We all know that the joy of eating garden fresh produce cannot be bought. I cannot replace the pleasure I derive from eating cherry tomatoes that grew in our balcony even with the gourmet organic kind sold at the farmer’s market.
Putting a price on something automatically changes the way we view and treat it. Once you put a price on cherry tomatoes, we start regarding them as commodities. While the effect of creating a market for tomatoes might be benign, we deliberately prevent the market from venturing into certain areas:
- A market for organs is controversial
- A market for children is prohibited. Human beings are not for sale
- A market for votes would undermine democracy
Economists believe that you can put a price to almost anything – that companies buying the right to pollute and an international market for organs will make the world a better place. However, the rest of us aren’t convinced. In our eyes, putting a price on certain things is out of question.
Markets are valuable, but they change the way we look at anything they trade in. Creating a market for children makes us view them as commodities (as we did during the era of slavery).
We must keep markets in their place and not let them wander out into places where they can corrupt what is most dear to us – into things that are ‘invaluable’.
Inspiration: What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets