A story about this issue was published in the St. Petersburg (Florida, U.S.A.) Times about three weeks ago. At least in the U.S.A., it seems that not everything is for sale to the highest bidder. By law (you know, one of those freedom-diminishing laws which Randites despise) specific organs such as hearts and kidneys are distributed by something called the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), under the supervision of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, without regard to price offered. Cut-n-paste:
"The main factors that determine who will receive an organ are blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness and geographical location. It is illegal to buy or sell organs in the United States.
Why that's straight out of Marx: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Dear me. To digress for a moment: I'm sure some of you have read Larry Niven's Jigsaw Man, right? I hear he is a big libertarian, and yet that story was a Swiftian dystopian critique of radical libertarian ideals, one which plainly found them lacking too.
Organs are apportioned by bureaucrats, but not tissues; the distribution of dead men's skin is not specifically covered by these laws. One can sell skin to the highest bidder. But the laws do specify that the companies which harvest the skin must be non-profit ones; the workaround being, for example, that one individual can own both a non-profit skin harvesting business and a for-profit skin-selling business, and he can have the non-profit harvesting firm sell its product with an exclusive contract to the for-profit marketing firm. The St. Pete Times article showed one such dual business, where the dual CEO kept the business cards for both companies in little card holders, side by side, on the same desk.
As I remember it, another charming feature of this business is that, not only do these damned Burke-n-Hare ghouls harvest your skin and make lampshades out of it - no wait I'm getting my ghouls confused - not only do they harvest your skin and sell it to plastic surgeons to fulfill the eternal-youth fantasies of the obscenely rich, but also that this competitive market in dead men's skin prices out the medical doctors who need skin to cover and heal severe burn wounds.
See, the sky's the limit, price-wise, when a Hollywood starlet wants to transform her chest into something out of a comicbook, or when an rich old fellow feels the need to get his worn-out penis reupholstered. However, usually, people being treated for severe burns are usually treated under some kind of insurance plan. Well, these insurance companies have to make a profit, don't they? and so they place a ceiling on the price they'e willing to pay per square foot of skin. In the bidding war, all the cosmetic plastic surgeons have to do is go one bid past the insurance companies's ceiling, so they win out. To summarize: since corpse-flesh gets so high a price in cosmetic plastic surgeons's boutiques, therefore burn victims do without and die.
Here in Florida one can volunteer one's own body for the use of the cosmetic surgery trade! You just fill in a little check box on the form when you go get your driver's license. Then they print the words
right on the license next to the photograph.
I'm so excited! Just think, someday I myself might be on the cover of the National Enquirer! At least a few cells of me.
"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.