The chattering classes recently worked themselves into a dither when an enterprising “fashion photographer” set up a Web site offering prospective parents a chance to purchase eggs “donated” by professional “models.” The photographer, Ron Harris, contended that his service was fully in keeping with contemporary mores, and that parents desirous of raising attractive children were perfectly within their rights to purchase eggs from certifiably beautiful young women. More to the point, attractive young women were more than within their rights to market their most precious genetic resources.
But ethics experts, geneticists, zeitgeist buffs, and even garden-variety pundits saw things differently. Quite apart from the perceived slight to homely, plain, disfigured, or stone ugly human beings everywhere, moral avatars decried the birth of www.ronsangels.com as the first step on the slippery slope toward the establishment of a society even more pitilessly Darwinian than the one we now inhabit. And consumer advocates everywhere had to be somewhat unnerved by the price tags being thrown around, starting in the $15,000 range, with the figure then escalating upward, depending upon the comeliness of the model. Already, if Harris is to be believed, one couple has offered $42,000 for a model’s eggs, which, based on the photographs I have seen, seems a smidgen pricey. In the opinion of some high-minded observers, this situation could put the projected child in the uncomfortable position of having to start life already 42 grand in the hole, with her parents taking umbrage should she fail to deliver on her pulchritudinous promise. Or turn out to be a boy.
As the proud parent of a lovely, young daughter whose adolescent glamour didn’t set me back one nickel, I would be loath to fork over the price of a Jeep Cherokee just to get a kid who probably wouldn’t look that much better than the one I got for nothing. But I am man enough to admit that I might be whistling a different tune if my daughter-or son-had been born with a face that could, proverbially, stop a truck. This being the case, I am not prepared to pillory affluent young couples who decide to go the on-line ovulation route. To each his own. Different strokes. Etc.
Nevertheless, it is my heartfelt belief that the future of such on-line auctions does not lie in the realm of interactive gorgeousness. To my way of thinking, prospective parents who wish to ensure the future happiness and economic well being of their children are foolish to purchase the eggs of women who are simply beautiful, as there is no known correlation between physical beauty and success. What I would like to see, and what I believe we will see in the not-too-distant future, are variations on www.ronsangels.com, which will make available to the general public far less expensive eggs marketed by women with entirely different attributes. Here are just a few examples:
www.ronsdaytraders.com. If parents are serious about guaranteeing their daughters a golden future, then concern about good looks should take a back seat to the desire for inbred financial savvy. So if Ron Harris is as canny an entrepreneur as he seems to be, he should start beating the bushes for women of child-bearing age who have made a fortune trading stocks, and persuade them to auction their eggs. Instead of listing the women’s measurements, eye color, hair color, etc., this site would provide their recent trading records. Obviously, all things being equal, the eggs of good-looking female day traders will fetch higher bids than those of ordinary-looking women, provoking further hue and cry from cultural watchdogs. But Harris doesn’t seem like the kind of man to let a little ethical quibble like that crimp his style.
www.ronsceos.com. Women are always complaining about the glass ceiling that indisputably exists in corporate America, making it impossible for female executives to reach the very highest echelons. A Web site auctioning off the eggs of young, successful female CEOs could change that for generations to come. And from Harris’s point of view, there could be real money in providing this service, not only because the asking prices could be pegged at such a high level, but because the promise of future wealth might induce some prospective parents to come back eight, nine, or 10 times and raise entire families of female CEOs. Nor need Harris draw the line at ronsceos.com; other possibilities include ronscfos.com, ronscoos.com, ronstreasurers.com, and for cash strapped parents-to-be, ronsdirectorsofhu manresources.com.
www.ronsformercompanionsofDonaldTrump.com. To some, this might seem like an even more cynical enterprise than Harris’s original auction service. But Ivana and Marla both did pretty well for themselves financially as a result of their liaisons with the Donald, and they’re both attractive women, so with this Web site, Harris would be providing prospective parents an offer they couldn’t refuse: two for the price of one. And from there it’s just one simple step to ronsheiresses.com, ronsrockstars.com, ronsingenues.com, and finally, ronswomenlikeFergie.com. This final offering would be especially appealing to young couples interested in raising daughters who would become rich and famous without having to read many books.
Joe Queenan is a regular contributor on business issues, corporate culture, and financial follies to Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal.