Societal Effect of Buying Privilege. Paper Example

Published: 2023-08-24
Societal Effect of Buying Privilege. Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Marketing Sales Human behavior Customer service
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1598 words
14 min read

In recent decades, almost everything is up for sale; the expansion of buying privilege has led to the spread of illegal companies and activities. Sandel leads us through a broad range of examples, ranging from educational institutions paying children to read books to commuters who buy the right to drive alone in carpools to advocates paying line-standers to hold their position in the queues for Congressional hearings. The buy and sell principle today no longer apply to material goods alone, but control the entire life. Sandel looks carefully at the moral consequences for a society where buying privileges and the market economy is utilized to distribute everything, leading to an effect on the economy and culture as a whole, which hampers economic, political, and cultural growth worldwide.

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Buying privilege has led to erosion of moral values; Sandel demonstrates how products can change their value as they are supplied in the market. For example, volunteers’ blood may not be clinically unique from blood sold to commercial blood banks in the United States. However, considering blood as a product has moral implications. Blood that is purchased and exchanged primarily comes from the poor, and the social stability created when blood is donated a goodwill connection is lost. Buying privileges may have a moral effect since more cash implies less financial stress; more money means a sense of power over one’s life money encourages activities that promote mental or physical well-being (Hout 5). Money helps one to buy products that improve satisfaction, and this can lead to moral erosion.

Buying privileges breeds inequality and corruption. Where everything is for sale, life is tougher for those with limited means. If people use money to buy items such as fancy cars and luxurious holidays, inequality may not matter that much. According to Adam Smith, if the economic systems are well structured, then morals and politics will normally evolve, and it should be a secondary problem (Kendra 3). However, people use cash to purchase everything leading to inequality due to a big gap in the distribution of wealth between the poor and the rich. The crisis is further aggravated if markets are no longer inert. The commodification of goods builds greater inequality and creates room for corruption by raising costs on commodities and altering perceptions towards other types of goods.

Buying privileges thrives under circumstances of high inequality and low trust, leading to the corruption that aggravates inequality; the well-off may manage bribes, while the vulnerable do without essential services (Uslaner 21). Corruption robs the state resources for the delivery of necessities to all citizens, particularly the vulnerable. Corruption thrives in these institutions, which the poor mostly depend on, police departments, the schools, and the medical field (Uslaner 21). Sandel states that, in a world where almost everything is for sale, life is better for people with money, as it can be used to buy more than just normal products. Money can buy political influence, access to good colleges, better health care, and everything one can afford.

Economic rent happens when people have buying privileges and, something different or unique in their possession. Anything unique maybe a luxurious apartment in a posh neighborhood, a plot of land in the city center, a natural resource like an oil field, or just any appealing personal qualities such as attractiveness and charisma. An individual who owns a unique resource of this sort may charge a fee more than the usual price for its usage earning from the commercial lease and unnecessary monopoly profits. This contributes to the sum of money gained, which exceeds what is economically or socially appropriate (Myint 36).

Sandel insists that some goods lose their value if they are put for sale, and regarded as commodities and products of benefit and usage, for example, slavery was barbaric as it viewed human people as objects to be purchased and put up for auction. This practice does not regard human beings as people deserving of integrity and respect; it treats them as products for profit and commodities of usage. When market logic extends beyond the scope of material goods, this leads to morality issues. In other words, to determine what money can and cannot buy, there must be consideration of principles that should guide various dimensions of social and civic existence. Sandel argues that there is a lack of fairness in the market. The poor are systematically disadvantaged if money is the necessary means to buy certain goods of a certain quality in the market.

Markets allocate goods and promote certain attitudes towards goods traded. In the first instance, such a market is characterized by anonymity between buyers and sellers. The market economy includes transactions between endless amounts of individuals (Cunningham 130). Even though they are face-to-face, at the corner of the shop, buyers and sellers must learn or think for themselves in their capacity as agents of market trade. A market society is a way of existence in which market principles transcend every part of human activity. It is an environment where social ties are established in the context of the market.

