Monday, November 25, 2013

"Take my apology, please"

        When asked about the millions of Americans who are losing their health care plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the president responded,
        "I am very sorry that they...are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me."
        What did he say? Is that really an apology or is it more like an apologoid, the way a humanoid robot is a lot like a human but, somehow...isn't really a human? Similar, but not the same. Not really.
        In an apology, you're supposed to take responsibility for what you did, say that you're really sorry you did it and that you'll do what you can to make it better and won't ever do it again. This 'apology' was more like,
        "I was sorry to hear about your health insurance, Mrs. Goldberg. Here, I brought you some cookies."
         "Thank you, Mr. President. That was very thoughtful of you." 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Have A Heart or...Maybe A Kidney

       "Of course I'm pro-choice. A woman owns her body and can do what she wants with it."
       "Even give part of it away? Donate a kidney?"
       "Of course. It's her body."
       "Haw about if she wants to sell a kidney to someone? It's her body, right?"
       "No! Definitely not! Rich people would get all the kidneys and poor people would just...die. What are you, some kind of a damn...Republican?!"
       Each year, over six thousand Americans die waiting for a kidney transplant. Many more thousands die waiting for liver, lung or heart transplants. 
       There are now only two ways to get an organ for transplantation, i.e. either from a living donor (kidney, liver, lung) or cadaver (all). Living donors are usually, but not always,
relatives or friends. To get a cadaver organ, you go on a list and wait. It's illegal to buy an organ. Has to be a donation and with nothing given in return.
        Now, suppose the gov't allowed a free market in buying and selling human organs with regulation to prevent fraud and assure informed consent. Maybe sounds a little ghoulish (unless you happen to need a transplant) but, nevertheless, what would be the result?
        Well, if you were rich enough and had been unable to find a willing donor before, you would probably offer a lot of money to buy an organ (it's possible to live a perfectly normal life with only one kidney, and with liver and lung, you would offer to buy only a piece of the organ). In the case of a heart, you would, of course, have to make an offer to the family of the deceased.
         So, while you had been on a list, or on several lists, waiting for an organ, now that you've been transplanted, you're off the list(s) and everyone below you moves up a notch. What's wrong with that? 
         The rich get their transplants the fastest but most everyone else gets theirs faster now that there are fewer people on the list. Isn't that a good thing? that everyone improves his or her lot in life even though not necessarily at the same rate?
        And, of course, if organ-selling were to become legal, it's a pretty safe bet that many more organs would become available. And, like everything else that some people want to buy and others want to sell, as the supply goes up, the price would eventually start to come down.
       And finally, isn't this exactly the kind of thing that insurance was designed for, i.e. a lot of people paying a small amount each year so that if they are someday one of the relatively few who need to purchase an organ for transplantation, it wouldn't bankrupt them?
        Of course, there's no reason that any of this would ever have to become compulsory. If you're not interested in a transplant and would prefer dialysis, well, "If you like your kidney, you can kee..." No, really.