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Anybody Want to Buy a Kidney?

Conservatives and libertarians hold the free market in very high regard–and rightfully so.

The voluntary exchange of goods and services not only serves as a strong social cohesive, but is a catalyst for prosperity and growth. If I have an abundance of wheat and a shortage of water, while my neighbor has an abundance of water and a shortage of wheat, he and I can come to an agreement which, upon completion leaves both of us better off.

However, voluntary exchange isn’t inherently good in and …

  1. Keith Rice

    Perhaps the worst element of capitalism is when predators use it to unilaterally exploit the weak. Prostitution isn’t legal because a) no congressman  wants to tell his wife that he’s sponsored a bill to legalize it and b) it would encourage predation on young women.

    I’ve often thought people should have the right to do with their body as they please, but the real problem of unilateral exploitation in this area gives me pause.

  2. Fred Cole

    Do you want the moral argument or the practical argument?  

  3. Foxman
    Highlama: … b) it would encourage predation on young women.

    . · 7 minutes ago

    There are many places where prostitution is legal. Do you really think that the predation here is less than in places where it is openly practiced and regulated?

  4. Britanicus
    Fred Cole: Do you want the moral argument or the practical argument?   · 18 minutes ago

    Both, if you would be so kind.

  5. Foxman

    I have argued this before.  There are a lot of people who make a lot of money in an organ transplant.  The only one who does not is the donor, the person who takes the greatest risk.  Yes, there is potential for abuse.  There is abuse of the current system.  Making the system more transparent would likely reduce the abuse.

    We’ve argued bone marrow transplants here before.  I have a personal ax to grind on this subject.  The collection of tissue for most bone marrow transplants is not much more invasive than a blood donation.  Does anybody here object to blood transfusions?

  6. Britanicus

    When I’m musing about the idea of legalized drugs or prostitution (or in this case organ/human body selling), I often find myself thinking “well, if it were regulated appropriately it would be OK.”

    Its odd that as a conservative, I am contemplating creating another government agency to regulate something.

    I feel that I’m really trying to find a way to remove the inherent “badness” in each situation.

    If there was a way to remove the fact that some drugs destroy lives, and if there was a way to remove the fact that prostitution is degrading and harmful to women, then both would be OK.

    Those are big if’s.

    Further, why do I think the government will be able to somehow get this right when it almost never gets things right?

    The difference between the drugs/prostitution issues–getting back on topic–is that there isn’t anything inherently bad, or wrong, about selling an organ or a part of your body (correct me if I’m wrong).

    If the transactions were done in a better manner, ie. two people on more equal footing, it would be OK, no?

  7. Wesley Smith is doing such a great service. My short take: when humans are objectified, particularly in buying and selling (not of their services, but their actual bodies) even if willingly, they become slaves. Slavery is not good for the slave, the owner, or society. I include topless dancers and porn in this definition. Even the buying of babies (and embryos) for adoption is problematic. I am not saying that some of these things even need to be illegal- but recognized. This is what strict, secular, social Libertarianism devolves to: the freedom to be a slave.

  8. Fred Cole
    Michael Horn

    Fred Cole: Do you want the moral argument or the practical argument?   · 18 minutes ago

    Both, if you would be so kind. · 8 minutes ago

    The moral:

    This entire thing is about property rights.  Who owns your body?  

    Ownership has two parts: posession of of the thing and the ability to dispose of it as you would.  If you claim ownership of a thing but cannot dispose of it, then you don’t own it.  If not you, then who?

    Do you own your own body?  If you don’t own it, who does?  The state?  “Society”?  

    I don’t know about your, but I am a self owner.  

  9. Percival

    Outside of abortion and outright chattel slavery, could there be anything as utterly dehumanizing as this?

    If you don’t hold human life to be anything special, well then, parts is parts.

    What rights could a collection of spare parts possibly possess?

  10. Britanicus
    PracticalMary: Wesley Smith is doing such a great service. My short take: when humans are objectified, particularly in buying and selling (not of their services, but their actual bodies) even if willingly, they become slaves. . . . 

