Should the U.S. allow for a market in transplant organs? Absolutely. Thousands of people of people die every year because they unable to find a kidney donation. The reason they can’t find a kidney donation is because there is no real incentive for somebody to donate a perfectly functioning kidney. Why would a rational person undertake the risk of donating a kidney when he will get nothing in return? However, there isn’t really a logical reason for why the selling of kidneys isn’t legal. What’s the difference between someone selling an iPhone and selling a kidney? Both are in high demand, and thus people are willing to spend money on them. Knowing the value of an iPhone, you would not want to give it away for free just like you wouldn’t want to give away a kidney. While the demand for both is extremely high, because the price of a legal kidney is $0 (since it’s a donation), the supply of kidneys for those who need them is miniscule. Since the price of an iPhone is over $200, the iPhone is very abundant because people want to sell it and make that $200 profit. Their incentive is the money that they’d get from it, which they could in turn use to buy something else they need. Since the price of a kidney is $0, the person giving up the kidney isn’t getting anything in return.
One argument made against the selling of kidneys is that it’ll only be the poor people who will sell them, and only the poor who wouldn’t be able to afford to buy them. From an economic standpoint, this argument is completely fallacious. Even if it is mainly the poor who will sell kidneys, they will still benefit! By selling a kidney, the person who sold it will have thousands, or millions, of dollars that he values more than the kidney. The buyer of the kidney will have a kidney, which he values far more than the money spent on it. It’s a win-win situation, not a zero-sum game. The argument that poor people may not be able to afford kidneys is true, but its reasoning for not allowing kidneys to be sold on the open market isn’t. In fact, simply looking at the current market can show its falsehood. Look at all the various expensive products that exist today: thousand dollar laptop computers, iPads, Lexus convertibles, million dollar mansions – the poor cannot afford these things, yet the selling of these products isn’t criticized. The selling of kidneys should actually be considered more capitalistic than the selling of all the material goods that I have listed because the poor already have kidneys, but don’t have any of the products that I listed. Thus, they can make a profit off of their kidneys but cannot off of the material goods because they do not possess those goods.
Then there’s the argument that there are many risks associated with a kidney transplant. I will point that there is no risk for the person receiving the kidney. If something goes wrong with the transplant operation, the person will die. If he doesn’t receive the transplant, he will also die. However, if he agrees to the transplant, then he may live. So obviously, this argument cannot apply to the receiver of the kidney. As for the kidney seller, if he is selling a kidney, that would mean he is in serious need of something that’s more important to him than a kidney, and if he is willing to take the risk in selling a kidney, than why not him do it? He will be worse off if he isn’t allowed to sell his kidney.
Something that many people like to say is that the poor would be too stupid to not sell their kidneys, or that because of their stupidity, they would sell their kidneys for practically nothing. If this were the case, then wouldn’t we see them selling everything that they have now? If they’re so stupid, then they should all be living in the streets right now, without cars or homes, because they wouldn’t be smart enough to realize that they need shelter and a form of transportation.
The only real possible negative side effect of creating an open market for kidneys is that homicides will increase because people will kill others for their kidneys. However, if someone were desperate enough for a kidney, wouldn’t he be more likely to kill for a kidney than someone looking to make money from it? Most people don’t kill someone to get their kidney, so someone probably wouldn’t kill someone else in order to sell one. If this, or any of the other possible side effects of selling kidneys even became prevalent, however, the economic pros of allowing kidneys to be sold on the open market would still outweigh the cons. As of right now, the rich are already capable of bribing people into donating them organs such as kidneys. For example, very recently, Steve Jobs certainly wasn’t at the top of the list for a liver transplant, yet he managed to receive one ahead of all the people who were far poorer than he. A dangerous black-market for organs also exists. So, it would be better for everyone if the selling of organs, such as kidneys, were just made legal.
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