Thursday, July 16, 2009

This is Why We Can't Have Ni... Well, Things

Brandon, don't go!

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.
Listen here, commentariot. We've worked long and hard to get a troll here. Brandon may have sucked, but for one brief comment thread, he was ours. Next time someone comes around telling us that OUR arguments are poorly defended and that WE are biased, you'd better find a way to make him repeat himself, loudly and often. None of this making him take his bawl and go home.

I'm not sure why Brandon thinks we don't want this place to be an exchange. We would love to exchange insults with him any time. Oh well, back to the self pleasuring. Anyone got a tissue?


Brandon said...

Listen, guys. In all seriousness, I was just trying not to be a jerk. We've all got our corners of the internet that are for pure enjoyment--something I took this site to be. Nasty commenters can quickly ruin a site like that--and that's something I just didn't want to be.

Yes, I'm a classical liberal, so, yes, I'm more likely to agree with McArdle than you (though I certainly find her approach to be presumptuous, her conclusions very wrong (her celebrated gay marriage post, for example), and her writing too dependent on adjective-defining adverbs (everything is "bizarrely strange" or "strangely weird" or somesuch)).

On the subject of selling organs, however, I support it for the same reason I support abortion rights--sure, it's not my cup of tea, but who am I to say you can't sell your kidneys? I see the argument from the standpoint of exploitation, but I hope you'd see the argument from the standpoint of those pointing to literally tens of thousands of otherwise needless deaths. Selling kidneys is not the same as selling hearts, nor is it the same as selling oneself into slavery. There are important differences there that I think most of you are plenty smart enough to know already.

I'm not trolling; I don't hate Democrats (though the argument about "moral repugnance"--assuming that you mean "it's just not right"--this is actually a conservative argument); I probably do hate Republicans. On this issue, I just didn't want to see the issue get shat on just because of someone who picked it up (McArdle). For what it's worth, Megan's gay marriage post (the one referenced on wikipedia) should give her more than a little pause (much, much pause, in fact) when confronted with the exploitation argument against organ selling.

NutellaonToast said...

OK, let's try this:

1) "who am I to say you can't sell your kidneys?" That's called framing the question. You're defacto question is about whether or not "telling someone what to do" is right or wrong. That's not an argument for or against anything, but simply a bias. The real question is the positive and negatives consequences. You're just engaging in rhetoric.

2) Hobson's choice. Yes, there should be more organ transplants. I don't see how the only solution to that is to let people sell their kidneys. If you want to tell me we should introduce a new system of peddling parts of people's bodies, I'm going to demand that you have something a little more fleshed out than "pay them for the privelage!"

3) How serious is selling a kidney? I don't know. I imagine that, despite their redundancy, each kidney on its own is pretty important. Have you read well sourced documents that contradict this view? Forgive me for assuming that you haven't. I don't accept that selling a kidney, while not like selling a heart, is far from selling an appendix.

4) I don't know if you got the term "classical liberal" from Doughy Pantload's shitpile, but I'd refrain from using it if you want anyone to take you seriously.

5) We're not idiots. We don't dismiss things for contradicting Megan's sake. We dismiss what she says because we know that it's resemblance to anything intelligent or factual is going to be coincidental. If you want us to take organ selling seriously, provide a link to a well thought out and well researched defense of it. No matter how good an idea it is, that doesn't mean that McArdle made any attempt to show that it is other than just wanting us to take her word for it.

Brandon said...

Well, that's at least a serious response.

1. This is confused. Sure, I'm "framing the question"--it's hard to see how one could ask it without framing it. The way I put it was imprecise--the question is more complicated, but comes down to very serious questions about the legitimate use of coercion against individuals--i.e. who owns your organs and in what sense do we mean ownership. My argument was, implicitly, individuals own their bodies and may therefore do what they will with them, provided this doesn't harm anyone else. I suppose this is a bias, but on that definition of "bias" I'd have a difficult time knowing what counts as an argument. The real question is consequences, sure--if you're a consequentialist. I was making an argument from the standpoint of rights--i.e. not a consequentialist argument. Are you pro-choice? If so, don't you leverage a woman's right to choose--i.e. her right to control her own body--over what some would call negative externalities, i.e. aborted fetuses? You don't have to, but a lot of people do.

2. I didn't present any more of a Hobson's choice than those who argue against organ selling. Legislation often tends to be an either/or proposition, particularly when speaking generally.

