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Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs 518

Posted by timothy
from the adults-making-choices dept.
retroworks writes "Dr. Gary Becker (University of Chicago) and Julio Elias (Universidad CEMA, Argentina) wrote a thought-provoking editorial in last week's WSJ, arguing that the prohibition on voluntary sale and trade of human organs is probably killing people. In 2012, 95,000 American men, women and children were on the waiting list for new kidneys. Yet only about 16,500 kidney transplant operations were performed that year. 'The altruistic giving of organs might decline with an open market, since the incentive to give organs to a relative, friend or anyone else would be weaker when organs are readily available to buy. On the other hand, the altruistic giving of money to those in need of organs could increase to help them pay for the cost of organ transplants.' Paying for organs would lead to more transplants, the article maintains. 'Initially, a market in the purchase and sale of organs would seem strange, and many might continue to consider that market "repugnant." Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.'"
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Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs

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  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:24AM (#46005021) Homepage Journal

    Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.

    Over time, however, the sale of bananas would grow to be accepted, just as the Lil' Orphan Annie Fan Club now has widespread support. Wait, what? Oh, they're trying to draw a parallel based on efficacy, as opposed to such piffling concerns as morality. TFA goes on to say "Whether paying donors is immoral because it involves the sale of organs is a much more subjective matter, but we question this assertion, given the very serious problems with the present system." but problems with the current system don't excuse problems with the proposed system.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:48AM (#46005173)

      They're economists. They recognize that rich people are dying, while poor people could be paid to to take that risk instead. By removing artificial restrictions, the free market will find the efficiency maximizing solution. Because the solution that a free market finds is axiomatically the best one. /sarcasm

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        yup, they're economists basing everything around economics.

        They could have combined their findings with other areas of expertise - such as common sense - by saying "people are just fucking lazy, so we find that by making organ donation on death the default option, there will be many more organs available that used not to be collected because people were too lazy to fill out the donation form, they'll still be too lazy to fill out the opt-out form".

        Any theory that ignores all but one aspect of human nature i

        • yup, they're economists basing everything around economics.

          They could have combined their findings with other areas of expertise - such as common sense - by saying "people are just fucking lazy, so we find that by making organ donation on death the default option, there will be many more organs available that used not to be collected because people were too lazy to fill out the donation form, they'll still be too lazy to fill out the opt-out form".

          Any theory that ignores all but one aspect of human nature is ultimate self-serving. In this case, making money for someone.

          Where is this form? When I got my drivers license, the person asked me verbally if I wanted to be an organ donor. I said yes, and that was it. It's recorded in my government records and printed on the license. I could have answered no, but I had to answer something. It doesn't get much easier than saying one word.

          • by Ocker3 (1232550)
            In most western nations, your family also has to agree for your organs to be donated upon your death
            • In most western nations, your family also has to agree for your organs to be donated upon your death

              I'm in the US. Fortunately, I haven't experienced that end of the system yet.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by davester666 (731373)

              Yeah, here in Canada, it is basically a hint.

              After you die, they have to ask the people who show up at the hospital for you [presumably your family] whether they want to donate your organs [so, they have to ask the family at one of the most traumatic times of lives if it is OK to dice up their wife, brother, child].

              Not only is the default to NOT donate organs, there is no legal way for you to select being an organ donor, because your choice is only legally binding while you are alive, once you are declared

        • "people are just fucking lazy, so we find that by making organ donation on death the default option, there will be many more organs available that used not to be collected because people were too lazy to fill out the donation form, they'll still be too lazy to fill out the opt-out form".

          Yeah, let's put an incentive in place to murder people who have organs that match someone wealthy enough to pay for them.

        • yup, they're economists basing everything around economics.

          True, but the proposal is not just economics but economics with a political bias thrown in. For example you could allow selling of human organs to encourage supply while requiring that they are sold to a central agency that then distributes them to hospitals based on where they will be most effective. This would be using economics to encourage supply while still maximizing the life saving potential of those organs by directing them based on medical need and prognosis rather than bank balance. It would prob

      • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:07AM (#46005285)

        Do they recognize you can kill political prisoners and make a fortune by selling their innards?

        In the American south, prison labor used to be common. You'd pay the warden and he'd share that money downward to the guards and police, etc., and prisoners would be sent to work for you for no pay to them. Oddly, the prisons were always full of people who were guilty of being black. There was a financial incentive to keep the prisons full.

