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The Perils of Inequality: Boy Sells Kidney for Ipad

June 6, 2011

I had intended to inaugurate my economics blog with an article on taxation, but when this popped up in the news that had to be put aside.  This story, tragically, has it all:  dubious free market activity, another worrying result of more “perfect information,” and the effects of widening income distribution.

“A teenager in China reportedly sold one of his kidneys so he could buy an Apple iPad 2, according to reports from Chinese media.

Identified as simply Zheng, the 17-year-old took to the Internet to find a way to raise money so he could buy himself an iPad 2, according to Shanghai Daily.

“I wanted to buy an iPad 2 but could not afford it,” Zheng told the Daily. “A broker contacted me on the Internet and said he could help me sell one kidney for 20,000 yuan.”  

My students are currently studying the distribution of income, and the widening gap between rich and poor came to mind immediately.  China is famously producing more millionaires than any other country these days, and the article suggests that health care is every bit as “income elastic” in China as it is anywhere else.    That is to say that the Chinese, when given a bit more income, will spend proportionally more on new and better health care.  This demand is likely to draw in larger investment in health care and a higher number of students studying medicine, both good things for society as a whole.   But it has also spawned an enormous black market in human organs.

Why is this a problem of income distribution?  This story shocks us because the boy secretly sold his kidney to buy a computer,  not food for his starving family or medicine for a sick grandmother.  He is, after all, a boy, one dazzled by the new technology and not likely to think in terms of the long run consequences of his action.  But one would guess that most people who sell vital organs are driven by extreme need rather than a desire for luxury goods.  China, for all its millionaires, still counts the number of its poor people  in the hundreds of millions.  For the rich, buying organs is getting easier because they are growing richer.  Meanwhile, the relatively poorest face greater temptation than ever to sell their actual bodies just to get by.  If the story of the boy and his kidney shocks us, then should we not find the more mundane and prevalent cases just as appalling?

  1.  To what degree should each of the following be prosecuted for this criminal act?  (The buyer, the seller, the broker, the clinic, the doctor, the website where the boy made contact with the buyer)
  2. In what sense is this incident an example of the growth of more perfect information flows in the market?  On balance, do you think this is a good thing?
  3. When is an imbalance of income just another effect of market economics, and when is it considered exploitation?
  4.  Some countries are experimenting with a free (and legal) market for organs.  How might this affect the supply and demand in this market?
  5.   Ethics question:  In recent years, stories have emerged that prisoners in Chinese jails have had their organs forcibly removed and sold on the black market.  (These stories are, of course, blacked out by the authorities, as I observed while watching the first few seconds of such report in Shanghai).  If the state has the right to incarcerate and kill (in death penalty cases), does it have the right to save lives by compelling organ removal of the most serious prisoners?
17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 10:42 am

    The article is obviously an example of unrestrained capitalism driven by the short term thinking of individuals and corporations who fail to realize the long-term effect of their actions upon themselves and the larger society. The core problem is an intrinsecal human tendancy to look and spot value in short-term gratification rather than in the long-term play of things. After all most people would choose 100USD daily payment rather than 0.01USD the first day, 0.02USD the second, 0.04 USD the third etc. Human history has played its tumultous role in causing us to value short-term experiences much more than long-term ones due to the ease of dying in the past. The future was always very insecure, and hence people gained a natural tendency to aim for the quickest satisfaction, because sacrificing momentary satisfaction for the long-term good was very risky. The situation has changed in our modern society, but human instincts which have developped over thiousands of years haven’t. For this reason people, like the Chinese boy, value their momentary satisfaction more than their long-term good. Corporations also preffer a quicker buck, rather than a stable, but slower rate of return on their investments. Although in the end, the slow but steady buck is the only one that can last. By harming the population in this manner, taking the organs of young children, these corporations take actions which will inevitably impact their future and create a scarcity in the future workforce, plus the inevitable consequences of illegal activities. This does not mean that capitalism doesn’t work. Capitalism WORKS, if people are willing to account for all effects of their actions, and not put additional weight on the short-term results. A change in mentality is needed in order to usher into a new golden age of mankind, both economically and socially.

