What Money Can’t Buy

WhatMoneyCantBuyThis should be mandatory reading. There is simply no other way to say this. This books follows up on Michael Sandel’s book Justice which is also incredible.

This book explores the issues of prostitution, choice, and what is fair. Even simple examples like ‘Express lines at Disneyland’ lead to questions about fair delivery of health services. I thought a lot about this book lately as the owner of the Ottawa Senators Hockey team appealed to the public to save his life by donating a liver. Within a day he had received his organ, despite his questionable Canadian credentials (he likely doesn’t pay taxes as a Canadian). Should the wealthy be able to buy their way up the organ donar list? Should they be able to buy access to doctors sooner? Or do we as humans all share access to our countries health resources?

In a town in the US, an organization paid drug addicted women to be sterilized. How is this legal? Is it moral? The question ultimately comes down to choice. If a person chose this freely, most of us would agree it is a valid transaction. But is every agreed upon transaction valid? Does agreement make a transaction valid? In one example courts overruled an agreed upon transaction between an elderly widow a plumber charging outrageous rates. The found that the transaction, although agreed upon, was not lawful.

A speeding ticket a someone rich, is just a fee – a small price to be paid for the right to speed. For most people it is a fee, designed to stop speeding. In some countries, traffic tickets have been set according to a persons income so that tickets don’t give some the right to speed, while punishing only those who can afford it. Hasn’t this now become the issue with pollution credits? Won’t this become the issue with a carbon tax? Doesn’t this just give the wealthy (corporations) the ability to pay to pollute? Doesn’t everyone have a shared responsibility to our environment?

These are just a few of the topics from this amazing book. It’s time for a reread. Obviously I’ve forgotten way too many of the incredible examples.


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