by Henry Briggs

In the midst of news about the Paris shootings and continued dysfunction in Congress comes this headline from L.A.: “California mom says 2 men offered $100 for her baby.”
Now that, folks, is unfettered capitalism.

The woman had her two-year-old with her in a grocery store when two other shoppers started waxing poetic about her baby. Later in the parking lot, they showed her a $100 bill and asked to buy the baby. When she locked the baby in her car and squared off against them, the guys tossed the bill in an empty shopping cart and drove off. She called the police.

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked. I remember paying $750 in hospital and doctor’s fees alone for my first daughter. That’s seven and a half times what these guys offered. Of course, at the time I had no idea you could buy babies at a grocery store.

As you might imagine from her heritage, my daughter is beautiful, athletic and really smart (as long as you don’t consider the time as a college student she took a train from Rome to Istanbul by herself and didn’t tell anyone!). So maybe the hospital and doctor charged more for her because they knew, as I did, that she would be exceptional.

Maybe these guys were just bargain hunting. Clearly they weren’t WASPs because WASPs never bargain. In fact, God invented WASPs so someone would pay retail. I’m a WASP myself. That accounts for the $750.

Maybe they viewed the kid as a shrewd investment. Maybe they thought he or she would become a pro athlete worth millions or a celebrity worth multi-millions or a businessman worth bazillions. I wonder what those guys would offer for the next Andrew Luck or Angelina Jolie or Bill Gates. Probably $200 or $250. They’re that cheap.

On the other hand, look at what it costs to raise a kid today. According to Money magazine, the average is $245,000 not even counting $100,000 or so in college costs. In the Northeast, the number is $455,000. At that rate, maybe the guys should have told the woman to pay THEM to take the child. I guess these were two really stupid guys.

On the second other hand, according to the Federal Government, if the kid earned a professional college degree (total cost of about $345,000), he or she might be paid $100,000 a year. Over a 20 year career, that might be, hey! — $2 million. A profit of $1,655,000. Wow! Maybe those two guys are really smart, after all.

As an investment, though, I don’t know about babies. There’s a lot of risk involved. A lot of adorable babies with enormous potential get arrested for drugs in high school or flunk out of college or go to jail for tax fraud later in life.

If you had put $100 into Apple stock 20 years ago you’d be worth many bazillions now. And you wouldn’t have had to pay for breakfast cereal or braces. Lower risk; higher gain.

Maybe the baby just wasn’t very good-looking. It happens.

To other parents: all my kids were beautiful fresh out of the hospital. If someone had offered a measly $100 for any of them, I would have called the police, too. I mean, there are genes, and there are genes.

The two guys who offered $100 for the baby clearly had genetic problems, either in their humor genes or their humanity genes. On the other hand, the woman who locked her two-year-old baby in the car, stood up to these cretins and called the police had the kind of genes we all admire.

And when you think about the rest of the problems in the world, that is priceless.

Columnist Henry Briggs can be reached at