  2. Magdalena L permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:52 am

    I believe, there should be at least regulations and a legal system in the case like the one above, in which an underaged person is involved. Underaged people should not be allowed to make such serious decisions without any legal boundaries. Similarly there should be laws set as legal boundaries for adults trying to get into business with underaged people. Furthermore, the government obviously does not show sufficient interest in hindering the organ trading, since they are involved themselve in organ trading like indicated in the last question.
    I believe, making organ trading legal could be a solution. It would allow to enforce some rules within the ethically questionable business such as excluding underaged people from this business. Therefore, legalizing organ trading would merely decrease the black market and ensure that some for example hygenical standards are considered, required and controlled. Generally it would lead to more transparency in this market sector. The lack of transparency and who actually is behind the action is one of the problems depicted in the article. On the other hand this would most likely be costly for the government, since it needs to control and enforce regulations in an area, to wich they have not paid much attention on regulating it yet.

  3. Fanni Csepeli permalink
    June 7, 2011 11:15 am

    The buyer should be prosecuted, because even if he/she didn’t know the kidney’s origin, he/she should have checked the circumstances of the transaction before buying the organ. I believe that the seller, the 17 year old boy is simply the victim of the transaction, and should not be prosecuted at all for selling his kidney. He is the one being hurt because of his lack of knowledge and money. Since he is a young teenager, he does not consider the long term costs of his actions. The doctor, who carried out the surgery, should also be prosecuted as he knows exaclty what the long term costs of his participation in such a black-market transaction. The broker should be punished the most, as he convinced the 17 year old boy to sell his own body part in order to get a computer and an iPod. I believe that he would deserve at least 6 years in prison for his activity. The website where the boy made the contact with the buyer should be closed down and the police must also contact the website owners and decide whether they were involved in the transaction or not.

    The broker had perfect information about the boy’s living standards and because of his extended knowledge, he was able to convince him such a terrible offer. This article shows how the improved information can be harmful for the society. However, I believe that this is an extreme example and that in normal circumstances, an improved information would allow an economy to make more reliable decisions.

    The imbalance of income mentioned in the article is clearly considered to be exploitation, because the broker used the disadvantaged situation of the boy to make business.

    A free and legal market of organs would increase the demand for surgeries as the legalization would result in more doctors willing to carry out the surgeries without feeling guilty. However, I am against such policy, because this would allow all people to buy and sell organs, thus poor, uneducated people (especially teenagers) would decide to sell their organs as they would only consider the short run benefits of their decisions.

  4. Videanu Diana permalink
    July 19, 2011 8:49 pm

    I believe the people who should be persecuted are:

    The doctor of course because having to remove a child’s kidney would certainly require any kind of parental permission since the boy was only seventeen – underaged. A simple written paper of the words of the child should not be sufficient for such an intervention. This is indeed a sad example of most certainly, bribe. It is very probable that the doctor did receive some more money except the initial cost of the surgery – black market – so that he would perform the operation and shut up about it.

    The broker and the site should both be persecuted for ‘lobbying’. Uninstructed children should not have the access to such information as it dangerous because it is very influential and children do no know how to weight the benefits and the disadvantages. Besides the information itself, these two have used the child’s weakness (the desire) to their advantage.

    The seller (the child) should not be persecuted but rather the government should help make other teenagers like him understand what are the risks for such a transaction and that life is not worth giving for anything in the world, much less for an ipad or a laptop.

    In the case of the buyer, it depends whether he/she should be punished or not. If the buyer was just another link in this black market chain, yes he should be punished since he is not only knowingly harming an individual but winning money as well . If the buyer was an adult who was in need for a kidney and some clinic offered it, then the buyer should not be punished because it is not his job where it came from. It is indeed horrible to think like this, but as long as the kidney is all tested, there is not more information needed for another transaction.

  5. Jiyoung Im permalink
    August 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    The article demonstrates one of the limitations that the modern free-market society can pertain. Considering that everyone can excess information very easily nowadays through internet and that less-restricted free market made black market prevalent, the case stated in the article should not come as the most appalling thing that can happen.

    First of all, the boy does not deserve a blame for giving his organ as an exchange of money because considering that he is still 17 years old, there is a great chance that he did not speculate on the long run issues and problems that will follow. Also even if the act is considered as a crime for being involved in a black market, he still holds little responsibility because he is an underaged incontinent boy. The seller and the website, however, should be incarcerated for being involved in a black market voluntarily and for luring and using uninformed child. Whether the doctor and the clinic should be prosecuted can be decided when there is substantial information that tells the doctors knew of the future usage of the kidney of a boy; however, their crime should not be treated with equal weight of that of dealers for they just did what they were asked to. The buyer of the kidney, of course, should hold some responsibility of this matter.

