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."
Second, corruption: "Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them ... markets don’t only allocate goods, they express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged." Also "corrupt the meaning of citizenship. Economists often assume that markets ... do not affect the goods being exchanged. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark."
Nor do we permit "children to be bought and sold, no matter how difficult the process of adoption can be."
The same with citizenship ... jury duty ... voting rights ... "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."
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Comments by the Blog Author
I think this is instructive because it shows the exact nature of popular American intellectual anti-capitalism.
Capitalism makes the rich richer and the poor poorer (although the dictatorships which still rule the poorest of the world’ nations may be most reponsible for such ongoing poverty).
Capitalism supposedly commodifies everything, even jury duty.
Capitalism is disorderly in a way that is ugly.
Capitalism drains civic discourse of moral and civic energy. I don’t know what this means. I suppose that it means that public discussions get right down to specific programs and specific costs involved. But moral energy – whatever that is – is inevitably reduced by free markets for goods and services?!
To me, Sandel’s argument boils down to a complaint that capitalism lacks any necessity for a benevolent and all-powerful leader. Capitalism is a system lacking any requirement for a Platonic benevolent dictator. There’s much less necessity for central planning. There’s no desire to prop up what is failing, and this creative destruction is inherently repugnant to a mindset given to planning and civic excellence.
Finally, Sandel is wrong about current American politics. The bank bailouts of 2008 were profoundly anti-capitalistic, yet both parties produced nominees who voted for TARP I in the U.S. Senate. The 2012 election saw again major parties favoring the bank bailouts and other favors. So, prima facie, capitalism as a philosophy is not in control of modern politics, elections, or power. Sandel’s whole argument presupposes an all powerful market force that simply doesn’t exist except as a fractured, internally divided set of adversarial parties – which is as it should be.