As we all know, ground has now broken on our new casino, and we all look heavenward hoping for the promised property tax relief, which has been promised to come Any Day Now. In the meantime, our own Western PA’s State Senator Jane Orie is striding boldly ahead with the first step towards legal prostitution.
How, you ask, is a sex tax the same thing as legalized prostitution? Look at the businesses listed as being potentially subject to it. Among them are massage parlors and escort services. Now, perhaps you have not read the back pages of the City Paper recently, but if you have, then it’s pretty obvious what both of those industries sell. The cops know this, and for various reasons (some good, some bad) choose to look the other way 99% of the time. If we move to taxing those businesses, we are tacitly admitting that what they do is considered legal and OK. Moreover, we know exactly what happens when our state finds out that it can profit from “sinful” enterprises.
I’ve got very mixed feelings about the whole mess. I like the idea of more money to fight sexual violence, and the libertarian in me is generally in favor of keeping government out of the bedroom. At the same time, sex workers are not always there by choice — they may start out that way, but their “managers” are not always upstanding citizens committed to womens’ rights. It’s almost impossible to stomach the idea of the state profiting from something that lives next door to slavery, no matter how good the cause.