This is the second in a two part series considering whether or not drugs and prostitution should be legalized in the US as many libertarians including Ron Paul have advocated. Part 1 can be found here.
Prostitution is legal in some form or other in many countries of the world. In many other countries, including Muslim countries, polygyny, which means that one man can have multiple wives, is completely legal. Does prostitution serve some beneficial social purpose or is it something entirely reprehensible that should be criminalized and prosecuted? Or is it a necessary evil that should be regulated and managed but discouraged while not being criminalized. We shall examine some of these ideas in this article. Of course prostitution isn't the societal problem that drugs are. There is no "prostitution war" equivalent to the "drug war" that is ravaging Mexico. Billions of dollars aren't involved in prostitution in the same way that they are in the lucrative drug trade. Prostitution as a societal problem is almost beneath the radar compared to the drug problem where competing cartels have waged war and numerous people have been killed.
Mark Liberator has written an excellent piece, "Legalized Prostitution: Regulating the Oldest Profession." In it he argues that prostitution does not create any problems for high end call girls who actually can make a considerable amount of money, lead a fairly good life and retire comfortably. In fact porn stars who hook up with fans at their annual Las Vegas convention can make several thousand dollars a night. In his book "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle," Chris Hedges says this about the porn industry:
There are some 13,000 porn films made every year in the United States, most in the San Fernando Valley in California. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs, and the ever-expanding e-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That is more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink combined. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $10 billion or higher. There is no precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation's largest corporations. General Motors owns DIRECTV, which distributes more than 40 million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are currently the biggest American companies accommodating porn users with the Hot Network, Adult Pay Per View, and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers.
Evidently, it's not illegal to pay a woman to have sex so long as it's packaged and sold as an illusion, and it adds to the bottom line of corporate profits and as long as the man paying her isn't the man who is actually having sex with her.
The web has made pornography accessible and free. A Newsweek article in the December 5, 2011 issue states: "An estimated 40 million people a day in the US log on to some 4.2 million pornographic websites, according to the Internet Filter Software Review. And though watching porn isn't the same as seeking out real sex, experts say the former can be a kind of gateway drug to the latter."
The problems with the profession of prostitution are mainly visited on the low end prostitutes, the street walkers and hookers, who are regularly brutalized and even serially murdered by their clients. Sex trafficing affects girls and women who are promised a ticket out of some miserable homeland only to find themselves landed up as sex slaves. If prostitution were legalized and regulated, the people who would be helped the most are the low end prostitutes, the poor prostitutes who are exploited by pimps and sex trafficers. Perhaps this is why prostitution remains illegal in the US where disregard of the poor is a tenet and bedrock belief of Republican philosophy. After all legalization and regulation would mean more government bureaucracy even though it might reduce violence and sexually transmitted diseases. In other countries legalization means that prostitution is regulated to make sure that exploitation and disease are minimized under the theory that human behaviour can't be legislated but it can be managed and regulated.
In Holland where prostitution is legal, prostitutes even have their own union! Prostitution is legal in many countries including Canada, Mexico, Israel, England, France, most other European countries, most all of South America including Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Even Iran has "temporary wives" which can last for only a few hours. Legalizing prostitution not only protects prostitutes and their customers, but it represents a service that can be taxed and can bring in government revenues. Libertarians in the US are all for legalizing drugs and prostitution. The joke is that libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid. The question why do men go to prostitutes is of less interest here than the sociological question of whether legalization or criminalization of such activity produces a more healthful and more crime free society. Societies in which drugs and prostitution are legal tend to have lower incidences of rape and other violent crimes than the US according to the Liberator report. And the US is the world's chief hypocrite in this regard as it tolerates and even encourages prostitution in countries which contain US military bases due to demand from soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.
Before I go on though, there is a joke along these lines: A middle aged couple went to the county fair. As they were perusing the livestock barns they came across the prize bulls, those who had won blue ribbons. The wife exclaimed to the husband, "Look at that bull. He sired 150 calves last year. That means he had sex 150 times. If that bull can have sex 150 times in a year, surely you can do as good as that bull. They walked a little farther and the wife exclaimed again, "That bull sired 250 calves last year. He had sex 250 times. If that bull can do it, you should be able to do it too. They walked a little farther and the wife said,"Look at that bull. He had sex 350 times last year because he sired 350 calves." Just then the husband piped up, "Yeah but it wasn't always with the same cow!"
