Market Values and moral values

Market values and moral values

Today I heard this great interview of Harvard Professor Michael Sandel where he explained how market values are replacing moral values in those parts of our lives we considered sacred. In other words, we are moving from being market economies to market societies. How so? In extreme cases, our societies outsource wars to mercenaries, we have companies that provide line standers for lobbyists who do not want to line up to get airtime before congressional committees and we have people who use body tattoos to advertise products and make a quick buck of it. The darker side is in the illegal organ trade or in people paying for prison cell upgrades (where prisons are privately run – really!). The process is insidious and is slowly eroding all our domains. We do not think twice about the commodification of water for example, a natural resource we thought should be readily available to all. Our wars started with one such natural resource oil. The next era of wars would be over water. In short, there were parts of our lives which we did not reduce to dollars and cents. It turns out now that nothing is so sacred.
In my business which involves providing language services we experience the pressure of markets every day. We speak about quality and yet we know that price trumps everything, even for governments that purchase service. This is a disheartening trend especially in the delivery of human services. This is not to say we should not be efficient. We should be and lower our costs using technology as much as we are able. However, we need to stand for some breakthrough values such as building local community capacity and providing employment within our communities, measuring a service’s value based on the human rights it protects not the dollars it costs and looking at social impact in the long term of all the decisions we make for short term gains. Can we all make a decision today to stand for something other than market value?
Harvard professor on American society: Everything is up for sale | The Raw Story Harvard University professor Michael Sandel on Monday lamented that almost every aspect of life in the United

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