Prominent libertarians like Megan McArdle don’t understand why there isn’t an open market on which people can buy and sell organs — fresh ones, she means, suitable for transplantation — to meet their medical or financial needs. We can’t understand why these people haven’t leapt to the defense of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, who just got swept up in that big Jersey sting this morning. Apparently he wasn’t nabbed for the same tiresome political graft as most of the others — Rosenbaum was stung for trying to sell a guy’s kidney, which in our Obama socialist age is considered a crime.
Word had gotten around that Rosenbaum was an organ broker (he got them from Israel, where they apparently thrive), so the FBI sent an undercover agent to tell Rosenbaum that her uncle needed a kidney. After laying out some plausible deniability — he told the agent it wasn’t the kidney she’d be paying $160,000 for, but “compensation for the time” — Rosenbaum was ready to talk turkey, or at least giblets. He even provided a reference — a guy to whom he’d sold a kidney earlier. Asked by the agent why anyone would give up their kidney, the recipient said, “I guess he needed the money.”
Just so: There are lots of folks out there who need to send kids to school, or replace their siding, or pay off loan sharks — yet our nanny state prevents them from selling their own guts to do it.
We’ve checked McArdle’s site, Reason, Drew Carey — no words of support for Rosenbaum yet. Surely they realize that this is the sort of case that will draw the common people to their side — why the delay? Maybe Movable Type is down.
Update: McArdle responds, thinks we should explain why we favor “driving organ sales to the black market” — if you outlaw organ peddling, only outlaws will peddle organs — and why “we should prevent people from voluntarily donating a kidney,” which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with what Rosenbaum was up to, but probably does in an Unintended Consequences way unfathomable to us littlebrains. She also expresses concern for dialysis patients — which we share, having known one, though it makes us no more eager to further incentivize the desperate to sell their guts — and declares that she does not support Rosenbaum’s breaking of laws, so the movement will have to wait a while longer for its John Brown, alas.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2009