    The prevalence of information is one of the major factors which led to this situation. One might think because of this kind of incident, people should not have full access to information, however, the benevolent effects that information have to us are tremendous: People can be interconnected through internet and can be more informed about the rapidly-turning society and therefore can adjust well to the environment. Therefore, I believe that the access to information should remain unrestricted, for it does more good than harm, but a law pertaining to the access of information by underaged people should be enforced.

    As stated in question 4, some countries allow these organ trades legally, and I think it’s a good idea for ONLY wealthy countries. First of all, the number of dealers will decrease because there is a low risk and therefore low money that they can gain. Also, in the case that the law creates more dealers, the competition between dealers will increase and so they will gain less profit. As for the people, they are unlikely to get involved anyway, especially in rich societies. If people can have enough money without taking such a risk, why would they even try to sell their organs? however, the story would get different in a poor country.

    The question 5 states if the state has the right to incarcerate and kill, does it have the right to save lives by compelling organ removals of the most serious prisoners. I’d say no for I don’t believe that state should even have a right to kill a person. However, if voted by majority, then state has a permission to incarcerate and kill the prisoner. However, the removal of an organ, which is entirely based on a personal choice, cannot be decided by a state. Even if a prisoner committed a crime, he still has a right as a human. The government can restrict a person’s movement by trapping him or her in a prison; however, his decision on what to do with his body should be done by himself, because this is part of the small rights that he still has left inside the prison.

    Yayy!! Done!!

  6. Sergio Z. permalink
    August 10, 2011 11:50 am

    The article confronts an extremely illegal and equally well protected black market thats grown in China, and Zhou is one of many impoverished people who’s bodies have been taken advantage of. Ultimately, it is hardly possible to pinpoint a certain culprit and in this sort of a situation you are faced with a crime ring that houses countless middle-men that involve themselves in illegal transactions. Much like illegal prostitution, Zhou’s body was taken advantage of with a compensation that hardly covers what he lost.

    Since we are dealing with a minor who was hardly in a position to decide over the value of his own kidney, the immediate fellons in the situation would be the seller, the buyer and the doctor. The website may have simply been a forum in which people look for means of exchanging products, and therefore they cannot be prosecuted for the agreement that was made between 2 users on the website. In other words, facebook doesn’t find itself in a lawsuit because 2 people discussed a bank robbery through the inbox function. The doctor could face the highest criminal penalty for actually performing the illegal operation. The buyer would be the most difficult to track because the man who talked to Zhou on the website was most probably a middle man in the operation, much like the clinic may have not been a registered medical center, causing it to become impossible to file a lawsuit against an inexistent facility.

    If a free market of organs were to develop in a nation, it would be unlikely for the black market to disappear entirely. Many people would hesitate to sell their organs regardless of the legality of the act. The legalization of such a market might increase the supply but the demand would remain consistent unless health conditions in the country worsen. Due to this, the black market might come to a point where victims such as Zhou have their organs stolen and end up dead, causing the black market organs to be cheaper and faster to receive than legal organs. In most situations, legal organ transplants have long waiting lists as well as specific requirements (not anyone can donate a kidney, blood type and medical records are vital in such a process, something that may not be taken into account in a black market).

    On the ethics side of the discussion, if a criminal faces the death penalty, and his medical record is clean, then it should be permitted to use his organs under the condition that he holds no religious or cultural belief that insists otherwise. Although I am not fully aware of Chinese culture, I do know that a common practice is to be cremated. Although it is a controversial topic, cremating a fellon without an organ that could save another persons life could be considered a fair exchange. One life for another, something that would be further supported if the convict is a murderer.

    Having the organ forcibly removed however is above and beyond illegal, and regardless of the situation should never occur. Black markets exist across the world, and it does not shock me that China has one if even western European nations have similar rings of prostitution, weapons trades and organ deals.

    As a side note:
    I myself remember seeing a man in the business class on my flight to Kenya in a black suit, viewing a video presentation of amateur films on his laptop of guns and tanks. On the top right corner was written “Serbian Defence Force”, something that seemed unusual for a person to be representing in Africa. I later found out that much illegal weapons trading occurs on the coastal regions of Kenya in order to smuggle weapons into Somalia to provide to the terrorists in the country. Black markets exist all over the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that man was involved in one himself.

