Corruption: What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 2
Words: 300
Reading time:
< 1 min

Michael Sandel makes the argument that line scalping for underpriced, publicly available goods is inherently corrupting in most instances. The cause is not entirely that the addition of a price to events that are not intended to have one excludes some people unfairly. Setting a money barrier for attendance will indeed favor the affluent over the disadvantaged. However, Sandel offers a potential solution to that concern, then proceeds to dismiss it because it does not resolve the central issue. Instead, the move will pervert the purpose of the initiative by adding a profit motive to it. Sandel uses Congress as the center of his argument, claiming that no form of monetizing access would be acceptable and not count as corruption. He reminds the reader that the concept represents more than bribes and unlawful agreements for personal gain and includes the general perversion of the facility’s purpose.

The fundamental reason is that Congress is a government institution that represents the will of the American people. To charge money for admission is to turn it into a business that sells influence to the highest bidder, thereby diminishing its legitimacy. Sandel dismisses the argument that the lawmaking organ already engages in such practices, claiming that these instances represent ongoing corruption already. Rather than use the fact to justify further degradation, the people should not allow the issue to spread and work to eliminate it from the government structures. However, the current lobbying and line-standing businesses surrounding Congress are neither sanctioned by the government nor illegal. As such, and due to their lucrative associations with the very government that should punish such practices, no moves have been made to prevent them. Sandel argues that this status quo is objectionable and harms the public interest, with line scalping being an extension.