Should We Legalize Prostitution?

by Brandi Savitt – March 29, 2012

Dollars and Sex

Former IMF chief/Sex-Scandal Magnet Dominique Strauss Kahn was back in the news again this week.  And the fact that he is being investigated for his involvement with sex workers in France wasn’t the most intriguing part of the story….  Reading about his latest PR debacle, I realized for the first time that while profiting as a pimp or madam is against the law in France, paying for sex is perfectly legal. In fact this is true of many countries around the world – including Canada!

So, that got us wondering: Is the United States’ conservative stance protecting women’s rights or hurting them?  Is it worth the government missing out on multi millions of taxable dollars to uphold a moral code by turning a blind eye on reality?  Or, could legalizing the oldest profession bring much needed regulation to those who partake -while increasing the government’s profit margin?

What Happens In Nevada…

Minus the rest of the United States, prostitution is legal in certain counties of the state of Nevada.  Because Nevada only legalized prostitution in counties with low populations, it means it is still illegal in Las Vegas…

In the counties where it is legal, revenues are produced through the same avenues as other businesses – license fees, taxes etc.  So, extrapolating these fees to a mass market like Vegas – and you’re talking potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues. Like so many other “sin taxes” (cigarettes, alcohol), it doesn’t seem quite as sinful when you think about putting those dollars towards health care, social services and education …

Worker’s Rights

Okay, so aside from government revenues, what about the individual sex worker?  Pro-legalization points to the fact that legalizing prostitution includes many heath regulations – meaning the workers would be better off due to  regulations requiring the use of condoms and weekly STD testing. In addition, with legalization of industries of course comes unions, which many argue would greatly empower sex workers and help protect their interests…

Female Empowerment

In addition to financial considerations, there is another very big cost – the cost of freedom of choice for adults of  legal age.  Even among our own group of friends there is a huge debate on this topic – are women victims of prostitution?  Or are sex workers really in charge of their own destiny and own decision making?  Though these questions are not in and of themselves financial, they are the moral queries behind what makes this profession illegal in the first place.

Recessionary Thinking

Paraphrasing the lawyer in the Strauss Kahn case, you can think that something is morally reprehensible, but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal… OR should it?

Is our country missing out on millions of taxable revenue dollars and the opportunity to help better protect the millions of people who now illegally engage in sex for money?  Or should we continue to ignore an age old practice and legislate based on our moral code and ethics?

We want to know what you think!



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6 Responses to “Should We Legalize Prostitution?”

  1. Kellie Knapp says:

    Considering how much the government could profit off of the legalization of not only prostitution but also marijuana, it’s astounding to me that it has not been done yet! Imagine a world in which we pay less income tax, but our school systems are some of the best in the world… I think our economy would benefit greatly. Just thinking about how large and profitable the black market is makes me want to puke. Our government is not being smart about certain things, such as how much better our school system could be by using the taxable revenue dollars made off of these explicit but widely popular “activities” that millions of people participate in. I say legalize… Naturally restrictions would have to be put into place, but I think it’d be worth it. Prohibition never works…

  2. Rachel says:

    NO! It is WRONG to make money off of selling other human beings for sex! Empowering women?! Are you kidding me?! This just sets them back 100 years! Just remember this is someone’s daughter, sister, mother, etc. As a woman, and the mother of 2 young girls, this DISGUSTS me!

  3. Simone M says:

    I believe in legalizing prostitution. Any two people can have sex, and if one wants to pay for it, I don’t think it should be a crime. Legalizing it would regulate it, protect the prostitutes from violence by their pimps and customers, cut down on sexually transmitted diseases, and lastly bring in tax money.

    • Erica says:

      Simone, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Prostitution and marijuana use will happen rather its legal or not. The only difference is we would profit more and have less crime if its legal.

  4. Bob Smith says:

    If it’s taxed, does that mean people will write it off as an entertainment expense?

  5. louie says:

    I do believe that as far as the federal government is concerned, prostitution is a legitimate profession as long as the participants annual income and revenues are reported and paid for. The real legality question lies with the individual states. It’s a little humorous that the article here is addressing females and not including male prostitution too. Isn’t that a women’s rights choice issue too?
    Bottom line is, government has no business dictating morals in any case. Illicit Servitude is another issue, but not confined to prostitution.

Any Thoughts?