The "same cow" syndrome, as I call it, or sexual boredom explains in part why men who seemingly have everything, including the most beautiful wives in the world, cheat. Why do such men as Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James and now even Ashton Kutcher cheat? Rich and famous men in particular have more opportunities for one thing because women are attracted to them. Rock stars, professional athletes and entertainers have women throwing themselves at them in many cases. They have ample opportunities. These are people who can go out and buy anything they want. If they want another home they simply go out and buy it. Another car? No problem. Another yacht? Same thing. They are used to being able to have anything they want. So it seems that what a lot of these men want in addition to all the other stuff is to have sex with a woman other than their wives even when they are married to the most beautiful women in the world. Men who stay monogamous may have the same desires but don't act on them due to the consequences and loss, both financial and emotional, that would ensue if they were found out. They may be altruistic enough to consider the consequences of breaking the heart of someone they love even if they are attracted to other women. Men seem to be able to divide love and sex into two distinct, sometimes non-overlapping, compartments of their minds. A girlfriend told me once that love and sex are all mixed together in a woman's mind whereas for men they are two distinct phenomena.
Take the case of superstars and multimillionaires Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony who supposedly had a fairy tale marriage and two adorable twin kids. That lasted about seven years. Marc decided that he wanted to spend more time with his ex-wife, a former Miss Universe. Jennifer decided she wasn't "passionately in love" any more. Friends said Marc had an eye for other women. There you have it folks. The fairy tale didn't last. Someone I dated once told me that fairy tale relationships don't last. She and her ex-boyfriend initially had passion that wouldn't quit. They couldn't get enough of each other. Then the passion started to diminish and after seven years they were sleeping in separate bedrooms and couldn't stand each other. Is this where the seven year itch comes in? I think the lesson here is that passionate fairy tale marriages or relationships won't last without concomitant commitment and sometimes even committed relationships won't last particularly if the participants can have anything they want without restrictions of finance or opportunity.
This is from the Scientific American article, "Are We Biologically Inclined to Mate for Life":
"Till death do us part” is a compelling idea, but with the divorce rate exceeding 50 percent, many people would very likely agree that humans have a biological impulse to be nonmonogamous. One popular theory suggests that the brain is wired to seek out as many partners as possible, a behavior observed in nature. Chimpanzees, for instance, live in promiscuous social groups where males copulate with many females, and vice versa.
But other animals are known to bond for life. Instead of living in a pack like coyotes or wolves, red foxes form a monogamous pair, share their parental and hunting duties equally, and remain a unit until death.
For humans, monogamy is not biologically ordained. According to evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss of the University of Texas at Austin, humans are in general innately inclined toward nonmonogamy. But, Buss argues, promiscuity is not a universal phenomenon; lifelong relationships can and do work for many people.
So what distinguishes the couples that go the distance? According to several studies, a range of nonbiological factors can help pinpoint which pairings are built to last—those who communicate openly, respect each other, share common interests and maintain a close friendship even when the intense attraction wanes.
Monogamy which isn't prevalent in the non-Western world is having a rough go of it in the US despite the "family values" crowd. Despite their family values politicians such as Newt Gingrich and now Herman Cain turn out to be serial adulturers. Others such as Republican David Vitter and Democrat Eliot Spitzer have been found out for visiting prostitutes. Vitter was able to keep his job in Congress; Spitzer wasn't able to hold on to the governorship of New York.
Muslims can have multiple wives. And according to the Bible Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. King David had eight wives and ten concubines. The Biblical example doesn't bode well for monogamy as the bedrock of western civilization. Monogamy in the western world is undercut by serial marriage which movie stars such as Elizabeth Taylor (8 marriages) indulge in. The marriage vow "till death do us part" has become irrelevant for large numbers of people who fail to even include it as part of their marriage ceremony. And in the western world one can simply remain single and have multiple boy or girl friends. The sanction against sex outside of marriage no longer exists. But still for some people monogamy remains a strongly desirable value and way of life. The fact that there are many ways around monogamy including prostitution is probably a good thing as it relieves sexual tension and pressure for those who are unable or unwilling to maintain strict monogamy. This pressure relief valve probably prevents equivalent energy release in more anti-social and even criminal modalities.
