The Smoke-Free Cigar Bar and the Fully Clothed Revue
The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted some of the possible effects, including increased unemployment, of a bill on the governor’s desk concerning strip club regulation in Missouri. Similarly, Christine Harbin’s post earlier this month highlights some further potential economic ramifications of S.B. 586. Among other restrictions, included in the bill is a requirement that clubs close by midnight. There are further problems beyond the economic impact on those Missouri employees affected, though.
Tightening restrictions in Missouri gives an automatic boost to the strip club industries along Missouri’s borders, which in some cases may be even more unsavory. Closing the Missouri clubs earlier than in other states will also unwittingly create more post-midnight (including cross-river) traffic — a public safety concern that effects more people than the clubs’ patrons.
Well-intentioned measures frequently have unintended consequences.
Consider Springfield’s proposal to ban smoking in workplaces. Most workplaces are smoke-free by choice, but some businesses — like cigar bars and hookah lounges — are built around smoking customers. Although it’s likely that the ordinance will make some exceptions, those exceptions themselves create a tilted playing field for competition.
If you don’t like strip clubs and smoking (and I certainly do not), the simplest solution is not to smoke and not to patronize strip clubs or smoky bars. This an example of how the over-regulation of an industry potentially creates conditions favorable to further problems — while solving none of those it was intended to solve — and, in the process, harming the livelihoods of people who have elected to work in affected industries (after all, erotic dancers need to eat, too).
The fairest (and most effective) way to kill an unsavory business remains not to patronize it.