  7. Nele Schuldt permalink
    August 14, 2011 1:12 pm

    In my opinion every single operator along the way of making that organ transfer happening is responsible and thus must be prosecuted accordingly. The buyer of the organ should have sufficient information to find out where the organ has come from etc. Yet on the other hand that might be the only person in this case who might have not received full information on the case. However if the buyer consciously bought an organ that was ‘donated’ by a minor from a socially deprived background, there must be legal measures to prosecute this person. Furthermore the clinic and doctor, who are profiting from the organ since the buyer will be operated in their clinic should be prosecuted as they willingly accept illegal and immoral medical procedures. Moreover, the clinic should have had some sort of obligation to inform the boy about the possible risks, long-term consequences etc involved in the organ removal. The clinic has got a very large responsibility in my opinion, as they are the ones who eventually carry out the organ removal and thus lay the groundwork for such criminal activity. If doctors and clinics would refuse to operate on such an ambiguous case, the rate of illegal organ selling would shrink dramatically. Furthermore the broker who contacted the boy, being the one who realized the opportunity and took initiative to persuade the boy should receive a criminal sentence as well. This is blatant business with no sense of ethics or morals. The boy is handled as an object of economic opportunity rather than a person. Considering that he is underage, no kind of operation should have been performed on him in any case.

    The fact that the boy was looking for a way to make money and found it via internet exemplifies the more perfect information flow in the market. The website was looking (thus demand) for organs, whereas he was willing to give and organ and thus became the supplier. Without the internet, which served as the information basis, the boy might not have been contacted by the broker and thus the information flow would have been interrupted. In this particular case that would have been a positive thing. In general, perfect information flow is a utopia, which cannot be reached as certain information cannot leak out to the general public. Firstly, a certain advantage of companies is lost, as they are performing business deals in the open and competitors are informed exactly about the financial deals. Secondly, perfect information would also mean that governments or other organizations are bound to inform the public about every little threat or unsettling piece of information that they receive, thus causing mass panic, etc. Thus, a certain amount of perfect information flow in the market is good, in order to be able to maximize effectiveness between supply and demand. On the other hand, some information should not be known by everybody.

    An imbalance of income happens in every major capitalist country. There will be a widening gap between richer and poorer. Those that strive can afford education and medical services for the next generations, and thus, once again, ensure the continuity of an upper class life style. The poorest will generally lack in education and medical deeds, thus continuing the spiral of their own life style. An extreme example of this imbalance of income, exploitation, can be a result of the poorest not knowing how to afford their basic necessities. In this case however, just as mentioned in the original article, the boy was neither dying of hunger nor did a family member need urgent medical assistance. Thus the exploitation happened due to the wanting of luxury goods. I personally think this type of exploitation happened simply due to the fact that the boy had no insight on the long-term effects of his business deal, and that he was under-age. One might argue that his very poor decision might have occurred due to lack of education or lack of opportunity in his life. Then, it can be said that the exploitation happened due to the imbalance of income.
    Countries experimenting with free and legal organ trade would probably defend this decision like this: Firstly, there is a high demand of organs from people who might die otherwise. Secondly, in order to keep up with this demand, it is a wise decision to keep it legally based, in order to avoid the black market. Thirdly, when having a legal organ trade, there can be guidance and laws established concerning the exact organ trade. One of the criterias for example might be, that every organ donor must be informed completely about the risks and long-term effects of such an operation. Also, the donor must be an adult. Thus there are some good reasons for creating a legal organ trade. An establishment, either the government, or better yet a powerful non-governmental institution will have to supervise these transactions. The down part of such is, that generally speaking, the socially deprived people are more likely to be willing to donate an organ in order to make money than the rich. Thus, the financial status of a person might depend whether or not an organ trade will be established. This is a kind of exploitation of the poor. Henceforth, there has not been established an ideal case for this subject matter. Another effect of legal organ trade might be, that since demand is high in either case, supply will also rise since it won’t be an illegal transaction anymore.
    I do NOT agree with forcibly removing any sorts of organs, even from convicted people who will face a death sentence. There are certain human rights standards that have to be kept. The punishment itself serves for the deeds of the convicted (one could now start to argue about the death sentence…), however a forced removal of ones organs exceeds that punishment. Although it might save somebody’s life, I believe that everybody has got rights to a certain extent. The argument of the convicted having more rights than the innocent (in this case the person who needs an organ) is not valid, as a different punishment has already been imposed upon the prisoner. Rather than doing so, I would suggest a questionnaire for every adult, in which it is asked whether or not the person’s organs may be used in the event of death. This way, the person needing an organ might be saved through legal, voluntary action.