3. Did you read the article Megan linked to? It's been making some pretty wide rounds. I'm taking it on her authority, sure, but I don't have the time to investigate the question satisfactorily myself. The same question could be asked of you, of course--not to mention whoever is responsible for crafting the legislation effectively banning organ selling (though it's unlikely they went so far as to actually read the legislation itself.

4. I thought "classical liberal" was a pretty respectable term. Classical liberals include any one from Locke to Smith to Mill to Hayek--not a bad set of peeps. What would you prefer?

5. Check Virginia Postrel's recent piece in the Atlantic. I don't know how to embed these things, so


Susan of Texas said...

Classical liberalism is just another way of saying libertarian. The problem with libertarianism is that it doesn't work in the real world.

Say that organ selling is permitted. The potential for abuse is so extreme that it will be tightly regulated. Nobody will be able to sell an organ unless they can legally consent, so no children, mentally incapacitated, and so on. Ederly people or people in poor health will not be considered due to liability risk. Young to late middle age adults will then be considered the pool of potential donors. Foreign donors will no longer be cost effective with home-grown organs now available.

So the kidney consumer, for example, has a finite pool to choose from. We all know that our poor are not really poor--they have tvs and food and cars, as the libertarians remind us constantly. And nobody will give away their organs anymore out of altruism--why should they? The entire donation system would inevitably be privitized. So now you have available only the organs of people who wouldn't mind selling a body part--if the price is right.

And now you no longer have a fair and impartial system based on need, you have the organ going to the highest bidder. You would never be able to afford to buy an organ, unless you sudddenly became rich (which of course being a libertarian you believe will happen any minute now). And the stockholders of insurance companies might not like the idea of paying for someone to have an organ removed or installed--one party has enough money to pay and the other is getting a great deal of money.

ChicagoEd said...

Do not, I repeat, do not give Brandon a stage to spew his libertarian ideology. Brandon's a danger because he's dumber than McArdle, more naive than McArdle, more obsequious than McArdkle and more douchbaggier than McArdle. He's got it all: stupid, morally certain, assholey, and utterly wrong, meanwhile he's also got a penis. If you continue to showcase Brandon, eventually the suits will notice, i.e., David Bradley at Teh Atlantic. Then what happens? How about, first, Megan's ass gets fired and replaced by Brandon's. Then the raison d'etre of your blog is fucked so it shuts down, and now I'm pissed. And all at humanity's loss. Please, I beg of you, do not showcase Brandon. You do so at your own peril. And mine. I'm begging you.

Susan of Texas said...

Does Brandon have a fake upper class drawl and speak British boarding school slang, circa 1950? If not, then he'll never fit in.

Brandon said...

Classical liberalism is not the same as libertarianism. I'm not going to google this stuff for you. Locke, Smith, Mill, and Hayek--every one of them supported both the notion of public goods and the idea that the poor should be taken care of.

I'm also not going to recount Postrel's argument for you.

The problem is that people are dying without the kidneys. That's the problem. Is it enough that they're dying in a "fair and impartial" system? Can it be that people pushing for organ-selling believe the number of organs traded will be the same, with the only difference being that the rich will get them, rather than the poor? The whole point is to increase the supply of organs in circulation--though I guess you get around this by hypothesizing that the market will be heavily regulated and we won't want to buy them from foreigners.

Susan of Texas said...

Again with the body parts. Get over it. Let the people who understand morality make these decisons for you if you can't understand. Ask a priest or minister; he'll be horrified.

bulbul said...

Hey, not my fault, I was at work and no one invited me to the party. I'd love to feed Brandon, just gimme a few minutes to check what he likes.

bulbul said...

Sure, I'm "framing the question"--it's hard to see how one could ask it without framing it.
Actually, 'framing' refers to the way your question was phrased. It means that the wording of your question shifts the attention from the subject we're discussing and misleadingly highlights only one aspect thereof while ignoring all the others and thus favoring a certain type of answer.

Classical liberalism is not the same as libertarianism.
Yes it is. Both are extremely vaguely defined and both tend to make references to Hayek a lot. Someone who calls themselves a classical liberal is a libertarian who can still feel shame.

The problem is that people are dying without the kidneys.
That is indeed a problem. What we're saying is that the solution you propose is a bad one. See Susan's post for details.

"it's just not right"--this is actually a conservative argument
Which only goes to show how fucked up today's conservatives are.

and her writing too dependent on adjective-defining adverbs
Well, you can at least identify an adjective and an adverb, kudoz. But your description of Megan's writing is still bullshit.

Dhalgren said...

We need more trolls. And better ones.

NutellaonToast said...

