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In every U.S. state but one, prostitution is a big no-no. However, as in many other professions, there is a strict hierarchy ranging from the vendors dismissedly called "two-bit" to the millionaire entrepreneurs like madam Heidi Fleiss, whose black book was the talk of Washington for a week or two until something jucier came along.

Most Americans come down hard on the lower classes of the round-heeled brigade and slightly less hard on the higher ones. Enablers of the prostitutes, called "managers" in the high class and "pimps" in the low, generally make out very well and, especially in the former, usually don't pay any penalties. However, the most remarkable group is the patron, called "Johns" in the lower class and "clients" in the upper. They usually get away completely.

So what does all this have to do with my favorite topic, economics, or its closest cousin, politics? Well, quite a bit, actually. Why? Because we have arrived at the point where our political structure is designed very closely to align with that of the World's Oldest Profession. Take the Congress, for example. Tune in to C-SPAN on any given day and count the number of congresspersons in their seats. The last time I did this, I found nine. The House of Representatives looked like Radio City Music Hall on cleaning day. One could ask where the people's representatives were. According to numerous interviews, they were probably on the phone raising money. It's estimated that fully two-thirds of the time of a member of Congress is spent scrounging dough. This may account for some of the votes we see on the few occasions when they're not calling each other names.

The donors to the Congress are, in most cases, lobbyists representing industries that stand to gain from particular pieces of legislation. These are the clients. They used to spend large sums wining and dining the politicos and also freely gave the limit the law allowed to help the in next election campaign. Enter the enablers. Thanks to the defenders of Strict Constitutional interpretation, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, John Roberts along with part-time defender Anthony Kennedy, the gloves were removed and the Johns - pardon me, clients - could shovel in as much cash as they wanted. Sort of like removing the price ceiling on the highest-paid call girls. The judicial enablers, having put the government up for sale to the highest bidders, got back to work on really important things like gay marriage and smoking marijuana.

What makes this comparison especially odious is the reaction of the people. Vox Populi. In the same way we blame the whores instead of the Johns, we blame the Congress instead of the lobbyists. All someone has to do is listen to any right-wing station and get a diatribe about the evils of government, especially when it comes to regulation against practices that damage people or cost corporations money. You'd have to listen for a few days before you'd hear a word against the corporations that are buying the government. Excuse me, the corporations WHO are buying the government. You see, the enablers have also decided the corporations are people. Mitt Romney said so. These "people" can now call themselves what they are - Johns.

So we don't blame the Johns and we don't blame the pimps. We blame the prostitutes. It doesn't seem to occur to us that without the unlimited flow of money from the lobbyists and the "special interests," they'd go out of business and have to earn their money some other way - like working for the best interests of the country. Count the number of bills disciplining the Congress by cutting funds for education, health care and consumer protection and then count the number curbing the influence of lobbyists. No wonder our new national motto is "Money Talks." It sure tells a lot more about our priorities than "e pluribus unum" or "In God We Trust."

In the middle of this political campaign, it's also notable that nobody, with the possible exception of Ron Paul (who himself has been on the receiving end of corporate money), has said anything about cutting the hose that supplies the financial fountain of influence that steers the destiny of what once was a bastion of individualism and innovation. Again, as I said in  my last diary, the forces of corpocracy are dismantling our country and we're not doing a damn thing about it. It may be because we won't and it may be because we can't.

Originally posted to boguseconomist on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While I get the comparison, I find it insulting (12+ / 0-)

    to honest sex-workers. http://www.swaay.org/

    Yes, there is a correlation between President Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain. (-9.00,-8.86)

    by Jonathan Hoag on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 12:45:01 PM PST

    •  Me, Too (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anjana, Jonathan Hoag, Calamity Jean, DRo

      A good sex worker gives you exactly what you pay for.  This would be negotiated before the transaction and before money changes hands.  (I've never been to one, but people who have tell me this is how it works, so correct me if I'm wrong).

      Congress is too busy shoving your money in their pockets to even acknowledge your presence.

      Or, to be a bit more direct, "Least a whore give ye summat for yer money."

      (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 04:26:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whatever makes you think that Congresscritters (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anna M, bnasley

        aren't giving their Johns, I mean clients, exactly what they
        pay for?

        •  Unlike an honest sex worker (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean, KenBee

          ...they don't stay bought.  In Congress' case it's more like mutual parasitism, with the blood coming from the American people.

          Also, I respect a good, hard-working sex worker.  Congress...not so much.

          (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

          by Lonely Liberal in PA on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:37:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  May we please stop equating "congresscritters" (4+ / 0-)

          with sex workers? A majority of sex workers are honest and trustworthy service providers.