Frank has written an excellent essay on prostitution in Holland where it is legal, as it is in most other countries of the developed and undeveloped world, which we present here:
LEGALIZED PROSTITUTION IN THE NETHERLANDS
The Netherlands has undergone a long transformation of first viewing prostitution as a dishonorable profession with few rights under the law; to seeing the prostitute as a victim of criminal exploitation by procurers and traffickers; to adopting a public policy of regulated tolerance; to legalizing and accepting adult prostitution in 2000 as a legitimate “right” and form of occupation by consenting adults. The Dutch practical approach to prostitution was evident as far back as 1413 in a decree from the city of Amsterdam:
“Because whores are necessary in big cities and especially in cities of commerce such as ours – indeed it is far better to have these women than not to have them – and also because the holy church tolerates whores on good grounds, for these reasons the court and sheriff of Amsterdam shall not entirely forbid the keeping of brothels.”
One caution to readers. This writer makes no pretenses that the Dutch approach to prostitution today is transferable to the U.S. For every nation has its unique social-cultural history affecting attitudes towards social problems like prostitution, drug abuse, rape, abortion, teenage pregnancy, euthanasia. The legal spectrum for prostitution extends to the death penalty in some Muslim countries to treating sex workers as legally independent, tax-paying business entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. US public policy decisions on prostitution have long been driven by traditional religious-based moral values making prostitution a criminal offense. Costly time consuming court cases are pursued penalizing prostitutes while knowing prostitution is impossible to eliminate. U.S. officials often end up taking a schizophrenic blind eye to its presence and abuses.
Since the 17th century, the Dutch have slowly developed a more permissive culture of pragmatism and tolerance towards the “oldest profession.” Although Calvinistic moral absolutism strongly colored government policy on prostitution in the 17th century, the criminalization of brothels died down as old habits continued. Dutch authorities gradually left brothels alone if they were not a public nuisance. Moral arguments to justify certain laws came to be overshadowed by a jurisprudence based on a cultural value of utilitarianism. Thus, religion, sin, morality are rarely the driving emotions in policy-making for social phenomena in the Netherlands. The Dutch are above all a practical, realistic, open people … characteristics nurtured by centuries of doing business across continents in diverse languages with few pre-conceived prejudices about race, political creed, culture, or religion. No wonder, surveys show that 78% of Dutch citizens favor legalization of prostitution.
In contrast, Sweden sees prostitution as a sex-specific act of violence against women, as an act essentially involuntary and morally repugnant. Sweden’s goal is to suppress and ultimately abolish it. Prostitutes are seen as a victim group and prostitution as a “gross violation of a woman’s integrity.” Prostitutes need to be rehabilitated not punished. In 1999, Swedish law decriminalized the sale of sex and took the historical step of making it a criminal offense to pimp, traffic, and buy sex. Men who buy sex are subject to public exposure and fines or up to six months in prison. Thus, clients as well as pimps and traffickers are seen as oppressors. All face the threat of being punished under criminal law. This plus the Swedish threat of "naming and shaming" the client by publication are generally accepted methods of abolishing prostitution, achieving true gender equality, and protecting women from violence.
Officially reported results are positive. Street prostitution has been eliminated. The number of prostitutes has dropped 40%, and criminal human trafficking gangs tend to avoid Sweden.
Sweden’s abolitionist policy is very un-Dutch. People here regard prostitution as a social phenomenon that cannot be eliminated. Interestingly enough, however, the Dutch are now considering adopting Sweden’s practice of "naming and shaming" the client – to be directed to buyers of sex from women or brothels not legally registered or licensed, to buyers from prostitutes who are minors, and to buyers who commit acts of coercion or violence. Studies show most men who bought sex would likely be deterred by the risk of a pillorying by public exposure in the local newspaper. Heleen Mees, Dutch economist and lawyer, concluded that for many men (including former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer), the promise of anonymity may be the most appealing aspect of buying sex.
How the Dutch System of Legal Regulation Works
The Dutch have long believed banning prostitution makes it ever more difficult to control and counter abuses. Accordingly, prostitution itself has never been illegal in the Netherlands. A 1911 Act banning the owning of a brothel and profiting from prostitution was lifted in 2000. The 1911 Act had only been used against brothels and sex clubs engaging in criminal activities or disturbing public order. It was replaced by Article 250a of the Dutch Criminal Code which made it legal under strict conditions to operate a brothel or solicit clients for a prostitute while prohibiting exploitation of prostitutes.
Like the Netherlands, Germany also legalized prostitution in 2002. The criminal aspect and spiraling violence were overriding factors compelling both countries to legalize and regulate the sex industry.
