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December 13, 2006

The Ipswich Murders

Hurrah! Hurrah!

At last, someone with something sensible to say about these murders. Alice Miles essentially states that drugs should be legalised (or at least on the NHS) and that prostitution should be too.

That these two things should happen for moral reasons alone is well known. For someone to be free requires that they own their own body. Such ownership carries the implication that they have the freedom to ingest as they wish and to offer gonads and other bodily parts for pay or play as they wish.

December 13, 2006 in Drugs | Permalink

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Tracked on Dec 13, 2006 10:58:13 PM

Comments

Rubbish.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 9:16:09 AM

For the avoidance of doubt, Tim, does this so called freedom to do as wish with one's own person include the right to sell oneself into chattel slavery if one so wishes?

Tim adds: Why are you against marriage Martin?

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 9:22:57 AM

If there was one thing those girls could have done to protect themselves it was not to be prostitutes. You would imagine that prostitution was in the common good rather than a mutually degrading act. Yes making it legal would remove it from the criminal underworld and black economy, but there's no reason it can't be both legal and socially stigmatic.

Posted by: Lysias | Dec 13, 2006 9:26:43 AM

I used to live in Ipswich between 1989 and 1994 and enjoyed living in the area. This is shocking to me as anyone who has been brought up in Suffolk and come to love that oft-overlooked part of the world.

There has been a bit of a campaign to press for legalised brothels in Ipswich for some time. Whatever one thinks about prostitution, this activity goes on and it is safer to have it legalised than not. This not only applies to preventing murderers, but also may reduce incidence of sexually transmitted disease, curb organised crime, etc.

As for the case for drug legalisation, I used to take a pretty full-on libertarian stance but I wonder about the merits of legalising incredibly addictive stuff like crack. I think you have to take the prevailing state of civil society into account. If you have a society enfeebled by the Welfare State and a dependency culture, it is different to one in which there are strong families and a culture of self-reliance and self-respect. Context matters.

Martin's second post question may seem to be a good one but it makes no sense to me. To sell oneself into slavery is presumably, to agree to surrender permanently any form of liberty. What sane person is going to do that even if their personal circumstances are dire? In nearly every case where one might cite an example of such voluntary servitude, one normally finds a coercive force at work.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Dec 13, 2006 9:35:05 AM

Tim,

Without wishing to sound like neither a loony nor a bore, I can honestly say I have never met a heroin addict whose life would have been improved by the drug's legalisation.

Suggesting that heroin be provided free of charge on the NHS is a slippery slope. What would be next? Vodka for alkies?

Brothels for sufferers of satyriasis?

Free fags for smokers?

Where would the line be drawn?

What incentive would have the addict have to wean themself off the drug?

Everyone knows the NHS is a behemothic exercise in resource allocation subject to the most minute political control - how long would it be before the stories of waiting lists for free heroin started to appear?

Or the stories of heroin addicts being refused the drug if they've fallen off the wagon?

You do realise that by even suggesting this policy could be adopted you're advocating an expansion of the state? The cost of which would ultimately have to be borne by the taxpayers?

Tim, I'm sorry to be blunt but this post is an outburst of libertarian ideology at its most extreme. Precisely why have so many cultures and societies proscribed prostitution?

You can wend your way through the Marxist or proto-Marxist analyses to the conclusion that it's all a consequence of patriarchies' need to preserve property rights; or else you can conclude that societies have recognised that in order to ensure social stability, best achieved by stable families and the exercise of self control by their members, it is not in that society's best interests to permit the performance of humanity's most intimate act for gain.

Unfortunately, prostitution and drug taking are not activities which can be justified by citation of either Bastiat or the Austrian school.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 9:47:49 AM

Tim,

To equate marriage with chattel slavery is facetious.

What slave has ever been permitted to sue his master in order to gain his freedom?

Having been given his freedom, what slave has ever been able to lay a claim against his former master's property?

What slave enters into slavery expecting that his master will share his property with him as an equal partner?

