Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Dumping Unsellable Products to the Third World free essay sample
While Americans might grumble about the lengthy advertisements at their local cineplex, most would also contend that mass commercialization poses less more of an annoyance than an actual threat to those who live in developed countries. However, as commercialization infiltrates every aspect of our society, Americans find themselves in the middle of a moral dilemma: should everything have a price? Are certain things, like health care, basic human rights that should never come with a price tag attached? More specifically, should blood be treated as a commodity? A closer look at the differences between the British and American blood marketing systems demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of each. The British maintain an adequate blood supply by relying wholly on voluntary donations. Because of the necessity of blood for survival, the British have resisted placing monetary value on that which has been freely given. The American system, in contrast, relies both on voluntary donation and a commercial system in which blood Ã¢â¬Å"is bought and sold like any other commodityÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, 2005, p. 75). Economist Richard Titmuss evaluated both systems and concluded that the British system is superior in terms of both Ã¢â¬Å"economic and administrative efficiencyÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, p. 75). The American system suffers from high costs, frequent shortages, and an inequitable burden placed on those whose health conditions require frequent transfusions. Additionally, when blood becomes a commodity, the purity of the supply often suffers as unscrupulous suppliers rush to market blood that has been inadequately screened. When blood offers no potential profits, screeners are motivated to value the quality of the supply rather than the quantity. Some might argue that the American health care system operates on a for-profit basis, and the blood supply should be treated no differently. Prescription drugs, physician consults, and hospital stays all come with a price tag. Why should blood be free? The simple answer is that blood can be freely given. The donor loses nothing but his time and a pint of blood that is quickly replenished in a healthy body. Medicine requires costly research and development, and physicians undergo rigorous and expensive training before they are able to earn money as practicing professionals. Hospitals must pay for equipment and the salaries and benefits of their employees. Each of these components adds to the cost that the consumer assumes when he or she receives medical care. Some would further argue that if blood is offered for free, donation would cease. Those who have been compensated for donating blood in the past would refuse to continue doing so in the absence of a monetary reward. Again, the British system tells a different story. Philosopher Peter Singer explored the motives of those who donated blood in the British system. He found that because blood had no price, the donors had the opportunity to behave altruistically. As Singer noted, Ã¢â¬Å"when blood is a commodity, and can be purchased if it is not given, altruism becomes unnecessary, and so loosens the bonds that can otherwise exist between strangers in a communityÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, 2005, p. 76). Additionally, the United StatesÃ¢â¬â¢ system currently draws approximately 40% of its supply from donation. Even if donors stopped receiving compensation for their blood, one could assume that at least some percentage of the paid donors would continue donating for free because blood donation has simply become ingrained in their lifestyle. Those who posit that people would stop donating blood if they were no longer compensated accept the psychological egoism theory of ethics which holds that Ã¢â¬Å"self-interest is the only thing that ever motivates anyoneÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, 2005, p. 45). Proponents of psychological egoism contend that people are naturally selfish, and as a result, even seemingly altruistic acts are rooted in a selfish motive. Those who believe in this normative theory of ethics would point out that although Britons who donate blood are not compensated, the self-satisfaction that stems from the altruistic action is their reward. However, deeper reflection reveals that the benefits of behaving altruistically do not adequately compensate the donor for his or her loss of time and the sometimes painful needle insertion requisite to blood donation. A proponent of psychological egoism might then assert that the donors give their blood because they believe that in doing so that are accruing Ã¢â¬Å"pointsÃ¢â¬ that will put them at the front of the line should they ever need blood. However, the British system eliminates such favoritism outright by ensuring that Ã¢â¬Å"donors gain no preference over nondonorsÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, p. 5). Another normative theory of ethics contends that people Ã¢â¬Å"should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actionsÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, 2005, p. 46). Utilitarians equate goodness with happiness and pleasure and use both as a way to measure the success of the outcome. Because of the subjective nature of happiness and pleasure, some utili tarians assert that a desirable outcome can also be measured in terms of Ã¢â¬Å"the satisfaction of peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s desires or preferencesÃ¢â¬ (Shaw, p. 7). Ultimately, utilitarianism asks its adherents to make moral judgments based on the choice which will maximize favorable outcomes for all those affected by the decision. Using utilitarianism as a guide, one can assert that the British system of maintaining its blood supply prevails over the American system for several reasons. Primarily, the British system eliminates the shortages that the American system frequently experiences. Because the British system offers no possibility of compensation for blood donation, it eliminates the flaw in the American system that prevents some donors from giving blood because they know that others are being compensated for performing the same act. Additionally, the utilitarian theory supports the British system because no one benefits from contaminated blood. In the pursuit of benefiting the largest number of people, the British system offers the better alternative. Research shows that a system of paid donors inevitably leads to greater instances of blood contamination (Shaw, 2005). If suppliers seek to increase profits by eliminating the screening process in their rush to market, contaminated blood finds its way into the supply far more frequently. By removing the profit motive, suppliers have no reason to eliminate the screening process. Some segments of the population require more frequent transfusions due to medical conditions. Often these medical conditions are congenital and not the result of lifestyle choices. By putting a price on blood, the United StatesÃ¢â¬â¢ system unfairly burdens those who have such conditions. The utilitarian theory again supports the more equitable British system which offers blood to anyone who needs it because it allows the most people to benefit. America prides itself on its history of free market capitalism. Consumers understand that when they want to purchase an item they must find the means to pay for it or qualify for the credit necessary to make the purchase. Americans generally accept that certain inequities exist in such a system where some consumers can afford expensive, top-of-the-line merchandise while others must settle for products of lower quality. Proponents of capitalism argue that such inequalities are a necessary consequence of living in a free market economy where goods and services abound. However, even the strongest supporters of capitalism struggle with the inequality of health care in the American system. Once again, the utilitarian theory favors the British system where those who need blood donations are all given equal access to the supply, regardless of their ability to pay. Because the British system allows the most people to benefit, it supports the utilitarian ideal. The utilitarian theory of ethics is not without its detractors. Some criticize that attempting to measure such subjective qualities as happiness and pleasure unnecessarily complicates the theory. Certainly such measurements pose a challenge, but the more quantifiable calculations of cost and efficiency used in comparing the British and American blood supply systems lend themselves to utilitarian analysis. Additionally, some theorize that even if happiness and pleasure can be measured, truly utilitarian analysis requires speculation about the potential outcome of any given choice. Since those analyzing the situation could easily err in their prediction of outcomes, the analysis itself offers little benefit. In the particular case of comparing two systems of blood supplies, analysts must assume that if the American system copied the British system, the resulting outcome would be the same for both systems. The similar outcome might or might not occur, but at this point the analysis seems to lean in favor of introducing an entirely donor-based system in the United States. As denizens of the worldÃ¢â¬â¢s strongest economy, Americans have become accustomed to the prevalence of mass commercialization in their lives. For most, the benefits of choice and availability counteract the annoyance of intrusive advertising. However, when it comes to the blood supply, a comparison in the American and British systems reveals many advantages to preventing blood from becoming just another commodity. References Shaw, W. H. (2008). Business Ethics (6th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.