My xristo-fascist wingnut brother Jack contends there should be a free market in human kidneys. Is he wrong?
Let me start by saying that Jack, who is 57, is giving a kidney next month to a co-worker. Free. Out of xtian love. There is no doubt about that.
The story - as I've heard it - is rather amusing. A couple years ago the story went around in the company that an employee has had his brother's kidney for 15 years or so but that it would not last forever and that he had been advised to start looking for a replacement. Twenty people volunteered to undergo match testing - when the time came. This year, that time has come, and (a) Jack was the only one of the 20 to stand behind his offer and (b) it seems that anti-rejection technology has improved to the point that the 'match' criteria are much less rigorous than just a few years ago. So Jack was deemed a satisfactory match, except that he was too over-weight to be approved. (Dang!)
What to do? As I'm sure most of us would do (not!), Jack explained the situation to his 32-year-old ne'er-do-well son Bill who immediately offered to be the donor. Jack had other plans, however, and has determinedly shed 30 pounds in 4 months. Jack now qualifies, and he will be giving the gift of a kidney to his colleague before xmas. As a xtian gesture.
Having given a lot more thought to the matter than have I, Jack has concluded that 'the good society' would permit a free market in bodily organs. "After all", he tells me, "There are at least 500 million healthy kidneys in this country of which only 300 million are needed." It's just a matter of distribution, and that's what markets are best at resolving, he contends.
Jack also points out that there would be billions of dollars in savings from shrinking the dialysis industry if more kidneys were available for transplant. He would be good with putting half those savings into improving children's dental care (the other half would have to go to retiring the national debt). The up-front costs, which would depend on where the market settled, of course, would in the worst case be covered by a single year's savings (or two). Insurance companies would find it more profitable to buy a kidney for a subscriber than to pay for years of treatment. Donors (or 'donors') might have an opportunity to re-start their lives with a capital infusion for a quantified risk.
Moreover, Jack tells me, there is already a free market in human skin.
Is Jack wrong?