Markets without Limits

In 2010, 3,500 Canadians were on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Some were lucky and received transplants from friends, family or altruistic strangers. But others were not so lucky — 18 people died while waiting on that list.

Part of the problem is that the demand for organs far exceeds the supply. Where such commodities are handled by the market, the price rises, causing more to be produced and sold. The reason some items — such as organs, blood and sex — are not allowed to be bought and sold like any other commodity is largely a result of the theories put forth by “anti-commodification theorists.” 

In the new book, Markets without Limits: Moral Virtues and Commercial Interests, authors Jason F. Brennan Peter Jaworski of Georgetown University tackle these theorists head-on. They recognize that capitalism is single-handedly responsible for making us rich and that the solution to many of our problems, such as a shortage of organ donors, is not “to contract the market,” but “to expand it.”

The book makes a compelling and well-articulated case that, while there are “things that should not be bought and sold … they are things people shouldn’t have in the first place” — like child porn or nuclear weapons. For other things, the world would be much better off if we simply followed the saying: “If you may do it for free, then you may do it for money.”

– Jesse Kline is a member of the National Post editorial board and an editor in the paper’s Comment section.