Privatize Everything

In America, we let people sell blood. And sperm. And eggs. Why not kidneys?

The market is fine for some things, people will say, but other activities are too important to be left to the market. Or too complicated. Or too fundamental to our democracy. 

I say: Privatize everything.

To some of you, that will sound callous -- but failure to privatize services, keeping them in government hands instead, is what impoverishes and kills people. Nothing compassionate about that. 

Take organ donations. 

Regulations forbid buying and selling organs, so the market cannot operate. Desperate patients must wait and hope someone gives out of sheer generosity, that someone dies at just the right time, and that hospital administrators bump their case to the top of the list. 

In the U.S., 100,000 people are on waiting lists for kidneys. Kidneys make up 80 percent of the organ shortage. We have two kidneys but only need one. Donors could save many lives, but not enough choose to donate. By contrast, in Iran, there's often a waiting line of willing donors. That's because in Iran, it's legal to sell organs. It's the rare thing that Iran does right. 

People still buy and sell organs even when it's illegal, but, as is so often the case, the black market produces horrors that are unlikely to occur when people can trade in the open. So we get headlines like "Girl smuggled into Britain to have her 'organs harvested'" and "Chinese boy, 6, has eyes gouged out for organ transplant black market." 

Surely, it is better if organ exchanges -- like any other exchanges -- take place voluntarily.

Bioethicist Sigrid Fry-Revere, founder of the Center for Ethical Solutions, went to Iran to meet organ sellers and buyers. 

After, she told of people like "an apprentice who needed the money to start his own shop ... He had his own shop now. He gave his kidney to a 15 year-old girl, who is going to school and doing well. He checks in regularly with her mother because it gives him such a lift to hear that the girl is doing fine."

Fry-Revere says organ trading in Iran is much like open adoption in the U.S.: The two parties can decide whether to visit and get to know each other. Other times, the donation is anonymous. Both are much better than kidnapping and eye-gouging. 

In America, we let people sell blood. And sperm. And eggs. Why not kidneys? Why do politicians recoil at the idea of a legal market? Fry-Revere says, "I think it's just, old habits die hard."

There are all sorts of services that people think the market can't handle. It's like they have some sort of mental block. President Obama says that without government, we can't put out fires. But almost half the people government pays to fight wildfires work for private companies. In parts of America, private companies also put out house fires. They get to the fire sooner.

The city of Sandy Springs, Ga., contracted out most of its services. Residents were surprised to notice that the streets got cleaned faster, and traffic lights were synchronized. It's not that the old government workers were lazy -- they just didn't have the same incentive to find better ideas. They figured they'd never lose the job if they just did what they'd always done.

Some things ought to be done by government: things like running courts, policing pollution and protecting the border. But most everything else should be left to private actors. 

Government offers guarantees on paper and promises in speeches. But government rarely delivers. Private companies did brilliant Internet work for President Obama's election campaign. But when it came to his health insurance website, the president put government in charge. We saw the result.  Markets aren't perfect, but they allow for a world where prudence is rewarded and sloth punished, a world in which more people take risks and innovate. That's a world where people prosper.

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  • Hyperion||

    Why do you hate the children, Stossel?

  • IceTrey||

    Because kids are takers not makers.

  • Brett L||

    They can't do a man's work.

  • CE||

    He doesn't hate kids who need kidneys, or kids who need money and have a spare kidney.

  • mtrueman||

    "Why do you hate the children, Stossel?"

    More to the point, why does he hate women. Allowing women to sell their children on the free market would give women a chance to take advantage of their unique and irreplaceable productive capacity. If you want to privatize everything, why stick to the small stuff like blood and organs.

  • John Galt||

    Children are dumb, and they poop too much.

  • William of Purple||

    BUT P-p-p-p-profits!!!!!!

  • Doctor Whom||

    That's a bad word, and you should stop saying it. At least asterisk out one of the vowels, like this: pr*fits.

  • MrsPiGuy||

    The government shouldn't tell us what we can put into or take out of our bodies.

  • Hyperion||

    Obviously, you want drug pushers on all of our playgrounds.

  • wareagle||

    we already have them in schoolhouses; all these ADD and ADHD diagnoses didn't write themselves.

  • Hyperion||

    But that's drugs approved by all benevolent government, so that's the good drugs provided by the good people, for the children.

  • kilroy||

    This debate always makes me wonder why I can't will my corpse to someone to sell part by part for whatever they can get. I can choose to be a donor and let some healthcare/government entity sell it but not my family. WTF?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    BUT P-p-p-p-profits!!!!!!

  • Doctor Whom||

    Even when you're dead, you need Top Men making all of the decisions for you.

  • grey||

    You shouldn't have to wait until your dead to sell your body, although for the purpose of parting it out, I'd highly recommend it.

  • Doctor Whom||

    In America, we let people sell blood. And sperm. And eggs.

    Many people think it should be illegal to sell some or all of those things. Many of the people who think so become outraged when you question their commitment to reproductive freedom and the right to make choices over one's own body.

  • Brett L||

    And whole testicles, according to the AM links.

  • Gran||

    Rich people control the means of production. How did they get control of the means of production? Most likely they either inherited it directly or inherited the genetic means to get it. These rich people can buy organs, they get them from people who are donate them because they are poor. How is that fair? I believe in capitalism but I don't see it as some religion where elite control of the means of production is some sacred right. Excessive capitalism leads to massive inequity, which leads directly to socialist revolution.

  • anon||

    These rich people can buy organs, they get them from people who are donate them because they are poor. How is that fair?

    Despite the completely retarded premise ("rich people are born rich!!!111one")... How could you be opposed to a poor person becoming rich by selling something they don't want or need to a rich person?

    If I could sell one of my kidney's for 50k right now, that motherfucker'd be gone.

  • Gran||

    It takes a lot more than 50k to make a poor man rich.

  • anon||

    So what's your point, exactly?

    50k is enough to buy a house or start a business, either of which are a long ways to getting rich.

  • sarcasmic||

    I once figure it would take close to $50K just to get all the necessary permits and licenses to make beer for sale in my state. That doesn't count the equipment investment.

  • Hyperion||

    You're right, it takes an out of control government driving all but the politically well connected, out of the market and out of employment.

    Equal impoverishment is achievable, all we need is a few more socialist give aways like the ACA and we'll be there.

  • Jayburd||

    My father once said that a marxist utopia would be where everyone (except for a few hundred thousand elites) would have a single-wide trailer with a Chevy Chevette in the driveway. But they would have to kill a few million more to get there.

  • Brett L||

    Yes, but a lot of times $50k at once is the difference between going broke and not.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Gran,

    It takes a lot more than 50k to make a poor man rich.


    Depends on the man. "Life is tought but it is a lot tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne.

    Maybe your own life is tougher than the norm...

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    If I could sell one of my kidney's for 50k right now, that motherfucker'd be gone.

    *Hands anon a $12,500 tax bill*

  • Hyperion||

    Look, you kidney middlemen are all the problem.

  • anon||

    Too bad I won't be able to sell any of my liver, ever.

    Pretty sure it's about done for.

  • Swiss Servator, WWII gold...?||

    SF'd the link.

  • Hyperion||

    Well, if he hangs around long enough, maybe we can teach him economics and links 101.

  • anon||

    There are two types of people in the world: those who can understand economics & links and those who can't. (Or won't. Pick one.)

  • Hyperion||

    Excessive capitalism government led cronyism leads to massive inequity.

    FIFY, comrade.

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you know how rich people get rich? They produce goods and services that people like, and then people voluntarily give them money in exchange for those goods and services that make their lives better. They become rich by pleasing people. What happens when these rich people produce inferior products? Well, the people stop giving them money, and before long they're not rich anymore.

    Contrast that with putting the means of production into the hands of "The People." What that really means putting the means of production into the hands of unaccountable political appointees. What happens when these appointees produce inferior products? Well, the people are stuck with them. They've got no choice.

