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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letter to the Editor

Published: January 23, 2009
Section: Opinions

Jordan Rothman,

I read your column often, and have to say there are few issues on which I agree with you. [Last] week was no exception, [(“Do yourself a favor, don’t donate,” Jan. 16)] however, I was astonished at your apparent change of heart. I seem to recall a piece written by you entitled “I did Teach for America and you should too!” only a few months ago. I guess you’re allowed to change your mind on certain things, but I was wondering if this specific change includes all of your views.

What’s funny is that your objectivist views (I caught The Fountainhead reference) seemed to form (“Social justice is stupid”) BEFORE you took your Teach for America internship….kind of hypocritical, no? Maybe you saw it as purely a selfish gain, not helping those in need, but instead building up your resume. Do you now believe that TFA volunteers should compete with real teachers for

jobs and good pay? I’ve lost track of time here, but you also wrote an article “The decline of civilization” where you argue that civilization is in decline because bathrooms are messy. Do you now think that there should be someone standing in every bathroom handing out fivers to anyone who cleans up after themselves? Or should nobody care about the cleanliness in public areas? Have you abandoned that ideology?

I also remember a few of your articles detailing your aspirations for “serving your country” in the armed forces. I assume you will be paid, but there are plenty of other jobs where you don’t have to risk your life and you can make much more money. I guess that already occurred to you, as stated in your article right after the election where you say you don’t want to go to Iraq. I think this is the definition of cowardice. For someone with your fervor for military service, and who defends the current administration despite the countless lies and mistakes, you should want to die for oil anywhere they tell you to. Or maybe I am mistaken, are you planning to use your military service (not actually actively serving) to further your career? You’d make a mighty fine politician.

The most obvious problem with your free market solution to something like blood donation is the same problem that comes with every free market program…greed. By giving monetary awards to those who donate blood, you may see an increase in blood donation, but what kind of quality blood would be received? I’m sure you know about the rigorous barrage of questions you are asked about your lifestyle before you give blood, how many people would lie for that 20. “Have you ever taken money or drugs in exchange for sex?” “Have you had sexual contact with a man since 1977 even once” Have you visited any foreign countries in the past 5 years?” “Have you had a tattoo in the past year?” These are the few that have stuck in my mind. There were problems with contaminated blood banks and hemophilia medicine supplies in the past, and they led to innocent people contracting HIV. Sure, they test everyone’s blood for diseases, but no test is 100% accurate. I know that the test for HIV 5 years ago gave a 5% false negative. People who donate blood for purely altruistic reasons, will not, despite what you may think about people donating and volunteering to make themselves feel good, give blood if they think they may harm the recipient of their blood.

I give blood as often as I can, and let me tell you it is no hassle to me. Personally I would give blood anywhere, but I respect your choice to not do so. I would like to tell you about the donor center in Boston however. It is a double red facility only, but they have THE comfiest recliners, heated blankets, the usual arsenal of cookies, juice and water, and as a bonus, a personal TV with a headset and pay per view. If you can bear the pinch at the beginning (the double red needle is smaller than the normal blood donation needle) I encourage you to check it out if you have an hour and a half on a weekend. Every employee is nice and treats you well. And if you don’t have 90 minutes, you can give platelets and be in and out in about 30 minutes. You can donate platelets every two weeks.

Did somebody pawn the golden rule without my knowing? I’ll agree with you that civilization is in decline, but I think it’s your form of reasoning that is contributing to it. I think that we are doomed unless we stop caring about money and start caring for those in need, and I don’t believe that putting a value on every service makes it more available to the entire population. (I know that no amount of argument will convince you of this, I just had to say it, but you should look at water privatization in Bolivia as a good example.)

I give blood because I support the program. I am a part of the bone marrow registry and I would jump at the chance for some doctor to drill holes in my pelvis. I clean up after myself in public places. I leave tips for waiters. I buy local produce. I recycle (I’m not even going to start on the numerous instances of ignorance in that article). I help my fellow humans every time I can in any way I can because, if I were that farmer, waiter, or patient waiting on the generosity of others (and who does not have $1000 lying around for some bone marrow?) I would want a stranger to do the same for me. I’m going to quote Thomas Paine here and say “My country is the world and my religion is to do good.”

I’ll repeat that I respect your choice to do whatever you want, I hope this wasn’t an attack on your character, and I am not judging you, but let me tell you, if you were lying on a hospital bed and you needed my kidney, I would give it to you free of charge, because ( I know you hate Gandhi, but) I will be the change that I want to see.

P.S. Since you seem to like writing controversial pieces, may I suggest that you write that article you almost wrote (and instead wrote about the supreme court) about the moral and economic arguments against gay marriage, I would love to hear why you think that two people in love cannot buy insurance together or visit each other on their deathbeds.

P.P.S I do not intend on having a drawn out discussion with you, If you want to reply, I will read it, but I have studying to do and sex to have.

—Dan Graham ’10