We have Commoditized Public Life

Tyler Cowen recently posted a podcast interview with Edward Luce entitled: On The Retreat of Western Liberalism. At about 15 minutes into the conversation Ed quoted a French politician as saying …’we want a market economy, not a market society.’  And then went onto say ‘I think we have in the US and to a large extent in Britain, I think we have commoditized public life, commoditized society to a degree that that you don’t see in places like Germany….’

Here we see the interplay between the public and the private.  On the one hand we would like the benefits of the pricing mechanism to play out in the public sector.  On the other hand there must be something tangibly different between exchanges in each as ‘commoditizing public life’ indicates a dissatisfaction in some attribute of the dealings.  Exchanges performed on the behalf of the public don’t always jive well with the fast and detached trades commonplace in a commodities market.

There seems to be a balancing act between these two spheres of activity. As social concerns heighten, the Europeans, or places like Germany seem ahead of the curve.  But what is important here, is the acknowledgement that there is a nuanced difference in value production when performed by private individuals or performed on behalf of the public.  And furthermore that the combination of the differences fall all along a grey scale from the US through Europe.

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