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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format. Topics What Money Cant Buy, MICHAEL J. SANDEL, capitalism, liberalism, democracy, ppti.info, pdf. Collectionopensource. LanguageEnglish. MICHAEL J. SANDEL What Money Can't Buy The Moral Limits of Markets ALLEN LANE an imprint of PENGUIN BOOK 1 Contents Introduction: Markets.


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MICHAEL J. SANDEL is professor of government at Har- vard University, where he has taught political philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since . Editorial Reviews. From Bookforum. Sandel's world seems to be firmly divided between God “Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy is a great book and I recommend every economist to read it, even though we are not really his target. What Money Can t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets Michael J Sandel pdf, by Michael J Sandel What Money Can t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, book pdf.

Rent out space on your forehead or elsewhere on your body to display commercial advertising: Head down to New Zealand. The pay varies according to qualifications, experience, and nationality.

The lobbyists pay line-standing companies, who hire homeless people and others to queue up. To encourage reading, the schools pay kids for each book they read. Companies and health insurers offer financial incentives for weight loss and other kinds of healthy behavior. The sooner the stranger dies, the more the investor makes.

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, 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 but increasingly governs the whole of life. It is time to ask whether we want to live this way. The era began in the early s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proclaimed their conviction that markets, not government, held the key to prosperity and freedom.

And it continued in the s, 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 doubt. The era of market triumphalism has come to an end. 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 somehow to reconnect them. 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 is at stake. The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to rethink the role that markets should play in our society.

We need a public debate about what it means to keep markets in their place. To have this debate, we need to think through the moral limits of markets. We need to ask whether there are some things money should not buy.

The reach of markets, and market-oriented thinking, into aspects of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms is one of the most significant developments of our time. Consider the proliferation of for-profit schools, hospitals, and prisons, and the outsourcing of war to private military contractors. In Iraq and Afghanistan, private contractors actually outnumbered U. Consider the eclipse of public police forces by private security firms—especially in the United States and Britain, where the number of private guards is more than twice the number of public police officers.

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 thirty years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted. For two reasons: 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 buy yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would not matter very much. But as money comes to buy more and more—political influence, good medical care, a home in a safe neighborhood rather than a crime-ridden one, access to elite schools rather than failing ones—the distribution of income and wealth looms larger and larger.

Where all good things are bought and sold, having money makes all the difference in the world. This explains why the last few decades have been especially hard on poor and middle-class families. Not only has the gap between rich and poor widened, the commodification of everything has sharpened the sting of inequality by making money matter more. 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. Paying kids to read books might get them to read more, but also teach them to regard reading as a chore rather than a source of intrinsic satisfaction.

Auctioning seats in the freshman class to the highest bidders might raise revenue but also erode the integrity of the college and the value of its diploma. Hiring foreign mercenaries to fight our wars might spare the lives of our citizens but corrupt the meaning of citizenship. Economists often assume that markets are inert, that they do not affect the goods they exchange.

But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark. Sometimes, market values crowd out nonmarket values worth caring about. Of course, people disagree about what values are worth caring about, and why. So to decide what money should—and should not—be able to buy, we have to decide what values should govern the various domains of social and civic life.

How to think this through is the subject of this book. But not all goods are properly valued in this way. The most obvious example is human beings.

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Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as commodities, to be bought and sold at auction. Such treatment fails to value human beings in the appropriate way—as persons worthy of dignity and respect, rather than as instruments of gain and objects of use.

Something similar can be said of other cherished goods and practices. Even if buyers did not mistreat the children they purchased, a market in children would express and promote the wrong way of valuing them.

Children are not properly regarded 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 may not 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 should not be regarded as private property but should be viewed instead as public responsibilities.

To outsource them is to demean them, to value them in the wrong way. These examples illustrate a broader point: 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.

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. 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?

What Money Can't Buy

These are the questions this book seeks to address. But I hope at least to prompt public discussion of these questions, and to provide a philosophical framework for thinking them through.

Any attempt to rethink the role and reach of markets should begin by acknowledging two daunting obstacles. The other is the rancor and emptiness of our public discourse. These two conditions are not entirely unrelated. The first obstacle is puzzling. At the time, the financial crisis of was widely seen as a moral verdict on the uncritical embrace of markets that had prevailed, across the political spectrum, for three decades.