    In the end it's the people who lose in socialism. But at least there aren't any rich people to envy.

  • anon||

    They produce goods and services that people like, and then people voluntarily give them money in exchange for those goods and services that make their lives better.

    Well, unless they produce the good/service for Government.

  • Hyperion||

    But at least there aren't any rich people to envy.

    Rather, the rich are the uber wealthy ruling elite. Everyone else is poor, so at least the envy is equal. Social justice, baby!

  • sarcasmic||

    Thing is, leftists are fine with that. When wealth is based upon who you know rather than what you produce, then even idiots like Tony can achieve great wealth. All they need are political connections.

  • Hyperion||

    Yeah, but for some reason when the most corrupt, morally bankrupt, and stupid people get in charge of everything, things start to go badly. Witness Obamacare.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Meritocracy is really Democracy, you know. Your standing in the world should be dictated by your popularity and not your ability. Otherwise: Anarchy!!!

  • CE||

    Profits are good for the environment too. Profits are the difference between what people are willing to pay for something and how many resources society must sacrifice to produce those products. Consumers set the price they are willing to pay, and companies that can produce those products at the lowest cost in wasted materials and wasted human effort make the biggest profits, driving less efficient companies out of business.

    Then the people who run their companies most efficiently pile up the most cash to take over other companies and make them more efficient too.

  • mtrueman||

    "Do you know how rich people get rich?"

    Don't really care, frankly. I want to know how poor people get rich. Without producing goods and services that (gag) make others lives better, if possible.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Gran,

    Rich people control the means of production.


    Oh, yes, that fucking painter with his roller and ladder must be some rich miser! The bastard!

    You're just completely OBLIVIOUS as to what constitutes Capital, aren't you?

    How did they get control of the means of production? Most likely they either inherited it directly or inherited the genetic means to get it.


    You see, there were these machine tool trees, and these rotten people just inherited them. Now nobody can pick machine tools from those them trees, you see...

    Excessive [SIC] capitalism leads to massive inequity, which leads directly to socialist revolution.


    The only socialist revolutions that happened where in places where no one enjoyed "excessive capitalism", like agrarian Russia or agrarian China or agrarian everywhere agrarian.

  • Brian||

    Gran said:

    Rich people control the means of production. How did they get control of the means of production? Most likely they either inherited it directly or inherited the genetic means to get it.

    Ah, so we're back to the Marxist theory of wealth and labor. Great.

    This isn't 1900. Society isn't divided into factory drones and factory owners. Do you think doctors and lawyers get rich because they own means of production? Even if someone owns a business that produces a material good, is he rich because he simply owns a factory? Or is he rich because of what a factory produces? He could be contracting out the "means of production."

    These rich people can buy organs, they get them from people who are donate them because they are poor. How is that fair?

    How is it unfair? Is everything automatically deemed unfair until we prove it's fair to everyone's subjective, messed up idea of what is fair? If you want to show it's unfair, do so.

    Excessive capitalism leads to massive inequity, which leads directly to socialist revolution.

    We better get rid of that capitalism then. The last place I want to live is a socialist hell hole.

  • anon||

    Do you think doctors and lawyers get rich because they own means of production?

    Well, in a way, yes. Those bastards own themselves and all of their associated knowledge!

  • Eric Bana||

    Right now, rich people and poor people compete for donated organs. If rich people could buy organs from people who wouldn't normally donate, many more of the donated organs would go to poor people. Poor and rich people would be much better off if organs could be bought and sold legally.

    Think!

  • grey||

    Your premise is a tiny government controlled market that deprives many of access is better than a private system that creates a larger market. You also imply that the poor won't get access, yet insurance gives the poor access to top shelf cancer treatments and expensive meds. As with other important markets like food, likely access and quality will increase for everyone.

  • Bryan C||

    "I believe in capitalism but I don't see it as some religion where elite control of the means of production is some sacred right."

