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Altruist “Ethics”

If there’s anything in the world that shines a better light on the utter and contemptible evil of altruism and those who preach it than the whole organ transplant industry, I surely don’t know about it. Here’s one place where — at least — you’ll get the doctrine right up in your face.

This is a place where what you might have done with your life — what sorts of values you might have created for yourself, for your loved ones, and even for all of humanity — is of explicitly no worth whatsoever. If you need an organ to live and continue producing the values you produce, the mantra is always the same: get in line. (aside: What might that remind you of?)

Forget all the slide-rule arguments about how free markets would better allocate organ "resources." As they go, they’re true, of course, but it’s not the point. Neither should it be of any concern whatsoever that a doper might value his dope more than a kidney. Not your business, any more than it’s your business that dopers and starving students have been selling their blood for decades, at least.

Here’s a post at Samizdata that speaks to parts of this issue. You want to practice the "virtue" of altruism? Yea? Well then you donate your organs to anonymous strangers on some list you have no access to, managed by those over whom you have not a wit of influence. Bonus points if they end up being donated to someone who holds values you happen to despise. "Nirvana": Bill Gates’ organs go to some do-nothing Luddite who never produced an objective value in his life, choosing rather to spend it attacking the sorts of technologies that Gates helped create, reshaping the world by decentralizing creativity and productivity.

I’m a donor myself. Personally, once I’ve left the building I don’t care what they do with it. Would I prefer that they go to someone I would consider deserving, i.e., someone who shares my values and strives to better himself, his loved ones, and humanity in meaningful ways? Youbetcha. But failing that, I suppose they go to the next guy, gal, or kid on the list. I figure the chances are even that they go to a good person and so that’ll have to do, for now.

Should I ever find myself in need of an organ before I’m fortunate enough for my name to come up, then you better believe I’ll be scouring every worldwide resource I can find to purchase one and have it installed by a competent surgeon. And, yes, I would insist on meeting the seller or his/her heirs personally to ascertain the individual’s true willingness — to make sure there was not an hint of coercion involved. I would likewise condemn anyone who would blindly fail to take such careful measures in such serious matters.

As to whatever the prevailing laws happen to be (the organ-donation "system"), or what the bio-"ethicists" think about it…well, they can all kiss my lilly-white ass.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

10 Comments

  1. Richard Nikoley on June 5, 2006 at 16:33

    Jonathan:

    I wish you good health and I salute your mother. Mother or not, she didn't have to do that.

    That said, what my post means is that you have a moral right (if not a legal one) to acquire an organ for yourself by any non-coercive means you can come up with — including purchasing one on the "black market."

    Of course, that would be illegal, and I gather from this post at your blog that you wouldn't do anything illegal — even if it meant the difference between a life of misery and a life of happiness, or perhaps even to save a life.

  2. Jonathan on June 5, 2006 at 13:29

    Please don't take this as a negative criticism – but I'm not sure that you fully understand the transplant process, or the UNOS list.
    Perhaps you do, and I am the one not reading the post correctly.

    I've been on both sides of this, having received one kidney from a living-related donor (my Mother), and also having been on dialysis for the last four years awaiting the chance at another.

    If you're waiting to donate that precious kidney to someone who won't abuse it with drugs, and who will promise to use their powers for good rather than evil your search is over. Email me and I'll put you in contact with my transplant coordinator.

  3. Richard Nikoley on June 8, 2006 at 08:20

    "But your post clearly seems to be about something else – the determination of who receives the organ, and what their overall worth is. In other words, you want to determine if the person who receives your organ deserves it, or at least you feel that you are owed this right."

    I'm not "owed" anything. It is my right. Period. Deserve, owe, merit…have nothing to do with it. My life. My organ. I have the right to decide what's done with it, i.e., burn it, burry it, sell it, donate it to someone I consider worthy, have a contest to see who wins it, and, yes, give it over to someone else to decide based on their values and not mine. Those and other means are choices that ought to be available to everyone.

    Currently, so far as I know all of those options are not available to everyone, donors and recipients alike, because of certain laws. The reason behind that laws, explicitly, are to ensure that most organ donation is by physical need alone, not on individual worth.

    Such laws are based in altruist ideals and are immoral, as they violate fundamental natural rights.

  4. Jonathan on June 8, 2006 at 07:55

    You said:
    "That said, what my post means is that you have a moral right (if not a legal one) to acquire an organ for yourself by any non-coercive means you can come up with — including purchasing one on the 'black market.'"

    But your post clearly seems to be about something else – the determination of who receives the organ, and what their overall worth is. In other words, you want to determine if the person who receives your organ deserves it, or at least you feel that you are owed this right.
    This is what I was responding to initially

    You go on to say:
    "I wish you good health and I salute your mother. Mother or not, she didn't have to do that."

    Exactly! That's the point!

    You then go on to reference a post from my blog which has nothing to do with organ donation. You spin my post to come out saying that I essentially value the law above all else, including the sanctity of life.
    If that's genuinely and truly what you think I was trying to say in that post, I must inform you that you were mistaken.
    If you twisted what I said to suit your own agenda, and know that's not what I was saying, then you're extremely dishonest, and careless with your words.

    If you would like to discuss the post you linked to I'd be happy to, and I'm open to hear your opinion on the matter.
    Don't spin my words though to say something they're clearly not intended to…
    You should know better.