Even Alan Greenspan, who as chairman of the U. Now, surely, would be a time of moral reckoning, a season of sober second thoughts about the market faith. The spectacular failure of financial markets did little to dampen the faith in markets generally.

In fact, the financial crisis discredited government more than the banks. In , surveys found that the American public blamed the federal government more than Wall Street financial institutions for the economic problems facing the country—by a margin of more than two to one. The financial crisis had pitched the United States and much of the global economy into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and left millions of people out of work.

Yet it did not prompt a fundamental rethinking of markets. Instead, its most notable political consequence in the United States was the rise of the Tea Party movement, whose hostility to government and embrace of free markets would have made Ronald Reagan blush. In the fall of , the Occupy Wall Street movement brought protests to cities throughout the United States and around the world.

These protests targeted big banks and corporate power, and the rising inequality of income and wealth. Despite their different ideological orientations, both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street activists gave voice to populist outrage against the bailout. Notwithstanding these voices of protest, serious debate about the role and reach of markets remains largely absent from our political life.

Democrats and Republicans argue, as they long have done, about taxes, spending, and budget deficits, only now with greater partisanship and little ability to inspire or persuade. Disillusion with politics has deepened as citizens grow frustrated with a political system unable to act for the public good, or to address the questions that matter most. This parlous state of public discourse is the second obstacle to a debate about the moral limits of markets. But I believe such a debate is possible, and that it would invigorate our public life.

Some see in our rancorous politics a surfeit of moral conviction: I think this misreads our predicament. The problem with our politics is not too much moral argument but too little. Our politics is overheated because it is mostly vacant, empty of moral and spiritual content. It fails to engage with big questions that people care about.

The moral vacancy of contemporary politics has a number of sources. One is the attempt to banish notions of the good life from public discourse. 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 despite its good intention, the reluctance to admit arguments about the good life into politics prepared 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. Each party to a deal decides for himself 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 would also invigorate our politics, by welcoming competing notions of the good life into the public square.

For how else could such arguments proceed? If you agree that buying and selling certain goods corrupts or degrades them, then you must believe that some ways of valuing these goods are more appropriate than others.

It hardly makes sense to speak of corrupting an activity— parenthood, say, or citizenship—unless you think that some ways of being a parent, or a citizen, are better than others.

Moral judgments such as these lie behind the few limitations on markets we still observe. Thinking through the moral limits of markets makes these questions unavoidable.

It requires that we reason together, in public, about how to value the social goods we prize. It would be folly to expect that a morally more 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.

When we think of the morality of markets, we think first of Wall Street banks and their reckless misdeeds, of hedge funds and bailouts and regulatory reform. But the moral and political challenge we face today is more pervasive and more mundane—to rethink the role and reach of markets in our social practices, human relationships, and everyday lives.

Sometimes you can pay to jump the queue. Such tips are quasi bribes and handled discreetly. No sign in the window announces immediate seating for anyone willing to slip the host a fifty-dollar bill. But in recent years, selling the right to cut in line has come out of the shadows and become a familiar practice. But not everyone has to wait in the serpentine queues. Those who buy first-class or business-class tickets can use priority lanes that take them to the front of the line for screening.

British Airways calls it Fast Track, a service that also lets high-paying passengers jump the queue at passport and immigration control. Critics complain that a fast track through airport security should not be for sale. Security checks, they argue, are a matter of national defense, not an amenity like extra legroom or early boarding privileges; the burden of keeping terrorists off airplanes should be shared equally by all passengers.

The airlines reply that everyone is subjected to the same level of screening; only the wait varies by price. As long as everyone receives the same body scan, they maintain, a shorter wait in the security line is a convenience they should be free to sell. Amusement parks have also started selling the right to jump the queue. Traditionally, visitors may spend hours waiting in line for the most popular rides and attractions. Now, Universal Studios Hollywood and other theme parks offer a way to avoid the wait: Expedited access to the Revenge of the Mummy thrill ride may be morally less freighted than privileged access to an airport security check.

Still, some observers lament the practice, seeing it as corrosive of a wholesome civic habit: Interestingly, amusement parks often obscure the special privileges they sell. To avoid offending ordinary customers, some parks usher their premium guests through back doors and separate gates; others provide an escort to ease the way of VIP guests as they cut in line. This need for discretion suggests that paid line cutting—even in an amusement park—tugs against a nagging sense that fairness means waiting your turn.

