What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

Sandel

In 1928 Canada banned walrus hunting. However an exception was made in the case of the Inuit tribes whose sustenance was based on such walruses for over 4500 years. In the 1990s, the Inuit leaders approached the Canadian Government with a unique proposal. They requested the Government to permit the Inuit to sell a designated quota of ‘walrus killing rights’ to people having the necessary resources to pay. The outcome of such a deliberation is that now for a fee of $6,500, the blubbering sloppy walruses can be shot for fun by anyone who is able to afford the ‘killing fee’.

From an Economics perspective, the aforementioned arrangement works perfectly fine. There is a willing buyer who values the right to kill a walrus at a set price and a willing seller who makes available such a right. However is there a denigrating moralistic effect to the whole peculiarity of trading the rights to kill a walrus? The most influential living political philosopher of our time Michael Sandle in a rousing justification says yes. The concept of unfairness and corruption defiles the economic principles underlying the working of the free markets in this regard.

Laying down a whole horde of such examples from the trading of procreation rights to giving up the right to reproduce for a fee, Sandle provides a clinical demonstration of how markets crowd out morals and values. This book is an exhortation to humanity to make the journey back to its ethical roots and to tread carefully when it comes to rampant commercialism practiced under the garb of pure Economics. Professor Sandle argues with passion, conviction and introspection that there are some goods, beliefs and concepts that can neither be bought not sold and that transacting in them vilifies, defiles and denounces human dignity, respect and self esteem.

“What Money Can’t Buy”…. – An intangible necessity and an indispensable eye opener!

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