Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Editorial of the day

I have decided that my "of the day" posts can be anything. In honor of this momentous decision (...there was much rejoicing), I am starting with an editorial of the day.

One of my favorite editorialists is John Stossel, who presents examples of human arrogance and stupidity in all their respective glories. Today, he takes on the government, and their kidney waiting lists, in "An illegal market that could save your life":
"More than 60,000 people whose kidneys have failed are waiting for transplants. Many survive by enduring hours hooked up to dialysis machines. The machines clean their blood, pinch-hitting for diseased kidneys. But they cannot do it as well as a kidney. Dialysis is painful, exhausting and expensive.

So 60,000 Americans pray for a new kidney. Some get them from friends and family. More get them from strangers who die in accidents.

But accidents and altruists don't provide enough kidneys, so on a typical day, 17 people die waiting for kidneys.

...I talked with Steve Rivkin, who joined a waiting list for kidneys when it was "just" 30,000 names long. "I don't think that there's anything wrong with paying money for a kidney transplant," he told me. "I just want a kidney that works!"

Dr. Brian Pereira, former president of the National Kidney Foundation, told me he empathized with Rivkin's need. "The good news," he said, "is that this person can continue on dialysis under the current system, which functions extremely well."

Seventeen deaths per day is a system functioning "extremely well"? When I challenged him about that, he said poor people would be vulnerable to "exploitation" if there were an open market for kidneys.

I found pictures of men from the Philippines who'd exchanged a kidney for just $1,000. They posed on a beach, showing their scars. Such pictures make wealthy Americans say, "These poor people were exploited! They risked their lives for just $1,000."

But what gives us the right to decide for them? No one forced them. They wanted the $1,000 more than they wanted two kidneys. To say the poor are too desperate to resist a dangerous temptation is patronizing. Poor people are entitled to run their own lives, too.

Steve posted an ad online, and soon people from all over the world were calling to sell him a kidney. Pereira says sternly, "That's where we have to step in."

No, doctor, that's where you have to step aside. Like many anointed experts, Dr. Pereira thinks he and others like him -- "the government, the professional societies who help the government make the right policies" -- have to make our decisions for us. But that conceit condemns people to suffer and die -- as Steve Rivkin did.

This is another good example of nanny government. Let us save the poor from themselves, regardless of the death sentence we impose on others. It is ironic that the Left will fight the death penalty imposed on convicted murderers, yet they WILL impose it on people who are guilty of having bad kidneys.

(Hat tip to

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