Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Much Is That Kidney In The Window...?

Thanks to severe sinus irritation due to allergies, I've been advised by competent medical authorities to seek out a dry, barren, lifeless environment, such as the high desert, or John Stossel's conscience.  And since one of those doesn't require springing for gas, what say we pay a little attention to that man behind the mustache...?
The market is fine for some things, people will say, but other activities are too important to be left to the market. Or too complicated. Or too fundamental to our democracy. 
I say: Privatize everything.
The problem with selling the privatization of government functions, such as Social Security, is that up till now it's been done on a piecemeal basis, allowing opponents time to marshal effective counter-arguments.  But if we privatize everything all at once, the public will either be too overwhelmed to organize, or -- thanks to privately owned media -- they'll never even hear about it.  And by the time they realize their Social Security checks are now available only in the form of ATM cards that charge $4.50 per transaction, with a $25.00 shipping and handling fee, it'll be too late, since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have been turned into upscale condos.  Of course, the proles might get a little restless, but thanks to competition, every conservative billionaire will be able to afford his own private District Attorneys Office, individual Police Department, and Personal Pan Pentagon.
To some of you, that will sound callous -- but failure to privatize services, keeping them in government hands instead, is what impoverishes and kills people. Nothing compassionate about that.
As John has already proven through geometric logic and the sinuous, hula-like language of his undulating mustache, getting rid of the FDAUSDA food inspectors, and seat belts will save thousands of worthless lives (but valuable livers) a year!
Take organ donations.
Why do I suspect that when Stossel got to the end of the movie and heard Charlton Heston bellow, "Soylent Green is people!" he didn't think, "Twist ending," he thought, "Sound business plan!"
Regulations forbid buying and selling organs, so the market cannot operate. 
Personally, I'd rather have a surgeon operate, if for no other reason that it must be really difficult to get a rubber glove onto an invisible hand.
Desperate patients must wait and hope someone gives out of sheer generosity
But I thought countries with strong market economies like the U.S. already gave more to charity than European-style social welfare states?  Are you implying that the inherent generosity of the American People is not operating as advertised?  This comes as a huge disappointment, John, especially after I gave two months' worth of stool samples to our local church's Fecal Transplant Drive.
that someone dies at just the right time, and that hospital administrators bump their case to the top of the list.
The implication here seems to be that hospital administrators are fascistic bureaucrats, whereas in a perfectly privatized paradise (and following a temporary dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) hospital administrations will simply wither away.
In the U.S., 100,000 people are on waiting lists for kidneys. Kidneys make up 80 percent of the organ shortage. We have two kidneys but only need one. 
Not on St. Patrick's Day.
Donors could save many lives, but not enough choose to donate. By contrast, in Iran, there's often a waiting line of willing donors . That's because in Iran, it's legal to sell organs. It's the rare thing that Iran does right.
I've always thought that A Modest Proposal is the Randian version of that Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man" -- guys like Stossel get to the end and are shocked to discover: "It's not a cookbook!"
People still buy and sell organs even when it's illegal, but, as is so often the case, the black market produces horrors that are unlikely to occur when people can trade in the open.
I can see how that argument would work for something like medical marijuana, but not so much for organ harvesting, if only because nobody's likely to wake up in an ice-filled bathtub in Mexico and find a note telling them, "Get yourself to the hospital. We took your dime bag of East Coast Sour Diesel."
 So we get headlines like "Girl smuggled into Britain to have her 'organs harvested'" and "Chinese boy, 6, has eyes gouged out for organ transplant black market."
I must respectfully disagree, John. We don't get headlines like that because the free market doesn't allow people to sell their organs, we get them because the free market allows Rupert Murdoch to publish newspapers.
Surely, it is better if organ exchanges -- like any other exchanges -- take place voluntarily.
So I take it you'd support Obamacare if the state health insurance exchanges also allowed the sale of human organs, perhaps through some sort of eBay plugin, or a Woot! daily special?
Bioethicist Sigrid Fry-Revere, founder of the Center for Ethical Solutions, went to Iran to meet organ sellers and buyers.
Dude, she scored me a totally sweet pancreas!  But then she got busted at the border, and now she's going all Midnight Express in a Turkish prison.  I visited her a couple times, tried to cheer her up, but she just kept making me rub my nipples on the glass.
After, she told of people like "an apprentice who needed the money to start his own shop ... He had his own shop now. He gave his kidney to a 15 year-old girl, who is going to school and doing well. He checks in regularly with her mother because it gives him such a lift to hear that the girl is doing fine."
Well, he sold his kidney to a 15 year-old girl, which makes me wonder what she'd originally earmarked that money for.  Maybe college, although if she's anything like me, she was probably saving up to buy her neighbor's 1970 Plymouth Duster.
Fry-Revere says organ trading in Iran is much like open adoption in the U.S.: The two parties can decide whether to visit and get to know each other. Other times, the donation is anonymous. Both are much better than kidnapping and eye-gouging.
Okay, but why are you calling it a "donation" if the organs are sold?  For that matter, why are you comparing the organ market to adoption, unless the next step is legalizing the sale of babies (presumably for parts)?
In America, we let people sell blood. And sperm. And eggs. Why not kidneys?
In Britain that makes a complete breakfast.
 Why do politicians recoil at the idea of a legal market? Fry-Revere says, "I think it's just, old habits die hard."
And so do guys who don't want to sell their organs, and who continue to balk even after the privatized City Council has condemned their kidneys through Eminent Domain.
There are all sorts of services that people think the market can't handle. It's like they have some sort of mental block.
Or some sort of...memory.
 President Obama says that without government, we can't put out fires. But almost half the people government pays to fight wildfires work for private companies. In parts of America, private companies also put out house fires. They get to the fire sooner.
And stand around, watching it burn, while you argue with the Billing Department about the status of your account.
Markets aren't perfect, but they allow for a world where prudence is rewarded and sloth punished
I can see why people who have more disposable income than kidneys could benefit from such a system, but it seems like the sloths are getting kind of a raw deal.  Unless of course they're into pain and humiliation, since Stossel thinks we should be free to pay for that, too.
Punish me, Mistress!  Please!  I've been a b-a-a-a-d sloth!


