You Better Believe That, Homeboy
Well, sports fans, let's take a look at our friend Alonzo Mourning of the pathetic New Jersey Nets. 'Zo has retired from basketball because of a kidney condition. He now seeks a kidney transplant.
The guys at Marginal Revolution have been tossing around the topic of an organ market recently. Alex Tabarrok writes:
Currently we have organ socialism - anyone who needs an organ is allowed access to the organ pool regardless of whether or not they contributed to the upkeep. As with other resources owned in common we get over-exploitation and under-investment. Consider, instead a "no-give, no-take policy" - only those who have previously signed their organ donor cards are allowed access to the pool. Not only is this more moral than the current policy it creates an incentive to sign your organ donor card. Signing your card becomes the ticket to joining a club - the club of people who have agreed to share their organs should they no longer need them. Equivalently signing your organ donor card becomes analogous to buying insurance.
Of course, in the case of 'Zo, a basketball celebrity, many volunteers may be interested in being "The Donor." Important point: without a market for organ donors (meaning any individual may sell any of their 2000 body parts for any price they wish) other methods (discrimanation) must emerge to allocate these resources. That is, only the celebrities, or those in an organ club (do you get a cool Honeycomb Kid's Club decoder ring with that?) have access to resources.
Another thread on Marginal Revolution brings the "incentives" word into the debate. First, I'm not in favor of any government program to "create incentives" for organ donors or anything else for that matter. Are you? Do we need a government program to "create incentives" for shoe manufacturers?
Second, I'd love to throw the term "incentives" in the box of nonsense churned out by economists of all stripes--and then light the box on fire for a nice, cheery, Holiday season burn. Other words/phrases included in this box: "transaction costs," "institutions," "rules of the game," "transparency," "stability," "equilibrium" and more. When in doubt, never fear, just blame it on a lack of institutional structure!