Jonathan,

With all due respect, the second post question was a good one. Any absolute right of liberty must include the right to surrender that liberty voluntarily - otherwise the right is not absolute.

You write,

"What sane person is going to do that even if their personal circumstances are dire? In nearly every case where one might cite an example of such voluntary servitude, one normally finds a coercive force at work. "

By the same token, what sane person takes smack? Goes cottaging? Or kerb crawling? Goes to the pub armed with a knife?

Every day our courts are full of people who satisfy the legal definition of sanity but who do such crazy things.

Tim adds: 'What slave has ever been permitted to sue his master in order to gain his freedom?'

James Somerset.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Somerset

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 9:58:27 AM

Re marriage and chattel slavery -

What slave has ever possessed the right to have his slavery annulled on the basis that it was entered into through force or fear?

You can do that with marriage, you know...

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 10:00:34 AM

I fully agree with Tim.

On prostitution: Prostitution has been made illegal largely due to religion. You could probably trace this back to Judaism seeking to stamp out the temple prostitutes.
In some parts of the US prostitution is legal (Nevada for one), in parts of Australia it is and I think some parts of Europe prostitution is legal.
There will always be a demand for prostitutes, we should let it be legal and reasonably open for the sakes of both parties to the exchange.

As for drugs: Will the lives of drug addicts be improved by legalisation? Well, they will have access to commercial, good quality supplies, so in one way yes. We already supply help to alcoholics and smokers to kick their addictions, so why not drug addicts in the same way? We would probably get commercial solutions like nicorette patches for smokers.

We must also look at the effect on society, legalisation would help cut drug related crime. It would remove the dealer's income, they may get you addicted, but then you can buy legal, known quality drugs to feed your habit rather than unknown quality illegal drugs from organised crime.

Posted by: Tristan | Dec 13, 2006 10:31:19 AM

Martin,

"Without wishing to sound like neither a loony nor a bore, I can honestly say I have never met a heroin addict whose life would have been improved by the drug's legalisation."

Probably true. The ones who OD because of unregulated supply often end up dead.

"What incentive would have the addict have to wean themself off the drug?"

I don't know. I haven't read Tony Adams or Betty Ford's biography.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Dec 13, 2006 10:57:22 AM

Tristan,

See the above reference to proto-Marxist analyses.

With all due respect to Nevada, the state is little more than a series of lines on desert maps. What native industry did it possess before gambling?

The efficacy of the 'they have legalised prostitution in Nevada' argument depends on whether or not the Las Vegas and Reno Police Departments still operate vice squads. It is controlled in certain circumstances - does the existence of the 'chicken ranches' mean that it is absolutely legal at all times and under all circumstances in that state?

And what about the other 49?

Let's agree that there is always a demand for prostitution; so let's see you take that argument to its logical conclusion and argue the case for the legalisation of child pornography and snuff movies on the basis that there will always be a demand for them.

There will be, you know; but it doesn't mean they should be legal.

What makes you sure addicts receiving heroin on the NHS would be getting good gear? If memory serves the NHS has outsourced its purchasing functions to DHL. DHL operates for profit; without wishing to cast aspersions on any corporation or entity, the involvement of 'for profit' entities in such a process would bring its own risks - bleach in the smack and so on.

The alternative would be to hire drug dealers to do the purchasing. What sort of social message would that send out?

In respect of your proposal for a 'smackpatch', that's the kind of goofball idea one would expect to hear from the Adam Smith Institute, right up there with the sniffer bees and the space elevators. Do you smoke? I do. Gum does't work by itself. Patches don't work by themselves. Such aids are useful only where the user possesses resolve - the will to quit.

And if nicotine's a hardcore addiction, heroin's 100 times worse.

Would legalisation cut 'drug related crime'? Who can tell? Let me narrate a very short story on that argument's pitfalls.

Early in its life, the Scottish Parliament legislated that 'the elderly shall have free personal care'. Landmark policy, dancing in the streets, etc.,

What happened? A waiting list. They hadn't thought it through.

