Saturday, September 29, 2012

419: The Aftermath of Neoliberalism: the body as private property

The main goal of this series of lectures is to question the idea, that everything has a price, that everything eventually can be bought and sold.
What I mean to show is, that the belief in the free market has penetrated areas of life where it does not belong, like social and medical care, education, family life, the government and other areas.
Stated in other words: is the basic structure of our social world a matter of personal freedom, private property, production and the exchange of goods and services by buying and selling?
We already saw two examples which raised serious doubts: the libertarian view of self-ownership and values of fairness and equality which used to dominate situations, where we have to stand in queue.

In 1997 Barbara Harris founded the non-profit organization "Project Prevention". On its website its goal is formulated a little vague:

-quote- "Project Prevention does not have the resources to combat the national problems of poverty, housing, nutrition, education and rehabilitation services. 

Those resources we do have are spent to PREVENT a problem for $300 rather than paying millions after it happens in cost to care for a potentially damaged child." -end quote-

In fact is means, that drugs addicted women receive US$ 300 after they have let themselves sterilized, so that they never will give birth to another child.

From the perspective of the free market philosophy this looks like a sound enterprise. It concerns an agreement between private persons in which there is no coercion, but only freedom of choice.

As a free market transaction the agreement offers a profit for both parties and increases public welfare. The drugs addict receives US$ 300 for her or his reproductive capacity.

And the buyer get for his money the certainty that the addict won't put (disabled or addicted) children in the world anymore.

Everybody happy, it seems, but yet this project received a lot of serious criticism. Let us look at a few arguments against this market transaction.

Is the addicted really free in her choice? That addiction and poverty and the need for a new kick drives her to go for the money no matter what this will cost her, is one of the objections.

This means that to assess  the moral permissibility of a market transaction  we will therefore have to ask: Under what conditions offers the situation in the market freedom of choice and under what conditions do they exert coercion?

An other objection is that of corruption. It is not about the conditions under which an agreement is concluded, but about the nature of what is being bought or sold.

It is a perfectly free transaction when a thief gives money to a judge to "buy" a not-guilty verdict. What happens here is, that something is bought or sold, which not ought to be bought or sold.

Corruption is not only a matter of bribes. We also corrupt some object, activity or social behavior, when we put a lower price on it than is appropriate.

To give an extreme example: to sell your baby just for the money is corrupting what we value as parenthood and loving care for a child, 

because thus you treat your child only as a product in stead of treating it as a human being who is entitled to the love and care of his parents.

In this situation Harris regards the addicted mother simply as a malfunctioning baby machine. Women who accept the US$ 300 offer accept this humiliating judgement.

You could object that a judge sells a verdict, which you can not regard as his property, while a women owns her body and thus her fertility. Then it is a normal transaction, not corruption of a value.

This leaves us with the fundamental question: Are we allowed to regard our body as private property with which we can do as we please?

In this context I want to remind you of my previous lecture dealing with the libertarians concept of self-ownership. Is it morally justifiable to buy that second kidney of that man, who needs money to get his son to college?

