January 04, 2010
Commodity Babies

In much of the world, selling babies is common and accepted. To us it seems a horror. Is it? Don’t argue with me; argue with Bryan Caplan. (h/t to Ezra Klein.)

…People who adopt babies almost always love them, whether or not they pay for them. Banning baby-selling to prevent mistreatment of children is like banning driving to prevent drunk driving…



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at January 04, 2010 12:38 PM
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I'm all in favor of baby selling, but not until the kid has turned eighteen, and no later than twenty five. At that age range they're no longer babies in a strict sense of the word, but everything works out much better for both buyer and seller. The seller has a chance to recoup sunk costs and the skilled buyer can avoid lemons. The parent or parents have great incentive to be "good" parents in the hopes of getting full market value. The buyers have an interest in ensuring they're not deprived of the means to do so. The child, as he or she approaches market-readiness, has incentive to make sure the parents are not put in a position where such transactions look reasonable and desirable. The behavioral miracles of the Free Market are theoretically limitless.

On the sale of infants who are infants in the strict sense of the word, I'm opposed to selling them, selling the parenting rights, selling the rearing rights or whatever frame the crackpot economists care to propose. Are they mad? Evil? Stupid? All three and more? People are commodified to an alarming degree already, and contracts made under explicit or implicit duress have no validity.

Posted by: Jim on January 4, 2010 1:31 PM

I'm not taking sides in this I'm just telling a story. During out Southeast Asia War Games I lived for a while in Saigon with a bar girl who bought a baby from some poor (I guess) peasants. For profesional reasons she boarded the kid in a village outside town but sometimes she would bring her in for a visit. One time the baby wouldnt stop crying so she pinched the kid's little labia together and twisted really hard. Naturally this didn't work except it made me throw her out the next day, not the baby but the mother.

Posted by: Oldhack on January 4, 2010 2:26 PM
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