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My guest today, Mario Macis of Johns Hopkins University, has done a number of interesting studies related to blood and organ donation, particularly the compensation of blood and organ donors. For instance, Mario and his coauthor, Nicola Lacetera, observed the effect of an incentive system that offered symbolic rewards to blood donors in a particular Italian town. They found that when prizes for frequent donation were publicly announced, people donated more blood, indicating that social image concerns are a factor in blood donation.

Through a large-scale natural field experiment with the American Red Cross, Mario and his coauthors showed that offering donors economic incentives to donate blood increases donation without increasing the fraction of ineligible donors.

Mario’s more recent research deals with people’s attitudes towards compensated kidney donation. Using a choice experiment, Mario and his coauthors study the determinants of Americans’ views on these repugnant transactions:

Regulation and public policies are often the result of competition and compromise between different views and interests. In several cases, strongly held moral beliefs voiced by societal groups lead lawmakers to prohibit certain transactions or to prevent them from occurring through markets. However, there is limited evidence about the specific nature of the general population’s opposition to using prices in such contentious transactions. We conducted a choice experiment on a representative sample of Americans to examine preferences for legalizing payments to kidney donors. We found strong polarization, with many participants in favor or against payments regardless of potential supply gains. However, about 20% of respondents would switch to supporting payments for large enough supply gains. Preferences for compensation have strong moral foundations. Respondents especially reject direct payments by patients, which they find would violate principles of fairness. We corroborate the interpretation of our findings with the analysis of a costly decision to donate money to a foundation that supports donor compensation.

Finally, we discuss some proposed legislation that would allow limited experiments in compensating kidney donors.

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discussions

  • http://drr.lib.athabascau.ca/files/phil/375/baxter5.pdf   This was required reading at Lewis and Clark Law School back in 1976. It poses some interesting issues. Might be a good basis for discussion.

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  • Perhaps you will find this magnificent BBC documentary interesting. It tells the story of the ancient city of Caral, a little north of Lima on the coast of Peru, which is arguably the oldest city in and the beginning of civilization in the Americas. The Lost Pyramids Of Caral There are two points I would like to make about the story told therein of Caral which I think are relevant to libertarians. 1) The early civilization of Caral apparently arose purely out of commerce. This confirms the insights of the Austrian school of economics. And it may be an example of a commercially organized cooperative human society that antedates the rise of any state. 2) This contradicts the presumptions brought to the study by the archaeologists. For one example, at 7:20 one states the following. You can’t build … on the basis of consensus. You have to have leaders and followers. You have to have specialists. You have to have people who are in charge. People who can tell individual groups, alright, today you will be doing this. This group you are going to be doing something different. In other words, in his academic world, the possibility is inconceivable of that human cooperation could be organized by trade — the marketplace — rather than authority.

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  • There are some ways in which buying a house can be a path to independent living.   On the other hand, we’re expecting currency devaluation and the housing market is propped up on limbo rates. Is it worth taking on debt to buy? Will inflation eat away at the principal, or would you have been better off in PMs?   Have you bought recently? What factored into your decision?

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  • In the, now famous, clip above Milton Friedman makes the argument that the market imposes costs to discrimination where ‘equal work’ laws would not. Is there a name for this economic insight? Can this be applied to other aspects of life, and if so, how?

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  • I had this idea to open an online community for consumers, employees and employers to talk openly about businesses and improve the market through awareness. On the local level people could read/post more than just customer reviews, but employee and employer reviews- the pros and cons. All perspectives together could give people a better idea on what businesses to boycott, and what to support. Businesses could talk to each other to promote healthy competition that brings them both more customers, advertise together, or support each other. Consumers could organize local protests to influence a business and rally up larger numbers of informed consumers, or organize donation pools for charities/businesses that they support. Our communities could connect better, when we’re on the same page it allows for a big impact on influencing businesses where we want them to go. Businesses would know what the consumer wants, and job-seekers would know what the business wants/what to expect on the job. New businesses could be promoted and supported in their trek to small-time success, people could compare businesses to help find what they’re looking for, and know more about the product and style ahead of time. Constructive criticism opens the gateway for free publicity. Hopefully this gives a general idea, I was considering asking my computer coding friend to help build the website, but my dad said there were a few already out there. If these websites are as wide-reaching as I would want them to be, then I should have known about them already. Either they don’t exist, or current websites are woefully uncreative and limiting (such as Yelp, for customer reviews only, offering no platform for protests, gathering, etc). Thoughts?

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