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TomAz
05-15-2012, 03:26 PM
aka the Commercialism Thread or the Unfettered Capitalism Thread or the Market Society Thread.

I found Thomas Friedman's latest column to be very thought provoking, in which he discusses a book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by some Harvard dude. Most interesting sentence to me is the part about Amercian moving from a market economy to a market society. Not a new thought or worry but still one that seems to go un-understood or unheeded by the American Idol crowd.




This Column Is Not Sponsored by Anyone

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


PORING through Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel’s new book, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets,” I found myself over and over again turning pages and saying, “I had no idea.”

I had no idea that in the year 2000, as Sandel notes, “a Russian rocket emblazoned with a giant Pizza Hut logo carried advertising into outer space,” or that in 2001, the British novelist Fay Weldon wrote a book commissioned by the jewelry company Bulgari and that, in exchange for payment, “the author agreed to mention Bulgari jewelry in the novel at least a dozen times.” I knew that stadiums are now named for corporations, but had no idea that now “even sliding into home is a corporate-sponsored event,” writes Sandel. “New York Life Insurance Company has a deal with 10 Major League Baseball teams that triggers a promotional plug every time a player slides safely into base. When the umpire calls the runner safe at home plate, a corporate logo appears on the television screen, and the play-by-play announcer must say, ‘Safe at home. Safe and secure. New York Life.’ ”

And while I knew that retired baseball players sell their autographs for $15 a pop, I had no idea that Pete Rose, who was banished from baseball for life for betting, has a Web site that, Sandel writes, “sells memorabilia related to his banishment. For $299, plus shipping and handling, you can buy a baseball autographed by Rose and inscribed with an apology: ‘I’m sorry I bet on baseball.’ For $500, Rose will send you an autographed copy of the document banishing him from the game.”

I had no idea that in 2001 an elementary school in New Jersey became America’s first public school “to sell naming rights to a corporate sponsor,” Sandel writes. “In exchange for a $100,000 donation from a local supermarket, it renamed its gym ‘ShopRite of Brooklawn Center.’ ... A high school in Newburyport, Mass., offered naming rights to the principal’s office for $10,000. ... By 2011, seven states had approved advertising on the sides of school buses.”

Seen in isolation, these commercial encroachments seem innocuous enough. But Sandel sees them as signs of a bad trend: “Over the last three decades,” he states, “we have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society. A market economy is a tool — a valuable and effective tool — for organizing productive activity. But a ‘market society’ is a place where everything is up for sale. It is a way of life where market values govern every sphere of life.”

Why worry about this trend? Because, Sandel argues, market values are crowding out civic practices. When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens. When we outsource war to private military contractors, and when we have separate, shorter lines for airport security for those who can afford them, the result is that the affluent and those of modest means live increasingly separate lives, and the class-mixing institutions and public spaces that forge a sense of common experience and shared citizenship get eroded.

This reach of markets into every aspect of life was partly a result of the end of the cold war, he argues, when America’s victory was interpreted as a victory for unfettered markets, thus propelling the notion that markets are the primary instruments for achieving the public good. It was also the result of Americans wanting more public services than they were willing to pay taxes for, thus inviting corporations to fill in the gap with school gyms brought to you by ShopRite.

Sandel is now a renowned professor at Harvard, but we first became friends when we grew up together in Minneapolis in the 1960s. Both our fathers took us to the 1965 World Series, when the Dodgers beat the Twins in seven games. In 1965, the best tickets in Metropolitan Stadium cost $3; bleachers were $1.50. Sandel’s third-deck seat to the World Series cost $8. Today, alas, not only are most stadiums named for companies, but the wealthy now sit in skyboxes — even at college games — that cost tens of thousands of dollars a season, and hoi polloi sit out in the rain.

Throughout our society, we are losing the places and institutions that used to bring people together from different walks of life. Sandel calls this the “skyboxification of American life,” and it is troubling. Unless the rich and poor encounter one another in everyday life, it is hard to think of ourselves as engaged in a common project. At a time when to fix our society we need to do big, hard things together, the marketization of public life becomes one more thing pulling us apart. “The great missing debate in contemporary politics,” Sandel writes, “is about the role and reach of markets.” We should be asking where markets serve the public good, and where they don’t belong, he argues. And we should be asking how to rebuild class-mixing institutions.