        If we legalize pay for organs, there's a great incentive for people you don't like to not only wind up in prison, but for them to commit suicide, get shot trying to escape, have accidents, etc.

        • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:24AM (#46005377)

          Even this damnyankee knows the South isn't like that anymore. Wake up, this is the 21st century. You buy organs from China.

        • by novium (1680776) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:07PM (#46005775)

          Kind of off topic here, but the past tense there is sadly inappropriate. Prison labor is still pretty common especially in the south.. They're even having prisoners do labor for corporations. That way, the big companies get all the savings of using unfree labor in china, but they get to do it at home, so they can stick a "made in america" label on it.

          And the prisons are still full of people who are guilty of being black. Then there's the whole extraordinarily depressing school-to-jail thing. (including a judge in Pennsylvania who was taking bribes to ship kids off to juvie and....well, this http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/11/school_prison_pipeline_meridian.html [colorlines.com] where kids end up incarcerated for things like talking back to teachers.

        • by nbauman (624611)

          That's what the Chinese do.

          The prisons, run by the Red Army, execute a prisoner, in the way that would keep the organs in best shape, and the prison directors sell the organs, like the heart and kidneys, to wealthy foreigners. The Chinese hospitals perform the transplants.

          The patients often die. In a medical system where doctors are motivated by making as much money as possible, and get paid cash up front, they don't have that much concern for their patients.

          The Wall Street Journal had a story about this. T

      • some preferential treatment. I remember when Mickie Mantle got a liver transplant in 1995, when his own liver "looked like a doorstop" after 40 years of drinking. He had hepatitis C and cancer, but still got his new liver ahead of many who'd waited much longer, prolonging his life for about two months.

        Hell of a ballplayer, but it's evident he was not a decent candidate for transplant.

      • by hodet (620484)

        I for one welcome that an economist has put it out there. I am not for "organs for cash" but at some point somebody with the power to initiate change will put it on the table and I think its best to have the discussion now. Nobody should be skewered for putting an idea out there, no matter how terrible the idea is. If people actually start thinking about it now they will be better prepared if the idea ever gets any traction.

        • Nobody should be skewered for putting an idea out there,

          Ideas are not all interchangeable. We should respond apropriately to the severity of each "proposal". Some proposals are, by their nature, move vile than others. For example, we do not discuss politely the pros and cons of slavery, genocide, etc. We shouldn't discuss these particular ideas politely either. We should be meeting them with derision, and blaming these ignorant economists for skirting human history and ethics, whether deliberately as the

    • by khallow (566160)

      but problems with the current system don't excuse problems with the proposed system.

      What problems? You seem to think that there's some "immoral" reason against the sale of organs. But we have here an example where something which is supposedly "moral' kills a lot of people each year through organ shortages.

      • by starworks5 (139327) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:50PM (#46006161) Homepage

        Considering that china puts people in prison and harvests their organs, for nothing more than their religious affiliation, it seems reasonable that the market will lead to other "externalities".

        Al Roth has done great work with market design, and how to get organs to the people that need them most, by matching incompatible donors reciprocally, however this is another chicago-school "free market fixes everything" nonsense.

        Considering the "quality adjusted life years" are coming from somewhere, and most dead people can't consent or benefit from a sale, unless of course you put them into indentured servitude first and "collect" assets upon death.

      • by ukemike (956477) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:07PM (#46006289) Homepage

        What problems? You seem to think that there's some "immoral" reason against the sale of organs. But we have here an example where something which is supposedly "moral' kills a lot of people each year through organ shortages.

        Okay how about this problem: In a world where human organs are bought and sold, where do most of those organs come from? The poor. And since they will be expensive, where do they go? To the rich.

        Here is another one: In the poorest corners of the world will people have children for the purpose of eventually selling all their paired organs?

        Here's a hell of a problematic question: Who gets the money for a heart or any other single organ? And another: When it is legal to trade in some kinds of ivory it is hard to distinguish the legal stuff from the poached stuff. How will we prevent organ poaching? Do we really want to create a strong financial incentive to murder, or worse farm people for their organs?

        Saving a life is not always the highest moral result.

    • by bitt3n (941736) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:18PM (#46005873)

      Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.

      Over time, however, the sale of bananas would grow to be accepted, just as the Lil' Orphan Annie Fan Club now has widespread support. Wait, what? Oh, they're trying to draw a parallel based on efficacy, as opposed to such piffling concerns as morality.

