My wife and I have several things we like to do together. We used to love to ballroom dance together, and will start doing that again soon. We love to travel. We have been to Africa, Israel, Ireland, and Mexico, among many other places. We are heading out next Saturday to Virginia for a week. However, the one thing we really really like to do is take our little RV out and travel. One week, ten days, and over night it doesn’t matter we love to go on the road. It is a small RV but it has a bathroom, and for an old guy like me that is critical. It saves me from the midnight trips to the cold cold restroom.
Over the weekend we decided to travel to Cannon Beach for a quick overnight trip. We wanted to make sure everything worked in the RV as we prepare for our week long trip to Bend in July. We had a nice fire last night, cooked wienies over the fire, ate beans, while I had images of Mel Brooks “Blazing Saddles” running through my head.
However, as I always do I try to read while travelling, and I ran across a wonderful little opinion article in the Daily Astorian. It was written by Matt Winters and discussed the sordidness of prostitution during the early days of Seattle. He began his opinion piece with “When my Grandma Lillie Winters was a little girl there at the turn of the last century, Seattle was an open town. At the time, this didn’t necessarily mean open to suggestions or open-minded. It emphatically was open for business – of a person-to-person entrepreneurial nature.”
When I read this article I immediately remembered the underground tour we took in Seattle and found out there were several hundred seamstresses that did not own sewing machines. When our tour guide made that comment we all laughed a bit. Prostitution was a foundational industry for the economic development of Seattle.
Winters mentioned the corruption of the time, the rough saloons, brothels, and gambling that occurred in a town that was just starting out. At one point in time Seattle had what was called the “World’s Largest Bordello, a 500-crib corporate scale structure in the Beacon Hill area” of Seattle. It appears this bordello lasted in Seattle until 1951 “when a B-50 Superfortress bomber crashed into it killing 11 people.” The building is still there, but is now cheap apartments.
Port Townsend is another Northwest city that had a thriving bordello. When you go into that town there is a little hotel that you can stay at and sleep in one of the prostitute’s rooms. You can stay where Lillie, Ellie, and Joannie plied their trade.
What is my point? Winter’s argues that even though these women were looked down upon in society, this black-market endeavor was a critical part of the Seattle economy. “Economically, prostitution was a source of income to police, to procurers, madams, doctors, politicians, and liquor interests.”
However, this business argument for the societal virtue of prostitution misses a greater point. The social cost of how prostitution destroys people’s lives far outweighs its socalled economic value. He tells of the woman who thought her husband had run off with another woman, then turned to prostitution to make ends meet when she made it to Seattle, only to find out later that her husband had been killed by Indians. She ended up committing suicide. Or the husbands who would bring home some disease to their wives, the number being about 1/3 of men in the Seattle area that had “constitutional syphilis.
Portland and Seattle were centers for the sex-trade during their early years, and the I-5 corridor is still central to sex trafficking. There are many young and old people who’s lives have been ruined by people taking advantage of others for the purpose of financial gain. Many organizations have been created to help people who are exploited by this trade to break free from the bondage of the sex trade.
The black market for guns, prostitution, drugs, and other things is huge. Each of these markets are worth billions of dollars, money that is removed from legitimate markets that help improve lives. I don’t think legalizing something to make it legitimate is the right way to go. Today it is marijuana, tomorrow prostitution, and then what? Winters ends his article. “A large part of prostitution’s sordidness springs from mainstream society’s desire to pretend it doesn’t exist, consigning its workers to hidden lives of exploitation and criminality. “ However, when he says, “It is tempting to wonder whether the Pacific Northwest shouldn’t start remodeling our laws based upon Western Europe’s liberality on this issue, as we have with regard to other social matters,” I have to say no.
The creation of a market just because someone wants to buys something is not a good thing. This is why we elect a government and create laws because we know that sometimes we as human beings don’t think to well. God’s word calls it a fallen nature. Sometimes we buy things that are not good for us, or we buy too much of something that then becomes bad for us.
I am an entrepreneur, and I believe in the free market, but I don’t believe in the exploitation of people for the good of others. I believe in fair wages paid for a day’s job accomplished, but I don’t believe in moving work to another country to create higher profits and skirting safety laws. I believe in good business practices that are fair and done above board. I Am interested in Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, and how its implementation over the next 3 to 7 years will impact small business in the northern part of our state.
I believe in doing things in the light. As much as possible be transparent. So I guess I believe in what the wise U.S. Supreme Court Justice once said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” I also think that legalizing bad things just because everyone does it, is not good policy.
And that is my thought for the day!