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Market Distortions of Love

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In the September 2008 issue of The Costco Connection (Vol. 23, No.9), the members magazine of the Costco warehouse chain, the cover story is on William Wang, the CEO of Vizio, a flat panel digital television manufacturer.  On the facing page of the opening of the story, on page 25, there is a full page photo of Wang with a brief profile of Vizio.  There is a single quote by Wang as well, and that is what caught my attention:

The biggest measurement we have is how many customers love us.  To achieve that, the product must be good, and it must be affordable.

In the light of Luigino Bruni’s “Common Good and Economics” the above quote gives a tiny indication of just how much markets, when considered as the dominant human relationship, can distort human relationships.  When we characterize commercial relationships as “love” or “loving”, we profoundly miss the richness of human love, particularly selfless agapic love, substituting in its place an extraordinarily fickle ersatz commodity.

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