Dutch law brings tough penalties for the following offenses:
Forcing another person to engage in prostitution, inducing a minor to engage in prostitution, recruiting, abducting or taking a person in prostitution in another country, receiving income from a minor or a person forced to engage in prostitution and forcing another person to surrender income from prostitution.
The Ministry of Justice formulated six key aims of the new Prostitution Act:
Improve monitoring and regulating possibilities for legal prostitution through a municipal licensing system for prostitution businesses and work/residence permits for prostitutes. Curb illegal prostitution and intensify efforts to combat exploitation and forced prostitution. Reduce if not stamp out trafficking of minors, illegal immigrants and individuals without a valid residence permit. Protect minors below 18 against sexual exploitation. Safeguard position, mental integrity, and rights of prostitutes. Separate prostitution from the criminal activities associated with it.
Criminal offences carry a fine and a sentence of up to six years extended to eight or ten years for aggravating circumstances related to exploitation, trafficking, forced prostitution and use/abuse of children.
Guidelines and regulations to control brothels, self-employed sex workers, sex clubs and streetwalkers are set by local municipalities. The Association of Netherlands Municipalities publishes a common set of guidelines. Police, urban district councils, and local municipal health services are responsible for enforcing the laws, formulating and implementing the rules and policies regulating prostitution. This includes safety, hygiene, fire precautions, condoms, panic buttons, hot and cold running water. This also includes warnings, issuing/withdrawing business licenses and sex-worker residence or work permits, temporarily or permanently closing down a business for violation of license conditions, relocation of brothels for reasons of public order.
Workers in the oldest profession are now beginning to feel the pressure of European austerity by paying taxes like everyone else. In the Netherlands, the sex industry generates over $800 million annually in gross revenues. The sex trade went almost entirely untaxed until legalization in 2000. Sex workers are registered as one-woman, self-employed businesses. Authorities are now actively pursuing prostitutes who should be paying an average 33% tax many have managed to avoid. Research indicates about 40% of window prostitutes in Amsterdam pay some income tax. A spokesman for the Tax Service said, “We began at the larger places, the brothels, so now we are moving on to the window landlords and the ladies.”
Of course, an option for the prostitute is to work in the unlicensed, illegal sector. But if the client can find a prostitute there, why can’t a Dutch tax administrator? The prostitute and business establishment thus face real risks of losing their residence/work permits and license to work plus fines and possible jail terms.
As part of the Tax Service’s new tactics, officials are touring the red light districts (Amsterdam, for example) checking that the ladies – along with their required residence/work permits – are aware they must be paying taxes and making sure they have filled in all proper forms. In a notice given in Amsterdam’s city newspaper, landlords and window prostitutes were told they would be audited in typically bureaucratic fashion, “Agents of the Tax Service will walk through various elements of your business administration with you, such as pricing, staffing, agendas and calendars. The facts will be used at a later date in reviewing your returns”
Planned drop-in sessions by tax inspectors will be key in helping the Dutch government receive its share of the lucrative sex industry. For tax enforcement and collection efforts to be really effective, communication is crucial as the first language for most women is not Dutch and few speak English. Around three-quarters of the women working in Amsterdam’s sex industry – involving 8,000 prostitutes of all kinds and 3,000 working behind windows – are from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Another complication is that the industry is an all-cash business making it problematic to apply tax law, despite the fact that sex workers have residence or work permits. As one lady of the profession said, “How can they tell how many people come inside each day or how much money changes hands once the curtain is drawn? Not many customers ask for a receipt.”
What Are the Lingering Problems With the Dutch System of Legalized Prostitution?
The Dutch have been busy reducing the size of the red-light district in Amsterdam out of fear the business is getting out of control in recent years – exacerbated by sharp increases in the flow of women from poorer, less-developed countries. The abuse of prostitutes and illegal trafficking activity have been on the rise. As Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam said in 2008, “We’ve realized this is no longer about small-scale entrepreneur businesses, but about big crime organizations involved in trafficking women, drugs, killings and other criminal activities.” Mr. Cohen added, “It is not that we want to get rid of our red-light district. (Fifty percent of the business comes from tourists). We want to reduce it. Things have become unbalanced and if we do not act we will never again regain control.”