Unfortunately, the site attracts several million visitors a year, and the wait for the elevator can sometimes take hours. So the Empire State Building now offers a fast track of its own. Increasingly, commuters can buy their way out of bumper-to-bumper traffic and into a fast-moving express lane. It began during the s with car pool lanes. Many states, hoping to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, created express lanes for commuters willing to share a ride.

Solo drivers caught using the car pool lanes faced hefty fines. Some put blow-up dolls in the passenger seat in hopes of fooling the highway patrol.

In an episode of the television comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David comes up with an ingenious way of buying access to the car pool lane: Sure enough, the quick ride in the car pool lane gets him there in time for the first pitch. Today, many commuters can do the same—without the need for hired help. The toll typically varies according to the traffic—the heavier the traffic, the higher the fee.

In most places, cars with two or more occupants can still use express lanes for free. On the Riverside Freeway, east of Los Angeles, rush-hour traffic creeps along at 15—20 miles an hour in the free lanes, while the paying customers in the express lane zip by at 60—65 mph. Some people object to the idea of selling the right to jump the queue. They argue that the proliferation of fast-track schemes adds to the advantages of affluence and consigns the poor to the back of the line.

Others disagree. They argue that there is nothing wrong with charging more for faster service. Federal Express charges a premium for overnight delivery. The local dry cleaner charges extra for same-day service.

To an economist, long lines for goods and services are wasteful and inefficient, a sign that the price system has failed to align supply and demand. Letting people pay for faster service at airports, at amusement parks, and on highways improves economic efficiency by letting people put a price on their time.

As the New York Daily News reported, this predicament gave rise to a cottage industry—people offering to wait in line to secure tickets for those willing to pay for the convenience. The line standers advertised their services on Craigslist and other websites. In Washington, D. When congressional committees hold hearings on proposed legislation, they reserve some seats for the press and make others available to the general public on a first- come, first-served basis.

Depending on the subject and the size of the room, the lines for the hearings can form a day or more in advance, sometimes in the rain or in the chill of winter. Corporate lobbyists are keen to attend these hearings, in order to chat up lawmakers during breaks and keep track of legislation affecting their industries.

18 West 18th Street, New York 10011

But the lobbyists are loath to spend hours in line to assure themselves a seat. Their solution: The line-standing companies recruit retirees, message couriers, and, increasingly, homeless people to brave the elements and hold a place in the queue.

The line standers wait outside, then, as the line moves, they proceed inside the halls of the congressional office buildings, queuing up outside the hearing rooms. Shortly before the hearing begins, the well-heeled lobbyists arrive, trade places with their scruffily attired stand-ins, and claim their seats in the hearing room.

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

The business has recently expanded from Congress to the U. Supreme Court. The company LineStanding. Oliver Gomes, a professional line stander, agrees. He was living in a homeless shelter when he was recruited for the job.

CNN interviewed him as he held a place in line for a lobbyist at a hearing on climate change. But opportunity for Gomes meant frustration for some environmentalists.

Of course, it might be argued that if the environmentalists cared enough about attending the hearing, they too could have queued up overnight.

Or they could have hired homeless people to do it for them. Recently, while visiting China, I learned that the line-standing business has become routine at top hospitals in Beijing.

The market reforms of the last two decades have resulted in funding cuts for public hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas. So patients from the countryside now journey to the major public hospitals in the capital, creating long lines in registration halls.

They queue up overnight, sometimes for days, to get an appointment ticket to see a doctor. Rather than camp out for days and nights in the queue, some patients, desperate for an appointment, buy tickets from scalpers. The scalpers make a business of the yawning gap between supply and demand. They hire people to line up for appointment tickets and then resell the tickets for hundreds of dollars—more than a typical peasant makes in months.

Appointments to see leading specialists are especially prized—and hawked by the scalpers as if they were box seats for the World Series. The Los Angeles Times described the ticket-scalping scene outside the registration hall of a Beijing hospital: Who wants a ticket for Dr. Rheumatology and immunology. There is something distasteful about scalping tickets to see a doctor. For one thing, the system rewards unsavory middlemen rather than those who provide the care.

