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What Money Can't Buy

The Moral Limits of Markets
Sandel, Michael J. (Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
What Money Can't Buy
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Sandel argues that we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society and examines one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: 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?
Authors: Sandel, Michael J.
Title: What money can't buy
the moral limits of markets
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: viii, 244 p. ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction : markets and morals. Market triumphalism ; Everything for sale ; The role of markets ; Our rancorous politics
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
Summary: Sandel argues that we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society and examines one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: 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?
ISBN: 9780374203030
Branch Call Number: 174 SANDEL
Statement of Responsibility: Michael J. Sandel
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: Economics Moral and ethical aspects Capitalism Moral and ethical aspects Wealth Moral and ethical aspects Value
Topical Term: Economics
LCCN: 2011052182
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Sep 05, 2014
  • HujeBohoc rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

When you're dealing with a subject that has deep moral and personal ramifications, such as how our societies and economies should be organized, it is helpful to have someone explaining the fundamentals. This is what Michael Sandel does here. A thought-provoking book.

Sep 24, 2013
  • stewstealth rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Very underwhelming. A qualitative look at the limits of markets and how their expansion affects morality. Unfortunately this book is at best a large essay and does not quantify any of the issues that it introduces. Neither does it truly offer any conclusions or recommendations. As the author clearly knows morality is not a static sense through time or the population. Very quick read if you are interested.

May 31, 2013
  • StarGladiator rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

With the possible exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and Richard Parker, I have a major problem with everything coming out of that criminal factory called Harvard! This book deals with the tiny details, when all the author need have said was that the greatest entitlement program in history, the "right" to create money, which the overclass (the banksters) enjoy, both the overt act of money creation (via the Federal Reserve) and their shadow financial system ("shadow banking") affords them the greatest power in history - - the power to own and control almost everything!

Jul 15, 2012
  • eastvanbookfan rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Lots of creepy stories throughout the book. For example, the company claims it can't afford to give you a raise but it can afford to take out a life insurance policy on you without even telling you. Not only that when you die the company gets paid out because of all the time/money they spent 'training' you and how thats going to impact their bottom line.... Well worth the read....

Jun 04, 2012
  • emkeller rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An accessible, thought-provoking application of philosophy to aspects of our daily lives that we may accept uncritically. It's not a screed against capitalism, rather, it's a logically measured approach to questions about the role of values in markets.


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May 30, 2013
  • SusanOP rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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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