Brandon, you seem to actually think you don't have a bias, but you do. You're biased towards "rights" which, you'd think a fucking libertarian would realize, is an abstraction. Claiming something is a "right" the way that you do is identical to claiming that something is the word of god.

Yes, people have rights, and lots of them, but my fists ends at your nose.

Being keen on protecting "rights" doesn't help anyone. Let's try helping people. Your concern is phrased entirely around the concept of telling people what to do or not, which makes your pleas to about "people dying" seem pretty hollow.

Why not start with the question "how do we save lives" rather than start with the premise "government is bad, mm'kay?"

Anonymous said...

When all you've got is a (free market) hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Look, if the problem is people dying from lack of organ donors, there are plenty of other things we can do to increase the supply of organs without having organ sales.

Off the top of my head:
1. Make being an organ donor the default (opt out rather than opt in)
2. Look at revising our standards for defining when death occurs. Yeah, there's some heavy ethical issues that need to be addressed here, but it's not as ethically fraught as organ sales. Lots of potential organ donations are lost because the body's systems don't shut down all at the same time.
3. Libertarians should like this: repeal helmet (& seatbelt?) laws. I'm not actually sure how much of a difference this would make (would need info on exactly what kind of injuries (fatal and non)occur in crashes), but it might help.

Why do we need to go with organ sales when there are other routes we can take to deal with a shortage of organ donors?

Brandon said...

Sure, I'm "biased" towards rights, in the sense that I think they're very important. I admitted as such when I said I was a classical liberal.

So, yes, I think protecting rights is very important, but I don't see how this makes my "people dying" argument ring hollow. You can defend rights-respecting institutions from a utilitarian perspective as easily as you can from a deontological one--i.e. it doesn't have to be the word of god. I can argue that property rights are an invaluable institution and that they should only be violated in the service of protecting other rights or in the case--if I'm working from a utilitarian standpoint--that to not do so would be disastrous. From this view, if I'm confronted with the exploitation argument, then, yes, I need to weigh that concern against others.

The argument for organ-selling is twofold--first, it's better to assume that people own their bodies and are free to do with them what they please, provided it doesn't harm anyone else; two, clearly marking out property rights in the matter of organs would lead to an increased donor basis. So the first argument is more normative than the first--i.e. more purely rights-oriented--and the second is empirically utilitarian--i.e. it is precisely about helping people, and indeed, if you read the article, the whole point of bringing this issue up is "how do we save lives." I thought the problem with organ-selling was that it would tend to be exploitative, not that it would save fewer lives.

I don't think my bias towards rights is particularly offensive, either. I suspect you're probably equally biased towards them, if only because the alternative (having no particular bias towards rights) tends to appear unattractive. Again, if you're pro-choice (not saying you are), then you'd have a much harder time justifying such a position without some notion of reproductive rights--i.e. a woman's right to do with her body what she will.

Those are interesting ideas, though the logic of two and three seems to suggest that we could save more lives if we technically (or, in the case of seatbelts, literally) created more dead people. I've seen the default organ donor idea floated before. I suppose the problem there is that, on the one hand, it kind of removes the altruistic element of the whole thing (this doesn't bother me, particularly); on the other, I think most people would think that your body is, in fact, your own and that giving parts of it others, even if you're dead, isn't a proper role for the state.

NutellaonToast said...

A bias towards anything is not offensive, but just stupid. The idea of rights is meaningless if their provisions makes everyone worse off and creates injustice.

There is a reason the bill of rights is specific and qualified. Giving everyone the right to everything is meaningless and counterproductive.

Anonymous states precisely why your "people are dying argument" doesn't ring true. You're a libertarian. You're pushing market based solutions. I don't care what the specific instance is, I'm not going to think you've actually thought about things because you've reached the same conclusions you always reach and you're using the same bullshit rhetoric you always use.

If you care so much about people dying, why don't you guys ever talk about people starving in AFrica? How about the ravages of disease and poor sanitation in the developed world?

No, invariably you guys are either spouting off about how taxes are too high or there shouldn't be a minimum wage (ie wahh, my incredibly easy life is hard) or else you're just trying to be "edgy" by spouting bullshit about how free market organ donations are awesome ideas.

People who think don't have formulaic solutions to all problems and they sure as hell don't speak in abstractions like "rights" when speaking of things with incredibly complex logistical and moral implications.

You guys are reductionists, and your arguing style admits it. You embrace. Fuck "rights," I care about fucking grains and Tsetse flies. How do we get people more of one and fewer of the other without taking their dignity.

Somehow, making them sell their kidneys doesn't square up with that. If you can't think of any other solutions than free markets, you're just not thinking very hard.