“Democracy does not require perfect equality,” he concludes, “but it does require that citizens share in a common life. ... For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.”

amyzzz
05-15-2012, 03:37 PM
CURSE YOU GV FOR OFFERING VIP!

EastLos01
05-15-2012, 03:51 PM
This Article reminded me of a few years back when people were getting paid to do this...

http://www.redstaplerchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/goldenpalace.jpg

amyzzz
05-15-2012, 03:53 PM
I did hear a story about a pair of college students (or grads?) who were wearing ads on their faces to pay their college debt.

EastLos01
05-15-2012, 03:56 PM
Golden Palace was even paying for naming rights to unborn children...

http://www.auction-registration.com/2005/04/unborn-triplets-naming-rights-sold-on.html

Unborn Triplet's Naming Rights Sold On eBay
It looks like Golden Palace Casino is looking to rename everyone in the world to "GoldenPalace.com". About a week ago, they bought the naming rights to a Tennessee woman for $15,199.

Now they bought the naming rights to a woman's unborn triplets for $12,000. One of the children will be named "GoldenPalace.com", while the other two children's names will not be released until they are born.

This seems like a much better deal than the other auction because you get to name 3 people (works out to $4,000 each, vs. $15,199 for the Tennessee woman). But more importantly, these are newborns, so they are going to live a lot longer than the Tennessee woman, so it will be a longer advertising period as well.

amyzzz
05-15-2012, 03:57 PM
That is seriously fucked up. There should be a law against doing that to your kids. That seems like abuse to me.

TomAz
05-15-2012, 03:59 PM
KSSvzCNBvlQ

EastLos01
05-15-2012, 03:59 PM
Like Tom Said...


Not a new thought or worry but still one that seems to go un-understood or unheeded by the American Idol crowd.

fatbastard
05-15-2012, 04:04 PM
I find it extremely frustrating that actual people are making decisions based on something that has been subliminally pitched to them and they do not even realize that it’s happening.

TomAz
05-15-2012, 04:06 PM
5pm. Time to go home. Miller time!

amyzzz
05-15-2012, 04:14 PM
That video makes me want to see Neil Young. I guess I need to do some research (he's playing Outside Lands).

fatbastard
05-15-2012, 04:14 PM
I'm already home. I'm waiting for my neighbor to show up.


We're headed to taco tuesdays at Whole Foods Market on Arroyo (plenty of parking).
Tacos are only 1 dollar each !!!
http://naheechoi.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/whole_foods_logo.jpg

Tubesock Shakur
05-15-2012, 04:53 PM
GO AWAY, BATIN'!!!!!!! brought to you by Carl's Jr.

Tubesock Shakur
05-15-2012, 04:56 PM
Yeah, I got a solution, you're a dick! South Carolina, what's up!

kreutz2112
05-15-2012, 05:13 PM
aka the Commercialism Thread or the Unfettered Capitalism Thread or the Market Society Thread.

I found Thomas Friedman's latest column to be very thought provoking, in which he discusses a book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by some Harvard dude. Most interesting sentence to me is the part about Amercian moving from a market economy to a market society. Not a new thought or worry but still one that seems to go un-understood or unheeded by the American Idol crowd.

It was an ok article and i really like Friedman, but I fail to see the correlation between an increase in marketing by corporate sponsorship and an increasing social class division. I especially had a hard time with this and how it has anything to do with what he is talking about:


When we outsource war to private military contractors, and when we have separate, shorter lines for airport security for those who can afford them, the result is that the affluent and those of modest means live increasingly separate lives, and the class-mixing institutions and public spaces that forge a sense of common experience and shared citizenship get eroded.

TomAz
05-15-2012, 07:58 PM
The correlation is that our society is for sale. Including the way we run our public functions and the way we interact with each other.

kreutz2112
05-15-2012, 08:13 PM
You mean middle and lower class society is for sale?