  5. Richard Nikoley on June 9, 2006 at 08:06

    "You can not in this country right now…"

    THAT is my point. My only point.

  6. Kyle Bennett on June 9, 2006 at 08:36

    What you can't do is make your "donation" contingent on receiving payment. Especially after you're dead.

    If you could, you'd see things like healthy people being able to receive payment – while they are alive – for the rights to their liver and kidneys should they die within a given time period. Kind of like reverse life insurance. Might even get people to take better care of those organs (the buyers would certainly have incentives), and it would certainly increase the supply of transplant organs so that people on the waiting lists don't, you know, simply die so that the powers that be can feel better about their not allowing crass commercialism into such a noble pursuit as purely altruistic organ donation.

    Oh, yeah, I forgot, that would immediately lead to the Yakuza swooping in and killing everyone they can find for their organs, or even just taking them while they are still alive, leaving them bleeding and unconcious in a hotel bathtub full of ice.

  7. Richard Nikoley on June 9, 2006 at 11:07

    "…I'd like to see a system […] I'd like to see something […] rather than […] And I'd like to see you receive […] I'd also like for you to…"

    You say "I'd like" but don't you really mean that you advocate some authority you recognize, such as the state, imposing these "likes" on those who don't share them, by violent force if necessary? After all, you've no difference or issue with those who share your likes, right?

    Let's just be clear, K?

  8. Kyle Bennett on June 9, 2006 at 14:48

    "This sort of weeding out of high risk patients already takes place."

    Fucking bastards. Fucking, fucking bastards.

    Who is ANYONE to say whose life should be allowed to be saved by someone willing and able to save it?

    Can't you see, what you'd like is not relevant in the slightest to anyone but you and your individual doctors and your individual donor? While you are waiting for the utopia you'd like to see, people are dying, or spending years having a machine piss for them 3 days a week while they wait to die. You'd LIKE to see "some sort of tax incentive or some sort of positive reinforcement for good societal behavior", and a system where there are no "people up who may or may not be exchaning more than organs". TOO FUCKING BAD, I'd like to see people live longer and better lives. It's either-or, and those who keep forcing everyone else to choose the former should rot in hell.

    If somebody is high risk, let them decide if the cost is worth it. Oh, I know, you'll argue that that would mean that more "deserving" people have to wait longer. Aside from the question of: who the hell are you to decide who is deserving? it's only when free markets are taken out of the equation that people have to wait in line while people with no business being involved in the first place get to play God.

    I will not sign my donor card, not until I can do so on my terms. Aside from the fact that I won't subsidize such pure evil, I figure it will be my last fuck you to this world and those who made it the way it is. They've tried to take from us everything they can get away with for our whole lives, including blood, but they won't get my flesh and bones if I can help it. I'm sorry if innocent people get caught in the crossfire, but it's not my making.

    Hmm, I think I may even write that on my "donor card". Where can I get one?

  9. Jonathan on June 9, 2006 at 07:50

    Again, back to my original post, which was:
    I don't think you understand completely how the UNOS list works.
    What laws are these you speak of? I'd like to know specifically, as almost all non-familial donation is cadaveric.

    If you're donating to someone you don't know well, you're in one of only a handful of transplant programs allowing such activity. And as far as I know you CAN choose whether or not that person receives your organ.

    You can not in this country right now walk into a hospital and sign up to donate your kidney to someone. Most living donation programs are built around friend/family donations – so the people know each other. Again, only a very small number of programs are even trying to match people up with strangers.
    So the gripe isn't really a valid one, as the problem doesn't yet exist.

    As far as your right – I have no problem with that. It IS your organ, and YOUR body. It is your choice to donate, and you have every right to decide who it goes to.
    Unfortuantely, your organ is most likely to be donated to someone after you're already dead.

  10. Jonathan on June 9, 2006 at 10:31

    Unfortunately the "big" transplant business (kidney/pancreas) is not necessary to survive.

    People don't typically die waiting for a kidney, because like me they are kept alive via dialysis.

    I'm all for a program allowing people to donate to strangers. I'd even want to see some sort of tax incentive or some sort of positive reinforcement for good societal behavior.

    Again though, this issue of being able to choose who receives the organ is right now a non-issue.
    Let's say I lose kidney function due to high blood pressure (this is the 2nd leading cause of kidney failure). Let's say my high blood pressure is from years of partying and recreational drug use.
    My kidneys fail, I begin dialysis, and the doctors talk to me about my chances of getting a transplant, and getting on the list.
    Uhoh – I'm not allowed to be listed, because I have to first "prove" that I'm not at high risk for losing the kidney they give me.

    This sort of weeding out of high risk patients already takes place. Transplantation is a huge business, and no hospital wants to have even one rejection due to non-compliance or lifestyle.

    Like you, I'd like to see a system where people could donate to each other – obviously. I'd like to see something run by UNOS, so there is some standard to the listing and matching process (rather than a site like matchingdonors.com "hooking" people up who may or may not be exchaning more than organs).
    And I'd like to see you receive something for your gift – not money.
    I'd also like for you to feel wholly comfortable with the donation – this again already takes place. You're not allowed to donate unless you pass a psych test and are decidedly in favor of what you're doing.

    Sign your donor cards, and make sure your family knows your wishes. You can save many lives with your donation – and as you've stated previously, you greatly value the act of saving or helping another life with your selfless act.

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