  8. August 14, 2011 5:10 pm

    I believe that, in this case, the only people who should be held responsible for the act are the ones who ended up profiting from the transaction on the long run, i.e. the buyer, the broker, the clinic and the doctor. The buyer deserves to be prosecuted because it is him that created the demand for a kidney. Without the need for a kidney, the entire transaction would not have taken place, as the kid would not have been able to sell his organ to anyone. Although the buyer was simply satisfying his urgent needs, the act had taken place in a black market, whose existence is unhealthy for the entire economy. Even after taking in account the possibility of the buyer not knowing where the kidney comes from, his intentions remain illegal, unethical and cruel towards the human race. The broker was the main offender, so to speak, behind the entire illegal activity. His actions were illegal and most of all immoral, as he had nothing to lose in the transaction. By making profit out of an illegal activity, in strict terms he is no better than a thief, a paid assassin or a drug dealer. The clinic and the doctor should both be held responsible for the crime, because they were either aware but willing to ignore the illegal nature of the operation, or unaware and therefore careless. In both cases, they are to be held responsible, because they were able to stop the crime but didn’t. The seller made an enormous loss on the long run, as the net value of a kidney will shortly surpass that of 20,000 yuan, due to inflation. The website where the boy made contact with the buyer had no way in which it could stop the criminal act from taking place, as the illegal activity did not take place on the internet.

    The perfect information was in this case held by the broker, who was able to take advantage of the kid’s naivety for his own profit. However, there was most probably a lot of imperfect information involved, as the parents of the kid were almost surely unaware of the kid’s intentions. The doctor and the clinic might have also been misinformed about the circumstances. Therefore, while this event shows a consequence of perfect information flows in the market, I believe that it is but a rare exception to the rule and that perfect information is generally a good thing for the economy.

    From my point of view, imbalance of income is considered exploitation once the imbalance is used by the rich to take advantage of the poor. Be it through laws, privatization, elitism or just debt, “one man’s liberty ends where another man’s begins” (as stated in the First Amendment) and there is no justification for the use of a free market as a means of instauration of modern slavery.

    A free and legal market for organs is the best approach towards a black market for organs. In economic terms, it is the same with any black market, be it drugs, weapons or prostitution. A free market, as opposed to a black market results in more taxpayers and therefore more income for the respective government. While it does not solve the problem of the morality of the acts, it offers a more viable solution, one which results in a safer, more regulated economy. A proper free market for organs would destroy any black market for organs, as it would decrease the demand of black market organs, due to organs not being always healthy, working, or due to the medical staff in the black markets being less qualified and less safer than that in a free market.

    Having one’s organs forcibly removed is debatably worse than death itself, due to the pain to which the prisoners are subjected to after having their organs removed. In theory, the act of using prisoner’s organs would not only be safer, but also better than having a black market function by itself, but only if the organs were not removed without the will of the prisoners. It is a highly debated subject at the moment, but the solution, in my opinion, lies in technology – i.e. stem cells, biotechnology -, not in compromise – the death of some versus the death of many. However, if a yes or no answer had to be given, I would vouch for the extraction of the organs of those prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment or those about to be executed, but only with their own consent. (Being the idealist that I am, I strongly believe that more than 50% of the incarcerated men and women would choose to donate at least one organ)

    by Dave Nedescu

  9. Vlad Petru Radulescu permalink
    August 16, 2011 8:43 pm

    I think it is fairly obvious that not just Zheng, but the entire family is the victim of this unfortunate transaction. I strongly believe that both the buyer and broker should receive the same punishment, no matter whether the buyer was aware of the latter’s illegal business or not. Why? A free market ideally works based on the competent knowledge and gathered information of both consumers and producers. The producer’s responsibility is to obey to the legislation within the country in which he/she is operating. As the article clearly states, the broker deliberately broke the law, pursued by personal financial interests. However, the consumer, especially when concerning organs, should be even more circumspect and know whether such an important transaction is fair or not. Neither the website where the boy made contact with the broker, nor the doctor are worth debating, since they’re both part of the system. Their faults are equal, since they operate under the same sick conventions.

