Media Support For Legalization Of Marijuana and Prostitution

Legalize Pot and Sex

There is a welcome trend towards support of decriminalization of victimless crimes. The New York Times recently came out for legalization of marijuana, outlining the harm done by the unsuccessful prohibition:

America’s four-decade war on drugs is responsible for many casualties, but the criminalization of marijuana has been perhaps the most destructive part of that war. The toll can be measured in dollars — billions of which are thrown away each year in the aggressive enforcement of pointless laws. It can be measured in years — whether wasted behind bars or stolen from a child who grows up fatherless. And it can be measured in lives — those damaged if not destroyed by the shockingly harsh consequences that can follow even the most minor offenses…

The costs of this national obsession, in both money and time, are astonishing. Each year, enforcing laws on possession costs more than $3.6 billion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It can take a police officer many hours to arrest and book a suspect. That person will often spend a night or more in the local jail, and be in court multiple times to resolve the case. The public-safety payoff for all this effort is meager at best: According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report that tracked 30,000 New Yorkers with no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession, 90 percent had no subsequent felony convictions. Only 3.1 percent committed a violent offense.

The strategy is also largely futile. After three decades, criminalization has not affected general usage; about 30 million Americans use marijuana every year. Meanwhile, police forces across the country are strapped for cash, and the more resources they devote to enforcing marijuana laws, the less they have to go after serious, violent crime. According to F.B.I. data, more than half of all violent crimes nationwide, and four in five property crimes, went unsolved in 2012.

The sheer volume of law enforcement resources devoted to marijuana is bad enough. What makes the situation far worse is racial disparity. Whites and blacks use marijuana at roughly the same rates; on average, however, blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, according to a comprehensive 2013 report by the A.C.L.U.

Now The Economist has called for legalization of prostitution, partially due to the changes in the profession with prostitution increasingly being arranged on line:

Moralisers will lament the shift online because it will cause the sex trade to grow strongly. Buyers and sellers will find it easier to meet and make deals. New suppliers will enter a trade that is becoming safer and less tawdry. New customers will find their way to prostitutes, since they can more easily find exactly the services they desire and confirm their quality. Pimps and madams should shudder, too. The internet will undermine their market-making power.

But everyone else should cheer. Sex arranged online and sold from an apartment or hotel room is less bothersome for third parties than are brothels or red-light districts. Above all, the web will do more to make prostitution safer than any law has ever done. Pimps are less likely to be abusive if prostitutes have an alternative route to market. Specialist sites will enable buyers and sellers to assess risks more accurately. Apps and sites are springing up that will let them confirm each other’s identities and swap verified results from sexual-health tests. Schemes such as Britain’s Ugly Mugs allow prostitutes to circulate online details of clients to avoid.

Governments should seize the moment to rethink their policies. Prohibition, whether partial or total, has been a predictable dud. It has singularly failed to stamp out the sex trade. Although prostitution is illegal everywhere in America except Nevada, old figures put its value at $14 billion annually nationwide; surely an underestimate. More recent calculations in Britain, where prostitution is legal but pimping and brothels are not, suggest that including it would boost GDP figures by at least £5.3 billion ($8.9 billion). And prohibition has ugly results. Violence against prostitutes goes unpunished because victims who live on society’s margins are unlikely to seek justice, or to get it. The problem of sex tourism plagues countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, where the legal part of the industry is both tightly circumscribed and highly visible…

The prospect of being pressed to mend their ways makes prostitutes less willing to seek care from health or social services. Men who risk arrest will not tell the police about women they fear were coerced into prostitution. When Rhode Island unintentionally decriminalised indoor prostitution between 2003 and 2009 the state saw a steep decline in reported rapes and cases of gonorrhoea.

