Human Exceptionalism

Biological Colonialism Alert: Cash for Organs Plan in Singapore

If organs can be purchased, it seems obvious to me that the rich will buy and the poor will sell. Singapore’s plan to open the door to this form of biological colonialism has raised this very concern. From the story:

Plans by Singapore to allow payments to living organ donors have run into opposition from some lawmakers who fear they may draw indebted foreign workers, according to press reports Tuesday. One deputy, Halimah Yacob, said the large pool of unskilled foreign workers affected by the financial crisis may turn to donating organs to pay off debts they incurred to get jobs in this affluent city-state…

The issue was debated Monday in parliament where Halimah, a ruling party lawmaker, said some foreign workers “will become a ready, vulnerable pool of organ donors to be exploited and abused.”
“To a desperate foreign worker, even a reimbursement of 10,000 (Singapore) dollars (6,600 US) would be attractive compared to going home empty-handed with a huge debt waiting for him,” she was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

Of course that would happen. The problem is, too many of the people who could benefit–and have the power–don’t care.

I have always worried that we are heading toward what I call a Blade Runner world: the masses living in quasi anarchy, as the rich and powerful live lives of luxury behind high walls , marked by eugenics and the ability to exploit the weak. Setting up a commodities market in organs is a step down that path.


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