Carl said...

I say: Privatize everything.

Y'know, why not start with charging for the free airwaves that News Corp has been given?

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

I say: Privatize everything.

"Well, we're very sorry, Mr. Shreve...but your check to ImmediaPolice bounced, and so we're going to have to repossess your valuables and return them to the man who stole them. Have a nice day!"

Helmut Monotreme said...

Rich people will be able to afford 2 livers and four kidneys! the amount of booze and pills these Randian supermen will be able to handle will be amazing! Anyone who's anyone will proudly show off their collection of superfluous organs. Clint Eastwood himself has had 9 extra appendices implanted.

Fearguth said...

Wurlitzer has been selling organs on the open market for years. Does Stossel not know that?

Weird Dave said...

East Coast Sour Diesel

I had to look that up.

Chris Vosburg said...

I can't remember who wrote it, but a sci-fi short story about a man on death row took a whack at the idea of harvesting organs from all capital punishees, by law.

In what is a staple of sci-fi short fiction-- and it's what I like best about the genre-- the end-of-story reveals the crime the man has been sentenced to death for:


heydave said...

John Stossel: a legend in his own mind.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

To some of you, that will sound callous -- but failure to privatize services, keeping them in government hands instead, is what impoverishes and kills people.


(Or whatever they're calling themselves these days...I wonder why they had to change it???)

acrannymint said...

What gets me is that he used to be a consumer advocate in NYC in the 70s.

grouchomarxist said...

Markets aren't perfect, but they allow for a world where prudence is rewarded and sloth punished

And that, ladies, gents and hermaphrodites, is the gist of the nub of it: a fucking morality play, where the John Stossels of the world prosper and his inferiors (i.e. the rest of us) are ambulatory organ farms.

Fox News: where naked, utterly shameless sociopathy is your ticket to stardom.

Arakasi said...


You're thinking of Larry Niven's The Jigsaw Man from All the Myriad Ways, which also contains the classic Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, which explains why the unresolved sexual tension between Superman and Lois Lane must remain unresolved.