Pimp my Tax

Sen. Grassley (R – IA) wants the IRS to go after prostitutes and pimps in order to crack down on human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a huge business, coming in behind drugs and gun in the black market. Women from all over the world are forced into slavery, even here in the U.S. It’s shameful that this happens and that we allow it to happen. But what’s the answer here? Federal agents now busting hookers and their pimps?

With the Raich vs. Ashcroft ruling, it would seem to be constitutional for the federal government to regulate this activity, under the Commerce clause, so it would be constitutional for Congress to ban it and appropriate funds for enforcement of the federal law.

But…and you knew a “but” was coming…will it work? Or would it be a huge waste of money and not really put a dent in the problem?

The free-market solution would be to legalize, regulate and tax the sex trade industry. This brings the guys who are in the market for sex to nice, clean, relatively disease-free shops and runs the average streetwalker out of business. No money to be made, pimps find some other source of income. Only women who want to sell themselves would do so, at a sexually-oriented business which is licensed and regulated. Right?

OK, has that been tried anywhere? Oh, yes. And the result? It doesn’t help. Brothels in Germany and eastern Europe are filled with women who are being kept captive, smuggled across borders and their passports kept from them so they can’t get home. They aren’t paid, so they have no money if they leave. But that’s Europe. They don’t make things work like we do, right? Well, we have a state that allows prostitution in certain designated areas and I’d be willing to bet they spend a fair amount of law-enforcement time cracking down on unlicensed sex workers who ply their trade in cities that they’re not supposed to. So, while the theory is sound for the free market solution, it doesn’t seem to be working when it’s tried.

But is declaring a War on Pimps at the Federal level really the only alternative to the ineffective enforcement of our human trafficking laws? There has to be a place in the supply chain that can be broken. Otherwise, it’s the trafficked woman who winds up in jail, the john pays a fine, and the pimp is rarely caught unless he runs a really big ring. Let’s look a little more closely at the problem.

The John – let’s face it, men who have no moral issue with it will pay for sex if they’re hard up enough, even risking arrest and disease, for some industrial grade generic sex. There’s really no government solution for this part of the chain. The only way really to prohibit it is through moral education. But that’s not the place of the government and especially not the place of the federal government.

The Prostitute – there are probably a limited number of reasons a woman (or man) get into this line of work. Some possibly for the money, but more likely it’s that she gets trapped into it, either lured in by the promise of money and kept in by the pimp. Maybe she’s lured into it with a promise of another job, only to find that she’s being held prisoner and forced to perform these acts. Possibly it’s a family business and she’s taking after Mom.  It seems that indirect action by the goverment to reduce the poverty rate would help. Perhaps. If she’s in it as an entreprenuer and not a victim, this may not help much. Maybe education programs in schools – “Don’t trust the man in the furry hat!” would help, but likely not. Education doesn’t really live up to the promise of curing social ills. But that’s not the thrust of this post.

The Trafficked Woman – she’s a prostitute, yes, but specifically the exploited one. She doesn’t know that she could get away, may not speak the language and has no ID and no money. The break in the chain for her is often entry into the country. Someday the U.S. will actually enforce the border and entry points. Until then, we’ll continue to see busts in suburban neighborhoods of latina and asian women, here illegally and forced into prostitution to pay the “coyote” or “snakehead” for their trip here.

The Pimp – Yeah, the song popped into my head too. Hard as it may be out here for a pimp, the money has got to be good or they wouldn’t do it. Find a way to reduce that and these guys will have to exploit someone else. Or else run for public office. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

So, I don’t really have the answer here because the problem has a lot of variables, like immigration, economics and the male brain’s wiring. But I just have a hard time believing that the solution is a Big Gummint program, like adding more agents to the IRS specifically for this. That said, if it works it’s worth the money. But if we go by previous indicators, like the War on Drugs etc, there’s not much room for optimism.

What do you think?


No Responses Yet

  1. Yeah, this post is gonna get us some spam. I can feel it.

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