Owing to the nature of the market, whether such purchases are right or wrong is practically meaningless. They are essentially efficient schemes, promoting positive actions, and improving social value by having overpriced commodities affordable to the most likely to compensate for them. Sandel is disturbed by the increasing domination of markets where markets are the starting point of policy intervention for all social needs. For example, if we want to improve school children’s success, we will compensate them for academic achievement as per the market line of thought. Kids of wealthy people enroll in private colleges, or relatively homogeneous suburban schools, leaving public schools of the needy (Sandel 120). Markets infringe on morals and restrict the reach of moral discourse, and this limitation is overlooked.

Another growing moral challenge to market systems is the opposition to competition, generally perceived by critics as an interpersonal struggle for dominance. Competition is viewed differently by the economists seen as a process, often an impersonal process of trying to meet the standards others in the market to distribute scarce goods (Heyne 72). Sandel encourages an educated discussion to decide if certain individuals should be permitted to use prices when they distribute scarce goods, adding that democracy does not demand perfect equality; however, it allows people to share in common life.

Sandel argues that market logic can stretch beyond its rightful scope and corrupt certain essential values. This line of reasoning can be applied to market analysis as it views products that are not adequately understood as goods that can be traded on markets (Qizilbash 51). In order to resolve the moral limitations of market activity, it is essential to reconnect with its roots in moral and political theory. Sandel suggests that part of the explanation might have to do with moral reasoning and urges economists to link up with the origins of their practice of moral and political theory. He claims that part of the market’s inability to have a reliable understanding of what products should and should not be available for sale resides in its desire to be a value-free market.

Sandel argues that the most tragic shift that has taken place in the last three decades has not been a rise in greed but the expansion of markets and market principles into areas of life generally dominated by non-market values. Such uses of markets to distribute healthcare, education, social welfare, national defense, criminal justice, nature conservation, recreation, and other social goods were unheard of thirty years ago.

Examining these situations demonstrates that the parameters of the markets cannot be determined by economic reasoning and ought to be less intrigued by the concepts of productivity to be able to make healthy living decisions. The problem is that in our strongly pluralistic culture, where there is no agreement on the nature of a decent life, there is little possibility for a compromise on the moral boundaries of the market (Hout 5). Sandel points out that people are not in agreement with the standards that are appropriate for many of the domains that markets have invaded.

Sandel is troubled that, in an age of market triumphalism, we do not have a social and political environment in which we can establish a democratic dialogue that is expected to address the problems behind such problems. As a result, without acknowledging the issues, society drifted from having a market economy to a market society.

In my opinion, Sandel has ultimately achieved what any scholar might have wanted to see, putting the topic up for discussion and addressing it so that everyone can be entirely prepared to voice concerns. In my view, there is no reason for an intellect of any standing to challenge attitudes, norms, and values. Michael Sandel has taken all the aspects of society to address the issues, discuss them, and stop society from unraveling.

Works Cited

Cunningham, Frank. “Market economies and market societies.” Journal of Social Philosophy 36.2 (2005): 130.

Heyne, Paul. “MORAL CRITICISMS OF MARKETS”. The Senior Economist, vol 4, 1995, p. 72.

Hout, Michael. “Money And Morale”. MONEY AND MORALE: What Growing Inequality Is Doing To Americans’ Views Of Themselves And Others*, no. 1, 2003, p. 5. SAGE Publications, doi:

Kendra, Tully. “Adam Smith: Providing Morality In A Free Market Economy”. 2014, p. 3.,

Myint, U. “Corruption: Causes, consequences and cures.” Asia Pacific Development Journal 7.2 (2000): 33-58.

Sandel, Michael J. “What Money Can’T Buy: The Moral Limits Of Markets”. The Tanner Lectures On Human Values, 1998, p. 120.

Uslaner, Eric M.. “Corruption and inequality”. Cesifo DICE Report, vol 2, 2011, p. 21.

Qizilbash, Mozaffar. “The Market, Utilitarianism And The Corruption Argument”. International Review Of Economics, vol 66, no. 1, 2018, pp. 37-55. Springer Science And Business Media LLC, doi:10.1007/s12232-018-0302-2.

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