Archive for March, 2007

Thursday March 29, 2007

March 29, 2007 - 7:54 pm 2 Comments

Where goes my motivation? I must concentrate – the next four weeks will be packed with a plethora of challenges.

  1. Debate Nationals – I have yet to write a new case…I’m bled dry of ideas
  2. Finals – Considering that debate finals takes place during reading days, I will pressed for time to study
  3. Anthropology Final Paper – I’ve barely scratched the surface of a very complex and ambitious paper I’ve planned
  4. Management Group Paper – Although this paper is due tomorrow, somehow I’m lacking motivation to make the necessary changes (*smacks self)

Instead, I’ve been blasting an eclectic collection of music in my very small room from the Magic Flute to O-Zone, spanning Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Mexican music…doing absolutely nothing.

Somebody save me from myself…

Thursday March 1, 2007

March 1, 2007 - 12:00 am 4 Comments

Spring break is next week (MEXICO CITY WITH MY DARLING LITTLE SISTER AND MY FRIENDS!!!), debate states was last weekend. My midterms (for the most part) are over. Overall, life has been very low-key with few surprises. I got 2nd at debate states, losing in finals due to a combination of 1) bad judging and 2) poor judge adaptation on my part. Ahh, I’ll admit I’m disappointed since I was 1st last year and the round was neither difficult nor particularly intellectually engaging. But there is nothing to complain about, I suppose. I have nationals to look forward to!

I need a new inspiration – a new project to rally behind. I find myself slipping into the doldrums of mediocrity and complacency. With my summer internship set, I am going to start looking into an international research project in microfinance, perhaps with Nantik Lum. It’s quite scary to realize that college is almost over…barely over one more year now. Supposedly this is the best time of your life, but I don’t believe these conventional views. For me,  my main goal is to make each better than the year before – why settle for less?

As for the future, I am aiming for a variety of fellowships, though I know the process is intensely competitive. Knowing myself, I am convinced graduate school best fits me, as well as a long eventual career in academia.

Organ Trafficking: International Exploitation or Gift of Life?

Joyce Meng


 The proliferation of organ trafficking and transplantation exposes a fundamental ethical dilemma concerning the nature of human exploitation. While Dr. Sen and proponents of the trade believe that the sale of an organ not only saves a life, but also provides the donor with needed financial resources in order to escape abject poverty, Dr. Scheper-Hughs and critics point to the scarring emotional and physical costs, the close ties between the organ trade and human trafficking/prostitution, and the exploitative rich-poor divide. Due to stringent organ provision policies in the United States and other developed countries, such as Israel, growing demand has fueled the economic incentive for unscrupulous traffickers to find the most desperate subjects and profiteer from their poverty. According to the World Health Organization, brokers generally charge between US $100,000-200,000 to organize a transplant for wealthy patients, while donors – frequently impoverished and ill-educated – may receive as little as $1000-5000 for a kidney.


Disguising her identity in order to penetrate the covert organ trafficking network, Dr. Scheper-Hughs revealed the exploitative, shameful consequences of organ tourism, directly contrasting with the astonishing amorality of the existent bioethics framework. The poor health of Willie and the consuming sense of indignity and dishonor of Vladimir, both who acquiesced due to fear, economic pressure, and lack of information, clearly unearths the dangers of socioeconomic and educational asymmetry, epitomized in the collision of the affluent and the struggling classes. A guttural representation of the nature of global capitalism, the international organ trade illustrates the irony of the application of market logic to the proprietary control of one’s own body, epitomized in the commoditization of body parts, dignity, and “life”. Deplorably, the trade demonstrates the powerful leverage of money and the capacity of the rich to extract as much benefit from the poor – not only in labor, but in health.


Regrettably, according to Dr. Scheper-Hughs, “The corrective field of bioethics and the profession of transplant medicine have both capitulated to the dominant market ethos…not surprisingly, bioethics has offered little resistance to the growing markets in humans and body parts. Today, the ‘right’ to buy or sell human organs is increasingly defended in the world’s premier medical journals.” Stripping the transplant process of its humanistic roots embedded in theories of bodily holism, integrity, and human dignity, modern bioethics has rationalized the phenomenon in the framework of neoliberal conceptions of the human, the body, labor, value, rights, and economics. Implementing utilitarian logic and consumer-oriented principles to justify the free trade or regulated market of organs, proponents of the system have attempted to introduce a form of ethics into an otherwise despicable exchange. As young transplant surgeons act “above the law”, adopting a self-defined role as a maverick in breaking down ‘old taboos’ standing in the way of advancing technological capabilities and facilitating a supposedly mutually-beneficial free market transaction, the very nature of morality is challenged. In “Where it Hurts”, Lawrence Cohen illustrates the need to find a compromise between a flexible ethical system that reduces reality to dyadic transactions and a purgatorial ethical framework that collapses real and imaginary exploitation in the service of complex interests. Suggesting six practical insights into the subject matter, Cohen cautions against interpreting a seller’s face-value comment of “I would do it again” as sufficient ethical justification for the trade without listening to the underlying context of “I would have to. That money is gone and we are in debt.” In short, poverty delegitimizes the claim of ‘free will’ and consent.  


For the last 20 years, according to Dr. Scheper-Hughs, organized programs have carried affluent patients from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait initially to India for transplant and later to Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Romania, Moldova, and Georgia, and more recently to Brazil and South Africa.  Simultaneously, shocking exhibits such as Body Worlds have not only legitimized the commercial display of human bodies, but driven a demand for cadavers, often with dubious consent. Paralleling the movement of multinational corporations in search of a cheaper supply of goods and labor, the international organ trade exposes the fundamental tension between the developed and developing worlds, the rich and poor, and the sanctity of human life and the commoditization logic of the market.