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Money market and Dying Moral values

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International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences, 2(6) June 2013, Pages: 463-467

TI Journals

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences

ISSN 2306-7276


Money Market and Dying Moral Values Humayun Rasheed Khan 1, Falak Butoot * 2 1 2

 Dr. Humayun Rasheed Khan is Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aligarh, India.  Dr. Falak Butool is Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Geography, A.M.U., Aligarh, India.




There are some things money can’t buy, but these days, not many. Today almost everything is up for sale. Now-a-days, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone but increasingly governs the whole of life. The moot point is that some of the good things in life are corrupted or degraded if turned into commodities. 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. This paper raises key philosophical and cultural concerns about the fundamental values at stake in the path of industrialization and development under globalization. Human society can’t remain immune to the dominant values of competitiveness and aggression, greed and covetousness – required by a ‘successful’ industrial economy.

Money Market Moral Values Comodification

© 2013 Int. j. econ. manag. soc. sci. All rights reserved for TI Journals.



Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre call it what you like, money matters. To Christians, the love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it is the way to war; to revolutionaries, the shades of labour. Whatever be the reason and perspective but the fact remains firmly established. Imagine a world with no money. For over a hundred years, communists and anarchists – not to mention some extreme reactionaries, religious fundamentalists and hippies – have dreamt of just that. According to Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, money was merely an instrument of capitalist exploitation, replacing all human relationships, even those within the family, with the callous ‘cash nexus’ [1]. It seems that the statement of Friedrich Engles and Karl Marx is more relevant today than it was in the period they lived, that money matters and it matters a lot in this post modern and highly globalized world. In recent decades, market values have crowded out non-market norms in almost every aspect of life – medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and money cannot buy? 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. We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us [2]. The end of cold war brought markets and market thinking to unrivaled prestige. 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.

Objectives of the Study The present paper aims to fulfill the following objectives

1. 2. 3. 4.

The logic of market and sale no longer applies to material goods alone but increasingly governs the whole of life. Have we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society? When everything is up for sale, are there some things that money can’t buy? We need to rethink the role and reach of markets in our social practices, human relationships, and everyday lives.

* Corresponding author. Email address: [email protected]

Humayun Rasheed Khan and Falak Butoot


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences, 2(6) June 2013



Simple and straight method is adopted. It is doctrinal and analytical in nature.



 3.1 Market Triumphalism and Moral Failings There is no doubt that moral failing at the heart of market triumphalism was greed, which led to irresponsible risk taking but the most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the expansion of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life where they don’t belong.

The post 2008 financial crisis leaves us in a position where 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 [3]. The reach of markets, and market-oriented thinking, into aspects of life traditionally governed by non market norms is one of the most significant developments of our time. Consider the reach of commercial advertising into public schools; the sale of ‘naming rights’ to parks and civic spaces; the marketing of ‘designer’ eggs and sperms for assisted reproduction; the outsourcing of pregnancy to surrogate mothers in the developing world; the  buying a nd selling, by companies and c ountries, of the right to pollute; a system of campaign finance that comes close to permitting the  buying and selling of elections. 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.  3.2 Ruthless Marketing The ongoing endless consumerism needs to be stopped primarily for two reasons; one is about inequality; the other is about corruption.

Consider inequality. If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to buy sports cars, expensive clothes and jewellery, and fancy vacations, inequality 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 safe neighbourhood 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. In such a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means. The more money can buy, the more affluence matters. 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 f or 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. That’s because markets don’t only allocate goods’ they also express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged. 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. Modern markets work very well for some, not for most. In the process, society as a whole gets subjugated to the requirements of those who control the market. ‘A market economy’, the economic anthropologist Kaul Polanyi wrote in the 1940s, can exist only in a market society…. A market economy must comprise all elements of industry, including, labour, land, and money. But labour and land are no other than the human beings themselves of which every society consists and the natural surroundings in which it exists. To include them in the market mechanism means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of market [4]. In fact, the core value of neo-liberalism is competition – among countries and among the individuals within them. Faith in free markets is the essence of globalize efficiency. Today’s globalization is a definitive prescription not just for a certain arrangement of economic affairs, but for a way of life, at the root of which is the thinly concealed, perpetual quest for control and dominance by the elite of the world [5]. Consumerism is an offshoot of contemporary globalization which is founded on unequal power relations that span the globe and the countries that constitute it. The erosion of freedom and human dignity and the assault on human cultures is inevitable in such an obligatory, coercive form of globalization.

Money Market and Dying Moral Values


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences, 2(6) June 2013

The market can promote efficiency and productivity, but not ecological sustainability or social justice. The market does not value the needs of poor people who have no money; it does not value the future; and does not value the right of other species to exist. It is thus in the rational interest of miners and industrialists to externalize the costs of degradation and pollution [6]. The commodification of books, the privatization of prisms, the commercialization of governments and universities – illustrate one of the most powerful social and political tendencies of our time, namely the expansion of markets and of market-oriented thinking to spheres of life once thought to lie beyond their reach.  3.3 Objections: Coercion and Corruption The tendency of blind consumerism as an offshoot of crony capitalism is by and large a bad thing and such a development should be resisted.

