michael J. Sandel rethinks the role that markets and money should play in our society. Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we put a price on human life to decide how much pollution to allow? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons, auctioning admission to elite universities, or selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay? In his New York Times bestseller What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes up one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Isn't there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong? What are the moral limits of markets? Over recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. In Justice, an international bestseller, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can't Buy, he provokes a debate that's been missing in our market-driven age: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?


A market is an institutionalised space in which goods and services can be exchanged, usually (though not necessarily) through the medium of money. Economists like markets because, under certain conditions (such as rivalrous competition between producers) they tend to promote innovation and the efficient allocation of resources. The story of the world's increasing prosperity over the last few hundred years is the story of the rise of markets, which have allowed individuals to meet more of their wants and needs than ever before, and, through taxation, have permitted an enormous extension in the provision of public services (education, health, security, law, transport infrastructure and so on). If one considers such prosperity a good thing then, all things being equal, markets would seem the best way of organising the production and distribution of everything. But are all things equal? The critique of the market comes from three directions.


The central failure of Sandel's book is the disinterest in developing his corruption critique systematically (as philosophers like Margaret Radin, Elizabeth Anderson, and Michael Walzer have done). Instead, we are presented with a large collection of (American) examples of things being for sale. We are invited to be disgusted by the idea of people being allowed to pay money to avoid queuing; companies buying and trading life insurance on their employees; rich people paying to hunt endangered species; poor people having themselves tattooed with a casino website address; and so on ad nauseam. There is some theoretical organisation of this material, but not much. It is therefore particularly unfortunate that Sandel's examples don't by themselves demonstrate his claim that markets corrupt the things they touch, first, because few of them have anything to do with markets, and second, because they don't really support the claim of "corruption."


Like I've already said, markets are a specific kind of institutional arrangement. The mere presence of money doesn't make something a market, as Sandel seems to suppose. Most of Sandel's examples actually take place outside of a market context and concern administrative decisions rather than market outcomes. Take monetary incentives. Offering a child $2 per story book she reads doesn't seem to have anything to do with markets. It rather seems an exercise in managerial control, and should be analysed together with other tools of coercion available to managers (in this case, parents and teachers) who attempt to cajole those under their power to do what they want. Sandel also makes much of civic institutions like schools and universities (and even police departments) selling out to junk-food companies, advertisers and "sponsors." But he also notes that this generally follows from administrators trying to stretch their budgets.


In the real world we see corruption without money. To Sandel, the fringe activity of reselling tickets to a papal mass constitutes a serious threat of corruption to the Catholic church. Most people would consider the scandal of sex-abuse cover ups, which rarely involved payments, a rather more substantial instance of corruption. We also see money without corruption. Whether or not kidneys themselves are for sale, in a capitalist economy the transplant surgeons and supporting team members still have to be paid for their life-saving work. Does that mean the kidney transplant has been "corrupted"? Is the education system corrupted because teachers earn a salary? Does food taste worse because you bought it in a supermarket rather than growing it yourself? Of course not. Corruption seems to be more complicated than Sandel's superficial account can cope with.


The problem here is that Sandel's moral analysis seems hostage to whatever social norms happened to prevail in his formative years. Money is ubiquitous in a capitalist society as the universal currency of remuneration. Activities which are not sufficiently remunerated will generally not be supplied, because it is not sustainable to produce them except as a kind of hobby (the difference between professional baseball and Saturday afternoon amateurs). It is therefore hardly surprising that all sorts of valuable things are supplied in exchange for money. Bibles are published and sold commercially (as is Sandel's book); elected politicians receive salaries; pharmaceutical companies put prices on their life-saving medicines; and so on. Sandel seems to accept all this. But then his criticism of changes to what he grew up thinking of as normal seems arbitrary. Why is it only in these "new" cases that the appearance of money engenders corruption? Why does advertising inside novels pose a threat of corruption but not advertising inside news media? 041b061a72


Albert Dexter
Albert Dexter
Aug 27, 2023

"Michael Sandel's 'What Money Can't Buy' thoughtfully examines the moral and ethical implications of commodifying various aspects of life. The book challenges us to consider the limits of market-driven values in shaping our society. For more insightful discussions on ethics and economics, explore https://icoholder.com/en/events."


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