In 2008, Amsterdam authorities began reducing half of the city’s 400 prostitution windows and closing a third of its brothels and some of the city’s 70 sex clubs and marijuana cafes. Simultaneously, there has been an intense crackdown on human traffickers who deceive victims by offering work in hotels, restaurants or child care while later forcing them into prostitution. Recent prison terms for small crime gangs have ranged from 4 to 7.5 years. The police conduct frequent controls of brothels to pick up signs of human trafficking.
In 2009, the Dutch Justice Ministry appointed a special public prosecutor responsible for closing down prostitution and coffee shops connected to organized crime. As has been the practice since the legalization of prostitution, withdrawal or refusal to grant a brothel license may occur for moral or ethical reasons or if:
• The brothel owner is unable to produce a police clearance certificate issued by the local authorities.
• The brothel employs a minor or an illegal resident or any person under coercion.
• The intended location conflicts with zoning plans.
• It is in the interest of public order.
• It makes the area less desirable to live in.
Other proposed stiffening up of legal requirements now nearing the last stage of the approval process include:
(1) Minimum age of sex worker will be increased from 18 to 21.
(2) Prostitutes must receive a registration pass with a photograph and a registration number but no name and personal data; clients will be required to check this pass.
(3) License requirements will be extended to escort and internet agencies, home sex outlets, adult movie theaters.
(4) An advertisement of an individual prostitute or of a sex company must show the registration number and license number, respectively; the outside and inside premises of a sex company must display a sign showing it is licensed.
(5) Clients engaging in sex at unlicensed establishments, or with non-registered prostitutes or with minors, or clients guilty of unacceptable treatment of a prostitute will also be subject to a naming and shaming threat of public exposure similar to regulation practice in Sweden.
What Are the Benefits of the Legalization of Prostitution from the Dutch Experience?
From Dutch perspectives, the advantages of legalizing prostitution are several for all parties, i.e., prostitutes, local governmental authorities, communities:
• The rights of prostitutes are asserted as autonomous self-employed businesswomen in a legitimate form of labor offering all the protections/benefits of the labor laws (participating in pension planning and workman’s compensation) as well as the obligations related to tax and social insurance contributions. Prostitutes are self-determining. No longer under control by pimps, they can accept or reject clients, decide when to work and when to retire. Pimping services are disappearing helped by regulations prohibiting pimps from earning a livelihood off the wages of prostitutes.
• Prostitutes are able to report violent and abusive crimes (rape, assault, coercion, extortion) without fear of prosecution or abuse by law enforcement agents – thus being far less vulnerable to predators like clients, pimps, madams, crime gangs, police. Abuses are more easily detected when prostitutes operate publically and legally. Strengthening the rights of women engaged in the oldest profession is seen as the best way to combat sexual violence.
• Prostitution in the “open sunshine” as a registered and licensed profession means the health needs of prostitutes are more likely to be self-addressed by prostitutes and by local health authorities. By local law, brothels must allow health services or interest groups unrestricted access to their premises. •
• While medical checkups are not obligatory, prostitutes self-employed or employed in the legal sector generally comply with the request to have medical checkups four times a year. Employers of prostitutes must pursue safe-sex policies and encourage their employees to have regular checkups for STDs.
• Brothels must meet standards of housing safety, basic hygiene facilities, zoning regulations, quality of life of the community, confinement to designated areas leaving most parts of a community prostitution-free. Streetwalking is less than 5% of all prostitution in the Netherlands. Some municipalities refuse to license window prostitution and streetwalking.
There’s a special phone line for members of the public to anonymously report suspicious activities. This and regular inspections by law enforcement agencies produce valuable information to follow and prosecute offenders in both the regulated and illegal prostitution sectors.
The Dutch have had a long history of tasting the more prohibitionist, morally-driven approach to prostitution. Then in 1911 came a policy of prohibiting brothels and “living off the avails of prostitution”, (sharing in earnings of a prostitute) together with a discretionary enforcement of the law … a kind of de facto “regulated-tolerance.” Finally, legalization of brothels and formal legitimization and de-stigmatization of prostitutes came in full force in October 2000. Prostitutes can work as regular employees (with a labor contract), although the vast majority now work as independent contractors.
The Dutch approach to legalizing prostitution frees up the justice system from wasting enormous monies and time on nuisance cases. More time is available for getting better control and prosecution of the real vicious culprits … organized crime gangs who continue with the exploitation of minors, human trafficking, coercion, violence, and drugs. The Dutch realize they must do much, much better in breaking down the illegal clandestine underworld of prostitution. And they will get the job done. But they are also realistic in recognizing that banning social phenomena makes them much more difficult to get under control.
