03-23-2018  3:34 pm      •     
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Prof. Timothy Snyder to Speak at PSU April 25

Snyder will speak on “Resisting Tyranny: Lessons from the European 20th Century” for 11th Annual Cogan Lecture ...

County Creates New Fund to Diversify Construction Trades

The Construction Diversity and Equity Fund will draw 1% from county remodeling projects with budgets above 0,000 ...

Yohlunda Mosley Named PSU’s New Assistant VP for Enrollment

New Assistant VP for Enrollment gets started at PSU on March 19 ...



Remember (The Truth) About The Alamo

In 1829, the Afro-Mexican president of Mexico outlawed slavery at a time when the southern U.S. was deeply in thrall to slave labor ...

Black Women You Should Know

Julianne Malveaux on the next generation of Black women leaders ...

Access to Safe, Decent and Affordable Housing Threatened

Trump era rollbacks in lending regulations could make life harder for Blacks in the housing market ...

Civility on Social Media Is Dead

Bill Fletcher discusses the lack of penalties for obnoxious behavior on social media ...



Kam Williams Special to The Skanner News

"We live at a time when almost everything can be bought and sold... Over the past three decades, markets—and market values—have come to govern our lives as never before… As the Cold War ended, markets and market thinking enjoyed unrivaled prestige.

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…

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." 

-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 5-6)

Economists have been referred to by cynics as emotional cripples who know the price of everything but appreciate the value of nothing. Increasingly, the same might be said of people in general as we've come to embrace the commodification of virtually every aspect of human existence.

For example, nowadays, you can pay an East Indian woman to serve as a surrogate mom for $6,250. Or you can shoot a rhinoceros on the endangered species list for $150,000; or rent out the space on your forehead as corporate ad space for $777.

In Europe, the cost to pollute is $18 per metric ton. In California, you can upgrade your prison cell for $82 a night. And a mercenary soldier of fortune collects $1,000 a day to fight in Afghanistan.  

Do you find this state of affairs unsettling, or are you so jaded that you accept the notion that everything has a price? If that is the case, where does it end? Will we soon not only be hiring strangers as friends and lovers, but even to be our spouses?

This is the dire dystopia contemplated by Michael J. Sandel in "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets," a thoughtful opus examining a cornucopia of ethical questions touching areas ranging from medicine to law education to personal relations. Should society intervene and, for instance, prevent a fertile female from renting out her womb to another who is barren? Or does everything have its price as suggested by Red Foxx ages ago in an off-color skit on a Laff Record lp?

How we answer that question collectively will determine whether there's any hope of reversing capitalism's runaway exploitation of the human condition.   


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