Elizabeth Chapman says that “Organs should belong to public, not deceased“.
The thing is, after a person dies, the body isn’t really his own to donate or keep to himself. No matter how one looks at it, property rights are for the living.
The disconcerting truth is that, after death, human bodies are as much a natural resource as coal, magnesium or pine trees. No one would even consider asking a mineral for its permission to use it to improve human life. So, in much the same way, all cadavers ought to be up for grabs for human use. If everybody who died automatically became a source of skin, organs and tissue, we could vastly improve the quality of life of thousands of people.
Leaving aside for the moment the problems of the first paragraph I quoted, I’m not entirely sure that her last statement is true. I can scarcely imagine the ferocious competency with which government employees would set about scavenging about in our body cavities, let alone the efficiency with which they would store and preserve their booty.
I agree with her sentiments – we should voluntarily donate our organs because, as she says, we don’t need them anymore – but state-mandated seizures of our flesh is hardly a justifiable solution to the problem of
the 100,000 sick people she mentions.
“No matter how one looks at it, property rights are for the living,” she claims. That’s not quite true. Wills, trusts, and deed restrictions, among other legal means, extend the will of the dead into the future, legally speaking.
There is also the ethical question which I was contemplating just last night during my run. I once had a friend – let’s call him Fred – who, in addition to being a ex-pat from the Far East had a neo-socialist view of what many call “the death tax”, that is, estate disposition. Fred’s view, which incensed me almost to riot, was that a deceased person’s belongings should never pass to his/her heirs but should be given to the state in their entirety. His logic was that the dead person came into the world with nothing and that nothing should be given to his/her issue after death.
I disagree. Everything I have in this world is mine to dispose of as I see fit, cash, stock, assets, copyrights, patents, anything I own, possess, or created belongs to no one else. Why else would I buy or make things but to enjoy them and give them to my children when I die? There is no other reason to do anything.
“For the greater good!” Fred and Elizabeth cry. But there’s no such thing. The estate tax, like all taxation, is a confistication of private money used to pursue this elusive concept. Some things the government does with its “revenue” are good – roads, bridges, farm subsidies – and others are bad – welfare, urban housing, foreign wars – but none are voluntary, charitable uses of that money. One’s participation is greatly mandatotry, however, and the good is greatly for those who receive benefits they failed to earn through their own efforts. Perhaps that’s the definition of “the greater good” after all.
In the final analysis, my life’s work should be mine to dispose of as I see fit and my body no less so. Since the IRS is going to take an arm and a leg out of my estate before it passes to the boys, it wouldn’t suprise me if Elizabeth’s government quacks swipe a kidney or lung along the way.
To her I say that just because it feels good to do something doesn’t mean that there is a problem, that it should be solved or that you’ve gone about it the right way.