Read through the thread, and now I'm curious: Paul, why have you set yourself up as the judge of beauty? Surely you see that price, like everything else, is relative; my coworkers thought I was insane for spending $400 on a pair of snakes, and I thought they were insane for spending $10,000 to rebuild a classic car. It's the value it has to the hobbyist, and that is entirely personal. And as long as hobbyists are willing to pay $10,000 for a snake, then that's really their business and nobody else's.
I do understand that you're concerned that purebred wild-types will become extinct via the quick and dirty method of producing offspring - i.e. breeding with another subspecies - but the people who are producing the expensive ball pythons are by and large not creating hybrids in order to fuel the morph trade. They inbreed, they linebreed, they crossbreed with other lines - but it's all the same species. Do I think of these snakes as freaks? No. I don't think of them as defects either - the snakes can see, can eat, can breed, can function normally as snakes need to do. Responsible breeders outcross the line for strength once the trait is firmly established.
As for disposable pets - I would say that it is a cultural failing to consider anything cheap as "disposable", including animals when they don't suit your lifestyle. How many cats end up in shelters because they clawed couches? How many dogs end up in the incinerator because they marked territory out of place? It's not limited to snakes. And the rich don't have much more consideration for an animal than the poor, as a group; you <i>might</i> get some reluctance to toss out a cat that cost $1,000, but somehow, I doubt that - after all, if you can afford one in the first place, you can afford another one, and best to replace the cat than have to replace all that expensive furniture it clawed up.
I don't know if you CAN educate against this mindset. We all subconsciously own it, and it's reinforced by media images every day. It's not a matter of reptiles, or even animals; it's a deep-seated urge for the quick and easy.
Er, back to your regularly scheduled morph-beating.