Tuesday, September 18, 2012

416: The Aftermath of Neoliberalism: ethical boundaries

We live in a time where almost everything is for sale or can be sold. In the past three decades, markets - and market values ​​- began to dominate our lives like never before.
It was not a conscious choice to end up in this situation. It seems like it just has happened to us. After the end of the Cold War the free market and the market-theory gained an unprecedented prestige.
No other method of the organization of production and distribution of goods was so successful in generating wealth and prosperity. 
More and more countries around the world accepted the mechanism of the market, but there happened also something else. 
Market values ​​got an increasingly important role in society.   Economics was dominated everything. Human beings became just numbers in mathematical equations.
The logic of buying and selling did no longer apply only to material goods, but also began to control other areas of life. It is about time we ask ourselves if we want to live this way.
The years leading  to the financial crisis of 2008 were a turbulent era. The belief in the free market and deregulation reigned supremely: it was the time of the triumph of the market. 
That era began in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proclaimed that the free market, and not the government, was the key to prosperity and freedom. 
That trend continued with a market-friendly liberalism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who despite minor adjustments confirmed the belief that the free market was the most important  means to improve general welfare.
As I already have expressed in previous lectures, today we have serious doubts about this belief. The financial crisis has not only shown that it is not as efficient in spreading risks as it claims to be.
But we also have gotten a strong feeling that what we call "the financial markets" and the banks have drifted away from ethics and that we have to do something about that.
Some say that it is general greed, which is the weak spot of the financial world. Just keep the greedy bankers and speculators in check and our problems will be solved.
This is however only a part of the diagnosis. Sure, greed plays an important role in this crisis, but there is more. The increase of greed in the past 30 years is not the worst thing, that has happened.

The most fatal change that has taken place is, that the market and market-values have extended into areas of our life, where they don't belong.

Thence we have to do more than re-educate bankers and teach them not to be too greedy and teach them responsibility towards society.

We need a serious discussion about the ethical boundaries of the free market. The free market has got in its grip areas of our life which were formerly dominated by not-commercial values.

These areas are education, health care, hospitals, social housing (houses to rent by those who can not afford to buy a house), public security, even our body and matters of life and death. If you want you even can "buy" a child.

But why should we care, that everything can be bought? Just name the price. I can mention two reasons. One is inequality and the second is corruption.

Inequality is easily understood. If everything can or has to be bought, it means, that enjoying participation in all benefits of a society is mainly achieved by having money. No money? Bad luck for you…sorry! Or should we think differently here?

The second reason is maybe harder to understand, but it means that the belief in the benefits of the free market slowly corrupts human values, which are above selling and buying.