    Uh huh. Anyway, the only "means of production" at issue here is the ability to grow an internal organ. Rich people can do that. Poor people can do that. You want to take away poor peoples' ownership of their own bodies, because you'd rather see them stay poor forever than allow them to risk making the terrible mistake of saving an evil rich person dying from kidney disease.

    The only controlling elite here seems to be you, pal.

  • Brett L||

    OT: But this is the way to Internet

    Fitness quotes over drinking pictures.

  • anon||

    Ahahaha, I love the old lady one... "Quitting is unacceptable."

  • William of Purple||

    *tear*
    so beautiful

  • Warty||

    Perfect.

  • Juice||

    Selling organs may not be necessary in the near future anyway. "They" are pretty close to being able to freeze organs and then thaw them out in a way that they remain viable. Until then though...

  • CE||

    Or they'll just 3D print you a new one.

  • Ron||

    They won't need to freeze organs they have already use a 3-D printer to make both a kidney and a pancreas. Donation of body parts will be unneeded , they will however need lots of money for them.

  • Adam.||

    I'm shocked to see this isn't a 2-page-r.

  • CE||

    Privatize government. Let them compete for our tax dollars. Let us decide if we want government, and how much. And let me see a copy of that social contract, and tell me again when I signed it.

  • Square||

    The social contract is "we the people's" right to behead rulers we don't like. You "signed" it by being human. It confers no rights upon government.

  • kentek||

    Stossel is right again. Governments, all of them, including villages, towns, cities, counties, states, and the Feds should not be allowed to own even a broom.
    Farm out all tasks including the DMV.

    Why do we need a government agency for anything, including the Courts?
    Not land, buildings, railroads, post offices...
    ./ the rant goes on

  • OldMexican||

    Re: kentek,

    Why do we need a government agency for anything, including the Courts?
    Not land, buildings, railroads, post offices...


    Why would you need a court? Are you someone who is inclined to commit crimes?

  • sarcasmic||

    Courts only deal with crimes?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    Courts only deal with crimes?


    I'm asking him. I want to know what he needs a court for. I certainly don't need one; I buy insurance and try not to deal with shady characters so I won't get ripped-off, but maybe kentek is just a lazy fuck. I want to know.

  • Square||

    Private arbitration associations seem to work just fine, actually, for civil disputes, anyway.

  • Ed Ucation||

    Contract violations. Torts. You may have not needed a court up until now, but someday you may. Someone could rear end you tomorrow (car or body).

  • Black&Yellow||

    But even those examples can be handled peacefully without courts.

  • Square||

    Sometimes you need some sort of arbitrator. You just do. With enforceable opinions.

    I speak from experience. Some people are just such incurable assholes that peaceful solutions don't do it.

  • Black&Yellow||

    yes I agree, sometimes an arbitrator is needed.

  • Rach||

    The Federal government should only be doing those things that are universal to all (within the scope of the Constitution) that does not need to be tailored to fit individual needs.

    What do I mean? Minting money, Roads (interestate), National Defense, etc.

    The rest to the states or individual (10th amendment)

    We fail when the Fed tries to take care of "Personal" choices like healthcare, who we sleep with, or even try to control our income.

  • Ed Ucation||

    Roads???? Is there a worse government program? Do you enjoy sitting in traffic? Someone needs to read "The Privatization of Roads and Highways" by Walter Block.

  • Square||

    I'll check out the book, because I'm curious, but to me the inherent problem with privatization of roads is that it is by nature an un-free market because of its scale in relation to the facts of geography. Like dams, but less so.

  • Black&Yellow||

    "What do I mean? Minting money, Roads (interestate), National Defense, etc."

    The state hasn't been doing to well in these sectors either especially if its all paid by theft and extortion.

  • ||

    Definitely not roads or minting money. If there's any justification for government at all, it's to arbitrate breaches of contract.

  • Godart154||

    Im making over •$7k• a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,,,,, WWW.JOBS81.COM

  • Ron||

    I don't need to read the article. the body makes new eggs new blood and new sperm it does not create new kidneys and if you give one away then you are screwed if something happens. What amazes me is that when someone has a hereditary kidney problem or other they allow donations form relatives which might have the same problem it just has not appeared yet.

  • Ron||

    BTW I'm a person with only one Kidney

  • ||

    " and if you give one away then you are screwed if something happens."

    That is why we advocate affording people the opportunity to weigh risks and benefits for themselves instead of imposing it on people through government.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So you are in favor of allowing liver sales then, right? You do know that the liver can regenerate, don't you? Of course it's a riskier surgery, but your only requirement is that the supplied body part regenerates, so...

    The odds of you making it through your whole life with only one functioning kidney are quite high. If it makes you feel any better we can even sell kidney donation insurance. If your remaining kidney fails then the insurance pays the cost of your transplant. Isn't the free market a wonderful thing?

    You may not need to read the article, but you do need to try thinking for a change.

  • jimmyvvh479||

    My last pay check was 9500 dolr working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
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  • Ed Ucation||

    Whoa, is Stossel becoming a free market anarchist? Does this mean privatize police, defense, and the courts as well? If so, welcome to the club. That would almost make up for Stossel's NSA debacle.

  • Black&Yellow||

    I hope so. An anarchist with a TV show on mainstream media is something I do look forward to.

  • IDPNDNT||

    This is an issue i'm kind of torn on.

    In regards to paying for organs I can definitely foresee a situation where poor individuals are driven out of the market.

    Making organs sellable would most likely shrink the donation market for people who can't afford to drop 50 - 100k on an organ.

    On the other hand I agree that someone should be able to sell parts of their body if they choose.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Hardly. This same option would be available to Medicaid/low income people on government programs. It's far cheaper in the long run to have a kidney transplant than to be on dialysis for decades. Everyone still wins. Well, everyone but the dialysis companies that make a fortune. Them's the breaks.

  • Brian||

    OT: Venezuela's healthcare system on collapse.

    Here's a telling part about a dying cancer patient and her political thoughts:

    Gonzalez says she adored Chavez for his anti-poverty programs, always voted for him and constantly applied for government benefits, though she never received any.

    She has a good chance of survival if she gets the right care, Gutierrez said.

    But that's not happening.

    "I've got nowhere else to turn," Gonzalez says.

    Chavez appreciates your support, low information voter. Now, enjoy dying of cancer in a universal healthcare system.

  • Tony||

    There are some things civilized human beings have decided should be available universally, and goods or services that are privatized are not available universally, but are exclusively available only to those who can pay. This is not just a bleeding heart ideal, it is essential to preventing a social landscape dominated by mafia-like centers of power where no justice exists and in which there is absolutely no moral justification for relying on capitalism in the first place (since meritocracy would be completely overwhelmed by a thuggish aristocracy).

    John Stossel's inability to imagine things other than courts and border patrols that might be good if made available universally without concern for consumers' ability to pay does not make a political philosophy. And there is no coherent reason why the interests of people who might need access to courts are special and require public subsidy to address while the interests of people who are too poor to feed themselves are properly ignored by society.

  • Ed Ucation||

    The government is a mafia-like center of power with no justice. You can't have justice with respect to the government, since the government has a monopoly on justice. In disputes involving the government, the government judges itself. And that's no justice at all.

  • Tony||

    That's what checks and balances are for, armchair cynic.

  • Black&Yellow||

    "mafia-like centers of power where no justice exists"

    Hey, that sounds like the current oligarchy in power.

  • PH2050||

    Nice retort but I suggest not feeding it.

  • RPete||

    "Some things ought to be done by government: things like running courts, policing pollution and protecting the border."

    Everything you said in the article could and should be equally argued against these government 'services' as well. Your minarchist position is logically flawed since there is no logical difference and no empirical difference between these supposed 'natural' monopolies and any other market activity. You're merely creating an arbitrary and articificial and logically unsupported category for these and in the same breath contradicting yourself.

    I think you stated the problem far better than I however,

    "There are all sorts of services that people think the market can't handle. It's like they have some sort of mental block."

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