Economists might agree and advise hospitals to raise their prices. In fact, some Beijing hospitals have added special ticket windows, where the appointments are more expensive and the lines much shorter. But regardless of who cashes in on the excess demand, the scalpers or the hospital, the fast track to the rheumatologist raises a more basic question: Should patients be able to jump the queue for medical care simply because they can afford to pay extra?

But the same question can be asked of a subtler form of queue jumping increasingly practiced in the U.

Doctor appointments have to be scheduled weeks, sometimes months, in advance. When you show up for the appointment, you may have to cool your heels in the waiting room, only to spend a hurried ten or fifteen minutes with the doctor. The reason: So to make a decent living, physicians in general practice have rosters of three thousand patients or more, and often rush through twenty-five to thirty appointments per day.

Many patients and doctors are frustrated with this system, which leaves little time for doctors to get to know their patients or to answer their questions. And if you need to see a top specialist, your concierge doctor will pave the way. To provide this attentive service, concierge physicians sharply reduce the number of patients they care for. Physicians who decide to convert their practice into a concierge service send a letter to their existing patients offering a choice: Each doctor serves only fifty families.

Other concierge practices cater to the upper middle class. Participating physicians cut their patient rolls to six hundred, enabling them to spend more time with each patient.

But since there is little if any waiting, the food often goes untouched. For concierge doctors and their paying customers, concierge care is everything medicine should be. For patients who can afford it, unhurried appointments and round-the-clock access to a doctor are luxuries worth paying for. The drawback, of course, is that concierge care for a few depends on shunting everyone else onto the crowded rolls of other doctors.

It therefore invites the same objection leveled against all fast-track schemes: Concierge medicine differs, to be sure, from the special ticket windows and the appointment-scalping system in Beijing. But the two systems have this in common: The queue jumping is more brazen in Beijing than in Boca Raton. There seems a world of difference between the clamor of the crowded registration hall and the calm of the waiting room with the uneaten sponge cake. Selling the right to cut in line is not the most grievous instance of this trend.

But thinking through the rights and wrongs of line standing, ticket scalping, and other forms of queue jumping can help us glimpse the moral force—and moral limits—of market reasoning. Is there anything wrong with hiring people to stand in line, or with scalping tickets?

Most economists say no. They have little sympathy for the ethic of the queue. If I want to hire a homeless person to queue up on my behalf, they ask, why should anyone complain? The case for markets over queues draws on two arguments.

One is about respecting individual freedom; the other is about maximizing welfare, or social utility. The first is a libertarian argument.

Libertarians oppose laws against ticket scalping for the same reason they oppose laws against prostitution, or the sale of human organs: The second argument for markets, more familiar among economists, is utilitarian.

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It says that market exchanges benefit buyers and sellers alike, thereby improving our collective well- being, or social utility. The fact that my line stander and I strike a deal proves that we are both better off as a result. We are both better off as a result of our exchange; our utility increases.

This is what economists mean when they say that free markets allocate goods efficiently. By allowing people to make mutually advantageous trades, markets allocate goods to those who value them most highly, as measured by their willingness to pay. My colleague Greg Mankiw, an economist, is the author of one of the most widely used economics textbooks in the United States.

He uses the example of ticket scalping to illustrate the virtues of the free market. Ticket scalping is one example of how markets reach efficient outcomes … By charging the highest price the market will bear, scalpers help ensure that consumers with the greatest willingness to pay for the tickets actually do get them.

Why try to banish paid line standers and ticket scalpers from Central Park or Capitol Hill? A spokesperson for Shakespeare in the Park offered the following rationale: We want people to have that experience for free. The first part of the argument is flawed. Hired line standers do not reduce the total number of people who see the performance; they only change who sees it.

But those who wind up with those tickets are also eager to see the play. It puts ordinary folks at a disadvantage and makes it harder for them to get tickets.

This is a stronger argument. Free-market advocates might reply as follows: If the theater really wants to fill its seats with people eager to see the play and to maximize the pleasure its performances give, then it should want tickets to go to those who value them most highly. And those are the people who will pay most for a ticket.

So the best way to pack the house with an audience that will derive the greatest pleasure from the play is to let the free market operate—either by selling tickets for whatever price the market will bear, or by allowing line standers and scalpers to sell to the highest bidders.

Getting tickets to those willing to pay the highest price for them is the best way of determining who most values a Shakespeare performance. But this argument is unconvincing. Even if your goal is to maximize social utility, free markets may not do so more reliably than queues. The reason is that the willingness to pay for a good does not show who values it most highly. This is because market prices reflect the ability as well as the willingness to pay.

