Thursday, May 2, 2013

Commodification of morality

I wanted to shout "Amen" after reading a provocative article in the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch, Capitalism is killing our morals, our future, by Paul Farrell.  He references work by Harvard Philosopher Michael Sandel, author of "What Money Can't Buy: The moral limits of markets".

A couple of the primary concerns that Dr. Sandel has associated with unfettered capitalism is the cultivation of corruption and inequality.  One example of inequality is the growth of student fees for children to participate in school sports and other after-school activities. Now the kids that could benefit most by participating in the school play, debate team, chess, or sports team are those who are more likely to be ruled out with expensive participation fees.  Even without any equipment fees it costs students in our school district $210 to participate in one sport and $110 to join an extracurricular actvity, such as a play, debate, etc. Taxpayers and legislators once valued participation by students in such activities, when they were totally supported by taxpayers.  Corruption occurs when money wields influence over such things as citizenship in the United States.

These past 30 years our nation has moved from being a market economy to a market society.  Market values permeate human and societal behavior in a market society.  So, for example, our natural environment no longer becomes intrinsically valuable, but it becomes valued only based on the financial worth of what it is able to provide for human consumption.

Capitalism has many endearing qualities to advance society, but it needs to be balanced by laws, and a sense of justice, in order to keep at least some focus on the interests of the common good.  Sadly I must admit, support for our common good is becoming less common.

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