Alex Tabarrok explores the world of egg donation, which is heavily regulated by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The two organizations effectively limit egg donor compensation to $5,000-$10,000, acting as a “buyer’s cartel,” in Tabarrok’s words:
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In 2011, Lindsay Kamakahi launched a class action suit against ASRM-SART challenging their horizontal price-fixing agreement as per se illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act. ASRM-SART tried to have the case dismissed but a judge recently denied the dismissal in the process making it clear that the plaintiffs have a good case.
ASRM-SART argue that their maximum price is really about protecting women and that compensation “should not be so excessive as to constitute undue inducement.” Egg donation does involve extensive screening, time and some health risks. One would think, however, that the proper response for those interested in protecting women would be to ensure that the women are fully informed and that they are paid high wages not low wages.
In our podcast “100 Ways to Fight Obesity,” Steve Levitt and David Laibson discuss the possibility of using tapeworms to fight weight gain. (Seriously.) That prompted a reader named Scott Genevish to send us a real-seeming (?) old advertisement for “Sanitized Tapeworms, Jar Packed” (below). It was accompanied by a bunch of other old ads that are all, from the perspective of 2013, radically outdated for one reason or another. I have no idea if all the ads are real; I’m sure most of them have made the online rounds before. Still, it might be worth a look — especially when you think about how the line between repugnant and not repugnant can shift over time, sometimes faster and more dramatically than you’d ever predict. Read More »
From the inbox:
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I am a big fan — one who especially appreciates your willingness to (perhaps enjoyment in?) exploring solutions that many would consider repugnant. In that spirit, I would love to get your thoughts on a seemingly unconscionable idea that I recently became aware of.
Every year the U.S. euthanizes approximately 3 to 4 million companion animals (mostly dogs and cats). To put it bluntly, what do you think about using these carcasses as a meat source? We expend enormous resources — land, money, and energy – in producing animal feed and ultimately meat. Given this expense, as well as the world’s need for protein sources, I’d love for you to weigh in on this rather repugnant idea.
Not that Roth is himself in any way repugnant (quite the opposite), but he is masterful at thinking about the kind of transactions that we find morally or ethically or otherwise disturbing and how the trends of repugnance shift over time.
For a forthcoming book anthology called In 100 Years (inspired, Roth tells us, by a 1930 essay by Keynes called “Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren"), Roth has written an essay (PDF here) about the future of repugnance: Read More »
I have probably seen and listened to more opera than the median American, but that’s not saying much. In other words, I am not very knowledgeable about opera itself, or its history and mores, etc. If I were, what I’m about to tell you probably wouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Not long ago, in an airport far from home, I met a nice fellow who turned out to be a Spanish-born tenor now living in the States, named Alvaro Rodriguez. We kept in touch and he let me know that he’d be performing with the New York Lyric Opera, playing Don Jose in Carmen. So I bought my tickets and decided to read up on Carmen since: a) I didn’t know the story all that well; and b) my French is spotty at best; and c) this would be a scaled-down production, with no subtitles, etc. Read More »
Indeed, Texas is one of six states that have repealed mandatory helmet laws since 1994. The consequences remind me of an old Faye Kellerman novel, Prayers for the Dead, about a transplant surgeon who is active in a motorcycle club because he wants to discourage helmet use in order to increase the supply of transplantable organs (motor vehicle deaths being a major source of organs). A recent unpublished study links changes in state laws on mandatory helmet laws to the supply of transplantable organs, showing that where and when helmet wearing was no longer required, the supply of organs for transplants in the state increased. Read More »
I learned of this article via Market Design, the blog of the always-interesting Al Roth. His headline was striking: “Anesthesia Was Once Repugnant.” There’s no way, I thought, that he could be right on this one (even though he has always been right in the past). But after reading Jay’s article, I was thoroughly convinced. Like most good arguments, it is not only convincing but humbling: how could we not have seen this earlier? Read More »
Now, on his Market Design blog, Al Roth writes about something that’s perhaps even more interesting: the opposite of repugnance. Or, as he puts it, “transactions that, as a society, we often seek to promote, for reasons other than efficiency or pure political expediency.” Read More »