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Feb-20-2012 17:00printcomments

A Modest Proposal

For preventing the poor and unemployed of America, from being a burden on their families or country, and for making them beneficial to the public.

Cosmas and Damian miraculously transplant the leg of a Moor (black body) onto the body of Justinian (white body). Painting by Ditzingen, 16th century (courtesy Wikipedia)

(Calgary, Alberta) - The American economy appears to be slowly recovering, but one segment of the population will never recover. Over the last decade or so, an underclass of poor has appeared and expanded. There are, in addition, millions of unemployed who, because of age or lack of contemporary vocational skills will never be employed again. This is an unfortunate reality.

It’s not up-front as a national problem, but what will happen to these millions who were created equal but who, through no fault of their own, have been thrown onto the economic dung heap?

The one thing every American citizen indubitably owns under the Constitution is their own body. In difficult times, it is their most valuable asset. The inconvenience with such an asset is it needs to be fed, clothed and housed on a constant basis—and supplied with additional amenities to raise it above mere animal existence.

From this perspective the most valuable parts of our bodies are those that can be recycled. We could sell a single kidney and carry on with the financial proceeds. What is a kidney worth? It all depends on how desperately a customer needs it. And how many others need it. That would drive the price up—basic American free-enterprise.

The only obstacle in this scenario is the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 which makes organ sales illegal. You can donate, but you cannot sell. This Act would have to be amended or repealed.

In compensated organ donation, donors receive money or other compensation in exchange for their organs. This practice is common in some parts of the world, whether legal or not, and is one of the many factors driving what has come to be called medical tourism. This is one part of the law that would have to be amended and retained, making it illegal for people outside the country to sell into America which would be equivalent of global outsourcing of organ sales. It would be counter-productive to have rich and well-off Americans in need of replacement organs able to buy them more cheaply from residents of other countries.

This is the initial aspect. The poor and unemployed who have, or believe they have prospects in the near term, could sell a kidney for (hopefully) enough to get themselves in the clear financially with the hope that they would not fall into the abyss a second time. The second time would mean the end. They could sell a second kidney and live off dialysis, but that would be too expensive over the longer term, so is not really an option.

But the issue goes beyond kidneys.

As it stands today in America, The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 makes organ sales illegal. This Act needs to be amended or repealed. Laws prohibiting suicide and euthanasia would also have to be modified or repealed.

Here is what a poor, employed American can do for his family. Rather than will his body to some medical school, he could will his body while still alive for sale, to have every usable body part harvested and made available to the highest bidder with the proceeds (after brokerage fees) to go to his family or designated heirs. Would this be euthanasia or suicide? This legal thicket would have to be resolved first.

How much would a heart, heart/lung combo, liver, pancreas, cornea, etc., be worth on the open market? This would be something for free enterprise in the marketplace to decide. This would also open up a new industry: The brokering of the sales.

My proposal is a win-win-win for poor and unemployed Americans:

  • It complements the free-enterprise, entrepreneurial nature of American culture
  • Unemployed people and the working poor can make financial provision for their loved ones, which they otherwise could not do
  • And, in accordance with the Christian conviction of most Americans, heaven will not have to wait…
  • ___________________________________

    Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

    He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.

    As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.

    Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.

    It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.

    In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)

    Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2011, has published more than 160 stories.

    View articles written by Daniel Johnson

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    COLLI March 6, 2012 1:40 pm (Pacific time)

    What a great idea! This is probably the only way some of our politicians can get a set.

    Karin February 21, 2012 5:43 pm (Pacific time)

    Yes, I am very aware of your article for me to see/read.

    You can see by this page : http://occupyamerica.crooksandliars.com/diane-sweet/silent-protest-outside-virginia-house-

    I am a disabled older woman but very 'on top' of the Occupy Movment and "we" collectively have many issues/causes we support throughout the nation. :)

    Monday was Prison Reform and the Oakland Group Protested in San Fransisco. Also a Denver group went last enening to a Woman's Prison there.
    Our numbers are growing even though it is winter and come Spring we shall be stronger.

