Quick Roundup 527

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Your Liver or Your Life

The state of New York is considering "libertarian paternalistic" legislation that will make everyone organ donors unless they make a special effort to "opt out." This is wrong, of course, because the state does not own our bodies.

The thing about organ donor [sic] is we have the cure right now in our hands. It's not like trying to cure cancer," said Elaine Berg of the Organ Donor Network.
If by "the cure" Elaine Berg means "your life," and by "we" she means "Big Brother," then she is onto something here. My only question, given that ObamaCare will have the state in charge of making "budgetary" calls on whether the "donor" or the potential recipient will receive medical care, is whether Berg regards citizens of lesser "value" to the state than their organs -- or individual freedom -- as diseases that need to be eradicated.

Who knew that the state would consign us to the fate of Prometheus for the crime of possessing a liver?

Fleas 1, Health Department 0

At this juncture, it somehow seems appropriate to recall other dangers of entrusting the government with important things best left to individual initiative and the profit motive:
The Fairfield [County, Ohio] Department of Health has closed its building in Lancaster for three days to treat it for a flea infestation.


Chipmunks and bats also have been spotted in the building.


[Women Infants and Children program] clients have been notified and rescheduled for appointments.
The health department inspects restaurants and pools, responds to septic-system complaints and vaccinates children, among other duties required by law.
Great! Instead of going out of business in the face of even mediocre competition, as it should have (and could have under capitalism), this centralized location for exposure to disease vectors will be propped up with confiscated money.

News from 1930

Via Megan McArdle, I have learned of a blog about newspaper stories starting from mid-1930. (It's up to this date in 1931 now.) From the "Socratic monologue" on its introductory page:
I believe 1929-1930 has a couple of important similarities to 2008-2009. First and fundamentally, there was a big buildup of debt leading up to both. This was followed by a couple of major economic problems, including many banks running into trouble and a loss in perceived wealth by lots of people. These problems in turn have deflationary implications since they lead to less credit and spending ...
And then there's the following Warren Buffett quote from its sidebar.
I would get these newspapers from 1929. I couldn't get enough of it. I read everything - not just the business and stock-market stories. History is interesting, and there is something about history in a newspaper, just seeing a place, the stories, even the ads, everything. It takes you into a different world, told by someone who was an eyewitness, and you are really living in that time.
I guess Atlas Shrugged isn't the only thing our current political and economic situation resembles.

Mmmm. Mmmm!

The Boston Globe has posted a pictorial on New England clam and lobster shacks! One down. Thirty to go.

Or not. Most of these are too out-of-the-way for us -- except Red's Eats. We pass Red's Eats whenever we're on the way up to Maine to visit some of Mrs. Van Horn's relatives and make it a point to stop there. We first learned about it watching Sandwiches You Will Like on PBS, which featured their lobster rolls, each made with all the meat from a lobster.

Quote of the Day

"Parents are obliged to care for their children for the basic reason that the owner of sailboat cannot simply leave a passenger swimming in the middle of the ocean." -- Diana Hsieh contra Murray Rothbard on children's rights

"Instructional Diagrams for People Who Suck at Everyday Life"

Cracked presents the winner and runners-up of a contest in which contributors were asked to make signs to prevent certain annoying situations.
From tailgaters to people who take cell phone calls during a movie, the world is full of folks who just don't seem to get society's rules. We asked you to help them out with instructional diagrams that will show these people how to avoid doing the everyday annoying things that make us want to strangle them.
They covered some of my biggest traffic peeves, reminding me in the process of how nice it is not to have to drive in Boston.

They're all a hoot, though.

-- CAV


Galileo Blogs said...

Instead of forcing us to be organ donors against our will, the government should recognize our right to sell our organs. This goes way beyond just being able to sell organs while you are alive, such as one of the two kidneys, or a piece of the liver, which someone can do and remain alive.

How about allowing one to *sell* the right to harvest one's organs after death? Instead of a take-my-organs-for-nothing card carried in one's wallet, one could have a document that says one has pre-sold the right to harvest one's organs after death.

This would very quickly end the organ shortage. By legalizing a market in such organ "futures," supply and demand for organs would be brought into balance.

If someone gave me $200 to carry one of those cards, I might do it. Certainly, there is a price that would equate supply and demand.

Instead of legalizing such a market, government mandates that we become involuntary donors, for nothing.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Instead of forcing us to be organ donors against our will, the government should recognize our right to sell our organs."


Perhaps the only thing more astounding in the Bizarro-world we live in than this measure is the fact that many (if not most) people would call you an inhuman brute for bringing up the very idea, as if selling a part of oneself is barbaric, and having it taken from you by someone else without your consent isn't.

Galileo Blogs said...


Exactly. Your comment reminds of Ayn Rand's concept that one can either deal with each other by money, or by force.

The (evil) power of altruism is that people choose the latter so that the ethical "goodness" of altruism is maintained.

Gus Van Horn said...

... which makes the saying that, "Money is the root of all evil," damnably wrong.

Mo said...

people come up with all sorts of superstitious speculations when it comes to organ donation scenarios. I think the issue boils down to altruism, paternalism and egalitarianism

Gus Van Horn said...


All true, and the superstition ultimately leads to all the rest.


Mo said...

to expand on that:

fears of the feeble-minded being conned into selling their organs (ie blatant paternalism at work);

the poor selling theirs to the rich (ie blatant egalitarianism at work);

and moral disdain for turning what "ought" to be selfless into a trade
(ie blatant selflessness at work).

Which is the most disgusting?

Gus Van Horn said...

I'll call it a draw.

The first example is notable for evading the fact that, as for any other trade, there would be measures in place to prevent actual fraud.