Everything is reduced to money. Ecosystems, kidneys for transplant, a ton of mercury in the air over Philadelphia, a human life, an extinct species, your health, a good night’s sleep, a pile of nuclear waste that will last for 20,000 years—all these things are routinely valued in dollars. The idea that there is a single scale that can be used to compare the value of everything is so familiar to us that we might forget that it is absurd. We might forget that capitalism by its nature steamrollers over anything that we might regard as too precious to place on the auction block.
Indian economist Amartya Sen has devoted a long career to telling us why capitalism inevitably leads to moral travesty, and finally in the last 20 years he has found respectability and recognition. At least in some circles, people are starting to recognize that there are alternatives.
Read Tim Rogan’s AEON article about Amartya Sen and the history of critiques of capitalism.