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What Isn’t for Sale? – Rhetorical Strategies

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Isaac Rine

Professor Anderson

WRIT 110

24 January 2018

“What Isn’t For Sale? – Rhetorical Strategies”

           Buying and selling can happen in a blink of an eye. People can buy anything as easily as sitting on their couch while doing it. The market is at the fingers tips of society, and it is on the rise every day. In Michael J Sandel’s “What Isn’t For Sale”, he explains how the market is changing through the years. He claims that the people and the market have lost their morals when it comes to buying and selling. Throughout the text, Sandel connects with the readers personally by writing this piece during a time where basically anything could be bought or sold. The reader’s emotions are affected personally because of the specific examples of buying and selling and the reality that everyone has most likely been faced with any of those examples. For the reader to fully understand the writing and Sandel’s claims, they must take a look at the rhetorical strategies. Sandel’s objective in his writing is to inform and persuade his audience that the market is becoming corrupt and he wants society to realize that. While all the rhetorical strategies are important to identify, Sandel uses the occasion as his motivation and the audience as his specific examples which make these two the most important in the text.  

        Sandel has multiple motives for his writing but the two most important are the financial crisis in 2008 and the inequality and corruption of the market. The financial crisis in 2008 ended the “era of market triumphalism” that is known as “a heady time of market faith and deregulation” (715). Basically, this was a time when people had faith in the market and the market cared about the people. The financial crisis in 2008 took away the trust that people had in the market. Not only did it ruin the trust that was built up between the market and the people, markets started to become “detached from morals” (715). Inequality and corruption have also sprouted from the current market. Sandel claims that “if the only advantage of affluence were the ability to afford yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would matter less than they do today” (716). The problem is that everything is for sale in today’s world and people with less money are put at more of a disadvantage. Another problem with today’s world is that the market is corrupt. The way the market is set up today is taking away all the good things in life. Sandel used and example of kids receiving money in exchange to read. This takes away the “intrinsic satisfaction” of reading a book (717).

         Sandel is obviously directing this to an audience of consumers. To break it down, he is most likely trying to speak to those who are bad consumers and do not have morals. Although the market might have started it all, it cannot be the only blame for the financial crisis. Consumers are a big reason as well. Sandel claims that when society decides “that certain goods may be bought or sold”, it tends to “treat them as commodities” (717). This means that anything that is bought or sold is an object that could be sold for money or other objects. Overall, Sandel is trying to say that consumers forget the meaning or value behind an object once it is bought or sold. Sandel used an example of slavery to put this into perspective for the reader and show that people were treated as commodities as well. His audience is a very important piece of this writing because they are who he is trying to inform of what is going on in society today and persuade to make a change in the way the consume.



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