      A voluntary military has the same moral problem. If you pay people to fight wars, you're going to end up with poorer people dying in your wars.

      problems with the current system don't excuse problems with the proposed system.

      No, but surely he is arguing that the good (reducing deaths resulting from a scarcity of organs) outweighs the bad (problems associated with an organ market).

      He is making two different points, first that an organ market would be beneficial, and second, that it could become acceptable in the same way that paying an army has become acceptable, despite the fact that the latter presents a similar moral concern. One might disagree with these assertions, but they do not appear to be as incoherent as you imply.

      • by thoth (7907)

        A voluntary military has the same moral problem. If you pay people to fight wars, you're going to end up with poorer people dying in your wars.

        "paying to fight wars" is what you do if you have a mercenary force, not a military. A voluntary military *should* just be there for defense of its nation. Granted in recent times there has been a ton of bullshit adventurism and mission scope creep, blurring the lines in a bad way, but that's due to incompetent leaders making shitty decisions.

        No, but surely he is arguing that the good (reducing deaths resulting from a scarcity of organs) outweighs the bad (problems associated with an organ market).

        This is also a system ripe for corruption on a massive, world-unprecedented scale. So much so that such a market would need to be regulated so heavily, to ensure FULLY

      • I mostly agree, but I will point out that (disproportionately poorer) volunteer soldiers know what they're getting into and choose that the risk is worth it to them. In contrast, the (disproportionately poorer) victims of illegal organ harvesting do not get a say in things. I have some problems with a legal organ market, but they are nothing compared to the problems I have with the idea of a booming black market for organs/donor slayings. By creating an open market, you'd strip away a protection that's in p

    • Economists (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tristes_tigres (952446) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:23PM (#46005927)

      Now they presented us with a spirited defense of high-tech cannibalism. That is no surprise to anyone at the least familiar with those people. The whole profession of economics is morally and intellectually suspect, and the Chicago school - particularly so.

  • by penix1 (722987) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:28AM (#46005035) Homepage

    The buying and selling of human organs is a very, very bad idea. May as well grow humans for the body bank if we are going to go down this route. And just like you have theft of other sold goods how long would it take before organ theft became the new wave of crime?

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:35AM (#46005079)

      The organ theft urban legend has been around for a long time, but organ transplant isn't just something any unethical surgeon can do in the back of a fan. You need to match a donor first, which needs access to a suitable laboratory. Then you need a highly skilled surgeon, and a sterile operating environment, a team of supporting surgeons and nurses, an anesthetist, lots of drugs that are hard to get on the black market (Anasthetic, immunosurpresents, potent antibiotics). Expensive and specialised machines to monitor the recipient*. If organ theft does/could happen, it would have to be an operation so sophisticated and expensive that it could only be the domain of the most powerful of organised crime organisations. The ones who can pay off hospitals to carry out an off-the-books transplant.

      *Double that if you intend the donor survive. This part is optional.

      • I met a man in South Carolina who claimed to have sold a kidney for crack. He displayed the most horrible scar, which I could very well have believed to be from the most amateur of surgeons. I remember that he said, "You know those stories that you hear about people waking up in a bathtub full of ice? Yeah, that happened to me."

        But he said he'd kicked the habit.

        Now, I make no claims as to this man's honesty, only to my own recollection, but surely while the implantation of an organ requires all that you men

      • And before someone suggests it can be done on the cheap: No, it can't. Black market organ buying does happen in some countries, but even there they have to use a real hospital.

      • "The organ theft urban legend has been around for a long time..."

        Urban legend? I think Charlie the Unicorn would disagree.

      • The organ theft urban legend has been around for a long time

        It's an urban legend because it's hard to sell an organ to a specific buyer - you have to get a biological match. It would be a different story if there were an open market though. A randomly "harvested" organ would likely match somebody on the waiting list.

      • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:30PM (#46005981)

        The organ theft urban legend has been around for a long time, but organ transplant isn't just something any unethical surgeon can do in the back of a fan.

        Unethical surgeons aided by criminal enterprises (which is sometimes the state) seem to be available.

        Kidney Thefts Shock India [nytimes.com]

        GURGAON, India — As the anesthetic wore off, Naseem Mohammed said, he felt an acute pain in the lower left side of his abdomen. Fighting drowsiness, he fumbled beneath the unfamiliar folds of a green medical gown and traced his fingers over a bandage attached with surgical tape. An armed guard by the door told him that his kidney had been removed.