Tubesock Shakur
05-15-2012, 08:19 PM
Everyone and everything is for sale. You have a price based upon your credit and klout score. Private prisons don't fill themselves.

Alchemy
05-15-2012, 08:24 PM
I've been saying for years that we should get out of this bad economy by getting sponsors for the states. Instead of being called "Texas," it can be called "Men In Black III - In Theaters on May 25th," and with that money, we can fix public education and start small businesses. The new national anthem for America could be: Five. Five Dollar. Five Dollar Foot Long. Put a Mickey Mouse hat on the Statue of Liberty. Add Ronald McDonald's face to Mount Rushmore.

fatbastard
05-15-2012, 08:27 PM
I'm imagining people singing that 5 dollar footlong song during the 7th inning stretch.

Stickjohn
05-15-2012, 08:32 PM
You may have a price but you don't get the money. You just get valuable opportunities for products and services customized to better meet your needs.

TomAz
05-15-2012, 08:34 PM
Hallmark holidays. Facebook. This war is brought to you by Blackwater.

Just imagine at the super bowl, "this national anthem is brought to you by gay.com". You'd kill off half the republican party with aneurysms.

SoulDischarge
05-15-2012, 08:46 PM
Hallmark holidays. Facebook. This war is brought to you by Blackwater.

Just imagine at the super bowl, "this national anthem is brought to you by gay.com". You'd kill off half the republican party with anyeurisms.

Not if they had a controlling share. Their morality can be bought too.

I think we should have government mandated contacts imprinted with corporate logos on them so everything we see is an advertisement for something. Then we will be fulfilled.

kreutz2112
05-15-2012, 09:01 PM
Let's extend it to ideals too. "I support gay marriage" this message brought to you by Pfizer

SoulDischarge
05-15-2012, 09:07 PM
I see gay marriage being a better fit for Malibu rum.

bmack86
05-15-2012, 09:32 PM
You mean middle and lower class society is for sale?

No, but the idea is that if you can commodify everything, including differing ways to approach the same ends (the example of being able to pay to get through a security line at the airport more quickly was the one they offered) means that we don't share common experiences regardless of class. The less the classes have in common at a basic level, the less understanding they can have.

boarderwoozel3
05-15-2012, 09:39 PM
Military contractors might not be the best example. Contractors/mercenaries/whatever have been a part of warfare for thousands of years. His point is well taken though.

EastLos01
05-16-2012, 07:38 AM
Imagine this flying over Iwo-Jima...
http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/corporate_flag.jpg

M Sparks
05-16-2012, 09:25 AM
That flag always annoys me. Some guy does a half-ass job photoshopping some random logos on a flag, and everyone goes "Yeah, maaaaaaaan" and passes it around like it's so deep.

First of all, we'd be lucky if there were this many companies ruling the world. The problem is consolidation. GE and NBC are the same company (as well as Comcast and Universal). ABC and Disney are the same. There's an old Bell System logo AND an AT&T logo. There are two Microsoft related logos, neither of which are actual Microsoft logos. I have no idea what the Q in the lower right, the ones on either side of Shell, or the one under CBS are. Chrysler but not Ford or GM? There's a camel for...cigarettes? Or foreign oil? Is Playboy really still considered a corporate powerhouse?

Where...the fuck...is Google? Or even Facebook?

This flag is clearly the work of an out of touch, middle aged hippie. Ultra-liberals- hearts in the right place, heads up their asses.

TomAz
05-16-2012, 09:27 AM
forests. trees.

Drinkey McDrinkerstein
05-16-2012, 09:43 AM
Left of Shell is United Airlines, to the right is Adidas. The camel one is camel cigarettes. Not sure about the others you mentioned. It is a totally random collection. The absence of pharmaceutical and major food companies show a basic lack of understanding of their entire point.

nahuatldream
05-16-2012, 09:46 AM
That flag always annoys me. Some guy does a half-ass job photoshopping some random logos on a flag, and everyone goes "Yeah, maaaaaaaan" and passes it around like it's so deep.