          The difference is "congress critters" accept money for services to be provided, or not to be provided based on the prevailing political wind. Sex workers are a group of people who say, "Hey, you paid me for this, here we go!"

          P.S. The term "Johns" is really tacky. Yes, it's still around, but we don't need to keep using it. Our clients deserve respect. My customers, in whatever business endeavor I'm involved in, deserve respect. Right now, I fix computers and computer networks. I don't refer to my clients as "computer illiterate.'

          Yes, there is a correlation between President Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain. (-9.00,-8.86)

          by Jonathan Hoag on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:45:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A majority of sex workers are without (0+ / 0-)

            any other option to earn a living wage.  Many had been sexually molested as children.  Many hurt so much that have become addicted to drugs.  A decent society would care for these girls and boys and women and men not leave them vulnerable to further abuse.    

            •  A decent society would make it easier to (4+ / 0-)
              A decent society would care for these girls and boys and women and men not leave them vulnerable to further abuse.
              change occupations for sex workers who wanted to quit, and make it possible for abused workers to complain to authorities without fearing arrest.  Making sex work illegal doesn't make either of those desirable courses more possible.  

              Renewable energy brings national global security.     

              by Calamity Jean on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:18:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Umm...where are you getting your conclusions (2+ / 0-)

              from? Or, more directly, WTF are you talking about?

              "Many?" Says who? And, hey, yeah..."many" dentists are really unhappy. My dentist had his license suspended for cocaine, that he shared with his office workers, and it took him a long time to get his license restored to him. As soon as it was, he left the state, and damn, do I miss him. I had a plumber who was sexually molested by his priest, but god forbid that he'd go into sex work. (No, really, he was not nearly empathetic enough to go into sex work...)

              Sex work is real work. Check out www.swaay.org

              We are real people who get into sex work for a variety of reasons.

              Yes, there is a correlation between President Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain. (-9.00,-8.86)

              by Jonathan Hoag on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:22:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  "Many" is less than "most" and far less (0+ / 0-)

                than "all."  Left plenty of room for you.

                Getting your knickers all bunched up doesn't change facts:

                One hundred and thirty people working as prostitutes in San Francisco were interviewed regarding the extent of violence in their lives and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fifty-seven percent reported that they had been sexually assaulted as children and 49% reported that they had been physically assaulted as children.
                •  Okay, so your point of view is that a "survey" (0+ / 0-)

                  of 130 street prostitutes, by an organization with an admitted (prejudged) point of view, is significant. Even compared to the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of sex-workers who are not street prostitutes.

                  Porn performers, prostitutes with their own "books", strippers, dancers, phone fantasy makers,  escorts who work through agencies, and people like me, who sometimes get paid...all of these are covered under a survey of street hookers under "many".

                  Wow.

                  Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church. (-9.00,-8.86)

                  by Jonathan Hoag on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:36:47 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Actually "sex worker" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Xavior Breff, Jonathan Hoag

              is a broad category that includes many types of work besides the type of prostitution that you have in mind. And many women have chosen to do one of these jobs because, although it may not have been part of their plans, they find it pays better and gives them more control of their lives than working at McDonalds.

              The misuse of "sex worker" to mean only "street prostitute" is a pet peeve of mine.

              •  Absolutely agree, there are many kinds (0+ / 0-)

                of sex work. Also, it's never been just for women...

                Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church. (-9.00,-8.86)

                by Jonathan Hoag on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:05:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  You're a mind reader? Not a very good one (0+ / 0-)

                wrt knowing what was in my mind.

                Why are you defending a condition of employment options limited McDonalds without a living wage and sex work with a living wage?  That doesn't exhibit much depth, knowledge, or thoughtfulness on your part.  

                •  Excuse me? (0+ / 0-)

                  What you are saying makes no sense whatever. How long have you worked in adult entertainment? I'd like to see where your "evidence" comes from.

                •  Hey, I knew what was in MY mind when (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Angela Quattrano

                  I started working in porn.

                  I knew that I'd never be able to run for public office, I knew that I'd have to give up a good deal of my campaigning back office skills, or at least never be paid for them ever again. I'm careful now when I volunteer, I don't even put in for reimbursement for office supplies or food if I shop for a campaign office, I just let it stand as my "contribution."

                  McDonald's? Give me a break. When I started doing porn, my day job was as a small drug synthetic chemist for a major agricultural chemical corporation. We were looking at enzyme active site inhibitors. It's been a long time, but I can still tell you more about enzymatic active site mapping than the average organic chemist grad student.

