Would legalizing prostitution help the US economy?

A Nevada brothel owner says America is missing out on billions of dollars in taxable revenue.

By Bruce Kennedy Dec 13, 2012 11:54AM

Image: Couple holding hands (Corbis/Corbis)The fiscal cliff dilemma is prompting some novel ideas on how to reduce the federal deficit -- including the highly questionable suggestion of turning Uncle Sam into a pimp.


Enter Dennis Hof, owner of Nevada's Moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel. Hof has proselytized for years about decriminalizing prostitution outside his state, and argues that a legal and taxed sex trade could do economic wonders.


"The federal government receives $6 billion a year now, off of liquor," he said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "The prostitution industry in America is about an $18 billion business, and none of that money goes into the federal coffers or goes to pay taxes."


With his plan, Hof says, the government would gain about $6 billion in federal income tax "from the girls" -- plus nearly $2 billion more in licensing fees.


According to the Christian Post, the international sex industry is a $30 billion a year business -- with hundreds of thousands of women, men and children coerced into a brutal and degrading life as prostitutes. 


Hof says decriminalizing prostitution takes money out of the hands of criminals, eliminates sex trafficking and combats the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. "You can't stop it," Hof told the Huffington Post. "Prohibition doesn't work and legalization can solve a lot of our problems."


But even if you put aside the obvious moral issues surrounding a decriminalized prostitution industry, there are some doubts whether it would actually reduce crime.


Some advocates look at countries like the Netherlands -- where prostitution is legal. It's even an active and publicized part of the tourist trade in Amsterdam, bringing in about $100 million a year.  But Amsterdam officials say legalization did not end crime, human trafficking, money laundering or drug abuse in the city's Red Light District.


"While legalization was supposed to turn prostitutes into self-employed taxpayers who did not need pimps for protection," Reuters reported in 2007, "the city said the industry is still dominated by criminals attracted by the 370 Euros ($484 U.S.) each woman can earn a day."


And a new academic report, looking at data from 116 countries, found a higher instance of human trafficking in countries where prostitution is legal.


"Our research suggests that in countries where prostitution is legalized, there is such a significant expansion of the prostitution market that the end result is larger reported inflows of human trafficking," said Eric Neumayer, Professor of Environment and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and co-author of the report.


"While legalizing prostitution can have positive effects on the working conditions of those legally employed in the industry, it also appears to boost the market for this fast-growing global criminal industry."


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Tags: Economy
336Comments
Dec 13, 2012 7:40PM
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housewifes on call? you bet. i know where are several "theme motels" that charge by the hour. they are located right in the heart of pilgrim and purtians home land. they've been there for 50 years that i know of and seldom is there a problem. i would think that it wouldn't look good if the cliental arrested themselves.

I would like to hear from women who can be honest about considering a new career. likewise, i also would like to hear the ins and outs of some of the women that have worked or working in the trade that have been model citizens and have a family and consider their work as just another job. they can say that because it's true.

Dec 13, 2012 7:33PM
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I have no desire to take a dip in a "public pool".  I think I'll just stay faithful to my wife.
Dec 13, 2012 7:27PM
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Prostitution is already legal---see all Democrats in government.
Dec 13, 2012 7:19PM
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next would come unionization and pubic pensions...oooops....I meant public pensions funded by us after O'Blamo decides it's everyone's right to have sex...it's in the Constitution in the "general welfare clause"...I'm sure it's in there somewhere...I need a Liberal to find it for me...
Dec 13, 2012 7:13PM
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Just what the USA needs. Turn everyone in to pimps, hookers and drug dealers. We all live like scum and the Government all live like kings off the Taxes. Sounds like a story from ancient history to me.
Dec 13, 2012 7:09PM
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sex legal?  For the taxes?  I'm sure the Dems would go for it to fund their unfunded pensions and besides...it's always been about the government telling women what they can do with their bodies and feminists just sit there taking doing nothing about THAT..."the war on women"...That's an O'Bamanation:)
Dec 13, 2012 7:08PM
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By legalizing prostitution you would also have fewer single moms being a burden on the taxpayers because they could support themselves and have a better lifestyle than having a baby by a guy that doesn't want kids and getting support from the government.

 

Those are the real prostitutes because by having babies by bums they are f-ing all of us.

Dec 13, 2012 7:07PM
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You have to be kidding me!! What in the world are you guys thinking of? If you tax the super rich, even that isn't going to do anything for this economy as the president has to stop spending money he doesn't have!!! Taxing prostitution resolves nothing accept make the idiot who wrote this article seem less than intellegent!
Dec 13, 2012 7:05PM
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Finnally a topic that we most all agree upon.   I agree leagaize it.

But if Fed get involved, they would demand equal rights regardless of a persons sex, or religion, or perferances.  

 

So then Men would have to pony up for women. Gov would requre women to pay equal for mens servives.  Then Feds could collect taxes going in both directions at same event. 

 

Wow! What a coo for the FEDS.     and maybe I could quite my job (I a man) and collect money from women who want to pay for services.

 

or would bartering both ways, still be taxable???

 

Hummm. maybe we to set up a pro leage something Like the NFL ( that is Football league) but prper rules of conduct would apply, we could become members,   Maybe even national competion and then TV rights.

 

WOW this propasl has enfless possibilites.

 

Count me in.

 

 

 

Dec 13, 2012 7:02PM
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Well the government should be really good at that, they screw us taxpayers everyday.  Sometimes more!
Dec 13, 2012 7:01PM
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Most sensible countries have at least decriminalized paid sex among consenting adults.  We should do that here.

 

Legalization makes the state the supreme pimp--and I don't know that I want them licensing consensual acts.  Taxation is fine, as long as prostitutes are taxed the same as anyone else.

 

At the very least, it would free up police to investigate actual crimes.

Dec 13, 2012 6:59PM
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let's face it...the naughty or scarcity aspect makes it more exciting...like anything hedonistic in life it can very old and boring over time...like marriage to the same woman for decades....yawn...ha ha ha...
Dec 13, 2012 6:59PM
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We are already "leaning forward" and taking it up the a$$!!
Dec 13, 2012 6:59PM
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Stay on the Subject People.  Yes legalize it so we take control as honest business persons.  Take the control away from the users of people . PIMPS whatever you want to call your manager.  Thieves is what they are.  Tax and License and Sanitize and Oldest Profession.   Love  and Peace

 

Dec 13, 2012 6:59PM
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It'll never happen!  Wives hold the keys to the candy store and they ain't a gonna let no one else in.
Dec 13, 2012 6:59PM
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LOL, the new liberal ticket...free healthcare, free education, free food stamps and free prostitutes all at the taxpayers expense.  We can call them ObamaTutes!
Dec 13, 2012 6:58PM
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sure Michelle obama  $10  barack  $5  then we could screw them like they are screwing the country
Dec 13, 2012 6:57PM
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it's ALL prostitution when you cut through the bs.

 one way or another - you are paying for it.

especially men - which is why prostitution is the worlds oldest profession.
Dec 13, 2012 6:56PM
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The problem is Obama will add Prostitution to his box of Freebies for his voting Have-nots and these women will become another government expense funded by the working taxpayers
Dec 13, 2012 6:55PM
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Hmmm.

 

Do sex and money problems go hand in hand?

 

What makes anyone think one solves the other?

 

Looks like just 2 problems 2 me?

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