The first objection is an argument from coercion. It points to the injustice that can arise when people buy and sell things under conditions of severe inequality or dire economic necessity. According to this objection, market exchanges are not necessarily as voluntary as market enthusiasts suggest. A peasant may agree to sell his kidney or cornea in order to feed his starving family, but his agreement is not truly voluntary. He is coerced, in effect, by the necessities of his situation. The second objection is an argument from corruption. It points to the degrading effect of market valuation and exchange on certain goods and practices. According to this objection, certain moral or civic goods are diminished or corrupted if bought and sold for money. The argument from corruption cannot be met by establishing fair bargaining conditions. If the sale of human body parts is intrinsically degrading, a violation of the sanctity of the human body, then kidney sales would be wrong for rich and poor alike. The objection would hold even without the coercive effect of crushing poverty. Each objection draws on a different moral ideal. The argument from coercion draws on the ideal of consent, or more precisely, the ideal of consent carried out under fair background conditions. Strictly speaking, it is not an objection to markets but only to markets that operate against a background of inequality severe enough to create coercive bargaining conditions. The argument from coercion offers no grounds for objecting to the commodification of goods in a society whose background conditions are fair. The argument form corruption is different. It appeals not to consent but to the moral importance of goods at stake, the ones said to be degraded by market valuation and exchange. The argument from corruption is intrinsic in the sense that it cannot be met by fixing the  background conditions within which market exchanges take place. It applies under conditions of equality and inequality alike. Consider two familiar objections to prostitution. Some object to prostitution on the grounds that it is rarely, if ever, truly voluntary. According to this argument, those who sell their bodies for sex are typically coerced, whether by poverty, drug addiction, or other unfortunate life circumstances. Others object that prostitution is intrinsically degrading, a corruption of the moral worth of human sexuality. The degradation objection does not depend on tainted consent. It would condemn prostitution even in a society without poverty and despair, even in cases of wealthy prostitutes who like to work and freely choose it. Let us now turn our attention towards what journalist Scott Carney calls the ‘Red Market’. It is, indeed, horrifying to note that a lucrative and deeply secretive trade in human bodies and body parts is going on in most of the developing countries from last few decades. The developed West needs great volumes of human material to supply medical schools with cadavers so that future doctors have a solid understanding of human anatomy. Adoption agencies send thousands of children from third world to the first to fill the gaps in the American family unit. Pharmaceutical companies need live people to test the next generation of super drugs, and the beauty industry  processes millions of human hair every year to quench a ceaseless demand for new hairstyles. Forget the days of grass-skirt wearing cannibals on tropical islands, our appetite for human flesh is higher now than at any other time in history. Though we like to think that our bodies are sacred and above the hard-scrabble logic of the market, the sale of human parts is booming. Several billion dollars worth of humanity changes hands every year. With more than six billion people in the world the supply is significant. There are just slightly fewer than six billion spare kidneys (or twelve billion if you are absolutely merciless) and almost sixty  billion liters of blood in the global supply [7]. There are enough corneas to fill a soccer stadium. The only thing stopping businesses from grabbing the potential profits are the rights to mine the resources. Children are said to be the most wonderful gift of nature to the institution of family. They are vulnerable, pious, innocent and free from the evils that engulf society and institutions. But the market culture and now marketized society has not even spared this wonderful gift of nature – children. Take, for instance, the market for adopted children. At the moment a family decides they want to bring in a needy child from a foreign country, they only have an abstract idea about the child’s identity. In their search for perfect baby they refine their expectations based on available baby market. They troll through online menus issued by international adoption agencies, read newspaper articles about desperate children on orphanages, and make difficult decisions about what particular set of characteristics will trigger the adoption.

Money Market and Dying Moral Values


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences, 2(6) June 2013

The argument from corruption, which draws our attention to modes of valuation appropriate to certain goods and social practices, may also  prompt us to reconsider the moral implications of the analogy between surrogacy and sperm-selling. This analogy is typically invoked in defense of surrogacy. If men should be free to sell their reproductive capacity, should not women also be free to sell theirs? Isn’t it unfair, isn’t it discriminatory, to allow one but not the other?

References [1]

Ferguson Niall; ‘The Ascent of Money’, Penguin Books, 2009, p. 18.


Michael J. Sandal, ‘What Money Can’t Buy : The M oral Limits of Markets’, Penguin, Allen Lane, 2012, p. 5.


Ibid., p. 7.


Karl Polmyi, The Great Transformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1957.


Assem Shrivastava & Ashish Kothari, Churming The Earth, Penguin Viking, 2012.


Ramachandran Guha, ‘Patriots and Partisans’, Penguin Allen Lane, 2012, p. 28.


Scott Carney, ‘The Red Market’; Hachette India, 2011, pp. 2 & 3.


Ibid, p.3.


op.cit., p. 6.


Id, note 1.


In re Baby M., 217 New Jersey Superior Court, 1987, pp. 313.


Matter of Baby M, 537 Atlantic Reporter, 2nd series, New Jersey, 1988, p. 1227.


Ibid., p. 1248.


Elizabeth S. Anderson, “Is Women’s Labour a Commodity?” Philosophy & Public Affairs 19, 1990 pp. 81- 83.

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