                  Oh, and the woman who got me started in porn? She asked me because we'd been dating for a while. She ran for the LA City Council (I think that's what she was running for) after a successful modeling career. She used to cook for the Indian attache's office here in the City when the Ambassador was in town.  Good gig, paid well.

                  Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church. (-9.00,-8.86)

                  by Jonathan Hoag on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:50:20 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Sex workers (0+ / 0-)

              Agreed. However, in accordance with the American capitalist system, sex is also subject to the laws of supply and demand. Were I a middle-class woman and sufficiently attractive, I would seriously consider becoming a call person so that I could put enough aside for my old age. However, like almost everything else, opportunities vary directly with income levels and education. Most of the sex workers in poorer areas are exactly in the position you describe.

              If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

              by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:14:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Firstly, attractiveness is over-rated in (0+ / 0-)

                the popular opinion of the sex industry. Everyone I knew in the business understands that it's about 20% boinking and 80% listening for an actual prostitute.

                Other facets of the sex industry are more focused on looks, I hated porn producers who hired people based on their "looks". Said hires were hard to work with, and really bad at acting.

                I don't know what you base your

                Most of the sex workers in poorer areas are exactly in the position you describe.
                quote on, maybe you have more exposure than I do. Here in The city, the last woman I did a "double date" with for money was tutoring Italian language students who were going to Rome. She could afford to do so because she had an independent outside source of income.

                Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church. (-9.00,-8.86)

                by Jonathan Hoag on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:01:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Return on investment (0+ / 0-)

          On the contrary, I have no doubt the Johns are getting value for money. Check out Romney's tax rates.

          If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

          by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:09:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Slight correction; sex work covers so many (6+ / 0-)

        different jobs, there is no one size fits all. (I can't believe I just typed that about sex work...)

        Speaking just for myself and the situations I have found myself in:

        1) Phone sex. If you do the call, you get paid. I've been on both sides of the transaction, after a call, you call the office and tell them what they need to know. If you're the "boss" you pay what your people claim, and if they make enough they get a 1099 at the end of the year. (Also, if you're the boss, charge=backs, disputes, prepays where the check bounces are your problem. Again, the girl/boy/whatever that does the call gets paid.)

        2) Porn. Porn is negotiated up front, and you're paid, in cash, on your way out the door. I've always worked with people who wanted to keep a good reputation in the community, so I was paid even if most of what was shot wound up on the cutting room floor. (Which happened once, not my proudest moment.)

        3) Prostitution. I cannot speak from personal experience here, I was only an "accidental" hooker. Twice, married couples have left money on the dresser on their way out. I don't know, maybe it was because I was in a hotel, maybe they just liked me, maybe they liked that I didn't pry into stuff like 'What's your last name?'

        My pro friends tell me it's like porn, for established clients, otherwise get the cash up front. Cash up front is mostly to make sure that the client actually can afford the negotiated price. But the big danger from new clients is that they're bored cops looking for an arrest.

        4) Pandering. Again, something I "accidentally" fell into. A friend of mine who I had "double dated" with a client of hers asked for a girl. (I'm a boy, did the double date as a favor to a friend, okay client bought me some nice underwear and some other stuff.) But he asked for a girl, and I called a friend who specialized in what client wanted, put first girl in touch with second girl. Two weeks later I'm on a date with second-girl, and she hands me cash.

        Turns out it's my "referral fee" and by accepting it, I'm guilty of a felony called "pandering". Go figure. But, she also paid for lunch, and I wasn't willing to barf it up, so I kept the money.

        There's probably a 5) for me and maybe a 6) but you get the idea. Sex work is varied, and wild and wonderful for some of us. And, yes, there are unhappy coerced sex-workers, just as there are unhappy plumbers, dentists, accountants, etc. If there were some way of gathering actual numbers, I would guess that suicide rates among sex-workers is on a par with those of dentists.But that's just me.

        Yes, there is a correlation between President Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain. (-9.00,-8.86)

        by Jonathan Hoag on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:36:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would be a reasonable guess (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jonathan Hoag

          to say the suicide rate among any sort of sex worker is probably a lot lower then that of returning vets, which is a national disgrace.

          And I agree on the "sex worker" thing. Once you start in adult entertainment you can find many avenues for profit.

    •  Honest sex workers (0+ / 0-)

      Of course, honest sex workers don't run for Congress. First, they could never be elected since sex is against American values. If you don't believe me, watch television.