First of all, we'd be lucky if there were this many companies ruling the world. The problem is consolidation. GE and NBC are the same company (as well as Comcast and Universal). ABC and Disney are the same. There's an old Bell System logo AND an AT&T logo. There are two Microsoft related logos, neither of which are actual Microsoft logos. I have no idea what the Q in the lower right, the ones on either side of Shell (United Airlines and Adidas), or the one under CBS are (old Sprint logo). Chrysler but not Ford or GM? There's a camel for...cigarettes? Or foreign oil? Is Playboy really still considered a corporate powerhouse?

Where...the fuck...is Google? Or even Facebook?

This flag is clearly the work of an out of touch, middle aged hippie. Ultra-liberals- hearts in the right place, heads up their asses.

There are other versions. Is it sad I knew those logos immediately? If you put up the shape of some states, it might take me longer to recognize those... I know I know the Q, but cannot think of it at the moment

Drinkey McDrinkerstein
05-16-2012, 09:47 AM
United Airlines and Adidas were super obvious to me, they just seem so ubiquitous. What's the umbrella?

TomAz
05-16-2012, 09:50 AM
This flag is clearly the work of an out of touch, middle aged hippie.

Or maybe the work is 20+ years old.

this make you happier?

http://www.photomagnets.com/corporateflag2x3newlogo2.jpg

nahuatldream
05-16-2012, 09:52 AM
The Q is compaq! Yeah, that flag's an old version, haha.

nahuatldream
05-16-2012, 09:55 AM
United Airlines and Adidas were super obvious to me, they just seem so ubiquitous. What's the umbrella?

I recognized it as Traveler's Insurance, but a Google search informed me it used to be the logo for citigroup (I guess they sold it), and that's probably the reference in this case, based on the old logos.

BROKENDOLL
05-16-2012, 09:57 AM
Everyone and everything is for sale. You have a price based upon your credit and klout score. Private prisons don't fill themselves.
Based upon my credit and klout score, I remain priceless then.

JustSteve
05-16-2012, 10:00 AM
and with that money, we can fix public education

money will never fix public education. shitty, uncaring parents are the reason it is such a mess.

JustSteve
05-16-2012, 10:02 AM
Not if they had a controlling share. Their morality can be bought too.

I think we should have government mandated contacts imprinted with corporate logos on them so everything we see is an advertisement for something. Then we will be fulfilled.

or "minority report" style with eye scanners everywhere so digital ads are tailored to you as you walk around.

SoulDischarge
05-16-2012, 10:54 AM
That flag always annoys me. Some guy does a half-ass job photoshopping some random logos on a flag, and everyone goes "Yeah, maaaaaaaan" and passes it around like it's so deep.

First of all, we'd be lucky if there were this many companies ruling the world. The problem is consolidation. GE and NBC are the same company (as well as Comcast and Universal). ABC and Disney are the same. There's an old Bell System logo AND an AT&T logo. There are two Microsoft related logos, neither of which are actual Microsoft logos. I have no idea what the Q in the lower right, the ones on either side of Shell, or the one under CBS are. Chrysler but not Ford or GM? There's a camel for...cigarettes? Or foreign oil? Is Playboy really still considered a corporate powerhouse?

Where...the fuck...is Google? Or even Facebook?

This flag is clearly the work of an out of touch, middle aged hippie. Ultra-liberals- hearts in the right place, heads up their asses.

This is like watching a porn involving a sexy fake teacher and refusing to jerk off to it because her math is sloppy.

jackstraw94086
05-16-2012, 11:04 AM
That flag always annoys me. Some guy does a half-ass job photoshopping some random logos on a flag, and everyone goes "Yeah, maaaaaaaan" and passes it around like it's so deep.

First of all, we'd be lucky if there were this many companies ruling the world. The problem is consolidation. GE and NBC are the same company (as well as Comcast and Universal). ABC and Disney are the same. There's an old Bell System logo AND an AT&T logo. There are two Microsoft related logos, neither of which are actual Microsoft logos. I have no idea what the Q in the lower right, the ones on either side of Shell, or the one under CBS are. Chrysler but not Ford or GM? There's a camel for...cigarettes? Or foreign oil? Is Playboy really still considered a corporate powerhouse?

