Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are You Gonna Finish that Kidney?

The Gift of Life

Virginia Postrel has a terrific piece on organ donation in our pages. Long story short: don't count on cadaver organs, because there aren't enough of them, and organs from living donors last longer. We need quasi-market mechanisms to attract more living donors.
Yes. Yes we do need to start paying people money for their organs.
I confess, I don't understand the ban on paying for organs. We let eighteen year olds decide to go to Iraq in order to eventually pay for college, but we won't let a thirty-five year old sell off a part of himself that he probably won't need, and with which he could save a life?
I confess, I do not understand how someone could not understand a ban on BUYING KIDNEYS FROM DESPERATE PEOPLE! Oh ho, you may say, what if they're not desperate? Well, I'm gonna have to go ahead and surmise that people either donate kidneys out of charity (no money down!) or desperation (hey ma! We get to eat MEAT tonight! God bless the Slice and Sell!).

Oh wait, everyone's a rational actor and the only form of coercion is deceit money hunger sex power guilt social pressure the government and its evil evil threats of ripping out your organs so you can eat force.

Now if you'll excuse me, I really want an X-Box 360 so I'm going to sell my liver.


Susan of Texas said...

She can't think of a reason against selling body parts. Because the market is self-correcting, or something. This is what passes for elite journalism now.

This sorry excuse for a human being is utterly confident of her superiority and has found fame and success through being a moron.

Almost everyone in the media didn't see this economic crises was coming or denied it was coming. The people who were right are basically ignored. And those same people say that there's a world of hurt coming down the pike.

There aren't enough jobs to replace housing--and housing hasn't even hit bottom yet. There isn't enough money to prop up the 71% consumer-driven economy. Pensions, 401ks and housing equity are gutted. The US and individuals are still deeply in debt. The stimulus is too small to save us.

Everyone says we'll recover, but they never say how. We need jobs to replace those that won't come back, and nobody knows where they'll come from. They say incredibly vague stuff like alternate energy, but little else.

If we are having a 'jobless recovery" when our recovery depends on jobs, how are we having a recovery at all?

Susan of Texas said...

Oh, and forget the 360--it keeps breaking down. Get a Wii with your kidney instead.

NutellaonToast said...

A already donated sperm to get a Wii.

Dhalgren said...

Or and iPhone 3GS

I faintly remember her writing about this topic before, with the some opinion that selling organs should not be outlawed.

And another post to the McArdle hall of fame.

Brandon said...

For all the virtriol, pretty short on actual reasons why organ-selling is evil.

Susan of Texas said...

That's because most people don't debate the degree of evil in which they will indulge. It is beneath them. It is wrong.

It is wrong because the potential for exploitation and harm against the poor is far too great. Spend two minutes thinking about how the prospect could go wrong and I know this is very, very hard, but try to picutre yourself as the one needing money, not the one needing a kidney.

clever pseudonym said...

And Megan was pretty short on reasons why it isn't. She doesn't "understand" why there's a ban, and thus there shouldn't be one. The mere mention of the undeniable fact that desperate people would largely bear the burden of donation is enough.

"we won't let a thirty-five year old sell off a part of himself that he probably won't need"

That is stupidity and ignorance that barely deserves a response. We're not talking about tonsils or an appendix, here. We have organs because we NEED them. Just because you can SURVIVE with one kidney or part of a liver, doesn't mean you don't need them. Your life without them will be painful, far from regular, and most likely cut a lot shorter than if you had them.

But hey, if a rich guy can pay a poor one to spend his life suffering and die young, what's the big deal? The sooner poor people die so that the rich may live, the better.

Brandon said...

That's the argument? The poor will abuse it? Did you read the paper Megan linked to? Do you understand what a *market* for kidneys might look like? Are you willing to acknowledge that your concern for some poor guy making a lot of money on a organ that--despite your completely false assertion that he will absolutely, undeniably need it--he likely won't need in the long run--are you willing to acknowledge that this concern absolutely, undeniably kills (of, if you'd prefer, "needlessly lets die") many, many, many people?

More relevantly, can you possibly see how taking the other side of the argument might not make you a "sorry excuse for a human being"?

Chad said...


Actually, we can know exactly what a market for organs from living donors would look like, and our poor desperate person exploited by those who take advantage of their poverty and lack of choices isn't hypothetical. Read up on the organ trade and "organ tourism" in developing countries sometime or the ethical and practical reasons why India and China no longer have legal organ trade.

As for why we find the argument disgusting...well, if it's not already obvious I can't help you there. I'll just say on my part that I bet I can get Megan to support allowing people to sell themselves into slavery for money, if I can show her a reputable-sounding essay online.

Chad said...

Ah, sorry, that should be just India.

NutellaonToast said...