And in some cases, those who pay the most for tickets may not value the experience very highly at all. This makes me wonder how much they care about baseball. Their ability to afford seats behind home plate may have more to do with the depth of their pockets than their passion for the game. Since market prices reflect the ability as well as the willingness to pay, they are imperfect indicators of who most values a particular good.

This is a familiar point, even an obvious one. In some cases, the willingness to stand in line—for theater tickets or for the ball game—may be a better indicator of who really wants to attend than the willingness to pay.

As markets allocate goods based on the ability and willingness to pay, queues allocate goods based on the ability and willingness to wait. And there is no reason to assume that the willingness to pay for a good is a better measure of its value to a person than the willingness to wait.

So the utilitarian case for markets over queues is highly contingent. Sometimes markets do get goods to those who value them most highly; other times, queues may do so.

Whether, in any given case, markets or queues do this job better is an empirical question, not a matter that can be resolved in advance by abstract economic reasoning.

Certain goods have value in ways that go beyond the utility they give individual buyers and sellers. How a good is allocated may be part of what makes it the kind of good it is. But why? How would the experience be diminished if tickets were bought and sold?

But fairness is not the only thing at stake. Something is lost when free public theater is turned into a market commodity, something beyond the disappointment experienced by those who are priced out of attending. The Public Theater sees its free outdoor performances as a public festival, a kind of civic celebration.

It is, so to speak, a gift the city gives itself. Of course, seating is not unlimited; the entire city cannot attend on any given evening. But the idea is to make Shakespeare freely available to everyone, without regard to the ability to pay. Charging for admission, or allowing scalpers to profit from what is meant to be a gift, is at odds with this end.

It changes a public festival into a business, a tool for private gain. It would be as if the city made people pay to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

One objection is about fairness: But unequal access is not the only troubling aspect of this practice. Suppose lobbyists were taxed when they hired line-standing companies, and the proceeds were used to make line- standing services affordable for ordinary citizens. The subsidies might take the form, say, of vouchers redeemable for discounted rates at line-standing companies.

Such a scheme might ease the unfairness of the present system. But a further objection would remain: The line-standing industry remedies this inefficiency by establishing a market price. It allocates seats in the hearing room to those who are willing to pay the most for them. But this values the good of representative government in the wrong way. Many people would object, not only on the grounds that the admission fee is unfair to those unable to afford it but also on the grounds that charging the public to attend a congressional hearing is a kind of corruption.

What Money Can't Buy; The Moral Limits of Markets

We often associate corruption with ill-gotten gains. But corruption refers to more than bribes and illicit payments. To corrupt a good or a social practice is to degrade it, to treat it according to a lower mode of valuation than is appropriate to it.

Charging admission to congressional hearings is a form of corruption in this sense. It treats Congress as if it were a business rather than an institution of representative government. Cynics might reply that Congress is already a business, in that it routinely sells influence and favors to special interests. So why not acknowledge this openly and charge admission? The answer is that the lobbying, influence peddling, and self-dealing that already afflict Congress are also instances of corruption.

They represent the degradation of government in the public interest. Implicit in any charge of corruption is a conception of the purposes and ends an institution in this case, Congress properly pursues.

The line- standing industry on Capitol Hill, an extension of the lobbying industry, is corrupt in this sense. It is not illegal, and the payments are made openly. But it degrades Congress by treating it as a source of private gain rather than an instrument of the public good. Why do some instances of paid queue jumping, line standing, and ticket scalping strike us as objectionable, while others do not?

The reason is that market values are corrosive of certain goods but appropriate to others. Before we can decide whether a good should be allocated by markets, queues, or in some other way, we have to decide what kind of good it is and how it should be valued. Figuring this out is not always easy. The reservations can be booked, by telephone or online, beginning at 7: Demand is so intense, especially for the summer, that the campsites are fully booked within minutes of becoming available.

The National Park Service, which prohibits the resale of reservations, was flooded with complaints about the scalpers and tried to prevent the illicit trade.

If the National Park Service wants to maximize the welfare society derives from Yosemite, it should want the campsites to be used by those who most value the experience, as measured by their willingness to pay. So rather than try to defeat the scalpers, it should welcome them.

