Friday, February 1, 2008

Is everything subject to the market?

Yesterday in class there seemed to be some discomfort with nonmarket valuation. The idea of placing dollar signs on environmental goods and services just didn't sit well with some of you. Might I say it made you feel yucky?? Here is an interesting article from yesterday's NYTimes looking into the Yuck factor. Enjoy.....

18 comments:

Eric Spence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Spence said...

The problem with trying to quantify certain goods is that economists go on the assumptions of a particular time and place, and for the most part, one particular culture, in an effort to put a certain value on things like a clean environment, or the preservation of a species. The problem is these things traverse those boundaries, the destruction of the environment and loss of bio diversity will ultimately lead to profound effects on future generations who may not share the same short-term goals that our society holds.

Anonymous said...

As the article states, I do believe that some economists operate on a different moral level. Some people think certain things should not be bought or sold. However, Stacy Stale brought up the great point that a firefighters actions can be priceless in saving a life, yet still earn a paycheck. People are too easily offended now when something they are not acustomed to happens. I do believe that the sale of organs should not be free and open, but instead monitored. The need for those oragans is too great to have no or little market for them.

Andrew Gibbs

cdrake7103 said...

I have a hypothetical question concerning the topic of reducing emissions and the tax graph from last class...when looking at the MAC curve, it is understood that a technology advancement will (theoretically) shift the cost curve down thus, reducing the tax cost of reducing emissions. My hypothetical question is: is there something that could actually reduce the slope of the MAC curve which would in-turn make the the curve more elastic which would make the marginal cost of taxes minimal at any level of emission? I was thinking about it during class and wanted to ask but couldn't figure out a way to articulate the question until now...any thoughts?

brett cottrell said...

In response to cdrake7103 and reducing the slope of the MAC curve...it seems that the essential nature of abatement costs and how the idea of marginal costs operates would say that making abatement costs equal across emission levels is impossible. The whole idea behind the curve operating the way that it does seems to point to the idea that abatement costs are essentially different at every emissions level. I have actually been wondering that very same thing and I'm glad that you brought it up. I personally don't think that there is anything that would make abatement costs equal from the very first emissions costs, all the the way down to the very last bit of emissions being cut (which we know can never happen anyway). I'm super interested to see if anyone else has any ideas for this. Please do bring it up in class.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the sale of human organs is the beginning of a very slippery slope. It would lead to the exploitation of a lot of people and only the wealthy would benefit since they would be the only ones who could afford to buy the organs.

Drew Moxon said...

In response to the market for organ, I believe there should be one, but it shouldn't be a perfectly free market system; it should be regulated. The best way would probably be a system where there was a set price (set by regulation) as incentive to give organs. This has worked in other countries and I don't see why it couldn't work here. As a part of your own body, I don't see why you shoudln't be able to sell it. The only reason for regulation would be for, as stated before, cutting the abuse of the market and inflating prices.

MGraham said...

The division between right and wrong is always an issue. It also depends on who is right and who is wrong. If you have a family member who is in dire need of an organ, that person is willing to pay the price, but if you are only a viewer it's easier to criticize and be more analytical. The moment there is a demand for a product, in this case the organs, and there are people willing to pay, and once a price is set for the orgain there will be an inmediate supply. The problem with this is that there are those that abuse systems and take organs in an illigal way. As we speak there is organ trafficking happening in Easter Europe where prices are being paid on organs from babies, etc. So what can we do as a society to control this? Here is a site with several articles on the trafficking: http://www.vachss.com/help_text/organ_trafficking.html

ctearpock said...

My first reaction, along with many others, to the thought of buying and selling human organs was "yuck!". How can a price be put on a human life? The equal standards and values that our country is based on disappear when a patient's wealth determines their life or death. However, someone's outlook can make a u-turn when the situation changes and the patient is a loved one or even yourself. Therefore, I believe that the only way a market in human organs could be achieved to meet ethical and regulatory concerns is to have built in safeguards against wrongful exploitation and show concern for vulnerable people, as well as taking into account considerations of justice and equity. The problem, of course, is defining these regulations and finding a way to execute them.

ctearpock said...

