What Money Can't Buy
the moral limits of markets
1. Jumping the queue. Airports, amusement parks, car pool lanes ; Hired line standers ; Ticket scalpers ; Concierge doctors ; Markets versus queues ; Yosemite campsites ; Papal masses ; Springsteen concerts
2. Incentives. Cash for sterilization ; The economic approach to life ; Paying kids for good grades ; Bribes to lose weight ; Selling the right to immigrate ; A market in refugees ; Speeding tickets and subway cheats ; Tradable procreation permits ; Tradable pollution permits ; Carbon offsets ; Paying to kill an endangered rhino ; Ethics and economics
3. How markets crowd out morals. Hired friends ; Bought apologies and wedding toasts ; The case against gifts ; Auctioning college admission ; Coercion and corruption ; Nuclear waste sites ; Donation days and day-care pickups ; Blood for sale ; Economizing love
4. Markets in life and death. Janitors insurance ; Betting on death ; Internet death pools ; Insurance versus gambling ; The terrorism futures market ; The lives of strangers ; Death bonds
5. Naming rights. Autographs for sale ; Corporate-sponsored home runs ; Luxury skyboxes ; Moneyball ; Bathroom advertising ; Ads in books ; Body billboards ; Branding the public square ; Branded lifeguards and nature trails ; Police cars and fire hydrants ; Commercials in the classroom ; Ads in jails ; The skyboxification of everyday life
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Michael Sandel puts forth the argument that there are many aspects of our lives where the free market does not belong. He argues that "efficient markets" are not virtues in themselves, and that as a society it is imperetive that we question whether are not introducting market values into an activity, a good or an institution will improve it or diminish it. The free-market it not value-neutral, or ethically neutral. We need to recognize that the commercialization of many good things (some examples he gives are sports, universities and schools, medicine, public parks) degrades and corrupts those good things.
It was a relief to have my feelings about commercialization and the virtue of the free market put into words. I felt that Sandel did not dig deeply enough into his thesis, however.
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