      If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

      by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:08:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are so...so many kinds of whoring... (0+ / 0-)

    I am General Maximus Decimus Meridius. Father of a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife and I shall have my vengeance in this life or the next.

    by 2questions on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 12:54:50 PM PST

  •  It was Deborah Jeane Palfrey, not Heidi Fleiss (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bourbaki, Prof Haley, shmuelman, Marie, bnasley

    who was the "D.C. Madam," that is, the madam with the infamous phone list that was the talk of Washington.

    Heidi Fleiss was the "Hollywood Madam."  AFAIK, she never revealed her customers.

  •  I object to the idea that sex work is unethical (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, Calamity Jean, hmi, KenBee

    I have friends who are hookers, porn performers, professional dominants and other sorts of sex worker. The are ethical people trying to make a buck selling a service that people want to buy . There is no way that their work should be against the law. They have far better ethics than any lobbyist and almost all politicians, and they don't hurt anyone else. Go read some sex workers blogs (there are plenty around) and then you will see it is an insult to them to lump them in the same class of social parasites as lobbyists and the politicians who they manage.

  •  The patron, the prostitute and the pimp (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Xavior Breff

    It is good to see that Bogus got tired of sitting in the sun and has resolved to get back to work. Alas, Bogus's conclusion that "the forces of corpocracy are dismantling our country and we're not doing a damn thing about it. It may be because we won't and it may be because we can't" seem to accurately describe our plight.

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      I assume JonKos isn't much of an authority on the subject since I have been told he lives a semi-hermitic existence in a cave somewhere in the Northwest.
      However, I'd be anxious to hear which of the options I mentioned is, in his opinion, the cause of our malaise.

      If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

      by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:25:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Nordic Model---Yes We Can (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angela Quattrano

    In order to combat the rise of sex trafficking in Iceland, Sweden and Norway, they have instituted the Nordic Model law. This law arrests the "Johns" and offers the women and girls (most of which are trafficked from other countries) programs and services to help them get out of prostitution ("the world's oldest "oppression.")

    That might work with these bozos.

    Power concedes nothing with demand. Frederick Douglass

    by weegeeone on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 05:47:53 AM PST

    •  Nordic solution (0+ / 0-)

      Terrific idea. However, I fear there would be a shortage of space in our already overcrowded jails. As to education, there are many in Congress who consider this a bad word. Education causes people to ask questions and this might prove very dangerous.

      If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

      by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:27:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ipso Facto: the need for Free Love (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnB47

    The way to fix the problem of the congress of money and politics is to make ALL elections publicly funded.  By outlawing ALL private contributions to politicians (including judges), and using tax dollars to fund ALL elections, we protect our law-makers from the inherently corrupting activity of soliciting and receiving private money.

    Without the need to raise money for elections, our law-makers would then be freed to spend more time legislating, and be freed of the worry about being unseated because the voted against the wishes of their largest donor.  With a system of public funding for all  elections, the largest donor would be the voters, and the law-makers would then start thinking about how any legislation effects their constituency, not the big money people.

    The pimps, of course, are against free love.  The johns probably wouldn't like it either as their favorite girl would then be available to all.  Imagine that - a law-maker opening their office to any concerned citizen.  It sounds like....democracy!

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 06:25:58 AM PST

  •  the lion, the witch and the wardrobe* (0+ / 0-)

    how about more thoughtful application if we're going to use sexual analogies to sparkle an argument?

    they're good for getting attention and heightening the emotional color of a topic, but it's like playing with matches. 'masturbation' is getting cranky from having to get out of bed at all hours to compensate for tired analogies.

    and really tiptoe around the 'w' word...

    speaking of, radio host Mike Malloy always prefaces his derogatory use of 'whore' with 'no disrespect to sex workers', just takes a second, and never undercuts the fire in his rants.

    I'm glad the comments are coalescing around sex work issues and taking on a life of their own.

    *apologies for just wanting to string three nouns together. really, I have no way to link the subject line to the diary or to the comments, I just took a pop reference and leveraged it into getting you to read my comment.

    "wake up! your brain is star craving!" -Dance Party Boys

    by Xavior Breff on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:14:32 AM PST

    •  Comment (0+ / 0-)

      Sorry, I read all comments for every diary I write as a courtesy to the people who take the time to write. As to the sexual analogues, I feel they are perfectly apt and mean no disrespect to sex workers. You may admit, however, that, like sex workers, members of Congress provide specific services in exchange for money. The main difference, IMO, is that prostitutes provide the screwing for the person who pays while congressmen use the money to provide screwing to the entire citizenry.

      If the government is for sale, why not blame the buyers?

      by boguseconomist on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:36:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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