Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Morals and the market

I often tell students who are awake in my classes that by default the market does not care for morals.  The market cares not whether you are a saint or a sinner. It does not care whether you are selling bread or cocaine.  It simply is.

I then remind them that the same market can also be made to enforce morals.  It can be done.  How to get that done is simple: Put your money where your mouth is.  If that moral high ground is important to you, then as a consumer behave accordingly, and if enough do the same then the market will respond.

But then you have heard many times how this ends, right?  I don't get no respect and nobody listens to me! ;)

The hassle is that most people do not walk that proverbial talk.

That walk-talk divide exists everywhere of course.  Which is why, for instance, the pussy-grabbing trump gets an overwhelming endorsement from the white evangelicals!  More than a year ago, when we were watching the reality show personality in the primaries, I quoted from the Harvard Divinity School:
GOP-registered evangelicals will not vote for Hillary. You could make a very good argument that Hillary is much more a person of faith and closer to evangelicals on her understanding of God than Trump. 
The reality show narcissist is now in the Oval Office thanks to those evangelical voters!  If evangelicals won't practice their faith, then what can one expect in other mundane aspects of life, like in buying and selling stuff, right?

Enforcing morals comes down to practicing those morals.  We cannot expect the pussy-grabber to enforce laws against sexual harassment.  Could the market work any better?

It works, but only if consumers make that clear.

Bill O'Reilly continued to rant on from his Faux News pedestal despite the sexual harassment stories (remember the falafel episide from years ago?) because he was bringing in money. In the millions.  His crappy books sold and brought in money. In the millions.  The market--which is essentially decisions by individuals--didn't care about how he treated women.

The corporation, therefore, did not care.  They paid out to the accusers and continued with O'Reilly jerking off in his television show.

Years go by.  Audiences flock to the psychotic's show.  Because of the demand, the advertising dollars flow in. He continues to abuse women. The corporation funnels some of the revenue into payments to settle with the women who file charges against the horrible human being (well, of the many at Faux News.)

And then the market spoke--major advertisers withdrew from the show, and the loss of dollars translated to an enforcement of morals.

Today, the asshole is gone.  Fired.
The resulting drop in advertising revenue must have changed the established harassment calculus of Fox News, which has for years seemed to have no problem paying its way out of the host’s past harassment allegations. It was worth at least $13 million extra to keep an alleged repeat abuser on staff, but apparently it wasn’t worth whatever projected loss might have resulted from this latest turn of public opinion against him.
After yet another kiss of death from the pussy-grabber himself!

Of course, it is not easy to enforce morals via the market.  But, it can be done.  Hurting the balance-sheet is a powerful approach.  If only we did this more often instead of merely talking the big talk.

And, oh, how can we ever get the evangelicals to understand morals?


Ramesh said...

Billy Bush gets sacked. Roger Ailes gets sacked. Bill O'Reilly gets sacked. And Trump gets elected. Bizarre, it is.

You can't fault the market for being amoral. It simply is an accurate reflection of buyer choice without bias. Its the buyers who are not concerned with morals.

Sriram Khé said...

Exactly. No point blaming the market. When the participants are so immoral, their aggregated decisions also turn out to be immoral.
What I can't understand is how evangelicals who preach morals all the time watch, and listen to, the highly immoral likes of bill oreilly and rush limbaugh and elect to office the likes of trump. bizarre!!!

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