Study: Market Economies Make Us Evil

You're a good person, right? You have morals. You would never betray your ethical code. Unless there was a bidding war for your morals— in that case, you could scarcely resist selling out. It's human nature.

Pretty simple study here out of Germany: people were asked if they would allow a mouse to be killed for ten Euros. Only 46% said yes. (Mice are cute.) But what if there was a market for the lives of cuddly little mice? From MSN:

Then the researchers upped the stakes by putting more people in a market environment, where rights to trade the lives of the mice were bought and sold. In that context, 72% of the people involved were willing to trade the lives of mice for money — but for far less than 10 euros.

To be perfectly clear on what happened here: when a capitalist market was created, people who refused to kill a mouse for ten euros happily agreed to kill a mouse for less than ten euros. Because that's just unavoidable capitalist logic! How could they not kill the mouse? That would represent a missed profit opportunity. The study's author explains, "subjects may justify their behavior by stressing that their impact on outcomes is negligible. 'This logic is a general characteristic of markets,' says Prof. Falk. Excuses or justifications appeal to the saying, 'If I don't buy or sell now, someone else will.'"

This is exactly why a perfectly righteous person or organization will invest in, say, tobacco companies and gun companies and horrible worker-exploiting companies of all stripes. Because you can't leave that alpha on the table. Hey, if I don't kill that mouse, some jerk over there will just kill that mouse. Why should he get to pocket money for such an evil act? The evil fuck. I will kill that mouse just to keep the blood money out of the hands of that other asshole, who would have killed that mouse.

[MSN Money. Photo: Flickr. Thanks, EC]