Well, here's something you don't see every day: MarketWatch, affiliated with the Wall Street Journal, has published a strong piece condemning the evils of capitalism
For the rest of the world, capitalism is not working: A billion live on less than two dollars a day. With global population exploding to 10 billion by 2050, that inequality gap will grow, fueling revolutions, wars, adding more billionaires and more folks surviving on two bucks a day.
This article is really a review of Michael Sandel's new book, What Money Can't Buy
“Without being fully aware of the shift, Americans have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society ... where almost everything is up for sale ... a way of life where market values seep into almost every sphere of life and sometimes crowd out or corrode important values, non-market values.”
Yes, it’s everywhere: “Markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods unheard-of 30 years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted.”
Examples ... for-profit schools, hospitals, prisons ... outsourcing war to private contractors ... police forces by private guards “almost twice the number of public police officers” ... drug “companies aggressive marketing of prescription drugs directly to consumers, a practice ... prohibited in most other countries.”
More: Ads in “public schools ... buses ... corridors ... cafeterias ... naming rights to parks and civic spaces ... blurred boundaries, within journalism, between news and advertising ... marketing of ‘designer’ eggs and sperm for assisted reproduction ... buying and selling ... the right to pollute ... campaign finance in the U.S. that comes close to permitting the buying and selling of elections.”
Sandel believes that, over the course of 30 years, we've unhappily drifted from a market economy
to a market society
And “the difference is this: A market economy is a 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 difference is profound.
I can see Sandel's point.
I was of adult age when the great transformation of values began. In the 1970s, you could utter the words "The best things in life are free," and no-one would argue with you. People might use that phrase as the basis for a one-liner, but they wouldn't object to it in any serious fashion. Now, for a massive portion of our population, them's fighting words. That ancient cliche offends people on a profound level.
Although I've had some relatively flush times in the past, I never really knew how to make money. I can make myself well-known, at least to a degree (past which, life becomes uncomfortable), but the words "rich" and "famous" are not the siblings many take them to be. The things I like best -- a dog licking my face, a good book, the occasional shared laugh -- either cost nothing or have a very reasonable price tag.
On the other hand, maybe one should not be too hasty in dismissing this capitalism thing. WeSeed
allows you to invest virtual money ($10,000) in real companies to gauge how well you'd do playing the stock market. I made $336 (imaginary) during my first week-and-a-half. Not bad for a tyro!
I just thought of an example which demonstrates how thoroughly values changed within the space of a decade. If you were under (say) 25 years of age in 1974, the worst thing you could say about a film was: "Oh, they made that
just to make money." Ten years later, people within that same age group routinely spoke of movies as if they were just another consumer commodity. They approved
of Hollywood commercialism.