If You're Rich, You Can Shoot A Walrus
Michael Sandel examines the inevitable corruption of ethics in a society where market mentality is pervasive in his new book What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets . . . and while you may have heard that hunters can pay 150,000 to shoot a black rhino in South Africa-- and that this seemingly vile practice has actually increased the endangered rhino's population manifold, because now it's worth it for South Africans to protect the creatures from poachers-- you may not have heard that you can pay an Inuit guide six grand and he will will allow you to shoot a walrus . . . the Inuits have a walrus quota and the Canadian government allows them to sell the rights to shoot the walruses to "hunters" . . . though it is hardly a hunt-- journalist C.J. Chivers describes this practice as "a long boat ride to shoot a very large beanbag chair," and if these anecdotes disgust you and you can't stand the fact that everything has a price on it, then perhaps you should move to Finland, where they want to preserve the moral rectitude of a speeding ticket-- they don't want the wealthy to view a ticket as a simple fee to be paid for the right to drive fast, they want the ticket to be viewed as a fine that is levied because you did something dangerous and wrong-- so when you show up in Helsinki traffic court, your ticket is a percentage of your salary, and so Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki-- who earns seven million dollars a year-- was fined 217,000 dollars for driving 80kilometers per hour in a 40 km/h zone.