I Think You Have Me Confused With Eliot Spitzer

An email inquiry I received today:

I am a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel in Florida. I need a comment for a story on prostitution.

I actually think there is an organization with 'coyote' in the name that is more active on this topic, so I presume that was the source of confusion.  Not really sure how my wife would react to this inquiry.  However, since we are on the topic, I have written a couple of rants supporting the legalization of prostitution.  In short, I think there is a good case to be made that most of the abuses of prostitution result from its illegality (and therefore lack of ability of its participants to call on the legal system for help).  While one may find prostitution distasteful, the government should protect our bodies and our wallets from assault rather than worrying whether we are tarnishing our souls. 

  • Dr. T

    How can organized crime survive, and how can local politicians, judges, DAs, and cops make extra money from bribes if victimless crimes are legalized? And, if we legalize gambling, prostitution, and drugs, then our prison population will be halved.

    What are you, some kind of wacko who wants cleaner government, fewer criminals, fewer prisoners, and fewer jailers?

  • Larry Sheldon

    That would be me, "Dr. T"

    Seems like there was a 'frisco outfit Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics--a whore's union I think. Dunno if it was females, fems, males, or politicians.

  • linearthinker

    All of the above. San Francisco. Remember?

  • Rocky Mountain

    Let's legalize prostitution and then watch city councils battle over zoning laws and tons of other regulations making sure the pros behave themselves with respect to property rights, hours of business, proximity to school children, and aggressive pandering. This will work really well and probably get a few outsiders elected as well. What's more this will give our liberated women another career opportunity after they finish up with boxing, wrestling, NASCAR, and drinking shots of Crown Royal so they can puke on the doorstoop of the Libertarian Party HQ.

    And while we're at it lets legalize heroin, ectasy, cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. This will be very compatible with the views of people that want to stop smoking, eating fast foods, and saving the great horned yellow tufted nearly-killed-off Zuff. Indeed, our prisons will be three-quarters empty and we can now all enjoy the human detritus floating on a sea of filth and degradation floating by our windows hangin' with with pros.

  • Jim Collins

    Ok Rocky. Let's do it. Let's legalize it all and then tax it like they tax cigarettes and alcohol. Let's take the big money out of it and then see what happens. I'll bet that the drug supply will dry up overnight. I'd also be willing to bet that the number of prostitutes, both male and female goes way down. How many drug companies are going to want to move in and provide these drugs, given our current legal system. How many drug companies are going to want to assume the liability over producing these drugs? Illegality is what makes all of these profitable, remove it and there is no longer an incentive to provide these goods and services.

  • Keith

    Jim C. - "I'd also be willing to bet that the number of prostitutes, both male and female goes way down."

    Well, I'm guessing you've never been to Hamburg, or Amsterdam, or ...

  • Rocky Mountain

    Jim,

    Are you seriously saying that by legalizing prostitution and drugs that the money will dry up? I had a long discussion with a couple of my colleagues on the various outcomes of legalization and none of them included a reduction in money spent. Obviously, we can't know precisely. But the legalization of alcohol after prohibition didn't stop the alcoholic beverage industry from being extremely profitable. BTW, I recognize the consumption of alcohol as being a very important social problem and the only response to that I can muster about my opposition to drug legalization is, "Why make things worse?"

    As far as the number of drug companies that would want to move in...well, first of all they would have a very large existing supplier base in various parts of the drug selling degraded world; e.g. Northern Mexico (http://www.vdare.com/misc/080522_london.htm)and second of all there would still be tremendous profits to be made. With their industrial organizational tools and methods (the drug companies) they would most likely perform significantly better then the narcotraficantes.

    Also, it appeared to my colleagues and I that not many people seriously consider the consumer side when the legalization issue is discussed. It appears that people think that once we let every body out of jail and stop the criminals from controlling supply that consumption, now being mainstream, would somehow resemble a backyard barbeque with a few beers and a glass or two of Zinfadel. I don't believe that would happen - what I believe would happen is that legalization would unleash a consumption orgy that would or could seriously undermine our social order. Now I realize that Libertarians don't seem to be bothered with that scenario because the maximum amount of freedom for the individual is only real measure (while not hurting anybody else, of course)of human achievement for them.

    This is an issue that cannot be treated glibly by asserting that social and economic outcomes are like 1 + 1 = 2. There are community, health, and cost issues that go well beyond depriving some drug runner in his van of a lucrative living.

  • Solar Lad

    I have great doubts that there would be any kind of "consumption orgy" if drugs were legalized.
    Cigarettes are legal, and yet usage is shrinking.

  • Rocky Mountain

    Solar,

    Doubt all you want but the reason smoking consumption is going down is (1) because the orgy has already taken place and people are trying to find their way home or to the funeral parlor; (2) because of the massive amount of legal and social pressure on producers and consumers everywhere; (3) cost and (4) demographics.

    You might argue that there is pressure on drug users; I guess so, but there is no comparable pressure on drug producers because they currently are all illegal and the very idea of 'legalization' presumes no pressure would be mounted on the producers, at least not until certain portions of the "freedom at any cost" population understand how drug use actually ends up limiting their freedom anyway.

    It is ironic that cigarettes would used as some sort of standard to measure the outcome of drug legalization since there has been billions of dollars spent to eradicate smoking. And we want to add another item to the death and misery portfolio?

    So newly minted drug companies and older companies with newly minted product lines would start the 'hard sell' - and I think it would be pretty hard. But at the end of the day no one can really know until it happens but like anybody else I have my view and I'm sticking to it.

  • Jeff

    "Rocky Mountain": But the legalization of alcohol after prohibition didn't stop the alcoholic beverage industry from being extremely profitable.

    True, but when did you last see Budweiser and Coors settle their marketing campaigns with machine-guns?

  • Stevo

    Legalising drugs and prostitution is a fine libertarian argument, but justifying it on the basis of a consequent saving in social cost is not. It might well reduce the problems associated with the illegal trade, but it doesn't make any difference if it doesn't.

    The fundamental liberty argument is that the state should only intervene to prevent significant harm being done to others, and people have a right to allow harm to themselves so long as they are able to give informed consent.

    That means that people have to know beforehand the bad consequences of being a prostitute or taking drugs (and they are bad, if not always as bad as portrayed) but that if they know and decide to do it anyway, you should let them. And let them suffer or die if necessary, too.

    To the extent that drugs or prostitution have bad effects on other people, you can prosecute for those bad effects, but not for the practice itself. (I.e. you could prosecute a prostitute for spreading STDs, but not for being a prostitute. You can prosecute a pimp trading in people for slavery, but not for being a pimp.)

    So any legalisation would have to test informed consent, probably at a more explicit level than used currently for drink or tobacco. Perhaps people would have to pass an exam and get a licence? Even from a libertarian point of view, you couldn't morally just deregulate it and allow a free-for-all. Selling products for people to harm themselves with, or which involve potential harm to the sellers, is not something to take lightly.

  • Rocky Mountain

    Jeff,

    That's my point; i.e. Budweiser and Coors can still sell something that has at least some negative social consequences and not have to kill each other off. Thus, Drugonomics, Inc. and Cocaine-R-Us will not have to physically kill each other off and even in the illegal drug industry I suspect that some competing groups agree to co-habitat under rules favorable to all parties.