Damn Brandon, are you Megan? I think the point here was that she "can't understand" arguments against her poorly defined and ill-thought out assertion.

See, if you want to argue for something you have to expect and defend criticism, not just go "oh, it will be swell because people who get organs will need them!"

the problem with this article, ignoring the callousness and free-market bullshit, is it's her usual shallow, pretentious crap. She just says something controversial and doesn't bother to stick around to make it seem like she wants anything other than attention. She bases everything around one single article and acts like a fucking expert.

Brandon said...

No, I don't find organ-selling disgusting. Then again, I'm not the one telling other people they can't do it. "It's disgusting" isn't an argument. Surely you find other perfectly legal things--flag-burning, poop-eating, maybe even abortion--disgusting.

I guess making fun of Megan is fun--I make fun of people all the time--but you may, for your own sake, want to have a firmer basis for such apparently robust beliefs.

Susan of Texas said...

"It's disgusting" isn't the argument. "It opens up enormous potential for exploitation" is the argument. We used to have indentured servitute--7-year slavery. We don't do that anymore either because of our beliefs about human dignity and privacy and our concerns about exploitation.

You ignored the argument given. (Exploitation.) You ignored the factual example given. (Current exploitation at nations that tried this.) Saying the other side needs a firmer basis for argument is laughable.

MikeG said...


How does 'morally repugnant' work as an argument for you rather than 'disgusting'?

It works for me as does the track record of real exploitation of the poor and its fundamental potential under a scheme like this. So-called 'free markets' create winners and losers and you can guess the outcomes with a market in organs, can't you, big guy? I know you guys want to commodify everything--efficient distribution and all that--but this is a little rich...

Obliterati said...

You guys have the worst trolls.

NutellaonToast said...

You could pretend to be a better one. We've wanted one for a long time.

Brandon said...

"Troll" is a bit strong, no? Basic disagreement is trolling?

I ignored the comparative argument, because it's pretty weak. I can point to lots of formal and informal institutions in India that would make organ-selling work differently there than here.

I guess the disgusting argument is two-pronged. The idea that it's disgusting because it's "morally repugnant" is, as I mentioned, not an argument. I find many things "morally repugnant," few of which I'm willing to make illegal.

As far as exploitation goes, I say again that this isn't as clear or as cut-and-dry as you're making it out to be. The assumption is that there is basically one buyer of these goods--rich guys, probably white and definitely Republican--and one seller--poor, poor, and poor. In reality, there are lots and lots of people--the great majority middle class and poor--who need kidneys and simply cannot obtain them. I am quite clearly lower-middle class, but I can tell you that, if faced with the option of dying otherwise, I would give up every cent I had--plus every cent I was going to make in the next few years--for the chance to keep living. I can see pretty clearly how the argument works from *this* side of the equation--i.e. this situation is ripe for *sellers* to exploit *buyers*--but then, that's what the market is for, isn't it?

I can tell from the tone--particularly the troll comments--that you guys don't want me here. I presented things pretty modestly, straightforwardly, and earnestly--i.e. in a fashion unbefitting a troll--and you jumped down my throat. Clearly, this site is not meant to be a place for exchange--more like group masturbation, if you want my honest opinion--so I won't post here again. Best of luck.

Chad said...

"I ignored the comparative argument, because it's pretty weak."

Yeah, talking about the EXACT SAME THING which was only outlawed over a little over a decade ago in another country that's also an industrial modern capitalist republic...what was I thinking? I forgot the first rule of arguing with a Libertarian: nothing in a debate counts unless it follows precisely the same definitions, parameters, and ideological assumptions laid down by the Libertarian.

And I couldn't help but read Brandon's last comment in Cartman's voice, capped off with, "Screw you, guys! I'm goin' home!"

Obliterati said...

Oh crap, I chased somebody away with my very first post.

A web traffic killer is me, sorry.

NutellaonToast said...

I love how he assails our assumptions and then assumes that we view buyers as "rich white and republican!"

Nothing says not a troll like imbuing your opponent with a false sense of bias and discrimination!

MikeG said...

Exit Troll, but still I wonder how moral repugnance is not an argument. Can anyone enlighten me or is it just 'cause I didn't pitch it as somehow related to Pareto Optimality or some other crazy shit you think?

Anonymous said...

Too bad no one read the actual article. Argue with it, not with Megan's representation of it.

MikeG said...

I think we are arguing with it by suggesting the very premises on which the arguments are made are problematic morally and practically. But I could be wrong. . .unfortunatley Anonymous, screaming 'FACTS!' at the top of your lungs doesn't seem to help. . .

clever pseudonym said...

Did you happen to notice the title of this blog? It's not "Discuss Articles That Megan McArdle Links To At Length In A Salon Fashion While Ignoring Her Flippant Comments On The Subject."