Where...the fuck...is Google? Or even Facebook?

This flag is clearly the work of an out of touch, middle aged hippie. Ultra-liberals- hearts in the right place, heads up their asses.

EDIT: just noticed Tom beat me to it.

calm yourself. That pic is decades old at this point. How else do you think the playboy logo made it on there? and that ancient bell AT&T logo for that matter.



This is like watching a porn involving a sexy fake teacher and refusing to jerk off to it because her math is sloppy.
If it were a porn the sexy teacher would have a huge bush

M Sparks
05-17-2012, 12:29 AM
Or maybe the work is 20+ years old.

this make you happier?

http://www.photomagnets.com/corporateflag2x3newlogo2.jpg

Yes, it makes 1000 times more sense. So why do people pass around the old one? That's the one I always see. In fact, I feel like I've already done a similar rant. I just feel like if you are going to be passionate about something, you should have at least a passing understanding of it. Details and facts are important. Andrew made a better point than I...where were the pharmaceuticals?

And LOL at Patrick.

RotationSlimWang
05-17-2012, 12:46 AM
There's an old Windows logo. What the fuck do you see as a second imitation Windows logo?

RotationSlimWang
05-17-2012, 12:48 AM
Imagine this flying over Iwo-Jima...
http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/corporate_flag.jpg

This flag can't be that old: there's a modern Internet Explorer icon. Oh, is that what you meant, Mark? My bad.

summerkid
05-17-2012, 06:50 AM
When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens.

This seems like a stretch to me, I doubt even half the students even make the connection that their gym is named after a grocery store let alone that it is teaching them to be consumers, I mean what is he saying? that in 10 years they are going to shop at that store because their gym was named after it? I mean, I can't remember what my high school gym is named after.

TomAz
05-17-2012, 07:16 AM
I don't see it as a stretch, though I will grant that Friedman's shorthand there creates ambiguity.

My take on it is that it is something more fundamental and basic than which store you shop at. It's about the formation of young minds and the role of the individual in our (relatively) free society. What is the message and what is the context? Are we telling children that they need to learn to be responsible participants in a democracy, or are we telling children that they need to learn to be active buyers of product?

I don't see this as a left/right issue, either; it's pretty easy to come up with examples where Republicans clearly think that there is value and importance in the public space (eg, renaming of Washington National airport to honor Ronald Reagan, etc). Left and Right may have different triggers and different sensitivities and different boundaries, but no honest thinker of any stripe would deny that those boundaries need to exist. And what Sandel seems to be getting at (I haven't read the book, just the column) is that those boundaries are becoming blurred and murkier and we as a society should, at a minimum, think that through and make it be a conscious choice rather than just allowing it to happen by default.

Alchemy
05-17-2012, 07:56 AM
Pretty much all of the programs at my high school were sponsored by specific food chains, now that I think of it. The ROTC program was sponsored by Arby's, the cheerleaders were sponsored by McDonalds, the flag girls were sponsored by Subway... Somebody was sponsored by Pizza Hut... Maybe it was the band. Or one of the sports teams... Somebody was also sponsored by Chick-Fil-A. There were some more that I can't remember.

My school didn't have an open lunch. But it wasn't necessary, because all those restaurants had these kiosk type things throughout the school. It was kind of like a shopping mall. Plus, at the time, the only good thing by the school was Carl's Jr. They didn't even enforce that the school was closed campus, because everybody just ate at the places in the school.

By the way, my school was called Americas High School.

EDIT: By "open lunch," I meant "open campus." We had regular lunch, too. But we, technically, were not supposed to leave campus during lunch. But like I said, it wasn't enforced and nobody cared if you stayed or left.

EDIT EDIT: Oh, and I should say, the way that the sponsorships worked was that before lunch, everyday, somebody from the restaurant would bring a bunch of food and give it to the club/team/group. The group's members would usually alternate who worked the kiosk (it was usually two or three of them), and the group would keep all the money.

summerkid
05-17-2012, 08:29 AM
I don't see it as a stretch, though I will grant that Friedman's shorthand there creates ambiguity.

