This story caught my eye the other day, and seeing it on the front page of the L.A. Times today, I just couldn’t resist. The Times reports that the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center and its most accomplished liver surgeon provided a life-saving transplant to one of Japan’s most powerful gang bosses. Additionally, three other men barred from the U.S. for criminal activity also received liver transplants at UCLA.
What? How could that happen? Easy. Can you say money talks? That’s right, money talks and why not? Doesn’t money make the world go round? Oh, settle down you of such disillusioned idealism. Doesn’t money buy a bigger house? a better car? a vacation home in Singapore? Why not a liver transplant? According to the report, the Japanese crime boss, Tadamasa Goto, was given a visa to enter the United States despite being barred for criminal activity. The FBI helped Mr. Goto obtain the visa in exchange for leads on illegal activity in the United States by Japanese criminal gangs. Apparently none of those leads led to anything substantial. Suckers!
But wait! More deserving people–Americans even–are waiting for liver transplants!
Sorry–doesn’t work that way, and it never will. Even if our medical system becomes socialized (and it won’t) there will still be people looking for advantages–and advantages will be found. It might be an advantage of race, color, sex, social contacts, political affiliations–you name it. Right now the biggest advantage goes to those with the desire and ability to pay for what they want. Take that aspect away and I assure you something else will come and takes its place. Because whenever there is competition for anything of scarcity, there will be people trying to set themselves apart to get it. So hold on to your disillusions if you want to, but that’s just the way it goes, man.
And to ruffle even more feathers: Expect much of the same when that holy grail of modern medical science, stem cell research, blossoms into a whole host of new genetic engineering possibilities. It’ll be all about the money then too. That’s right, we all want to believe that stem cell research is going to be the panacea for all ailments. Uh huh. And I’m willing to bet $1 billion dollars right now that that ain’t ever gonna happen. But we will get plenty of designer babies and very expensive cloned replacement parts (you have just gotta check out The Island–what a fantastic movie, I loved it!).
So, if you’re sore about liver transplants being doled out to the highest bidders (Mr. Goto and the other foreign criminals that received liver transplants at UCLA donated $100,000 each to the university), just put it all into perspective. Either keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can–you know, not too much saki, sister–or make lots of money. But don’t waste your time getting pissed. Simple as that.