Spitzer Caught in His Own Reign of Terror
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
It's not enough that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer jailed Martha
Stewart, banned trans fats in New York, harassed business within an inch
of its life, and grafted onto just about every other left-fascist cause
provided it was politically correct and increased his personal power.
It turns out that it was he who waged war on prostitution by going after
not the suppliers but the demanders, through use of wiretaps, sting
operations, money-laundering investigations, and extended jail terms. He
completely agreed with those who believe all prostitution constitutes
exploitation and so it is up to the state to crack skulls in the name of
protecting the women who enter into this sector of their own volition.
In a twist of hypocrisy reminiscent of the prohibition era, Spitzer
himself has been caught in one of his own sting operations, a full audio
and paper trail of his having sought and used an online "escort service"
for his own pleasure and at great expense. Next it will be revealed that
he eats trans fats and subscribes to MARTHA.
At the behest of hysterical activist groups, he has been prosecuting
sex-trade rings for years. He called prostitution "modern-day slavery."
His law - which makes no distinction between human trafficking from
far-off lands and traditional prostitution - prosecuting men who hire
prostitutes came into effect in November 1, 2006. And yet he is said to
have shelled out as much as $80,000
2.html> for prostitution services, and it was his attempting to drum up
another $4,000 in cash that initially alerted the police to his
An analogy might be for the nation's drug czar to be revealed as a
regular customer of the Medillin Cartel, except that this one is even
more stirring of public interest since it involves a subject of even
greater public curiosity than drug use.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Tracy Quan
oref=slogin> writes of her shock that how the Governor could possibly
engage in such dangerous activities. It is a term she applies to the
online escort business in particular. What does she mean by dangerous?
"Escort services are risky. When they are closed by the authorities,
people's lives are turned upside down. Many of us don't recover....
Nobody wants to work with you if you've been in visible trouble, nor is
just after a raid the best time in your life to start looking for a more
conventional job. A conviction will sink your chances of getting hired."
Now, that's an unusual definition of dangerous: it is a risky career
move for a woman because such services are likely to be investigated and
busted up. And there is another sense in which they are dangerous: "I
was terrified when the police raided the apartment that served as a
booking office for the second agency. Those of us who were not arrested
endured petty racist comments from the officers for about two hours."
There we have it: a second sense in which this business is dangerous is
due not to the business itself - which has every incentive to protect
its workers and treat them well - but due rather to the police and their
tactics. It is the state, in her view, that makes this a dangerous
business for women.
There is yet a third sense in which this is dangerous business. The
customer himself is taking a high risk of getting caught. The rich and
powerful "have typically sought out sex workers who have been
recommended by their friends and who don't have Web sites. Escort
agencies are supposed to be out of the question for old-school rakes who
want to protect their marriages and careers." So for this reason she
says that for the governor to "shop for sex through an Internet escort
service is mind-boggling."
Now, the author herself knows something about this business. She is the
author of "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl." Not for her at the fables of
oppressed women locked in cages as their overlords crack the whip.
Meanwhile a more orthodox view is presented on the same page by Melissa
a+Farley&st=nyt> , who points out that many prostitutes have been a
abused as children and work for companies in which the pimps take half
the proceeds. It's not clear what precisely would address her concerns.
Should women abused as children be barred? Would that actually help
them? Should there be salary caps for CEOs in the prostitution industry
and their profits be distributed to the workers and peasants? It's
unclear: does she want the prostitutes to get more money or less?
Ultimately, there is no need to resolve the debate about whether
prostitution is merely a seedy business or a whether people who appear
to be acting on their own volition are really engaged in hurtful
activity. St. Thomas Aquinas addressed the issue with the following:
"those who are in authority, rightly tolerate certain evils, less
certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred." He cites
Augustine: "If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed
Thus does this Eliot Spitzer episode confirm it all. We have the greater
evil at work in megalomaniac politicians robbing us of all liberty, and
we have the convulsions that comes with the full-scale unleashing of us,
such that the very person who campaigned most passionately for banning
the practice turns out to be one of the reasons that the practice can
never be abolished.
March 13, 2008
Jeffrey Tucker [send him mail <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> ] is
editorial vice president of www.Mises.org <http://www.Mises.org/> .
Comment on the Mises blog <http://blog.mises.org/archives/006980.asp> .
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