    @Stephen-- like that sense of humor! With all going on these days around the Globe, an occassional 'tongue in cheek' comment is a great ice breaker for these tense times. :)
    My head spins some days with so information overload between the Occupy Movement and Twitter contacts I have made in Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, and other areas, along with the daily call of general news, a break like your post is a treasure. :)

    stephen February 21, 2012 4:06 pm (Pacific time)

    sorry, thought of more and cant help myself here :-)
     How about, a sale. Buy one heart and get a kidney 50% off?  What better present to buy a loved one. And for valentines day? Do you "heart" your spouse? then what better way to show your love than to actually buy her one?  If this includes outer anatomy, I goet first dibs on the black guys.
     OK, I am done now...sorry Daniel...  :-)

    stephen February 21, 2012 4:07 pm (Pacific time)

    sorry, thought of more and cant help myself here :-) How about, a sale. Buy one heart and get a kidney 50% off? What better present to buy a loved one. And for valentines day? Do you "heart" your spouse? then what better way to show your love than to actually buy her one? If this includes outer anatomy, I goet first dibs on the black guys. OK, I am done now...sorry Daniel... :-)

    stephen February 21, 2012 3:53 pm (Pacific time)

    I can see it now..stores opening in shopping centers all across the country.. "Kidneys R Us"? "K-heart"? "McLivers? Lungmart"? There will be those a bit older, maybe smoked and drank alcohol for 20 years, we can filter those thru the dollar stores...This is a great idea!! :-)

    Natalie February 21, 2012 2:14 pm (Pacific time)

    Wow! I had to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming... DJ is proposing to make selling organs legal so poor people would sell their body parts to the rich, as if a body is some kind of an extra property that you don't really need. Poor people would not be on the winning side, no way. First,cutting out your organ is not like trimming hair. It does not grow back. Money is temporary. It won't last for long, that't for sure. Who will benefit? Only the rich, because they either can pay with cash or have a nice health insurance. Poor would not be included in the potential recipients list. It's like a shoemaker who can't afford a pair of shoes for himself.
    How about the cost of insurance if it gets legal? Wouldn't it go up if insurance companies have to pay for the transplant?
    There's also no reason for criminal activities like kidnapping poor people for their organs when there's no money involved. I'm sure you know it's a huge problem around the world.

    Perhaps I was a little too subtle. The point is that a poor person, with no prospects, would sell his body parts for money that goes directly to his heirs and recipients. The purchasers would have to pay for all overhead costs, transplants, etc. It's a one-shot solution as the person becomes irretrievably dead.

    Anonymous February 21, 2012 7:17 am (Pacific time)

    From a societal cost benefit analysis done nearly 40 years ago if we compensate individuals for getting sterilized after having just one child (zero is preferable) say $375,000, the taxpayer would be off the hook for projected trillions in a 25 year timed generation. This money would be tax free and would make many lives grestly improved. These funds could also be professionally managed at no fee to make sure many of these sterilized individuals do not squander these funds. It's a win win situation. Also it would be a considerable cost savings to take chronic welfare people and just retire them on a government pension. That way we could save even more money by eliminating unnecessary government jobs that have high costs to the taxpayers. Keep in mind that only about 50% of workers now pay income taxes. Soon most people will not be paying any income taxes. Not talking about payroll taxes, but income taxes, those are the taxes that society needs to run on.

    Dave Undis February 21, 2012 6:27 am (Pacific time)

    As the death toll from the organ shortage mounts, public opinion will eventually support financial incentives for organ donation in the United States. Changes in public policy will then follow. In the mean time, there is an already-legal way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. UNOS, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative action is required. Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. Non-donors should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs. Everyone can offer to donate their organs when they die, no matter what their medical condition or history is. David J. Undis Executive Director LifeSharers

    Karin February 20, 2012 8:06 pm (Pacific time)

    Interesting can of worms you have opened here. Meanwhile on the campaign trail we have would-be Presidents expounding about what women should or should not do with their own bodies, yet again.

    Your concept has merit, but as You, I and the controversial,misunderstood and vilified, Jack Kavorkian know, this concept would never fly, and if considered, the people in need would starve before the debates even began.

    Free enterprise in America today is now Corporate Rule and I fear if they couldn't figure out how to benefit from it, the concept would flounder forever in Political limbo.

    See: Ultrasound Abortion Bill Nears Vote in Virginia http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/us/virginia-bill-requiring-ultrasound-before-abortion-nears-vote.html?emc=eta1 which concludes that:

    "Vaginal ultrasounds are often performed by doctors before abortions anyway, but opponents say that the legal act of requiring it for nonmedical reasons is a violation of the doctor-patient relationship. Delegate Charniele L. Herring, a Democrat who opposes the bill, said the requirement that the probe be inserted vaginally was tantamount to “state-sponsored rape.'"

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