Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Anything For Money?

One of the arguments against allowing for payments to people for things like organ transplants or egg donations is that you can't trust people to make rational, considered decisions when any significant amount of money is on the line. The line of thinking goes that people (especially the poor) are so money-hungry that they'll do whatever it takes to get the cash, and worry about the consequences later. (Note that given the right lawyer, this might not be a bad strategy, really - but that's beside the point.)

But are we REALLY virtual slaves to money in this way? Or have the ideas that money makes the world go around, and is the root of all Evil taken hold to such a degree that it's simply become taken for granted that no one has any self-control or regard when there's cash on the line? It's a given that in most Western societies, and the United States in particular, money is very important. Most of us don't grow our own food, make our own clothing, build our own shelter or know enough about medicine to survive serious injuries or diseases. Therefore, we have to pay other people for these goods and services. And most people don't make enough money to be able to save for the future without (or, in some cases with) working a full-time job. So you can understand the allure that money holds.

I've seen people forgo money, or the chance to make more of it, in lots of cases. Sometimes it's as simple as turning down a promotion because you don't want to pull the kids out of school before they graduate. Or it's quitting a job that you've developed moral qualms about - in the middle of an economic downturn. The list goes on, and I won't try to list all of the examples that I can think of.

It's worthwhile, I think, to give people more credit for being thoughtful, and weighing the pros and cons of any given situation. While there's no doubt that there are people (and perhaps lots of them) that would take the money, and come to regret it later, I don't think that using that as a blanket starting point does anyone any favors.

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