Just one example. In the next lectures we'll dig deeper into this aspect. How about selling your organs? For instance a kidney? You've got two, haven't you? Just think about this. We'll discuss this matter extensively in future lectures.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:22] Debbie Dee (framdor): People do sell organs already.
[13:22] Velvet (velvet.braham): wow. There's a lot there, Professor
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is under discussion in some circles
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): how we get the bankers to think anything but money i dont know
[13:22] herman Bergson: The main point is that the discussion should not only be about greed...
[13:22] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:22] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): or the investment bankers especially
[13:23] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes thank you Prof Herman !
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they are in business to only make money for their inverstors
[13:23] herman Bergson: What is worse is that certain human values are suddenly translated into dollars....
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): exactly
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma..but they always have been....
[13:23] herman Bergson: and nobody complained....
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): Some how we need to focus more on the well being of the planet and all of its species.
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the usurers of the middle ages
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: we all have to change our minds, we are not only victims we are a part of this system sometimes
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i am
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i invest
[13:24] herman Bergson: It went wrong when all financial dealings were transferred to computerscreen....graphics and numbers on screens....
[13:24] Debbie Dee (framdor): I invest, and consume hugely.
[13:25] Velvet (velvet.braham): I guess that computers are to blame?
[13:25] herman Bergson: now you don't rip off someone...now you just push buttons and make a big profit...
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:25] Velvet (velvet.braham): no, that's just a rationalization
[13:25] Velvet (velvet.braham): a monetary system and money are just tools
[13:25] herman Bergson: no...not the computers....but the fact that people lost the view that they were dealing with other people..not just with amounts
[13:25] Velvet (velvet.braham): a shortcut to bartering
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes...just tools...
[13:26] Velvet (velvet.braham): I think that's being willfully blind
[13:26] Debbie Dee (framdor): The other aspect is that a large number of people are poor, and don't have the access to the free markets - no money.
[13:26] herman Bergson: indeed Debbie...that is the issue of equality...
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: and some are lazy
[13:26] Debbie Dee (framdor): And their lives are largely ignored by the rich, or exploited as cheap labour
[13:26] herman Bergson: as I saisd earlier...
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes
[13:27] Debbie Dee (framdor): Its just that I live amongst it.
[13:27] Velvet (velvet.braham): I see. We are all equal in some ways, our right to medical care, for instance.
[13:27] herman Bergson: in 1850 the rich helped the poor to improve their living conditions through charity etc...
[13:27] herman Bergson: but that was a matter of self interest...
[13:27] Velvet (velvet.braham): but there us aways an inequality in standard of living
[13:28] herman Bergson: it was important to keep the workers healthy....who worked at their factories...
[13:28] Debbie Dee (framdor): because the plague didn't stop at the front door - as you said so elloquently
[13:28] herman Bergson: or as servants in their homes....
[13:28] herman Bergson: Indeed Debbie...:-))
[13:28] herman Bergson: But the rich now live in their own enclaves...
[13:29] Velvet (velvet.braham): again, willful blindness
[13:29] Debbie Dee (framdor): They moved the front door to a haven.
[13:29] Velvet (velvet.braham): they just choose not to see
[13:29] herman Bergson: they can move away from any epidemic ...or what else
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes..
[13:29] herman Bergson: But the other thing is human values..
[13:30] Debbie Dee (framdor): Now, many of the people living in the poor areas are not even connected to the net.
[13:30] herman Bergson: In my last example I implicitly refered to the integrity of the human body...
[13:30] herman Bergson: They even first need a computer Debbie...which they can not afford
[13:31] Debbie Dee (framdor): They get old ones for free - they are dumped here. but then no money for connection
[13:31] Velvet (velvet.braham): where I am you can get free access in libraries
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: I am sorry, i must go, TC everybody!
[13:31] Velvet (velvet.braham): not ideal, but it's there
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye   
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): lizzy
[13:31] herman Bergson: there goes our fairy :-(
[13:32] herman Bergson: sihs...
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:32] herman Bergson: sighs
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): rodney
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): *¨¨*:•.•:*¨* hallo hello hi holla *¨¨*:•.•:*¨*
[13:32] Debbie Dee (framdor): the glitter fades slowly as she leaves....
[13:32] herman Bergson: RODNEY! ^_^
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): late as usual
[13:32] Rodney Handrick: Hi everyone
[13:32] Debbie Dee (framdor): Hi Rodney.
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hopeyou are reading the blog
[13:32] herman Bergson: A man of standards...:-)
[13:32] Rodney Handrick: yes
[13:33] herman Bergson: in the next lectures I'll show you how the free market idea has penetrated areas where it not should be...
[13:33] herman Bergson: Here in the Netherlands we had really one of the most stupid actions in that matter
[13:34] herman Bergson: We have a shortage of dentists.....
