Monday, May 21, 2012

Market Society

market economy is a tool—a valuable and effective tool—for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor. It’s a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market. The great missing debate in contemporary politics is about the role and reach of markets. Do we want a market economy, or a market society?

-- Michael J. Sandel, "What Isn't For Sale?" (2012)

In this week's sift:

  • "If you can't hear it from me ..." -- 3 voices that might get through to your conservative friendsA former climate-change denier explains why he stopped denying. A young Christian author tells her elders how their anti-gay focus is causing Christianity to lose her generation. And a successful entrepreneur explains why he isn't a job-creator, but middle-class consumers are.
  • Citizen of the highest bidder. New FaceBook billionaire Eduardo Saverin didn't intend to become a symbol when he lowered his tax bill by renouncing his American citizenship. But right and left alike seized on his example to make points about taxes, patriotism, and whether anything is truly priceless.
  • 196 People and other short notes196 individuals dominated Super-PAC funding in 2011. Austerity flounders in Europe. Harp seals should get jobs. Easter Island heads have buried bodies. Yet another similarity between the Taliban and Pat Robertson. And more.
  • Book recommendation of the week: The New Religious Intolerance by Martha Nussbaum. For a bona fide University of Chicago philosopher, Nussbaum has a readable, engaging style. This short book looks at the fear-psychology that religious intolerance is based on, briefly presents the major philosophical theories of tolerance, illustrates how those ideas have played out historically, and then brings it all together to look at current anti-Muslim activism in both the U.S. and Europe.
  • Last week's most popular post. Everybody will support same-sex marriage by 2030 got 381 views. The most-clicked link was the election quiz.
  • What you can do. From time to time I've mentioned the Banyan Project (where I'm on the unpaid Board of Advisors; so is Dan Gilmore, author of We the Media). My friend Tom Stites has come up with a business plan for launching local news co-ops, whose loyalty will be to their reader/owners rather than to the advertisers. Banyan has reached the pilot-project stage, and is looking for start-up money through the journalism crowd-source funding site works by an interesting model: It uses crowd-sourcing to fund journalism that the for-profit media won't do. You pledge money via your credit card, but your card is only charged if the proposal meets its funding goal within the specified time period. So you don't get charged for projects that never get off the ground. The Banyan proposal speaks for itself. You can decide for yourself whether it's the kind of thing you want to support. I'll vouch for Tom Stites (who used to be my editor at UU World) and for itself. Neither is a scam. I made a pledge this morning.

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