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."