[13:34] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we can probably come up with a few
[13:34] Rodney Handrick: agreed gemma
[13:34] herman Bergson: so the market situation is....High demand and low supply....
[13:35] herman Bergson: in theory this means that when you make the pricing free the prices go up....
[13:35] herman Bergson: Every body said so.... yet the government insisted on an experiment with free pricing for dentists....
[13:36] Rodney Handrick: what do you mean by free pricing?
[13:36] herman Bergson: its argument was that it would stimulate competition and thus cause lower prices...
[13:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): unregulated?
[13:36] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): WaaaHaHAhahAHA! AhhhhHAhahhAHhahHAH! haha!
[13:36] herman Bergson: By that I mean that every dentist is free to set the rates for his work
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: got it
[13:37] Debbie Dee (framdor): ok
[13:37] Velvet (velvet.braham): here in the US I hear from some people that too much regulation has had a negative effect on their health care
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes ....deregulation....that was the beauty of the idea....a smaller government.....
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:37] Rodney Handrick: right
[13:37] herman Bergson: Result....
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is riciduleous
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there is not enough regulation
[13:38] herman Bergson: in no time a visit to the dentist was 10% more expensive than before the deregulation....
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): has been getting less in the last decades
[13:38] Velvet (velvet.braham): my mother complains that she can't have the tests she should have
[13:38] Velvet (velvet.braham): I can't say for sure that's the case
[13:38] Rodney Handrick: there have to be standards
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well..at least this "experiment" was really a failure and ridiculous too....
[13:39] herman Bergson: so now they immediately cancelled it....
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): good deal
[13:39] herman Bergson: back to fixed prices set by the government
[13:40] Rodney Handrick: fixed prices by the government? socialism
[13:40] herman Bergson: In future lectures I have plenty of such nice examples for you....^_^
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): Yep. good old caring for the citizens ;)
[13:40] herman Bergson: No Rodney...not socialism....basic fairness....
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): many of the best health programs in europe are solistic
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): socialistic but not socialism'
[13:40] herman Bergson: health is a social good for every citizen...rich or poor....
[13:40] Debbie Dee (framdor): Some aspects of socialism are desirable
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and they pay = more taxes
[13:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): which we resent so here
[13:41] Rodney Handrick: basic fairness...that's subjective
[13:41] herman Bergson: The dentists are education with the people's tax money....
[13:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right to life
[13:41] herman Bergson: so everybody has an equal right to dental care for instance....poor and rich...
[13:41] Debbie Dee (framdor): Lets not forget the purchasing power graph.
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: the peoples tax money...now that's different because the taxpayer made an investment
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): if they don't we end up paying anyway
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:42] herman Bergson: INthe Netherlands university education (and other) is financed by the government...
[13:42] herman Bergson: as a student you hardly pay for it...which is quite different form the US (still.....)
[13:42] Rodney Handrick: the question is roi for the investors (taxpayers)
[13:42] Velvet (velvet.braham): whew. tell me about it!
[13:43] herman Bergson: So health care is not a matter of the free market....
[13:43] Debbie Dee (framdor): ROI is the wrong measure around here Rodney. Come to lectures ;)
[13:43] herman Bergson: health is a social good...
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): here tho they want it privatized
[13:44] herman Bergson: what is ROl?
[13:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): Return on investment
[13:44] Rodney Handrick: roi - return on investment
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma, that is what they are doing with hospitals in the Netherlands too now...
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): rodney tries ... for years he has been a member
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ahhh...
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): sneaks in at work
[13:45] Debbie Dee (framdor): lol. cool.
[13:45] herman Bergson: funny ..my av starts typing....
[13:45] herman Bergson: wonder what he has to say ?! ^_^
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[13:46] Rodney Handrick: ai - artificial intelligence
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well... unless you still have an urgent question or remark, I'd like to thank you for you interest and participation
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope you have more next week
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): send more notices
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-)
[13:46] Velvet (velvet.braham): Thank you, Professor
[13:46] Rodney Handrick: thanks...that was a good topic
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma....More next Tuesday....for you in the blog asap
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): Thanks Herman. Fine lecture.
[13:47] herman Bergson: Thank you Debbie
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): ;) see you next week
[13:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): byee
[13:47] herman Bergson: Bye Debbie
[13:48] herman Bergson: Hello Osiris..didn't see you come in :-)
[13:49] Osiris Mubble: hello
[13:49] herman Bergson: smiles

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