        Mr. Mohammed was the last of about 500 Indians whose kidneys were removed by a team of doctors running an illegal transplant operation, supplying kidneys to rich Indians and foreigners, police officials said. A few hours after his operation last Thursday, the police raided the clinic and moved him to a government hospital.

        Many of the donors were day laborers, like Mr. Mohammed, picked up from the streets with the offer of work, driven to a well-equipped private clinic, and duped or forced at gunpoint to undergo operations.

        Illegal kidney trade booms as new organ is 'sold every hour' [theguardian.com]
        China Admits Selling Prisoners’ Organs [go.com]

        Stolen baby is found alive - Woman arrested in grisly case [boston.com]

        The baby who had been ripped from her slain mother’s womb was found alive and well in New Hampshire last night, and a woman was arrested in the grisly killing and kidnapping

        Social workers 'seize unborn baby from the WOMB' after mother has panic attack [mirror.co.uk]

    • And just like you have theft of other sold goods how long would it take before organ theft became the new wave of crime?

      This makes no sense. Illegal black market goods are more likely to be stolen than legal goods, both because the price is higher, and because the theft is less likely to be reported. Criminalizing things does not reduce crime.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      how long would it take before organ theft became the new wave of crime

      There's already a black market in material from corpses in the US. Alistair Cooke, who spend half a century telling the UK once a week how weird and wonderful America is, ended up being part of that strangeness himself when his cancer ridden 95 year old body was dug up and bones taken to be used in bone grafts.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alistair_Cooke
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomedical_Tissue_Services
      Then there's whatever was happ

    • People have been selling blood for years, granted your body makes more and you can sell it again next month but I don't think selling organs would end up making some weird sci-fi horror come true.

  • Before you go too far down this road, you might want to read some sci-fi Larry Niven wrote back in 70's (I believe). It was set in a future where the market for organs was booming and sale of organs was legal. And as a result, the death penalty had a good revival. After all, that convicted axe murderer could end up saving more lives than he took, if you disassembled him for spare parts. Given that we all want to live longer, who would oppose extending the death penalty?

    • This sci-fi scenario makes no sense. If there was a free market in organs, the supply would rise, and the value of an organ would go down not up. So there would be less incentive for the state to execute people to get their organs.

      • This assumes that the supply is meaningful fraction of the demand. The demand is huge, and as you add more reliable supply new demand is created.

      • Yes but there are some organs that you just can't buy from volunteers. Kidneys work because someone can live with only one. It's a bit more difficult for someone to sell their heart and continue seeing their family.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      This is already happening in China.

  • by icndvl (1091207) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:33AM (#46005067)
    The biggest reason why there is an organ supply problem is that there is no incentive for people to give up their own organs. The solution is to create a donor list: if you are on the list you will receive organs before none donors in the event you need one; if you are not on the list then that is your right, but its unethical to expect to receive an organ when you yourself are unwilling to donate. This respects freedom to choose, but it also respects that organs are not completely free; if everyone was willing to give their organs, there wouldn't be a supply issue.
    • by jythie (914043)
      That strikes me as a MUCH better solution. Well, not quite solution, but it would help a great deal.

      Part of the problem with trying to use market ideas to improve the situation is that available organs will always be in VERY short supply. The number of bodies that are actually in a condition to have organs harvested per day is pretty small (except for organs that can non-fatally be removed like kidneys), while demand is pretty high. No matter how good the incentive is, the supply will simply never be t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463)

      The solution is to create a donor list

      Actually, this solves nothing. The vast majority of people will never need an organ replaced, and it is something they just don't think about. Most people are non-donors because it is an opt-in system, and they haven't made the effort to check the box. A far better solution is to make donating the default, and require people to check the box to opt-out.

      Another solution would be to repeal motorcycle helmet laws. Most motorcyclists are young and healthy, and death by a good clean head injury often leaves

      • An opt-out system has been considered here. The problem is that the relatives of the deceased often make trouble, for whatever reasons (religion, emotional issues etc). If the system is opt-out, those relatives can make a much stronger case that donations isn't really what the deceased wanted. If the system is opt-in and one has to make a conscious effort to sign up, the family is far likelier to respect the dead person's wishes.

        The problem with the proposed system of giving priority to organ donors i
      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        The solution is to create a donor list

        Actually, this solves nothing. The vast majority of people will never need an organ replaced, and it is something they just don't think about. Most people are non-donors because it is an opt-in system, and they haven't made the effort to check the box. A far better solution is to make donating the default, and require people to check the box to opt-out.