And now in true Dutch pragmatic fashion, the red-light districts can expect a business-only visit by the tax inspector. Besides the improving government oversight of all facets of the sex industry, there is the important spin-off of a grass–roots enforced tax policy which is expected to generate much needed tax revenues. Although the 2008 financial crisis was weathered fairly well by the Netherlands, the government ran a deficit of 6% of GDP in 2010. It is now cutting spending +-20% and raising taxes over the next four years in the hope of balancing the budget by 2015. The lucrative sex industry must do its part.
REFERENCES: Legalized Prostitution in the Netherlands ________________________________________________________________
1. “Human Trafficking and Legalized Prostitution in the Netherlands,“ by Dina Siegel Prof. of Criminology at the Willem Pompe Institute, Utrecht University of the Netherlands, March 2009
2. “Prostitution in the Netherlands,” by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Sept. 18, 2009
3. “Does Legalizing Prostitution Work,” by Helen Mees, Feb.3, 2009
4. “Prostitution in the Netherlands – History,” Wikipedia
5. “Prostitution in the Netherlands Since the Lifting of the Brothel Ban,” by A.L. Daalder of the WODC (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek en Documentatiecentrum), 2007
6. “The Legalization of Prostitution: Myth and Reality” – A Comparative Study of Four Countries (Including the Netherlands, pages 55-69), Naomi Levenkron of Hotline for Migrant Workers, 2007
7. “The Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes” – Implementation, Impact, Current Developments: Findings of a Study on the Impact of the German Prostitution Act (which adopted somewhat the Dutch liberal drugs model), by Prof. Dr. Barbara Kavemann, Ass. Jur. Heike Rabe, Sept. 2007
8. “How the Dutch Protect Their Prostitutes,” by Patrick Jackson of BBC News, Dec. 16, 2006
9. “Legalized Prostitution – Regulating the Oldest Profession,” by Mark Liberator, Dec. 8, 2005
10. “Dutch Policy on Prostitution,” Questions and Answers: Publication by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004
11. “Prostitution in the Netherlands: Transforming the World’s Oldest Profession into the World’s Newest Industry,” by Gary Feinburg of Crime & Justice International, July/Aug. 2003, Vol. 19, No. 75
12. “Prostitution Laws – Toronto, Ontario and Canada,” (Live off the avails of prostitution) Posted by Toronto Defense Lawyers (TDL), Mar. 8, 2010
End of Frank's Essay
Comments on Frank's essay by John:
Frank says: "US public policy decisions on prostitution have long been driven by traditional religious-based moral values making prostitution a criminal offense." But prostitution is legal, not a criminal offense, in Nevada. Currently eight out of Nevada's 16 counties have active brothels (these are all rural counties). As of June/July 2008, 28 legal brothels existed in Nevada.
Frank brings up the Swedish attitude of legalized prostitution but "naming and shaming" the clients or Johns. (In Holland the "naming and shaming" only applies to clients of illegal forms of prostitution such as intercourse with underaged girls.) In Sweden the women are viewed as victims, and prostitution, though tolerated, is viewed with disapprobation. This begs the question 'is there any individual or social good at all in prostitution or the exchange of money for sex?' I would maintain that there is a relative social and individual good in prostitution. First, under the right conditions, it allows certain women to make a good living who otherwise might be unemployed. Second, prohibition only drives the industry underground and makes exploitation and disease, more, rather than less, likely. Third, it provides an outlet for men who are not in a position, temporary or otherwise, to form a normal emotional, as well as sexual, relationship with a woman.
The Chinese government has intervened in commercial sex work in China in order to alleviate the growing HIV/AIDS problem there. Even though prostitution is illegal, the government thought it necessary to provide condoms, establish clinics to provide check-ups and other measures to prevent the spread of disease.
