Surprise! Sex Sells, But Do We Need Legalized Prostitution?

Reihan Salam at Slate: ‘It’s Time For Legalized Prostitution:

Apparently, it’s not time:

‘So will Americans soon start clamoring for legalized prostitution? I doubt it, because it’s going to be very hard for people to stop looking down on those who buy and sell sex.’

Along the knife’s edge of sexual revolution can be found many an ideologue to whom the idea of liberation (sexual and otherwise) goes hand-in-hand with ideology. To them, your freedom to buy and sell sex would be part of a much larger project of ideological liberation from opposing historical forces and foes such as the Catholic church, the Puritan roots of America, the ‘Patriarchy,’ the squares, the bourgeoisie etc.

Apart from actual radicals, activists and ideologues, however, everyone’s got thoughts on prostitution. I’m guessing the idea of legalized prostitution is more popular amongst liberals and some libertarians, artists and the avant-garde, the younger generation and a steady band of older goats and ‘sex-positive’ types (my sympathies on your diagnosis).  Perhaps feelings run highest amongst those with a personal stake in the matter, after all, dear reader, hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.

It’s a complicated issue.

This blog remains open to empirical arguments from the data, and well-reasoned debate, with a lot of skepticism.

Some years ago, Martha Nussbaum tried to bail-out Eliot Spitzer after he was caught visiting a prostitute while also being in charge of prosecuting prostitution laws:

She writes:

“Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible nations.”

Maybe the U.N. could have drafted a hooker human-rights charter to trump local laws?

As usual, this blog is concerned with the potential for Statism, the deployment of not just science but scientism, not just reasonable arguments but a lot of rationalism as well, with a slavish devotion to experts, a trendy desire to be like Europe, brochures and bureaucrats to fill the hole (ahem).  Many secular humanist ideals are claimed to be universal ideals, which is enough to back our way into a lot of illiberal institutions.

There’s none quite so moralistic as those who’ve fought to overthrow some other forms of moral judgment.

On that note, here are some related videos for your viewing pleasure:

Did the 60’s counter-culture and the conservative counter-counter culture both win, in a sense?

Christopher Hitchens, William F. Buckley and Peter Robinson discuss below, including the sexual revolution:


Here’s a good cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer,’ which includes the lines:

‘Asking only workman’s wages I come looking for a job…but I get no offers…just a come-on from the whores on 7th avenue…’

Turns out Paul Simon was reading the Bible a lot while writing the lyrics.

Reihan Salam At Reuters: ‘Online Education Can Be Good Or Cheap, But Not Both’

Full piece here.

More on MOOC’s, or Massive Online Open Courses:

‘Tyler Cowen, the George Mason University economist and co-founder of Marginal Revolution University, a popular massive online open course, has argued that U.S. higher education institutions already reach the easiest students to teach (the “low-hanging fruit”), and so efforts to expand higher education access means reaching students who either face serious obstacles to graduating or who are otherwise less inclined to stick around.’


‘I have no doubt that online education is going to get better over time, and that innovators at places like edX and Udacity will find ways to better combine labor and technology in ways that will help contain higher education costs. But we shouldn’t expect miracles. Somehow we need to come up with better ways of engaging the large number of young Americans who aren’t destined to complete a bachelor’s degree, and who might need less in the way of help and hassle when they’re being offered real-world, job-specific skills. Until then, be very skeptical of anyone who promises that online education is going to make it much cheaper to educate struggling students.’

No easy fixes?

Some people learn much more quickly than others, and some have learned how to learn.  Some are dedicated and driven, and some have not ever put forth much effort.  Some have specific natural aptitudes and some simply don’t, while others have aptitudes that they’ve already developed by the time they reach a learning environment.  A few may have aptitudes they didn’t know they had.

A lot of people will need some sort of knowledge or certification right now.  A lot of people will need to learn more about a subject for their jobs on someone’s dime with skin in the game, which is often a challenge for good teachers.   This is why I don’t think free-market solutions will entirely work for education, but could help break the logjam of entrenched interests, inefficiency, and waste in our public education system, and help with the rising costs of higher ed and the unsustainable student-loan debt.

Technology won’t be a panacea, but I still think some of the core education mission is technologically portable enough to shake up the old model.  That’s the hope anyways.

Related On This Site: Update And Repost-Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

From Bloggingheads: Jon Chait Not Convinced By ‘The Grand New Party’

7:00 minute discussion here.

If you have high hopes for Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam’s new book, and a more independent, reformist Republican party, you might want to keep hoping Jon Chait notes.

RealClearPolitics reviews Grand New Party here.

For my piece, the democrats have won, but clearly there’s lack of consistency in the party’s ideas (a bailout for the automakers and carbon credits?) I’ll maintain my skepticism and let the idealists and ideologues be used by the politicans thank you very much (of course this seems to be the fate of all true believers in politics…). 

Is there a case to make but Douthat and Salam just haven’t made it well enough?

George Will may still do it better.

See Also: George Will On Stephen Colbert: Can The Right Avoid Many Dangers Of Idealism?Andrew Sullivan On The Conservative Soul: A Conservative Crackup?

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