Friday, March 30, 2012

What Isn't for Sale? (post for comment)

A  great article by philosopher Michael Sandel.

I'd like to present a debate between Sandel and two of his readers. Edward Stevenson takes a different position:

Argument completely without foundation. The author confuses market/price transparency with market existence. much of what is referenced is not an expansion of a market, but either 1) increased awareness of the prices due to better communication of obscure transactions (cost of immigration), 2) or increased liquidity of existing transactions (we used to give kids candy for reading a book, then fake bucks, now they get dollars). There is not need for a public debate. if a market exists it means that two people somewhere agree that a market should exist and thus it does. to limit the existence of markets is to limit the existence of human interaction plane and simple. two people sitting in a coffee shop exchanging ideas is a market transaction both agree that the ideas being expressed and listened to are worth the value of their time, cumulative costs (the parking meter, and the coffee etc), and the opportunity cost. Thus even me reading and commenting on this article is a form of a market transaction, one that I am glad can exist without the gaze of scrutiny but those involved in a public debate of the proneness and morality of my discretion of time and worthiness of my comments.
 A Sue Bond has it in a different way:
 I disagree that there is such a stark dichotomy: markets or government. And I disagree that the markets are more about freedom than money. A poor woman 'choosing' to sell her ova or rent out her uterus so her family can have somewhere to live or her children get an education is not a 'choice'. Rich women don't make these 'choices', because they don't have to. Poor people may feel compelled to sell their kidneys to give their families things that we take for granted. This is not freedom, this is making excuses for not doing anything about social inequality and for not caring about others.
So, here you have it, pro and con, what's your view? Do you agree with Sandel that, 
Some say the moral failing at the heart of market triumphalism was greed, which led to irresponsible risk-taking. The solution, according to this view, is to rein in greed, insist on greater integrity and responsibility among bankers and Wall Street executives, and enact sensible regulations to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.This is, at best, a partial diagnosis. While it is certainly true that greed played a role in the financial crisis, something bigger was and is at stake. The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the reach of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to have a public debate about where markets belong—and where they don’t.
 Go ahead!

I am closing this post this Sunday at 11pm.