Or it should raise the price it charges for campsite reservations to the market-clearing price and eliminate the excess demand. But the public outrage over the scalping of Yosemite campsites rejects this market logic.

It saw the scalping as a scam to be prevented, not as a service to social utility. Underlying the hostility to scalping campsites at Yosemite are actually two objections— one about fairness, the other about the proper way of valuing a national park. According to this idea, national parks are not merely objects of use or sources of social utility.

They are places of natural wonder and beauty, worthy of appreciation, even awe. For scalpers to auction access to such places seems a kind of sacrilege.

Papal Masses for Sale Here is another example of market values colliding with a sacred good: Free tickets were distributed through Catholic dioceses and local parishes. Those who bought tickets from scalpers might disagree. Some put blow-up dolls in the passenger seat in hopes of fooling the highway patrol. In an episode of the television comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David comes up with an ingenious way of buying access to the car pool lane: faced with heavy freeway traffic en route to an LA Dodgers baseball game, he hires a prostitutenot to have sex but to ride in his car on the way to the stadium.

Sure enough, the quick ride in the car pool lane gets him there in time for the first pitch. The toll typically varies according to the trafficthe heavier the traffic, the higher the fee. In most places, cars with two or more occupants can still use express lanes for free.

On the Riverside Freeway, east of Los Angeles, rush-hour traffic creeps along at miles an hour in the free lanes, while the paying customers in the express lane zip by at 60 65 mph. They argue that the proliferation of fast-track schemes adds to the advantages of affluence and consigns the poor to the back of the line. Opponents of paid express lanes call them Lexus lanes and say they are unfair to commuters of modest means.

Others disagree. They argue that there is nothing wrong with charging more for faster ser vice. Federal Express charges a premium for overnight delivery. The local dry cleaner charges extra for same-day ser vice.

To an economist, long lines for goods and ser vices are wasteful and inefficient, a sign that the price system has failed to align supply and demand. Letting people pay for faster ser vice at airports, at amusement parks, and on highways improves economic efficiency by letting people put a price on their time. Tickets for the evening performances are made available at p. Many New Yorkers were eager to see the play but didnt have time to stand in line.

As the New York Daily News reported, this predicament gave rise to a cottage industrypeople offering to wait in line to secure tickets for those willing to pay for the convenience. The line standers advertised their ser vices on Craigslist and other websites. Andrew Cuomo, New Yorks attorney general at the time, pressured Craigslist to stop running ads for the tickets and line-standing ser vices. Selling tickets that are meant to be free, he stated, deprives New Yorkers of enjoying the benefits that this taxpayer-supported institution provides.

In Washington, D. When congressional committees hold hearings on proposed legislation, they reserve some seats for the press and make others available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the subject and the size of the room, the lines for the hearings can form a day or more in advance, sometimes in the rain or in the chill of winter. Corporate lobbyists are keen to attend these hearings, in order to chat up lawmakers during breaks and keep track of legislation affecting their industries.

But the lobbyists are loath to spend hours in line to assure themselves a seat. Their solution: pay thousands of dollars to professional line-standing companies that hire people to queue up for them.

The line-standing companies recruit retirees, message couriers, and, increasingly, homeless people to brave the elements and hold a place in the queue. The line standers wait outside, then, as the line moves, they proceed inside the halls of the congressional office buildings, queuing up outside the hearing rooms.

Shortly before the hearing begins, the well-heeled lobbyists arrive, trade places with their scruffily attired stand-ins, and claim their seats in the hearing room. The Washington Post has editorialized against the practice, calling it demeaning to Congress and contemptuous of the public. Like this document? Why not share!

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Published in: Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide.Sandel has a genius for showing why such changes are deeply important. Paperback Brand: For scalpers to auction access to such places seems a kind of sacrilege.

This school sees economics as a discipline that has nothing to do with morality, and is instead the study of incentives, considered in an ethical vacuum. So why not use money as a further incentive? Now if you assume that people respond to incentives, this is a puzzling result. For one thing, the system rewards unsavory middlemen rather than those who provide the care.

Although hunting endangered species is illegal, most African countries were unable to protect rhinos from poachers, who sold their horns for great sums in Asia and the Middle East. CNN interviewed him as he held a place in line for a lobbyist at a hearing on climate change. But opportunity for Gomes meant frustration for some environmentalists.

JERE from Oregon
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