Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking ideas. but a bit light on content, 25 Dec 2013
This review is from: What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (Hardcover)
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It might seem an obvious statement that there are limits as to which of the world's problems can be solved by introducing financial incentives or by creating a market where demand outstrips supply.

However we are living in a world where we find market-based solutions are being applied widely but with very little public debate on whether it is really a good idea.

There are some cases that are almost universally opposed, such as allowing people to sell (rather than volunteer to donate) a kidney to someone who needs a transplant. Others are generally accepted, like paying extra to jump the queue in theme parks, but make most people feel uncomfortable that some unwritten social bond is being broken. Essentially he argues that for many things in life, the world is a worse place for allowing those who can afford it to jump ahead of those who cannot. He also argues that in some case financial incentives make things worse, for example: the evidence is that by paying people to donate blood, it means that those who would give it freely for altruistic reasons are less likely to do so. And should we pay children to read books, or find other ways to persuade them of the benefits of reading? Should we allow corporations like Coca Cola to advertise everywhere, including within schools, or should we as a society decide to have spaces in our lives where we are not bombarded with advertising?

This book explored these issues and related ones with some excellent further examples. It is worth reading just for the way it brings together the thinking on these thorny points. There is also an extensive set of references at the back for those wanting to go further into the topics.

However, for such an important and challenging topic, the book did feel a bit light on content, analysis and opinion. Many of the points are just touched on where there is clearly a lot to say.

So I both enjoyed the book and was frustrated at its limitations.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (136 customer reviews)
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Reviewer

Richard Murphy
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Location: Winchester, England

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