    Although this article clearly shows how the flow of information can harm individuals and sometimes, why not, even communities, it is safe not to fall on extreme opinions such as “free information is a crime”. On the contrary, although it has its downfalls, information is what helps economies make long term decisions. On a macro scale, the lack of qualitative information would have disastrous effects for an economy. Nevertheless, the imbalance of income mentioned in the article is definitely exploitation, a survival of the fittest.

    A free and legal market for organs would increase both the demand and supply. First of all, low income individuals who would otherwise be reluctant to an illegal transaction would not have to worry about getting caught, since there is nothing illegal to their decisions. Secondly, there would be more medical centers and thus doctors performing the operations. With more available organs, the price would be expected to decrease as well, opening the market to more people who would otherwise not afford to pay for them in the first place.

    In regards with the last topic, my answer is simple: all men are equal in God’s eyes, from the most respectable philanthropist to the most wretched criminal. Taking a prisoner’s organs to save another so called “innocent life” is is a great example of hypocrisy, a characteristic that seems to build itself in our lives at an extremely fast, uncontrollable pace.

  10. Radu Timis permalink
    August 21, 2011 6:19 pm

    This article is a very clear example of the negative effects that capitalism may have upon society and the consequences that can result due to the human tendency of wanting more and more. It is true that our world is composed of different social classes, people that earn different incomes, people that can benefit of things others cannot; This happens since the beggining of time and inevitably creates constant competition for the access and control over important information, which in return means power. However capitalism this days does not take into account anymore the other issues besides money making, the issues that affect and damage society as a result of large scale production and the seeking of profits. Indeed, theoretically consumers and producers have perfect knowledge of what is happening in the different economic markets, however in reality unfortunate cases such as Zheng’s often pass by unoticed.

    Clearly in this case, the clinic and the doctor must be prosecuted first because they were the ones that performed this action on an underaged child, without parental permission, being aware that the kidney would be used for a purpose different than that of saving somebody else’s life. Second of all the broker who coordinated the entire transaction, negotiating the price of the kidney and the buying conditions must also be prosecuted along with the buyer, the one that purposefully accepted to create demand on a black market, and in the same time agreeing to damage one’s life simply for satisfying personal material desires.

    Through the creation of a free and legal market for organs, the demand for organs and implicitly medical services such as surgeries will obviously increase, and this may also lead to an increase in the offers for jobs in this domain. This would also decrease the price of organs as more people will be able to donate or provide organs and those that couldn’t afford them before would be able to following this.

  11. Matei L. permalink
    August 22, 2011 7:14 pm

    Considering that the seller of the organ is a seventeen year old adolescent, that clearly is incapable of rational judgement, he should not be prosecuted by the law. He is a victim in such a sad situation. The doctor, that agreed to go ahead with the surgery is definitely guilty for taking part in such a horrendous act and probably has even taken bribes to do such a surgery without any documents from the parents of the child. The buyer and the broker should be severely punished because they knew where the kidney came from and went ahead with the operation. They did not care that the child would be scarred for life and further worsened the situation by offering the child only enough money to buy an ipad! they should be punished as severely as possible for taking advantage of the poor child. The website owners should not be prosecuted because the implication was offering the technology, they cannot determine how one uses this technology.

    In this particular case, the imbalance of income can be considered an exploitation because the child was not even eighteen years old. he is not capable of taking his own decisions and still needs parental consent for almost everything he does. The buyer did not even ask for the parental consent so therefor can be considered exploitation. They simply lured the child using technology (ipad) in order for him to give up his kidney. I heard that in the US, it is illegal to donate an organ in exchange for money, the only way an organ can be donated if it is done as a “donation”. (I may be wrong)

    If a “legal” market for organs would open, i would think that the supply of organs would increase. especially the low income part of the population would be eager to sell their organs in order to make some money. This would shift demand to the right but also cause a shift along the demand curve to the right. This would cause the price for organs to decrease.

    Every man has the right to decide what to do with their own organs, whether they want to keep them or donate them. The gov’t does not have the right to decide for the prisoners even if this could save lives.