The discussion

[13:26] herman Bergson: thank you ^_^
[13:26] Kime Babenco: Look what happened recently in that factory in China !
[13:26] herman Bergson: Ho Qwark :-)
[13:27] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°•   Helloooooo!  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜  
[13:27] Qwark Allen: Hey!
[13:27] herman Bergson: sneaked in :-)
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:27] Qwark Allen: seems i got here on time
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:27] Qwark Allen: ehhehe
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i did not even see him come
[13:27] herman Bergson: neither did I ^_^
[13:27] Qwark Allen: was fast ^^
[13:27] herman Bergson: anyway.....
[13:27] Qwark Allen: theme for today is corruption?
[13:27] herman Bergson: what is at stake here is the idea of buying and selling...
[13:28] Valcyrie: surrogate mothers
[13:28] herman Bergson: can we buy the fertility of a woman....or can she sell it actually
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Valcerie....that is a related issue...same problems
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): moral issue
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): wow
[13:28] Debbie Dee (framdor): Herman, you have clearly demonstrated that some things should not, morally , be bought or sold. Personal freedom of choice is compromised by the financial transactions
[13:28] herman Bergson: or selling eggs or sperm...
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie....
[13:29] Kime Babenco: Corruption is one of the hardest things  to get down...
[13:29] herman Bergson: But still there is a strong belief in the universla benifits of the free market....
[13:29] herman Bergson: and the idea that the government is the problem
[13:30] Kime Babenco: If the Police is corrupt then you are in a bad situation
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Kime.....that is really bad
[13:30] Debbie Dee (framdor): Money is just so tempting, and it doesn't seem to matter if you already have a lot.
[13:30] Valcyrie: if you have no laws you are also in a bad way
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is talked about every day here as the answer to everything
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the free market that is
[13:30] Kime Babenco: Politicians as well, though I hardly believe innon corrupt politicians...
[13:31] Kime Babenco: Maybe it's not called so, and maybe not immeadiatly money involved
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes is a tough belief....
[13:31] Kime Babenco: But in some way
[13:31] herman Bergson: penetrating all areas of life
[13:31] Kime Babenco: Like if you help me here, I will help you there...
[13:31] herman Bergson: from a market economy we move to a market controlled economy...
[13:31] herman Bergson: where everything is for sale and canbe bought
[13:32] Qwark Allen: do you think corruption and free market are somehow "related"?
[13:32] Kime Babenco: I would ask if you could ver disconnect hose two ?
[13:32] herman Bergson: well..Qwark....if money is the only grease the machinery of society needs
[13:32] Kime Babenco: ever*?
[13:32] herman Bergson: Just take the bankers....
[13:32] Qwark Allen: i see your point
[13:32] herman Bergson: the are no crooks or corrupt..
[13:33] herman Bergson: but...
[13:33] herman Bergson: they say...
[13:33] Debbie Dee (framdor): The free market and corruption are completely related - free market means you can buy anything for a price
[13:33] Qwark Allen: corruption we know starts at the highest level
[13:33] herman Bergson: I can sell whatever derivatives I can sick they are whatsoever...
[13:33] Qwark Allen: true
[13:33] herman Bergson: as long as there is no rule which forbids is allowed
[13:34] Valcyrie: deregulation
[13:34] Debbie Dee (framdor): and even if the rule forbids it - it is done if profitable.
[13:34] herman Bergson: where then the question "Is it morally allowed too?" stays unanswered
[13:34] Qwark Allen: this means there are several kind and severity of corruption
[13:34] Qwark Allen: depending on the "goodies" being trade
[13:34] Valcyrie: and ways to get loopholes into laws when you have enough "influence"
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark.....
[13:35] Valcyrie: loopholes make corruption legal
[13:35] Kime Babenco: You might think the resident of USA is the most powerful person on Earth... He can't even pass the health care (or in a weakened version)
[13:35] herman Bergson: you could say that....
[13:35] Kime Babenco: He's a puppet on a string somehow
[13:35] herman Bergson: yes Kime...
13:35] Qwark Allen: seems nowadays its what governments are , in the habds of the bankers
[13:35] Qwark Allen: hands*
[13:35] Debbie Dee (framdor): And lawyers retained within large corporations, to persuade people that what they do is right, and lobbying to change laws to suit
[13:36] Kime Babenco: At to response to the question , in fact , almost everything is for sale... and that's a pity
[13:37] Kime Babenco: Morals and money does not combine very well
[13:37] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:37] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:37] herman Bergson: not only a debate on economics
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): Moral values are easily corrupted by money. Everyone supposedly has a price.
[13:38] herman Bergson: That is what is happening Debbie.....
[13:38] herman Bergson: Even the chance that you die is worth a lot of money....
[13:38] herman Bergson: our death has become an economic value....
[13:39] Debbie Dee (framdor): Corporations can do anything, including killing a few people, as long as they make a profit.
[13:39] herman Bergson: I'll get to that later but to give yo an example.....
[13:39] Qwark Allen: very expensive one for sure
[13:39] Kime Babenco: LIfe insurances... for example
[13:39] herman Bergson: Exactly Kime!
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: But even one step further....
[13:39] herman Bergson: Just leisten.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: listen...
[13:40] herman Bergson: I am going to die because of a fata disease....
[13:40] herman Bergson: say...I still have 1.5 year left...