Prostitution is moving online whether governments like it or not. If they try to get in the way of the shift they will do harm. Indeed, the unrealistic goal of ending the sex trade distracts the authorities from the genuine horrors of modern-day slavery (which many activists conflate with illegal immigration for the aim of selling sex) and child prostitution (better described as money changing hands to facilitate the rape of a child). Governments should focus on deterring and punishing such crimes—and leave consenting adults who wish to buy and sell sex to do so safely and privately online.

More on the effects of the unintentional decriminalization of indoor prostitution in Rhode Island here.

I think  tolerance of marijuana use and prostitution will increase with the millennial generation, which is more socially liberal, and find it a good sign to see long-established portions of the media also moving in this direction. I also fear that, as with same-sex marriage, even the Democrats will lag behind the general population in acceptance of liberal views.

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Decriminalization of Prostitution Led To Reduction In Rape And Gonorrhea

An unintended experiment in Rhode Island found that when prostitution conducted indoors  was decriminalized due to a loophole in the law, there was a decrease in rape and cases of gonorrhea. The Wall Street Journal reports:

A loophole in Rhode Island law that effectively decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 also led to significant decreases in rape and gonorrhea in the state, according to a new analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“The results suggest that decriminalization could have potentially large social benefits for the population at large – not just sex market participants,” wrote economists Scott Cunningham of Baylor University and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles, in a working paper issued this month.

Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Shah got an opportunity to study the effects of decriminalized prostitution on crime and public health because Rhode Island lawmakers made a mistake. A 1980 change to state law dealing with street solicitation also deleted the ban on prostitution itself, in effect making the act legal if it took place indoors. The loophole apparently went unnoticed until a 2003 court decision, and remained open until indoor prostitution was banned again in 2009.

As you might expect, the economists found that decriminalizing indoor prostitution was a boon to the sex business. “Decriminalization decreased prostitute arrests, increased indoor prostitution advertising and expanded the size of the indoor prostitution market itself,” they wrote.

Rhode Island also saw “a large decrease in rapes” after 2003, while other crimes saw no such trend in the state, they wrote. There also was “a large reduction in gonorrhea incidence post-2003 for women and men,” they wrote.

The economists then used several economic models to track the decriminalization’s effects versus other possible causes. They found “robust evidence across all models that decriminalization caused rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decrease.” One model estimated a 31% decrease in per-capita rape offenses and a 39% decrease in per-capita female gonorrhea cases due to the decriminalization of indoor prostitution.

This sounds like a strong argument for decriminalizing prostitution.

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Question of the Day

How many Secret Service agents does it take to pay a hooker?

(Apparently eleven was not enough.)

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Quote of the Day

“Hookers in Times Square, God bless ‘em, are offering a Mitt Romney Special. For an extra $20 they’ll change positions.” –David Letterman

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Quote of The Day

BREAKING: Round-the-Clock Congressional Sessions Bad for Business, Say Prostitutes –Andy Borowitz

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Court Rules Against Tax Deduction For Hookers And Porn

Many New Yorkers (perhaps its former Governor) will be disappointed by the ruling of the New York Tax Appeals that they will not allow tax deductions for hookers and porn as a medical expense. More at Forbes.

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Why Is Porn Legal But Not Prostitution?

E! Online responds to a question as to why pornography is legal while prostitution is not, considering that people are being paid to have sex during the filming of many pornographic movies:

As the law sees it, “a prostitute gets paid for sex,” Garrell explains, “But a porn star has sex for free and exercises her First Amendment right to express herself. But she charges for it to be filmed.”

In other words, to count as prostitution, the payment must be made for sexual gratification, not for acting—even if that acting brings sexual gratification to thousands of onlookers.

You can find a much more detailed analysis—detailed, if not arousing—here.

There’s some logic to this but it is quite a fine line. I wonder how many agree with this. I suspect that many people are more consistent, either believing both should be legal or, as with myself, believing the government should stay out of both.