  12. Efim Leonov permalink
    August 23, 2011 8:03 pm

    In my opinion the person providing the removal of the kidney (the doctor) should be prosecuted to the highest degree. The reason for that is because he provides the service that allows the exchange of money for health. His part of the deal is vital because without him there is no way possible that a kidney can be correctly removed. He is the prime provider of the service. Due to his service, the broker becomes a third-party member. He provides his services because he sees an opportunity of getting profit as a third-party. His service is not necessarily vital because the seller of the kidney can go straight to the person who removes the kidney. The website acts as another type of broker. It is a third-party service that can be used by the seller to find an easier way to sell a kidney. Therefore it should be prosecuted equally with the broker. The clinic can arguably be prosecuted. It may depend on the type of the click. It may be a government clinic or a private firm. But again, it is a third-party firm that provides a service of the place of operation, tools etc. Therefore it should be equally prosecuted as the broker and the website but the doctor still should be considered a criminal.

    The example of perfect information flow in this case is shown best through the two third-party members which are: the broker and the website. Ideally, both would obtain enough information about the boy, before doing business with him. Not to make sure that everything is legal (the boy was clearly underage) but to make sure that they have all the information that they need in order to make their part of the deal have a more comfortable environment. This would be a good thing if the business were legal.

    Imbalance of income is another effect of market economies when it is caused by the government policies of tax placements. There will always be those benefiting from a certain way of income distribution. The exploitation is the advantage taken of those who are not getting initial advantage from the system of income distribution. In this case it is the poor in comparison to a large number of rich people. The harm of the exploitation is done on health.

    Free legal market for organs would eventually cause a demand surplus, where the supply will not be able to keep up with the demand. The effect of it will be the black market that will provide the same service for those who are not able to get/sell organs for free and legally.

    It is not for me to judge whether prisoners should have their organs removed by force. There might be a particular case where a prisoner was put on a death sentence. With his wish to donate his organs after death to help to save lives of others it would be a correct way of doing it. Otherwise it is just another injustice where people go down to the level of those who committed crimes.

  13. silvia permalink
    August 24, 2011 9:17 am

    The broker should be the first prosecuted for the criminal act, as he facilitated the transaction and encouraged the teenager to sell his organ. The doctor and the clinic should be prosecuted next as documents should have been signed and checked before to ensure the safety and motives of the operation.The buyer should be prosecuted third as he was a sick man looking for a desperate solution. The boy, the seller should not be prosecuted but rather educated. The website should not be prosecuted either, because people have the right to freedom of speech online.
    This is an extreme example of how free information flow can harm individuals. The boy found out about the ipad, wanted to purchase it and decided to sell his kidney. People should be educated as not to let their judgements affected by harmful aspects of life. For a market lack of information would be very harmful.
    It is an imbalance of income when the rich are very rich and the poor very poor, it is an exploitation when the rich take advantage of the disequilibrium
    A free market market for organs would cause an increase in demand for organs. It would also ensure safer procedures. It would also encourage teenagers and the poor to enter the market.
    Although the prisoners have commited serious crimes they still have the right to keep their bodies intact if they wish. It is against human rights to take organs out of someone without their consent.

  14. Ioana permalink
    August 25, 2011 3:36 pm

    I believe that all the people involved in the kidney transfer should be prosecuted, except for the seller, the seventeen-year old. First of all, since the broker was the one who contacted the boy, he should be held responsible not only for promising an illegal transaction (a kidney for 20,000 yuan) but also triggering and making the deal possible. I’m not very familiar with laws but I think the broker could also be accused for corrupting a minor since the seventeen year old had not reached a legal age (18). Next the doctor who made the kidney removal possible should be prosecuted since he should have either asked for parental consent or have checked the kidney for any problems and whether it was necessary to remove it. Simply removing a kidney for no apparent reason, an adolescent’s kidney, doesn’t justify his actions therefore he is just as criminally involved as is the broker. The clinic should be prosecuted for allowing the kidney removal to take place. The only explanation for why both the clinic as a whole and the doctor allowed for the kidney removal to take place, would be through bribe. Thus, reinforcing and contributing to the black market. Lastly, the website where the boy contacted the broker should be prosecuted and thoroughly checked since it was literally a portal through which a criminal act took place. The seventeen year-old should not be prosecuted but rather educated and guided towards a better understanding of real values in life, such as the well-being of his family rather than luxury goods, about the black market and how exposed teenagers are to the black market through the use of internet, and lastly, taught about how his removal affects his health and the fact that he could have died, therefore his body is more important that any ‘iPad’ or any type of good, as a matter of fact.

