(EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was written for On Our Own: Sustainability in a Turbulent World in 2013 and has been corrected and updated). The Cumulus radio station in Cedar Rapids was advertising how a person could earn up to $340 per month selling their plasma. It’s enough to make it worth a look to see if plasma sales could fit into our budgetary bottom line. Sounds kind of grim, but people do it all the time.
Plasma is the pale, yellow liquid portion of blood that helps our bodies control bleeding and infection. When one donates plasma, blood is removed and the plasma separated and saved before being returned to our body. We generate more plasma within a couple of days so twice a week donations are usually possible.
Donating takes about an hour and plasma collection centers make it easy with a straight forward, step-by-step process. They explain how payment is loaded on a debit card. It is literally using one’s body as an ATM.
Several self-employed and low-wage earners in my circle use plasma sales to supplement monthly income. Got a toothache? Better schedule some sessions at the plasma center to get cash to pay the dentist. One suspects residents of our nearby college town use the cash for cigarettes, salty snacks, sugary drinks and alcohol, but in any case, plasma sales can be a reliable and steady source of income if one meets the requirements for donating.
Plasma money could be put to good use. For example, it could be used for political donations. That way, when a political telemarketer called, knowing my annual budget, I could say, “Yes. I’ll donate $100, which will take me four plasma sessions.” Politics would literally be based on blood money then.
We could go a step further and say that all financial contributions to politicians had to originate in plasma sales. There would be a natural limit to how much a person could donate, and a restriction could be placed on corporations that said something like, corporations can make political contributions, but such contributions must be paid via the plasma of shareholders, imposing a reasonable and well-defined limit to corporate money spent on political campaigns. I bet corporations would exercise their “free speech” differently under such a rule.
If my modest proposal about political contributions seems a bit edgy, I am pretty sure it would work. Having skin in the game would take on a whole new meaning.
Most Americans are asleep at the wheel of politics, and would not contribute, so there is little danger of a glut of plasma on the market.
If times get tough, I’ll re-visit adding a plasma sales income line to our household operating budget. For now, I’m just glad I don’t have to do it.