Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Money Can't Buy, entry 1

     Sandel points out that instead of producing real public debate about the role of markets in society, the financial crisis produced the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street Protests, largely aimed at the bailout(which was necessary to avoid a depression).   Note that the Occupy Wall Street movement made for good presentations of unshaven, smelly teenagers that served the interests of the right while the Tea Party gained just enough strength in congress to threaten even the pro-industry 'Obamacare' package, much less a more reasonable single-payer system. To borrow a phrase from Vonnegut, 'so it goes'.  Chomsky et al would probably argue that the reason there was no coverage of substantive debate of the place of markets is that media corporations, which rely upon advertising, themselves depend upon the expansion of markets into more and more sections of our lives.  Thus, no real debate about limiting the reach of markets can reach into the mass media.  I suppose they would have a point if they made such an argument.
     Sandel makes the following regarding the lack of substantive debate about markets(rather long, I know):

     "The moral vacancy of contemporary politics has a number of sources.  One is the attempt to banish notions of the good life from public discourse.  In hopes of avoiding sectarian strife, we often insist that citizens leave their moral and spiritual convictions behind when they enter the public square.  But despite its good intention, the reluctance to admit arguments about the good life into politics prepared the way for market triumphalism and for the continuing hold of market reasoning.
     In its own way, market reasoning also empties public life of moral argument.  Part of the appeal of markets is that they don't pass judgment on the preferences they satisfy."
With this as his opening, Sandel launches into case-by-case studies of when money can be used for certain services, presumably he then outlines some of the goods and bads of each type of arrangement.

     Now it's time for a  confession and certain self-disappointment.  In my own attempt to avoid rancor with friends I, almost all the time, allow what I consider ill-informed or unthought through positions elucidated by my more right-leaning acquaintances go without objection, often perhaps leading the other person to think I agree with them.  My question is, do I start speaking out in informal contexts or do I let others' obnoxious comments go? 


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