    Fred Cole

    . . . . Do you own your own body?  If you don’t own it, who does?  The state?  “Society”?  

    I don’t know about your, but I am a self owner.   · 10 minutes ago

    I found myself nodding my head in agreement when reading both of these posts, which is odd considering that they are conflicting points of view.

    I agree with Fred, that at the most basic level, if you don’t own your body, what freedom do you have? I also agree with PracticalMary, that it is possible to use/sell your body in ways that degrade and demean.

    It seems that this line of thought requires me to ask if I have the right to sell myself into slavery? Do I have the freedom to give up my freedom?

    If the answer is yes, then surely I have the right to sell my kidney.

  11. Foxman
    Percival: Outside of abortion and outright chattel slavery, could there be anything as utterly dehumanizing as this?

    If you don’t hold human life to be anything special, well then, parts is parts.

    What rights could a collection of spare parts possibly possess? · 1 minute ago

    So you are against blood transfusions?

  12. Fred Cole
    Michael Horn: 

    I feel that I’m really trying to find a way to remove the inherent “badness” in each situation.

    Think about it like alcohol.  No matter what regulations you create, no sales before noon on Sunday, selling it in state owned stores, only selling to people over 21, not serving already intoxicated people, no having drink promotions, and countless others, you cannot mitigate the badness.  There are still alcohol poisoning deaths, there are still fights and drunken murders, people still have accidents, there are still car crashes, children still get neglected.  

    You cannot remove the badness from the thing, because the badness comes from individual choices.  

    Yet with all the badness, the consequences of prohibition are worse.  All that badness happens plus more.  People are poisoned from poorly manufactured drink, and since its illegal its not actionable, and there’s no free market to reward the good producers over the bad.  Its harder for alcoholics to get help because of the legal issues and stigma attached to their problem.  There’s incentive to steal and cheat people because there are no property rights.

  13. Mel Foil

    I didn’t make my organs. God did. I can re-gift them, but selling them is just bad manners.

  14. Fred Cole

    [Cont'd]

    The light of day, the light of legality and its accompanying property rights and societal protections mitigate the badness more than prohibition ever could.

  15. Foxman
    Mel Foil: I didn’t make my organs. God did. I can re-gift them, but selling them is just bad manners. · 2 minutes ago

    Once a gift is given, it becomes the property of the receiver. 

  16. Percival

    I’ve donated blood, but never sold it.  That just makes me a crummy capitalist, I guess.

    So, if you have two kidneys, and you only really need one, the government can confiscate your excess capacity and redistribute it, correct?

    It would be handy for limiting the amount that a plaintiff could get in a wrongful death suit.  No one could possibly be worth more than the sum of the retail value of their parts.

  17. Instugator

    The only place on the planet where there isn’t a waiting list for kidneys is Iran. Selling kidneys in Iran is legal.

    It is about the only thing they do right.

     

  18. Foxman

    So, if you have two kidneys, and you only really need one, the government can confiscate your excess capacity and redistribute it, correct?”

    I said it belonged to me not the government.

  19. Hang On

    Hopefully, this will not be an issue in the not too distant future as tissues and organs can be grown using your own stem cells.

  20. Nyadnar17

    How many people die everyday because of blood shortages? If you were allowed to sell blood there would never be a blood shortage anywhere in the world ever again.

    How many people rot in the ground? If you could sell organs the only people who would take them organs with them when they died would be the infected or the religious.

    I firmly believe that the number of people who are dying  due to shortages vastly out number the number of people who would be injured in a well regulated free market.  You don’t even have to go to first principles on this one, it just makes sense numerically.

    The article makes me so mad. Not only is he a non-interested third party blithely making judgment about what constitutes a good and a bad deal for others without regard for their other opportunities(or non-opportunities) he is using abuses overseas to justify outlawing a practice at home. You could make the same arguments about shoe sweat shops and conflict diamonds. The fact that an industry has human rights abuses abroad has no bearing on whether or not it should be outlawed at home.

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