Morality of Marketing

When I visit a physician friend of mine, who is very ethical and has a respectable and rewardful  practice, I notice a board in his clinic which informs his consultation charges.

First Consultation(in clinic): X amount

First time Visit at patient home: X+ Z amount

Repeat consultations in clinic : X-Y amount

Second and third visits : Z amount

Emergency Visit Charges : X+Y+Z amount (highest)

If mood and time permit, I pull a fast one on him asking what would be his obvious action if a critically ill patient is bought for the first time in serious condition and which charges will apply? He pulls off an equally fast one on me and gives a wise answer ” First I will make all efforts to revive and save the life of the patient”. And then adds tongue in cheek ” thereafter I would refer the patient to be admitted at a hospital where I am a visiting doctor”.

Taking this friendly banter to a more serious note, I want bring on the table, how market values started to dominate our lives in various respect.

Over the period of time we have knowingly or unknowingly embraced the market mechanisms in our everyday lives and so the market values – of demand vs supply play a much greater role in our social lives than before.

To prove this point let me cite another example from the medical practice :

A person diagonized with rheumatic ailment needs to consult a specialist and call the clinic of renowned Rheumatologist gujarat for an appointment but the earliest appointment is after 2 months. The doctor would never answer a mobile call. But if you have some influence , send a text message with the name of your reference.A open appointment is granted with an estimated wait time of 4-6 hours but the doctor will squeeze in a consultation between some two scheduled consultations, for a handsome fee.

Tell me how different  is this practice from a corrupt train conductor who sells you a berth at some “price” during an urgent unscheduled travel when no reservation is available.

Today the logic of buying and selling is no longer applicable to material goods alone.In our greed to possess  “just now” , things which we should be granted have turned into a commodity because it is up for sale and has a price tag. Consider for example the ‘for profit’ education institutions, hospitals and social organizations which sell “naming rights” to parks and civil places. In certain cases of non violent prisoners and celebrity there are ‘extra’ facilities available in jails!

So what’s wrong with this ? Why worry if everything in the society is up for Sale? When there is price tag on everything only the affluent will have the right to have it.      

This in turn leads to inequality and corruption. Market triumphalism and greed leads to the moral failing of the heart.

Why complain if we chose to live in a market society? But are we devaluing human life? 

Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as a commodity. But present times has also seen human life as instrument of gain and object of use.

No I am not referring the world’s oldest profession. But consider this, a person agrees to be a guinea pig for an extensive drug trial by a pharmaceutical company for $7500 and it can be higher or lower depending on invasiveness  of the procedure and discomfort involved. 

If a terminally ill patient wants to purchase a organ like kidney or liver , and a consenting adult is willing to sell, the only question is Price?
Recently a celebrity actor fathered a boy through surrogacy. Services of an Indian surrogate mother is available at as low as $2500 much lower than going rates in USA. Increasingly western couples seeking surrogates outsource from India.

During the Afghanistan and Iraq war there were many private armies fight with US troops and many enrolled with military contractors for handsome fee starting $1000 per day and it varies according to qualifications,experience and nationality.

Society and markets don’t wag fingers at these transactions or arrangements of profit.Nor do they discriminate between worthy and the unworthy because each party in the deal has decided the value for the exchange.

Well, in a society in which the singular moral value is the acquisition and concentration of wealth and the power and influence it can buy, there is thin moral line between ‘charity’ and ‘exploitation’. Are we aware of the price we pay for living in a society where everything is up for sale.

Have we come to live with the fact that what once was a civic right like safe drinking water is now available for 20 cents a litre.

European Unions sells the rights to pollute the earth’s atmosphere by selling carbon credits in the carbon-dioxide -emission markets that enables Chemical companies to buy and sell their right to pollute. So are we going to pay the price for clean air in future?

The myth of community, shared values and sacrifice, shared goals for civic betterment…have faded from the public arena…[markets] know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Intellectual debates only allows us to analyze problems in the context of the objective measure of  financial impact and its detrimental effect on society.

In a non judgmental way the economic (read marketing) community at large should take the onus of arresting the commoditization of things that can be owned.

A gift  to your spouse is an expression of true affection and not in exchange of anything !

And to end it on a humorous note

Vajesingh bapu was running an errand for Rohit Seth’s daughter’s wedding and in haste ran his luna moped through red signal. The constable who tried to stop him got a slap and so chased him up to Seth’s house to arrest him or pay the fine. In midst of the event Rohit gave Bapu Rs.500/- to settle the matter. The constable demanded Rs.100/- fine for traffic rule violation and Rs.100/- for the slap. Bapu slapped him three more times and gave the Rs.500/- note as he didn’t have change.








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