Markets and Morals, Book Review Essay Example

Published: 2022-03-23
Markets and Morals, Book Review Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy American literature
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1742 words
15 min read

Recent times have proved to be the hardest for humanity concerning what market demands from the people. It is however not clear to many whether market forces influence and dictate issues to humanity or is it the humanity, which keeps on tightening the market force to make life a hard nut to crack. It is in the quest of finding what is debatable about the market and oral that Michael j. Sandel sought to teach the world through his arguments that there are so many things that money cannot buy in his book "What Money Can't Buy." Sandel is a political theorist at Harvard University where he does lectures but his writings have presented a wakeup call to humanity concerning marketing trends and by extension, the role markets ought to play in our society( Sandel, 21). Sandel begins by asserting the need to rethink where the society is heading to; the society is swift slipping with no reflection at all into relying upon markets in some ways that have since undermined the fairness of the nation. Sandel writes that the Marketization of almost everything implies that the people of affluence and the people of modest ill lead precisely different lives. His assertion is much eye opening that one day when things shall have been blown off, and then it will not be suitable for democracy anymore or not a satisfying way of life.

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In the recent times, market norms and values have fizzled out of hand. The apparent values have by far crowded out market norms purely in almost all aspects- say medicine, government, law, education, sports, personal relations, and including the family life. Moreover, people without an iota of realization, have driven with freefall stature from a market economy to a creation of a marketing society. The most burning rhetorical question about this is that, is this is where we are yearning to be? By presenting some of the daunting scenarios that touch our lives, Sandel argues that the commerciality of the market is increasingly lurking into all parts and aspects of life and in return making steps that are more destructive in as far as, humanity should coexist amidst the realization of many goals (Sandel, 23). It is worth looking at how the world economy is fast degenerating into a market society from a market economy from whence it was in the past three decades. For a period now, several theologians have taken interest in the market economy as well as the moral and ethical problems the two tend to pose. The critics have come out with a variety of viewpoints by which marketing perils can be based as well as the role of such marketing trends in daily life.

Sandel puts it that the US has greatly transformed to a society that merely has a vibrant free market to none that treats everything with the inclusion of civic institutions, friendship and even death- as if they were making a greater part of the market. Going with the traditional wisdom that such a transition refers to a good thing o both the world and humanity, he cites an argument that economic wisdom is important in making this cultural change to morality of streamlining the key economic components we are blatantly destroying. The assertion made by the Sandel in his article is contending that there are some of the most basic things in life that are corrupted or degraded if they are turned to the level of commodity.

As we near the era of societal erosion where everyone thinks everything is looked at regarding money, there is a call for everyone to consider taking part in sanitizing the market. It is the responsibility of every government and its people to govern their lives as never before. The condition that prevails now is not by accident. In fact, Sande puts it that "we arrived at this condition through our deliberate choice, but it looks to us as if it came upon us accidentally." the degeneration of the market morals erupted during the era of market triumphalism (Sandel, 24). This era was characterized by the great financial crisis, which was a heady time for the market faith. It was an era that markets realized a great change in the perception of what the market was to the ordinary person. It commenced in the 1980s during which Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher presented their conviction that it is the market but not the government that holds the key to freedom and prosperity of a nation. This period continued until the 1990s when there was a realization of market liberation by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

As we take a sigh of relief today and examining the situation within our perception to what market hold for humanity, we realize that the financial crisis did a lot in casting our doubt on our market. It has elicited the thought made publicly by great economist and theorists that the markets have become so detached from integrity and morals and there is a dire need that we work in reconnecting them back. Something great than greed did happen immediately after the financial crisis which marred three decades, what unfolded was the expansion of the markets as well as the market values such that nothing was spared. Almost everything tangible and intangible was subjected to monetary value including the sphere of life. For instance, consider an individual buying an expensive life insurance policy for an elderly or ailing person; it is quite absurd to find people paying larger premiums with the intention of claiming for the death benefits when the person dies (Sandel, 26). It is a way of making money, and the market has its terms and dictates. This is a good indication that the times we live in so unfortunate. Everything can be bought and sold with this calling for an expansion of the market. From claiming death benefits alone, it is estimated that the industry is trending at a $3 billion worth.

As the general focus of the public is in tandem to making money, by all means, a more significant population is made to forgo many necessities to cope up with the marketing trends. Nonetheless, people are called to rise to the occasion by thinking through the moral limits of the market. There is need to pose and reflect while being assertive in asking whether there are things that could not be bought by money. One of the significant developments of our time is the reach of the market and market-oriented thoughts that emanate from traditional aspects of life. With the proliferation of labeling everything for money, the society has fast degenerated to its lowest point of operation.

Worrying trends have finally set in within the society. The terrain is fast propelling society to think that everything is meant for sale. However, the phenomenon that calls for monetary attachment on every item in the society is occasioned by two main factors: fast is about inequality. Inequality is considered in the society where the sale of everything is ranting the air anywhere at any given time; life becomes more difficult for those of the modest means. Sande in his manuscript asserts that the more money is capable of buying, the more affluence matters, or its lack. This would exemplify scenario under which advantage concerning the affluence is the ability of a section of people in the society to buy certain things in life such as freedom, sports cars as well as fancy vacations. In return, the inequality of wealth and income would not be a matter of importance (Sandel, 34). In the whole, the more money is used to buy more and more- good medical schemes, political stature, a home in safe places as opposed to crime-prone areas- the distribution of the said income and wealth present a more in-depth to what matters whether morals or the structure of the market. Because of the lack of economic goodwill, it has been challenging to survive optimally for the poor people. Consequently, the gap existing between the poor and the rich has kept on widening. In addition to the widening gap, the commodification of all things has accelerated the sting of inequality thus maki8ng money to be a subject upon the living.

The second reason as to why it is important to hesitate to put everything for sale is indescribable since it is not inequality related, but it focuses on the corrosive state of our markets- corruption. When the society decides to put a price on things pertaining human life, then people will tend to live a corrupt life (Sandel, 35). It is for this reason that Sandel argues that a market does not only allocate goods but it also promotes certain attitudes on the items or goods being exchanged. For instance, when kids are paid to read books, they may do it but reading to them would be more connected to fulfilling an intrinsic satisfaction than what it was intended to create in the end.

In essence, the markets typically affect goods exchanged in it, it leaves a mark as well as making its values to crowd out non-market norms that are worth to be taken care of for preservation. Once a decision is made which goods can be bought and sold, appropriation to treat them as commodities and instruments to generate profit is reached. However, not all goods are worth valued in the same way. For instance, slavery used to appeal since it treated human beings to represent commodity for sale (Sandel, 36). It is true that such acts are the atrocity to human dignity and they fail to justify the hypothetical reason for its application appropriately. After all, every person was worthy to be treated with dignity. These examples are a clear indication that many good things in the sphere of human life are thus corrupted. Therefore, by deciding on what point the market does belong as well as where it should be placed the society have to decide to value the goods in question.

In conclusion, even if there is an agreement that of grappling with several questions regarding market moralities, there should be no doubt values creates fairness in the market rather than making a society that sees value in money than the morals and integrity. Any attempt to think about the discourse posed by erosion of values should be directed to making a market economy rather than a marketing society.


Sandel, Michael. "Markets and morals." Reith Lectures 9 (2009).

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