Consider the two cases of Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards. Spitzer was outed as having visited a prostitute, and, as a result, he was shamed into resigning as New York State Governor. But in short order he has rehabilitated himself and his public image having become a pundit on TV and having had his own talk show on CNN for a period of time. Since there was no emotional attachment, his wife, evidently, has forgiven him, and his marriage remains intact. Edwards, on the other hand, formed an emotional and sexual relationship, a full blown affair, with Rielle Hunter that resulted in the birth of a child while Edwards was married to his wife who was dying of cancer. Edwards has been much reviled and is facing five Federal counts for misusing campaign funds which may land him in jail and cause the loss of his attorney's license and the loss of custody of his children not to mention a stiff fine. If only Edwards had visited a prostitute instead of getting involved in a very personal affair, he might not be in the very serious situation he's presently in which could result in his children becoming parentless for an extended period of time if Edwards goes to jail. Edwards probably rues the day he ever got involved with Hunter not to mention the fact that his affair probably cost a hundred times more in monetary terms than did Spitzer's dalliance with a high priced prostitute. Spitzer has had to come to terms with his sexuality vis a vis his wife and why he felt it necessary to seek sex outside of marriage, but that is between him and his wife and is not a public matter.
End of John's comments.
As far as prostitution goes, in this country it should be regulated as it is in Holland. I have never been there or sampled the fruits of their labor, but from my readings in Newsweek, Time, and the like it seems to be working. At least by regulating it, organized crime's involvement is reduced and health standards maintained. All good, but in any government entity, there is inherent corruption; just not as violent and final as organized crime's methods that would necessitate laws to control it. More laws!!! That means more government employees to "supervise, enforce, document, inspect, study, propose more regulations", and the list is endless.
Take government out of the picture and street level entrepreneurs (pimps and organized crime) will fill the void. The best solution is the most expensive - as usual.
Our present laws are rooted in the colonial standards where one would be either jailed, stocked, dunked, or humiliated in some way for not attending church on the Sabbath. Witches and anyone else with talents that were not understood were executed. The carry over is our present prohibition on anything deemed sexually explicit.
It can be argued that such regulation serves the common good in that it sets the boundaries of moral conduct and makes for a stronger society. Is it OK for someone with supervisory control over children to abuse them in any way? Is it OK for someone to force a young person into prostitution? If that conduct were not prohibited, would our society be any less corrupt? In my view it would be disastrous and government control is the only viable option. At least the taxes and fees collected may cover a small portion of the cost to taxpayers for regulating it.
As to porn. A multi BILLION dollar world wide business and thanks to the internet, not sanctioned or controlled by our government. But they want to - desperately want to.
Who in the hell does it hurt? Psychologists maintain that it is the first step in the release of sexual repression that may evolve to violent sexual behavior. Is it like the first puff of MJ where some say that you are on the fast track to addiction? Is it a sign of underlying hatred or disrespect of the female gender?
BS! Guys have testosterone and their brain is wired differently - end of story. Maybe some do not get beyond the 3rd grade experience of sneaking a peek up a class mate's dress. Others wish they had and that peek becomes the top playground subject for the week. Could this be the foundation where reputations are built? After all, some guys and some girls will have one by their senior year and many sooner. Is this where porn is started? The unspoken desire to see more!
We are indoctrinated at a very early age "not to look". I heard it from my mother, grandmothers, teachers, clergy, and I can't count the rest that uttered that admonition. But I still did! And they knew it!!! Do I still? I'll never tell. So you head readers out there have fun with that. Am I or am I not a pervert?
Regulate it - Hell No. BUT then what about child porn and MBLA? Well, some regulation is in order. Now the pool of government workers grows a bit more. (Go back to the first paragraph).
There is not freedom without government regulation. With regulation there is not freedom.
As far as prostitution goes, no matter how legal it becomes there will always be a stigma because of those with religious beliefs, and those in public office will still be held to a higher standard if for no other reason than muck raking. In this case, Spitzer and the like might not have committed a crime, but might not have survived an election either. That will be interesting.
Legalizing would be an easy solution, but here again the bureaucracy governing the career field will run out of control. I use the term "career field" because with legalization it will supposedly be a choice freely entered into by the person. Person, because prostitutes come in both sexes and the male side has never been as fully disclosed as the female side.
Breaking the present hold on the "business agents" involved today will be difficult even with licensing, health inspections, and field agents. My original feelings were opposite, but after much consideration I feel that involvement of organized crime and street level pimps, gangs and the like will never be eliminated. In fact, keeping corruption out of even legalized entities will be nigh impossible because the dollar amounts are astronomical.
But if enacted into law, the passage of time will mollify public opinion and both prostitution and drugs will become socially acceptable to some degree.
End of Wesley's Comments
John's Comment on Wesley's Comments
As you point out, legalizing something does not mean that criminal elements will not continue to be involved. I think Frank pointed out that Holland recognizes that fact and provides for monitoring both the legal and illegal aspects of prostitution.