One interesting method that I came across in creating a market in organs was to establish only one buyer that exists for the products of several sellers. The one legitimate purchaser in the marketplace would be required to take on responsibility for ensuring equitable distribution of all organs and tissues purchased. This would prevent the rich from exploiting the market at the expense of the poor. This single buyer would purchase live organs and tissues just as it does other goods such as dialysis machines or drugs. It would then make them available as needed on the basis of urgency or some other fair principle of distribution at no cost to the recipient. But then we must decide who the single buyer is? And who gets to determine price?

Anonymous said...

If you think about the improvement in the quality of life and the lives of the people that would be saved from developing a highly regulated market for organs, how come no one feels the 'yuck' factor of not having a market? We can't sell organs because it is wrong to put a price on a human life. As a result we can measure the opportunity cost of letting our repugnant feelings stop us from us from developing a market for organs in the number of lives lost that would have been saved if we had one. Is the benefit of feeling morally sound because we don't put a price on human life really greater than the benefit of saving lives with a controversial market for organs?? That seems like it should be the greater 'yuck' factor to me.

sue reuschle

Adam M. Rountree said...

Either way if you believe in a market based system for organ placement or the current system of organ distribution you inherently place value on human life with bias. If you think markets will efficiently distribute or if you think it will subject people without enough money to purchase them then you are saying some life has more value then another. Or if you’re set on the current system of moral justification that first come first service of organs as long as you abide by a particular life style; and if you don’t some how you’re life is of lesser value. My opinion rests where the most lives are saved, and in a system where only the person decides his value.

Catherine said...

I agree with Alvin Roth's comment, “It’s very hard to predict what’s repugnant and what’s not." Society as a whole is able to accept people exploiting their bodies for money through 'adult' markets such as pornography and strip clubs, yet, due to moral restraint, it is completely out of the question to get paid to save a life by marketing human organs. It is all related to private costs and benefits because we are not all going to agree on what is morally right and wrong.

~Catherine Long

pete said...

Placing a value on human life seems repugnant?

Hmmm... isn't this exactly what we're doing as a society when we decide how much to spend on road and bridge repair, how much to spend on war, how much to spend on health care, etc?

Clearly, we can spend more and save more lives, but we don't. Making that trade off (deciding not to spend more) is putting an economic value on life is it not?

Also, we should recognize that figuring out what something is worth (estimating economic value) is not the same as selling it in an open market. The formal can be very useful, and no one needs to get offended.

Lynnise said...

Dr. Pullum (COM Dept. UNCW) states it best, it is not right or wrong it is just different. This does not mean that we should buy and sell body parts, it just means that if a day comes and a market has developed then accept it. Accepting it does not mean you partake in it. I personally do not believe there should be a market for everything. I feel you loss the value of some items, ideas etc when you attach a price tag.

chris mobley said...

I dont think that it should be a "free market" but I do agree that there should be incentives to get a better overall societal outcome. If people are willing to sell their own organs, the way I see it, it's their choice...and if its for a greater good then why not. Providing incentives has proven to be positive in other countries...maybe we should give it a try.

Jonathan Ziemba said...

I would like to learn more about this illegal traffic of organs in eastern europe. i agree that there is nothing wrong with donating an organ to a family member. the issue of having a price on organs is a little out-there but i see how the economic inccentive would work

lauren fields said...

i agree with mr.novak that repugnance can be a good moral early warning system. however, sometimes repugnance, if its roots are not investigated, is just a brand of ignorance. i think the example of the salaried fireman is a valid one. you can still consider a service or an institution invaluable while at the same time understanding that they or it, have to "pay the bills" so to speak. there are obviously exceptions to this, but i dont think just because something is initially distasteful it should be completely abandoned.