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Having A Market Economy Vs. Becoming A Market Society

Having A Market Economy Vs. Becoming A Market Society June 28, 2010

A while back I posted a portion of this Michael Sandel speech but I never heard the entirety of it until this weekend when I was frantically re-embedding all the videos on the site. After embedding the Sandel clip, I listened to the whole speech and found it pretty great. The last two clips of the speech, chapters 12-13, are the ones I most recommend. I was not able to embed them separately but which you can find if you start this video and click “watch full program” and then click on the link for chapter 12:

Money quote:

Some of the good things in life are corrupted or degraded if we turn them into market commodities. So when we decide when to use markets, it’s not enough to think about efficiency. It’s not even enough to think about market freedom. We also have to decide how to value the goods in question, be they health, education, national defense, criminal justice, environmental protection, and so on.

These are moral and political questions, not merely economic ones. And to decide them democratically we have to debate them, case by case, just as we have begun to do here, the moral meaning of these goods and the proper way of valuing them.

This is the debate that we didn’t have in the age of market triumphalism. And as a result, without quite realizing it, without ever deciding to do so, we drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society.

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