[13:40] herman Bergson: I take a life insurance of 1 million dollar....
[13:40] herman Bergson: I cant pay the fee of course...]
[13:41] herman Bergson: but I sell this insurance to an investor for 500.000 dollar....
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): (Laughing out Loud) herman
[13:41] Kime Babenco: If they ever find out you knew about it before you started it, it is invalid... not counting
[13:41] herman Bergson: He will pay the fees...till I die..then he gets the one million!
[13:42] herman Bergson: and I can have a happy ending spending 500.000 dollar in my last year on earth
[13:42] herman Bergson: This happens!
[13:42] herman Bergson: even worse....
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): sounds good to me
[13:42] Qwark Allen: goood stuff
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:42] herman Bergson: A lot of Aids patients did this....
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and are still living
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): Because we all dislike insurance companies, this seems like an appealing idea. And profitable. To hell with morals I say!!!!
[13:43] herman Bergson: but unfortunately for the investors there were developed new medicines...
[13:43] Kime Babenco: Insurances are not here to help you , but to collect money ! Just like other, like bankers... Most insurances are at banks by the way, which should not be...
[13:43] herman Bergson: which increased the life expectancy of th eaids victims....
[13:44] Kime Babenco: Bankers should be bankers and insuarnces , be insurance
[13:44] herman Bergson: Investors even started to send their "investment"
[13:44] herman Bergson: How do you feel today???
[13:44] herman Bergson: When do you think it will be over????
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): omg! how awful.
[13:45] Qwark Allen: omg
[13:45] herman Bergson: It happens in the US....
[13:45] Kime Babenco: It will be over (in a kind of way) when the entire world becomse like animal farm... lol
[13:45] herman Bergson: Compamies that buy life insurances for their empyees....
[13:46] herman Bergson: not to pay to them...but to collect when the employee dies in an accident for instance...
[13:46] herman Bergson: especiallly when they have risky jobs
[13:46] Debbie Dee (framdor): Key man insurance - to buy the next executive...
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes, Debbie
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): It is all a bit bizarre already.
[13:47] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very
[13:48] herman Bergson: But we only can have this discussion when we know that there still are other moral values out there
[13:48] Kime Babenco: I someone of us had enough money ... then just say what is not for sale in this life...
[13:48] herman Bergson: friendship for instance kime...
[13:48] herman Bergson: True love and sincere loyalty...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Respect...
[13:49] Debbie Dee (framdor): So, what needs to change to make us behave more fairly, and less like piggies at the trough?
[13:49] Kime Babenco: Yes, true friendship, but when you find out ?
[13:49] herman Bergson: To answer your question Debbie....
[13:50] herman Bergson: you yourself are already the answer....
[13:50] Valcyrie: what does the phrase ... God is Love... mean in that context
[13:50] Kime Babenco: If you win 50 million US$ tomorrow by the lMega Sena (lotteria) and you go out you will have plenty of friens
[13:50] herman Bergson: by having discussions like this...
[13:50] herman Bergson: worldwide...
[13:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): We need more friends, more leisure time, less tv, and lots of hugs, and lunch :)
[13:50] herman Bergson: yes Debbie...
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:51] Kime Babenco: It's good you take time to follow this course for a start ;-)
[13:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): You can't buy real friends. You need to earn those.
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well Valcyrie..., sometimes I have the idea, that religions are expressions of what we know that is actually missing in all social relations and interactions in this world...
[13:52] herman Bergson: grins...
[13:52] Kime Babenco: You can't buy real friendship… indeed... But rich people have easier making friends than poor people...
[13:52] herman Bergson: maybe I should make an exception for kinds of fundamentalism
[13:52] Valcyrie: i agree
[13:53] Valcyrie: love one another
[13:53] Kime Babenco: You only know real friends when you are in trouble... (is a saying) Not that I wish one of you to find out
[13:53] herman Bergson: Like we have language to communicate but poetry to reveal the beauty of language
[13:53] Debbie Dee (framdor): Kime, in the poorer parts of south africa people still live in tight communities, and family and friends are everything.
[13:53] Valcyrie: nietzsche says...we have art so we do not die of the truth
[13:54] Debbie Dee (framdor): rich people can buy acquaintences at bars and clubs.
[13:54] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:54] Kime Babenco: I can understand Debbie... When there is not much , there s not much to lose
[13:54] herman Bergson: in bars and clubs?
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:55] herman Bergson: You could loose your virginity ^_^
[13:55] Catt (catt.gable): very nice, herman
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in sl bars and clubs
[13:55] Debbie Dee (framdor): (Laughing oulol
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): have to get going
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): see you thursday
[13:55] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation again....
[13:55] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.´ ¯¨.¸¸`** **´ ¸¸.¨¯` H E R MA N ´ ¯¨.¸¸`** **´ ¸¸.¨¯`
[13:55] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:55] herman Bergson: I think we make good progress ^__^
[13:55] Qwark Allen: was great class as usual
[13:55] Qwark Allen: very enlightning
[13:55] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...

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