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Free Prostitutes in Copenhagen For Climate Conference

Responding to climate change might impact some businesses, but there’s no reason that it should harm the business of prostitutes. Copenhagen has tried to shut down prostitution during the conference, but the prostitutes have responded with offers of free sex:

Copenhagen’s city council in conjunction with Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards out to 160 Copenhagen hotels urging COP15 guests and delegates to ‘Be sustainable – don’t buy sex’.

“Dear hotel owner, we would like to urge you not to arrange contacts between hotel guests and prostitutes,” the approach to hotels says.

Now, Copenhagen prostitutes are up in arms, saying that the council has no business meddling in their affairs. They have now offered free sex to anyone who can produce one of the offending postcards and their COP15 identity card, according to the Web site avisen.dk.

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Manhattan Madam Threatens To Run Against Spitzer

If Eliot Spitzer decides to run for office he will have a problem with the opposition. It is not that someone who has indicated her intent to run against him is more qualified for the position but that the campaign would be a constant reminder of the past scandal. Kristin Davis, who provided Spitzer with “escorts,” is threatening to run against her on the Manhattan Madam blog (hat tip to Political Wire):

Eliot Spitzer has the bug. For the second time in six months he has been caught planning a come-back. First, he floated a trial baloon for his old job as Attorney General. It was more like a lead balloon. Now he is contemplating a run for the US Senate or New York State Comptroller.

As I told the New York Post yesterday, “if he runs for public office I may have to run myself to focus attention on the  multiple illegal acts for which he has not been punished, his abuse of women and the SEXISM in the way he walked away scot free while I went to Rikers for four months for supplying him with ‘company”.

There is far more to tell about Eliot Spitzer, the ladies and the way he treated them. There is also far more to tell about Spitzer’s relationships with multiple New York Escort services including several of my competitors when I was in the business. I’m sure if he and I both ran these facts would come in during a spirited campaign.

Voters would get to decide whether it is fair and equitable that Spitzer broke multiple state and federal laws and avoided prosecution while I was punished for my supplying girls for Spitzer, Madoff and others. If it fair that a rich white male walked while a woman entrepenuer did hard time for a victimless crime.

I would make sure everyone remembers how Spitzer violated the public trust and at the same time I would push a REFORM agenda. Prostitution should be legalized, regulated and taxed to help solve our fiscal problems. Marijuana should also be legalized, regulated and taxed. With both, New York could balance our budget without raising taxes or cutting essential services. Gay Marriage, hamstrung in the State Senate, should be legalized as a matter of total equality.

Yes indeed, if Eliot spitzer throws his hat in the ring, I may just have to jump in the race myself. After all, how I could I do worse than the clowns we have in Albany now?

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Ashley Dupre’s Rant

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I’ve  always thought that Eliot Spitzer was responsible for Eliot Spitzer’s downfall, but apparently some people blame Ashley Dupre. She responds to this in a blog post at Global Grind:

I’m often referred to as the “woman who brought down the Governor” – excuse me people, I didn’t call the tabloids, I didn’t blow the whistle and I didn’t save “the dress.” I did nothing to shine a light on my indiscretions or to “out” anyone else.

She also has a few words for those who judge her:

But there are those of you out there who just love to judge. Let me say this – most girls, to varying degrees, of course, want to be pampered and have nice shoes, designer handbags and gorgeous clothes. I know many women who target guys with money and use them to get these things. They toy with them, flirt, go on dates, have sex and then drop hints about that new dress at the store down the street or being short on rent money – and the guys deliver it. This is a dishonest relationship. I see this all over New York City. Some women aren’t as vindictive, but still dive into relationships with wealthy guys who they don’t love or even find attractive, but they stay in it because they have a nice home, a car and spending money – they would rather stay in an unfulfilling or loveless relationship than lose that security. This, too, is a dishonest relationship. I see this type all over the suburbs of New Jersey with the housewives who are strung out on mood stabilizers or the couples who put all their attention on their chil dren so they don’t have to deal with their own issues.

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