My take on it is that it is something more fundamental and basic than which store you shop at. It's about the formation of young minds and the role of the individual in our (relatively) free society. What is the message and what is the context? Are we telling children that they need to learn to be responsible participants in a democracy, or are we telling children that they need to learn to be active buyers of product?


They see advertisements all the time I don't think an advertisement at school is the tipping point. What Friedman should be arguing for is educating children about consumption and personal finance.

Tubesock Shakur
05-17-2012, 08:36 AM
They see advertisements all the time I don't think an advertisement at school is the tipping point. What Friedman should be arguing for is educating children about consumption and personal finance.

I agree. Its not the kids to be worried about, its the artificial inflation of products in the eyes of uninformed investors. False advertising on Wall street.

Alchemy
05-17-2012, 08:41 AM
Yeah, plus, everybody is telling kids to be active buyers of product. It's already the established way of living. Schools are just late to the game.

TomAz
05-17-2012, 08:47 AM
They see advertisements all the time I don't think an advertisement at school is the tipping point. What Friedman should be arguing for is educating children about consumption and personal finance.

This may be true but it certainly misses the point entirely.

RotationSlimWang
05-17-2012, 09:11 AM
money will never fix public education. shitty, uncaring parents are the reason it is such a mess.

No it's not. Shitty, uneducated teachers and teaching plans are the reason it's a mess. I could fix the educational system in two years, parents are completely unnecessary.

CellarOwl
05-17-2012, 10:21 AM
This space available. Please contact for rates.

Alchemy
05-23-2012, 12:03 PM
http://the-opt.com/artwork/OPT-226-shopaganda.gif

TomAz
05-23-2012, 12:26 PM
That guy has good taste, he's holding the best Ramones album. I want to be his friend.

fatbastard
05-23-2012, 01:56 PM
SANDEL, MICHAEL J.

Atlantic Monthly (10727825), Apr2012, Vol. 309 Issue 3, p62-66, 4p

MARKET THINKING SO PERMEATES our lives that we barely notice it anymore. A leading philosopher sums up the hidden costs of a price-tag society.


THERE ARE SOME THINGS money can't buy -- but these days, not many. Almost everything is up for sale. For example:


• A prison-cell upgrade: $90 a night. In Santa Ana, California, and some other cities, nonviolent offenders can pay for a clean, quiet jail cell, without any non-paying prisoners to disturb them.


• Access to the carpool lane while driving solo: $8. Minneapolis, San Diego, Houston, Seattle, and other cities have sought to ease traffic congestion by letting solo drivers pay to drive in carpool lanes, at rates that vary according to traffic.


• The services of an Indian surrogate mother: $8,000. Western couples seeking surrogates increasingly outsource the job to India, and the price is less than one-third the going rate in the United States.


• The right to shoot an endangered black rhino: $250,000. South Africa has begun letting some ranchers sell hunters the right to kill a limited number of rhinos, to give the ranchers an incentive to raise and protect the endangered species.


• Your doctor's cellphone number: $1,500 and up per year. A growing number of "concierge" doctors offer cellphone access and same-day appointments for patients willing to pay annual fees ranging from $1,500 to $25,000.


• The right to emit a metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: $10.50. The European Union runs a carbon-dioxide-emissions market that enables companies to buy and sell the right to pollute.


• The right to immigrate to the United States: $500,000. Foreigners who invest $500,000 and create at least 10 full-time jobs in an area of high unemployment are eligible for a green card that entitles them to permanent residency.

NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD to buy these things. But today there are lots of new ways to make money. If you need to earn some extra cash, here are some novel possibilities:


• Sell space on your forehead to display commercial advertising: $10,000. A single mother in Utah who needed money for her son's education was paid $10,000 by an online casino to install a permanent tattoo of the casino's Web address on her forehead. Temporary tattoo ads earn less.


• Serve as a human guinea pig in a drug-safety trial for a pharmaceutical company: $7,500. The pay can be higher or lower, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure used to test the drug's effect and the discomfort involved.


• Fight in Somalia or Afghanistan for a private military contractor: up to $1,000 a day. The pay varies according to qualifications, experience, and nationality.