        My state gives you a discount on the cost of a driver's license if you check "yes" to be an organ donor. $15 for checking a box is motivation for a lot of people.

      • by rossdee (243626) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:08PM (#46005785)

        "Another solution would be to repeal motorcycle helmet laws."

        Also ban seat belts in cars and make texting while driving compulsory.

    • The solution is to create a donor list: if you are on the list you will receive organs before none donors in the event you need one/

      Not everyone who would benefit from a donation can be a donor. Those most in need of a donor are unlikely to find a place on your donor list.

      if everyone was willing to give their organs, there wouldn't be a supply issue.

      This isn't simply a problem of supply and demand but of time and place. Doubling the pool of potential - not actual - donor organs doesn't mean you have doubled the number of successful organ transplants.

    • =snip=
      The solution is to create a donor list: if you are on the list you will receive organs before none donors in the event you need one
      =snip=

      And how do you enforce this "pledge"? I think the percentage of welchers might be a bit higher than the local PBS station gets.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      The biggest reason why there is an organ supply problem is that there is no incentive for people to give up their own organs. The solution is to create a donor list: if you are on the list you will receive organs before none donors in the event you need one

      Or they could allow each actual donor to provide a short list of people that will be prioritized, in the event, that the donor's organs are harvested. First priority to actual surviving donors, Second priority to 1 extra person listed by the donor

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:34AM (#46005073)

    I think allowing the sale of cadaveric organs is reasonable; right now, hospitals and doctors effectively enrich themselves and frequently engage in fraud and nepotism. Getting that money to the family of the deceased is a good thing.

    I draw the line at for-pay live organ donations. Taken on their own, they are likely to be beneficial to both recipients and donors. However, once there is a large market and medical facilities for for-profit live donations, the risk of criminal activity in this area becomes much larger, including blackmail and other forms of coercion, and that worries me.

  • Rust (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:37AM (#46005093) Homepage Journal
    Making a market for it, something for rich people could pay (even for cosmetic or fashion reasons, you can drink a lot, because anyway you can replace your liver with a new one) a lot, and poor people on economical troubles, extortion, threats, or media manipulation (to name a few) would sell, is something that will become corrupted very fast. What some countries are doing is opt-out organ donation on death, while that have no market around it should be free of abuses.
  • by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:38AM (#46005099) Homepage Journal

    Organlegging: [technovelgy.com] Technology needed to deal in illicitly obtained body parts.

    Bill Christensen wrote: As far as I know, Niven was the first writer to really work with a topic that is just starting to become a problem, thanks to drugs that make transplantation viable.

  • by nava68 (2356090) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:45AM (#46005159)
    Oh yes and this would give rise to a new species of business plan: Groom the favelas and ghettos of this planet for the illiterate and hopeless, get them to sign a binding agreement, harvest the organs and then export them to the U.S.. If not legal in the country of origin, just fly them to whatever clinics they may have a contract with, harvest there and dump the human trash back where it belongs. This would solve the organ donor problem for just a nominal fee - and give all those valuable business students a great way to earn money... On the other hand those entities could promote organ donor-ship and try not to mess it up like in Germany (where hospitals manipulated the lists to get their patients/the highest bidder to the top of waiting lists and where organ donations have now dropped to an all-time low as a consequence of the scandal).
  • Economist thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Livius (318358) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:05AM (#46005275)

    Everyone knows money motivates people. There are other considerations in the prohibition against the sale of organs.

    This is why we don't let economists run the world.

  • There are a lot of financial levers that might make it seem like people had no choice but to sell their organs. And those levers would quickly be used by death-by-spreadsheet monsters. The only thing that I think might mitigate this horrible idea is if the organ sale was for some other life-saving service. IE no money is involved, but a trade in organs or services. You give up this kidney which will save someones life, and in return you get medical care which will save your own life. Or your chil

  • Too evil. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:11AM (#46005301)

    What is evil? I like the AD&D definition - a scale of more and more willing to allow harm to others for your own benefit. Of course, what is seen as harm that matters is the rub.

    Would an open organ market save lives - oh, yes, and prohibiting it does cost lives - so one could certainly argue like here that the prohibition is evil.

    But allowing such a market will create a society that allows much more willful harm for profit. Right now, organ illegal organ harvesting exists, but is somewhat rare and difficult to make a safe profit from. The legal 'market' is based on donations - so there is no prohibition on the act of getting organs, there's just more people with failing organs than people dying with healthy organs.

