Time to Legalize Prostitution

A man who hates washing dishes hires a maid to wash them for him. She arrives, cleans the kitchen, and when she is done, they talk for a moment about the weather. One thing leads to another, they realize they are attracted to each other, and have sex. Afterwards, she puts on her clothes, and as she is leaving, the man pays her for cleaning his kitchen.

Across town, a man decides he is lonely and calls an “escort” service for some company. She arrives, and they have sex. Afterwards, they talk for a few minutes and she comments on how much she hates a messy house. The man invites her to wash his dishes, and since he had been a good client, she fulfills his request. On the way out, he pays her for her services.

One of these two scenarios is legal in most countries, while the other is not. Yet, essentially the same thing happened in each scenario. The woman cleaned the kitchen and had sex with the man. In both cases, money was exchanged for services provided. The legal question here revolves around “intent.” If the man intended to pay for the cleaning and got sex as a byproduct, there is no problem. However, if the man intended to pay for sex and received a cleaning on the side, he is a criminal and so is the woman.

Silly, I know, but that is the state of government.

In general, I would submit that most Americans believe that what happens between consenting adults is a private matter. To a degree, even a donation to a homeless stranger is a private matter. Yet, somehow, when it comes to sex — if money is involved — it isn’t just regulated for public safety, it is banned on grounds of public morality.

It begs the question: how can you have a separation of church and state if rules of morality continue to be enforced by the state? The answer is: you can’t. If you agree that your sex life is your own business and that government should butt out, then can we not agree that it is time to update our prostitution laws?

The great irony of the anti-prostitution and human trafficking effort is that the worst behavior associated with these activities only occurs under the cover of the black market. Licensed brothels and sex workers, with access to health care and other benefits, are less likely to be subject to involuntary trafficking. Regulation, routine medical exams, and license verification would also mean minors would be better protected, more easily identified, and rescued.

From a policy and budgetary stand point, such a system would pay for itself via direct taxation, creating no additional cost for the taxpayer. When it comes to prostitution, drugs, gambling, and even smoking, it appears that logic, reason, practicality, and liberty are the last things ever taken into consideration.

Maybe it’s time we changed that. By establishing “red light districts” and implementing a simple tax policy, we can offer an effective solution to an out of control problem. This will provide a real opportunity to rescue the men and women who have been forced into prostitution, and create better conditions for those who choose the work willingly to continue in a safer and more profitable environment.

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