The Moral Limits of Markets

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Michael Sandel explains how, in recent decades, market values have taken over almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. He argues that our market economy has changed our society. His book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, he examines how this shift happened and looks at the proper role of markets in a democratic society.


Michael Sandel

Comments [17]

Ali from Uniondale, NY

I'm a third grade teacher in a very low income school district on Long Island. The students I teach are bilingual and their parents are, for the most part, illegal citizens. What matters to their families isn't so much their child's education or reading score, but rather putting food on the table and keeping their housing while trying to stay above the poverty line. I don't think paying my particular third graders to read books or get good grades on standardized tests is that murky of an issue. If I could get them to do it by paying them, I would be happy to. Many of these parents do not prioritze education because education is still a luxury above and beyond daily survival. So, to put a monetary value on education isn't such a bad thing for families in poverty, in fact, it may change people's minds and priorities.

Apr. 24 2012 12:59 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I'd sell my body and my children for the right price. Any offers sight unseen?

Apr. 24 2012 12:58 PM
John A.

I find this segment pure torture. Not from itself being bad, but by listing so many bad practices.

Apr. 24 2012 12:58 PM
Anonymous from Brooklyn

I would be interested in hearing Sandel's thoughts on our current health care system. What are the moral implications of health insurers paying less per treatment as written about in a New York Times article published today? It seems getting adequate health care is increasingly only available to the wealthiest of Americans or those who can travel abroad to receive less costly treatments, which is perhaps the most distressing effect of our reliance on a free market economy.

Apr. 24 2012 12:55 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

To J b gordon - that is SO depressing.

Apr. 24 2012 12:55 PM

Reminds me of the tech event recently whereby a phone company hired homeless people to rig up and act as walking wifi spots.

Apr. 24 2012 12:54 PM
J b gordon from Dobbs ferry

A woman in my suburban Westchester congregation came to me livid because parents were getting together to reduce the homework load in the public school. She said such a change would lower regents scores in the area and lower the value of her home. So, if billy decides to play computer one night and blow off his prep for an exam, it's an attack on her family's economic security.

Apr. 24 2012 12:53 PM
Ruth from Brooklyn, NY

Does that mean something like Singapore's system would be more effective in preventing certain actions? For example, getting caught chewing gum in public would earn you a slot on the garbage army.

Apr. 24 2012 12:48 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Now you're talking...

The GOP is attempting to curb entitlements by creating needs based hurdles to access, why not means based fines?

Apr. 24 2012 12:48 PM
Elle from Brooklyn

I've heard the day care example before. Economists might be interested to know the case at my day care. Yes, we do get charged, but in addition, both counselors and students have to be out of the school building by 6:00, so if you're late, your child is waiting with a counselor outside. Especially in the winter, when it's cold and dark, the guilt is a much more powerful motivator than the money to to pick up your kid on time!

Apr. 24 2012 12:44 PM

The stats overwhelmingly show that the wealthy have greater access to the universities of privilege.

As interesting are the areas where western culture still largely bans the application of market principles. Consider the hysteria over the secret service figures who hired prostitutes. Or take the attitudes towards drugs, where there is clearly room for a market approach -- there already is a market, an illegal one.

Apr. 24 2012 12:42 PM

Does healthcare really work in a capitalist market? When there is no limit to what we are willing to pay to live (and not die), doesn't that keep the free market from working correctly?

Apr. 24 2012 12:42 PM

Paying for a cell upgrade feels like the first step toward simply buying your freedom regardless of your crime.

Apr. 24 2012 12:41 PM
Laura from UWS

Can the guest comment on how we got our ideas about what markets are?

And what about the old definition?

Market deals must be between FREE and willing people but "Necessitous men are not free men.”

Apr. 24 2012 12:40 PM
MC from Manhattan

you could always buy your way out of prison thats why there were debtors prisons the people in them could not buy their way out!

the "market" is a manipulation

Apr. 24 2012 12:38 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Isn't this an exploration of Oscar Wilde's pithy observation about people knowing "the price of everything and the value of nothing"? (There is a book with the same title, which also explored an aspect of this issue.)

Apr. 24 2012 12:36 PM
meredith from nyc

yikes, sandel and makarova on the show! How wonderful.

Ask Sandel about the moral limits of markets....this goes to corporate concentrations of power taking over our society behind a smokescreen of free market American Values, but which are really interfering in free markets except for the top few......ask sandel to comment on the sunday NYT page one article revealing the activities of ALEC which is about this.....thanks.

Apr. 24 2012 12:07 PM

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