Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A really bad idea

My Libertarian pal Tom Knapp has a well done blog here.

I have carried on a conversation with him about Lib ideas for years. Sometimes I didn't get drunk afterward.

Tom gave up his love of Ayn Rand years ago when we all pointed out to him that first; she was not a very nice person, and second; most of us gave her lunacy up when we were sophomores in High School.

But he has stayed consistent with some nuttiness over all the years. One area, where he hasn't changed a bit is the uniquely Libertarian definition of a "free market" -- which boils down to anybody can do anything they want to at anytime and if all their neighbors are harmed -- screw 'em. It's the law of the jungle out there. In Tom's jungle he has yet to make it to King status, but you can hear his footsteps in the distance clearer than hearing an elephant in a cornfield.

Today he makes an attempt to justify the sale of human organs, as best I can figure, solely because everybody agrees to it equally.

Well, not exactly. There are all sorts of inequalities in this particularly slimy side of rich against poor, which is what it it amounts to....

I don't have much problem to the charges for organ/tissue donations after death. And I know that there are costs incurred with processing, storing, transporting, surgery, and all else that is involved. But, in the case of blood, the American Red Cross has had income in excess of costs in its blood program in the hundreds of millions of dollars for as long as I can remember. This is not recovery of costs, but profiteering on other peoples donations and needs.

Perhaps Knapp only meant donations of organs after death. But that ain't what's happening in the real world, using his "free market" idea. Right at this moment there are websites and brokers and recruiters in Rio de Janeiro, recruiting healthy donors from the slums of Rio to go to Europe and sell a kidney to a wealthy (typically) person in need of a kidney. Thousands of them ...

They are paid about $6000 American, returned as soon as possible and there is not any health follow-up. It is becoming a major health issue for Brazil, because they typically are unable to work at the lowest level jobs, and have many future health issues. Were they informed that they would become semi-invalids? Not on your life. Was it a "free market"? Only if the sky is green where you live.

"Free market" for medical care is an experiment that has been tried and fails.

The Libertarian "free market" makes one either a winner or a loser. The winners manipulate the playing field, like Enron, the FCC, and the pharmaceutical/insurance industries. The losers pay the freight. And for the winners to be winners there must be far more losers.


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