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One Thing Money Still Can't Buy

In his book What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel states, "There are some things money can't buy—but these days, not much." Almost everything is up for sale, and if you have enough funds, you can buy what you want. Sandel lists the following examples:

  • The right to jump to the head of the line at Universal Studios: $149. Vacationers at Universal Studios can buy a special Front of Line Pass that allows them to cut to the front on all rides, shows, and attractions.
  • A prison-cell upgrade: $90 a night. In some cities nonviolent offenders can pay for a clean, quiet jail cell, without any non-paying prisoners to disturb them.
  • The services of an Indian surrogate mother: $8,000. Western couples seeking surrogates increasingly outsource the job to India, and the price is less than one-third the going rate in the United States.
  • The right to shoot an endangered black rhino: $250,000. South Africa has begun letting some ranchers sell hunters the right to kill a limited number of rhinos, to give the ranchers an incentive to raise and protect the endangered species.
  • Access to the carpool lane while driving solo: about $8. Some cities try to ease traffic congestion by letting solo drivers pay to drive in carpool lanes.
  • Your doctor's cellphone number: $1,500 and up per year. A growing number of "concierge" doctors offer cellphone access and same-day appointments for patients willing to pay annual fees ranging from $1,500 to $25,000.
  • The right to emit a metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: $10.50. The European Union runs a carbon-dioxide-emissions market that enables companies to buy and sell the right to pollute.
  • The right to immigrate to the United States: $500,000. Foreigners who invest $500,000 and create at least 10 full-time jobs in an area of high unemployment are eligible for a green card.

Of course there's one thing that money still can't buy—salvation. Jesus paid for it with his own life, but it's offered to us as a free gift. Always been and always will be.

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