On Legalizing Prostitution

According to to the ISET Policy Institute the global revenue from prostitution is estimated at one hundred billion dollars. Unfortunately due to theistic morality which has rudely invaded secular law the American government receives no tax revenue from prostitution. The ban on prostitution hurts the American economy, limits government funding, makes prostitution more dangerous and infringes on certain basic freedoms. For all these reasons the U.S. federal government should legalize prostitution.

Now let’s talk about economics. The United States is more than eighteen trillion dollars  in debt. American jobs are disappearing in countless industries while the market for prostitution is steadily growing. Rather than taking this as a sign that it might be wise reconsider the legal status of sex work and attempt to benefit the poor through the application of tax money many politicians and leaders in law enforcement continue to try to crush the sex work industry. This is an absolutely ridiculous approach. It’s never worked and never will. If capitalism is going to work the government needs to know when it should step in and put a stop to things and when it should step aside and allow the market to do what it will.

Any discussion of legalizing sex work must at least touch upon the moral aspect of both the status quo and the proposed change. When considering morality we must accept its subjective nature. People have hugely varying moral standards. One principle which is central to the vast majority of moral viewpoints is the somewhat less abstract concept of justice. Justice as defined by Plato is each being given their due. We as human beings are due our rights. John Locke said that each person has the rights to life liberty and property as well as the protection of those rights. In order for a society to be just these rights to be of paramount importance and work to protect them. When prostitution was legalized in New Zealand sex workers became seventy percent more likely to report customers they perceived as being threatening. This greatly decreased the rate of violent crime directed towards prostitutes. This means that through legalizing sex work a government is acting to protect life. Furthermore sex trafficking flourishes when prostitution is forced underground. By bringing it more into the open law enforcement can better fight the slave trade.

 This brings me to a popular argument against sex work. Many morally grounded individuals consider the sex work industry to be at best a symptom of oppression at worst one of many causes. This argument while grounded in fact is simply untrue. Yes women are treated as things in many ways in society but to say the existence of sexism means women she be allowed to be prostitutes is like saying women shouldn’t be allowed to work at Subway making sandwiches. Females are the primary providers of sexual favors for monetary but it should be noted that roughly twenty percent of all sex workers are male. If sex work is only a problem if women do it then it stands to reason that men should be allowed to legally provide sexuals. Many would actually agree with this. What this illustrates is the fact that the illegal status of sex work is in many ways a result of institutionalized sexism. The law is telling citizens that women do not truly own their bodies and as such the government and society can tell them what to do with them and why. By legalizing we can acknowledge the autonomy of the individual over their person. Another argument that people make in relation to oppression is that prostitution is a last resort for the desperate. I’m not going to try to make the claim that this is not true in many. However I would like to point out that you could say the same about law school or laying drywall. Just because a job isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that no one should have it. Many individuals actually like being sex workers and even if they didn’t there is honor in working for a living.

  Ultimately it’s important that the law is both pragmatic and upholds a strong standard of justice. Once we accept that sex work isn’t going away and look at it as just being another kind of work we can adjust our views in relation to it. Legalization helps society as a whole through economic growth, encourages the safety of sex workers through bringing their lives out of the shadows and encourages social equality by providing for th