• Stand in line overnight on Capitol Hill to hold a place for a lobbyist who wants to attend a congressional hearing: $15-$20 an hour. Lobbyists pay line-standing companies, who hire homeless people and others to queue up.


• If you are a second-grader in an underachieving Dallas school, read a book: $2. To encourage reading, schools pay kids for each book they read.

WE LIVE IN A TIME when almost everything can be bought and sold. Over the past three decades, markets -- and market values -- have come to govern our lives as never before. We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us.

As the Cold War ended, markets and market thinking enjoyed unrivaled prestige, and understandably so. No other mechanism for organizing the production and distribution of goods had proved as successful at generating affluence and prosperity. And yet even as growing numbers of countries around the world embraced market mechanisms in the operation of their economies, something else was happening. Market values were coming to play a greater and greater role in social life. Economics was becoming an imperial domain. Today, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone. It increasingly governs the whole of life.

The years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 were a heady time of market faith and deregulation -- an era of market triumphalism. The era began in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proclaimed their conviction that markets, not government, held the key to prosperity and freedom. And it continued into the 1990s with the market-friendly liberalism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who moderated but consolidated the faith that markets are the primary means for achieving the public good.

Today, that faith is in question. The financial crisis did more than cast doubt on the ability of markets to allocate risk efficiently. It also prompted a widespread sense that markets have become detached from morals, and that we need to somehow reconnect the two. But it's not obvious what this would mean, or how we should go about it.

Some say the moral failing at the heart of market triumphalism was greed, which led to irresponsible risk-taking. The solution, according to this view, is to rein in greed, insist on greater integrity and responsibility among bankers and Wall Street executives, and enact sensible regulations to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

This is, at best, a partial diagnosis. While it is certainly true that greed played a role in the financial crisis, something bigger was and is at stake. The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the reach of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to have a public debate about where markets belong -- and where they don't.

Consider, for example, the proliferation of for-profit schools, hospitals, and prisons, and the outsourcing of war to private military contractors. (In Iraq and Afghanistan, private contractors have actually outnumbered U.S. military troops.) Consider the eclipse of public police forces by private security firms -- especially in the U.S. and the U.K., where the number of private guards is almost twice the number of public police officers.

Or consider the pharmaceutical companies' aggressive marketing of prescription drugs directly to consumers, a practice now prevalent in the U.S. but prohibited in most other countries. (If you've ever seen the television commercials on the evening news, you could be forgiven for thinking that the greatest health crisis in the world is not malaria or river blindness or sleeping sickness but an epidemic of erectile dysfunction.)

Consider too the reach of commercial advertising into public schools, from buses to corridors to cafeterias; the sale of "naming rights" to parks and civic spaces; the blurred boundaries, within journalism, between news and advertising, likely to blur further as newspapers and magazines struggle to survive; the marketing of "designer" eggs and sperm for assisted reproduction; the buying and selling, by companies and countries, of the right to pollute; a system of campaign finance in the U.S. that comes close to permitting the buying and selling of elections.

These uses of markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods were for the most part unheard-of 30 years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted.

Why worry that we are moving toward a society in which everything is up for sale?

For two reasons. One is about inequality, the other about corruption. First, consider inequality. In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means. The more money can buy, the more affluence -- or the lack of it -- matters. If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to afford yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would matter less than they do today. But as money comes to buy more and more, the distribution of income and wealth looms larger.

The second reason we should hesitate to put everything up for sale is more difficult to describe. It is not about inequality and fairness but about the corrosive tendency of markets. Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them. That's because markets don't only allocate goods; they express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged. Paying kids to read books might get them to read more, but might also teach them to regard reading as a chore rather than a source of intrinsic satisfaction. Hiring foreign mercenaries to fight our wars might spare the lives of our citizens, but might also corrupt the meaning of citizenship.

Economists often assume that markets are inert, that they do not affect the goods being exchanged. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark. Sometimes, market values crowd out nonmarket values worth caring about.

When we decide that certain goods maybe bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities, as instruments of profit and use. But not all goods are properly valued in this way. The most obvious example is human beings. Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as a commodity, to be bought and sold at auction. Such treatment fails to value human beings as persons, worthy of dignity and respect; it sees them as instruments of gain and objects of use.

