community stories for southern Nevada

The morality of markets, or…er…lack thereof….

Today’s Marketplace feature an excellent interview with Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel. Sandel talked about the themes and ideas of his latest book, Justice: What is the Right Thing to Do?–specifically, a chapter called Morals and Markets.

Sandel talks about moral outrage people are feeling about the bank bailout, and I think he’d find lots of outrage right here in southern Nevada on that count. BLV would like to hear your perspective on this, so please tell your thoughts here.

Here’s the kicker from the interview:

SANDEL: You go up to someone on one of those street corners down by Wall Street. And you ask him or her in a quiet moment, “how do you justify this frenzied way of life that you’re engaged in?” I suspect they would give you in a reflective moment an answer something like this: “By pursuing gain and engaging in risk, we are providing the lubricant for the financial system and therefore for the economic system as a whole. And we are helping contribute to allocating capital to those projects and innovations in the economy that will make everybody better off.”

I’m not saying that every single trader on the floor would give you that answer, but I know some people who would. And that can be the starting point, I think, of a wider public conversation about the underlying moral purpose that markets serve. And once we have that conversation, we might also be led to discuss whether there are certain moral limits that markets should respect.

Listen to the entire interview here:

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