Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do
The Columbia Daily Tribune published an article about the opposition to SB 586, a bill on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk that places restrictions on the erotic services industry. Although this effort is probably well-intentioned, it would have negative economic ramifications.
First, it could negatively affect 3,000 jobs statewide, according to the article. These 3,000 jobs don’t require subsidization from taxpayers, quite unlike the 600 jobs that the IBM service center has promised to create. The government should not favor certain occupations over others (i.e., computer technicians over strippers). Furthermore, these establishments provide employment for workers who are low-income and low-skilled, so restricting them would negatively affect this group. Additionally, because the bill outlaws contact between dancers and customers, such as tipping, a dancer’s income may decline.
Second, if the state government places these restrictions, the government will see a significant reduction in revenue. From the article:
[T]he Association of Club Executives […] says the note attached to this bill — $100,000 — grossly underestimates the loss in sales tax, income withholding and other costs to the state. They claim that if adult businesses are restricted as proposed, at least 60 percent of them would close, costing the state about $2.7 million in lost sales tax and $720,000 in lost state withholding taxes and would put about 1,800 people out of work.
This is another striking contrast from the aforementioned IBM service center, which will be located on tax-abated property and will therefore contribute no revenue to state coffers.
Additionally, as research analyst John Payne has previously argued, it is likely that some individuals would seek out substitutes, such as pornography and prostitution — perhaps even rape.
It would be beneficial if the government didn’t stop willing buyers and sellers from engaging in voluntary transactions in the marketplace. If a person happened to disapprove of these businesses, then he or she can choose not to patronize them and perhaps convince others to follow suit. Because this behavior does not cause physical harm to other people or their personal property, however, the government should not be involved. The scope of government should not extend to regulating the behavior of consenting adults in strip clubs, in sex stores, or in their own bedrooms.