Something similar can be said of other cherished goods and practices. We don't allow children to be bought and sold, no matter how difficult the process of adoption can be or how willing impatient prospective parents might be. Even if the prospective buyers would treat the child responsibly, we worry that a market in children would express and promote the wrong way of valuing them. Children are properly regarded not as consumer goods but as beings worthy of love and care. Or consider the rights and obligations of citizenship. If you are called to jury duty, you can't hire a substitute to take your place. Nor do we allow citizens to sell their votes, even though others might be eager to buy them. Why not? Because we believe that civic duties are not private property but public responsibilities. To outsource them is to demean them, to value them in the wrong way.

These examples illustrate a broader point: some of the good things in life are degraded if turned into commodities. So to decide where the market belongs, and where it should be kept at a distance, we have to decide how to value the goods in question -- health, education, family life, nature, art, civic duties, and so on. These are moral and political questions, not merely economic ones. To resolve them, we have to debate, case by case, the moral meaning of these goods, and the proper way of valuing them.

This is a debate we didn't have during the era of market triumphalism. As a result, without quite realizing it -- without ever deciding to do so -- we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.

The difference is this: A market economy is a tool -- a valuable and effective tool -- for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor. It's a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market.

The great missing debate in contemporary politics is about the role and reach of markets. Do we want a market economy, or a market society? What role should markets play in public life and personal relations? How can we decide which goods should be bought and sold, and which should be governed by nonmarket values? Where should money's writ not run?

Even if you agree that we need to grapple with big questions about the morality of markets, you might doubt that our public discourse is up to the task. It's a legitimate worry. At a time when political argument consists mainly of shouting matches on cable television, partisan vitriol on talk radio, and ideological food fights on the floor of Congress, it's hard to imagine a reasoned public debate about such controversial moral questions as the right way to value procreation, children, education, health, the environment, citizenship, and other goods. I believe such a debate is possible, but only if we are willing to broaden the terms of our public discourse and grapple more explicitly with competing notions of the good life.

In hopes of avoiding sectarian strife, we often insist that citizens leave their moral and spiritual convictions behind when they enter the public square. But the reluctance to admit arguments about the good life into politics has had an unanticipated consequence. It has helped prepare the way for market triumphalism, and for the continuing hold of market reasoning.

In its own way, market reasoning also empties public life of moral argument. Part of the appeal of markets is that they don't pass judgment on the preferences they satisfy. They don't ask whether some ways of valuing goods are higher, or worthier, than others. If someone is willing to pay for sex, or a kidney, and a consenting adult is willing to sell, the only question the economist asks is "How much?" Markets don't wag fingers. They don't discriminate between worthy preferences and unworthy ones. Each party to a deal decides for him- or herself what value to place on the things being exchanged.

This nonjudgmental stance toward values lies at the heart of market reasoning, and explains much of its appeal. But our reluctance to engage in moral and spiritual argument, together with our embrace of markets, has exacted a heavy price: it has drained public discourse of moral and civic energy, and contributed to the technocratic, managerial politics afflicting many societies today.

A debate about the moral limits of markets would enable us to decide, as a society, where markets serve the public good and where they do not belong. Thinking through the appropriate place of markets requires that we reason together, in public, about the right way to value the social goods we prize. It would be folly to expect that a more morally robust public discourse, even at its best, would lead to agreement on every contested question. But it would make for a healthier public life. And it would make us more aware of the price we pay for living in a society where everything is up for sale.

...

Mugwog
05-23-2012, 02:17 PM
This seems like a stretch to me, I doubt even half the students even make the connection that their gym is named after a grocery store let alone that it is teaching them to be consumers, I mean what is he saying? that in 10 years they are going to shop at that store because their gym was named after it? I mean, I can't remember what my high school gym is named after.

I lost a lot of faith in my school when our football scoreboard became the Outback Steakhouse score board. This is in Irvine too, fucking cheap asses.

amyzzz
05-23-2012, 02:25 PM
Thanks for posting that, FB. A good read.