James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Legalize Prostitution

Eliot Spitzer was done in by a totalitarian system he helped support: government snooping in personal financial and sexual affairs.

One thing I can't figure out is, why is prostitution illegal? It is like the marijuana of sexual behavior. Alcohol and tobacco do more harm than marijuana, yet only the latter is illegal. Likewise, adultery and pornography destroy more marriages, but only prostitution is forbidden. If STD's are a big concern, then fornication should also be outlawed; most people who want to protect themselves do.

It appears to me that the main problems with prostitution is that it is supposedly harmful to the women involved. But, like marijuana, the most harmful thing it does is throw women in jail. The same charge was hurled at pornography, but as pornography has become more mainstream, the status and image of women has also improved, not declined.

Are some women kidnapped and coerced into the sex trade? If that is true, the crime is in the kidnapping and rape, not the prostitution. If the industry was legal, it would be safer.

Are some women "forced" into the sex trade by dire economic circumstances? Perhaps, though it is also probable they would make more money in fewer hours. If prostitution was legal, more women may be tempted to enter the profession (perhaps as a side gig), who now have no moral qualms but fear the legal risks. With the greater supply of women, rates will go down.

But will demand go up? I don't know the mentality of a john, but it seems to me that part of the allure of prostitution is the fact that it's illegal. The risk heightens the pleasure. Eliot Spitzer probably could have had a discreet girlfriend or two if he wanted, but it wouldn't have been the same: the idea of being one of the few and privileged who can have a high-priced hooker and get away with it would add to the thrill.

So will there be a greater demand for prostitution if it's legal? I would predict a brief upsurge at first, as it might attract some guys who can't let laid any other way, but it may turn off some current clients. Operating costs will go down because there will be no police harassment or fines. The increased number of available women will drive prices down further. I suspect legal prostitution will quickly become ho-hum, probably not much different than today except that police and courts will become more efficient by focusing on real criminals.

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