  15. Darius Madadi permalink
    August 25, 2011 8:06 pm

    I believe that all the people part of the transaction, excluding the boy should be prosecuted. Everyone who even knew of what was happening. This is not something that should be happening and the fact that someone might have known what this boy was going to do and he was not stopped is alarming. I believe that acces to the internet enables everyone to do an infinit amount of things without an alarm being rung. This is only caused by the instant transaction of infromation that occurs over the internet ennabling people to find whatever they disire online. I believe that at the age of 17 a boy should not be able, not only allowed, but morally should not be excepted to donate his organ. The fact that he did it for money which was later used for a luxury good is alarming and clearly raises the question of whether the boy was exploited. He was, but this exploitation only occurred due to the economic difference in the market which can not be solved easily. If the market was free than both the value of the organ would have gone up, significantly, enabling the boy to have bought more goods including the Ipad. This is if we consider that the boy would have been ligally allowed to sold his organ, he is at a young age and should not have been allowed to sell his organ and if the organ market would have been free, it probably would have been illegible for him to sell his organ. I believe that no matter how much harm a man does to another unless he gives written concent of the fact that he is willing to give up his organs it should not be happening, even if he is incancerated, dead or alive the body is still his and his family’s property.

  16. Mihai Grozavescu permalink
    August 28, 2011 7:51 pm

    This example unfortunately stand against the free market ideology, which in my opinion is better than other systems. However, things like this should never be allowed, as they are not a benefit for the society, but a menace. The child who sold his kidney cannot be blamed, he is a child who just wanted a new toy. However, the buyer, as well as the broker, should be put into jail for convincing a minor to do harm to his body, in exchange for money. The doctor who made the operation should be punished with a fine for not checking the documents. However, the website has no real guilt, as probably there was no information about the boy’s age on the website. The fact that a child has sold his kidney cannot be a good thing. The donation of an organ should be a donation, but the moment money is involved, it is almost like an auction, who gives more money wins his own life. These things should be done so that the chance to life is equal for both the rivh, and also the poor, because everyone deserves a chance to life. Here the inbalance in income should not be important. Some countries are experimenting the free market for organs, but this is not a good thing. The demand will always be greater than the supply, as there are more sick people than people willing to be sick. Thus, the inbalance of income will kick in, creating a disadvantage for the poor. If the prisoners are already scheduled to be executed, then their organs should be sold, as they aren’t of any use inside a dead body. However, prisoners who aren’t on death penalty should not be forced to give their organs.

  17. September 2, 2011 3:44 am

    This is a highly appalling situation to be seen. I strongly believe that the government’s lack of authority has a great deal to do with the ease in which the boy managed to sell his kidney _online_. I think that the seller should not be prosecuted, as he is after all a 17 year old child “dazzled by the new technology”, and he would be unable to make good decisions in this case on his own. To begin with, the clinic should be the first to be prosecuted for performing the operation without consent of parents, or anything of the sort. Secondly, the doctor should be prosecuted for the same reason, although in the possibility that the clinic was not aware of the on-goings, only the doctor should be prosecuted. The buyer has no liability in this as he was quite simply paying for a good essentially.

    I think that a free and legal market for organs may not be the best idea. When free, supply will be quite low, because quite honestly, not many people are saint-like enough to give up vital parts of their bodies for free… As an alternative, I think that a such a price should be established that people would be willing to give up their organs, and at the same time people would decline selling them on the black market as the price paid would not meet their while.

    Overall, I strongly believe that if the government had a stronger legal system, the black market would not have such a large amount of power, and not be able to perform this acts. Granted, China has an incredibly large economy and it would be quite hard to just “improve the legal system”. I think that China should also improve its regulations for certain things to avoid clinics and doctor like that operating in the first place. In the end, they boy did nothing wrong; if given access to, a teenager of that age in a richer economy of a more wealthy household would probably sell their parents’ TV on the black market so that they could buy themselves a cheap first car! That being brought up, the fact that the kid went to the black market to sell his kidney does suggest that he was hiding this from his parents…

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