    The results of allowing an organ market would be an opening bubble resulting in increased harvesting amongst the ethically 'invisible' (poor/isolated), and a greatly increased demand for 'donors' either desperate or false (in order to launder organs). Some of this will be caught, but much of it would become institutionalized.

    The endpoint would be a lot of poor people across the world dead and permanently disabled, a lot of wealthy and older people living a few months longer, a relatively few children of the wealthy saved, and a HUGE number of people financially invested in the organ market through their banks and mutual funds.

    This last part is the big evil thing - markets always, ALWAYS demand more - more organs, more secrecy, more profitability. They thrive on multiplying evil in terms of harm ('externalities') in order to create better profit ratios.

    The whole pattern is just far to evil for me.

    I'd suggest putting more money into single-organ cloning (there's been some amazing developments lately), but if there's one thing the market process is HORRIBLE at, it's doing scientific research - it always seems to abandon anything long term, treats it only as marketing, and destroys far too much (to prevent helping 'competitors'.) Taxes, though a limited kind of evil, tend to be much more productive over time for the same result.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by naasking (94116) <naasking&gmail,com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:14AM (#46005317) Homepage

    The real solution is already known: organ donation should be opt-out by default. Studies have already been conducted that organ donation is above 80% or so in countries that adopt an opt-out default, and only 20% or so in an opt-in system. Most people simply don't take the time to opt-in, but they similarly wouldn't take the time to opt-out.

  • If you want to increase the supply of donor organs, forget what some idiot economist (oops, redundant) says. Do a sensible thing like start a public service campaign. In NYS you can volunteer to donate your organs after death when you get a driver's license. I've volunteered, and so have many people I know. I suspect a lot of other people just need a nudge. Don't forget lots of poor desperate people for the commercials. Involve clergy too. I'm not aware of any major religion that objects to this practice, a

  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:59AM (#46005693) Homepage Journal

    Wow, it looks like the mere idea has generated a visceral reaction. Generating awareness of the kidney shortage is perhaps what bothers people most. But I think they make a legitimate case, as follows.

    1) It is a mathematical certainty that the current system will not produce the number of kidney donations needed. So as yucky as liberalizing the trade may sound, people on the front lines need people like these economists to be discussing the matter.

    2) The authors bring up a very good point that the current restriction creates a bottleneck. One can only donate a kidney once. Most people therefore hold off, not knowing the "future value" of the kidney (e.g., if a closer friend or family member may need the donation). However, many of us who may be unwilling to contribute 100% to someone would possibly consider donating $500 or $1000 to someone. The current system makes a "kickstarter" donation system impossible. And if I'm paid for a kidney, and can put the money in the bank to draw interest, knowing I can buy another kidney back if necessary, it might make me more likely to give one up.

    3) For all the hand-wringing about the poor people who will feel the pressure to sell a kidney, there is a very legitimate argument that those poor people should decide on their own if they want $50,000 for a kidney. What merits the state's law against them selling something they own? And what about poor people who need a kidney? Do they stand a better chance if there are fewer incentives, and fewer kidneys?

    Stand down, /. mob. At worst, this discussion brings up the inconvenient subject of donation.

  • Rich people don't donate organs in exchange for money. EVER. Poor people do. So yeah, let's help those economically poor people become even poorer in body and hasten their exit by letting them sell off pieces of themselves, and good riddance.

  • by Luthair (847766) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:45PM (#46006577)
    Seriously, there is no Nobel prize in economics. There is however a prize setup by the Swedish bank hijacking the prestige of real Nobel laureates. Further members of the Nobel family have spoken out against it.
  • by Gavagai80 (1275204) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:02PM (#46006713) Homepage
    Why not just give people a small financial incentive to tick the "yes, I donate all my organs if I die in an accident" box when renewing their driver's license? Offer $50 of public money for ticking that box, and the number of organ donors would probably rise dramatically without putting anyone at risk of exploitation.
  • The banksters and wall street hedge fund managers have taken all the money from the poor, and corrupted the government and have taken all the powers. They have devalued labor to nearly zero compared to the value of the capital, rent and carting. The only thing poor still have left in them to sell to the rich are their organs. They are going to go after that too. They have created enough shills for themselves by giving them Nobel prizes and installing them in Booth School of Economics in the University of Chicago.

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