If it possessed the political will to do so, Parliament could decriminalise all narcotics abuse tomorrow - by itself, that would not guarantee any reduction in drug related crime levels without some element of planning as to what would happen to the junkies. There would need to be some measure of support for them, probably involving taxpayer provision of narcotics. This would not only be the cause of enormous political controversy but would also produce increased costs for taxpayers.

Still think it's a good idea?

Tim adds: 'And if nicotine's a hardcore addiction, heroin's 100 times worse.'

Not true actually. Generally thought that nicotine withdrawal and cravings are far worse than heroin.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 11:14:36 AM

Tim A.

Huh?

Ratio of deaths to users? Ration of those who don't OD to those who do?

I've never read either Tony Adams' or Betty Ford's bios either - however, one would not imagine that their will to quit would have been bolstered by being able to go to the GP to get a bottle of vodka on prescription.

Tim W,

Sorry, not even close with Somerset's case.

Where was the case heard? England.

What was the ratio decidendi of Somerset's case? That slavery did not exist in England.

Somerset's Case did not concern Somerset gaining his freedom from slavery in England - it concerned having his liberty in England affirmed.

Two entirely different things.

Pace Michael Caine, I've just had a brilliant idea...

Absolute liberty to do what one wishes with one's person must be absolute; accordingly, absolute liberty must include the right to be able to surrender that liberty voluntarily.

Agreed?

Let's take it one step further.

If one possesses absolute liberty to do what one wishes with one's person, that right must also extend to the surrender of one's life for gain.

If A possesses the right to do whatever they wish with their own person, there would be absolutely nothing stopping them entering a contract with B for B to pay them £X on condition that B is able to kill them in order to make a snuff movie.

Food for thought...

And I have to say I've never come across any whore who whores for fags alone.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 11:35:30 AM

[The efficacy of the 'they have legalised prostitution in Nevada' argument depends on whether or not the Las Vegas and Reno Police Departments still operate vice squads.]

Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas and Reno by city ordnance.

On nicotine versus heroin, opinions differ; it is complicated by the fact that the pattern of dosage matters and very few heroin users take 20 tiny hits of heroin a day.

Martin is right on one point however; I really do not understand why people who are keen on these compromise solutions of prescription heroin and government-licensed brothels believe that this would give us the best features of vice and government rather than all the disadvantages of both.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2006 11:40:27 AM

Surely legalisation of heroin and handing it out on the NHS are two different issues.

dsquared...
good question, but prostitutes could hardly be worse off under the watchful eye of Elf & Safety rather than Pimps.

Martin...
o let's see you take that argument to its logical conclusion and argue the case for the legalisation of child pornography and snuff movies

Thats not a logical conclusion at all. One involves children who are not legally recognised as having the ability to make such decisions, the other involves killing people, which last time I checked was frowned upon even by libertarians.

Posted by: Serf | Dec 13, 2006 11:59:34 AM

[prostitutes could hardly be worse off under the watchful eye of Elf & Safety rather than Pimps]

this is not exactly an either/or situation. It is possible that the managers of state-run brothels will combine the commercial acumen of pimps with the conscience of social workers, but also possible that it will be the other way round.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2006 1:19:08 PM

"By the same token, what sane person takes smack? Goes cottaging? Or kerb crawling? Goes to the pub armed with a knife?"

Martin, you are not showing a lot of logic here. A person who sells himself/herself into slavery presumably knows that they are deliberately choosing to surrender their freedom, while the examples you cite are of desperate, and often deluded people who do not think about the consequences.

If two consenting adults wish to have sex for money, for the life of me I cannot see who has any business telling them not do so. By banning the practice, one simply takes the problem into the twilight zone and contribute, for whatever well-intentioned reasons, to the sort of horrors we are seeing now. If these women had been able to ply their trade in a legal way then maybe such crimes might not be so easy to commit. Of course, there will still be risks.

"Without wishing to sound like neither a loony nor a bore, I can honestly say I have never met a heroin addict whose life would have been improved by the drug's legalisation."

Well, I used to be a crime reporter in my former life and I have met enough people who work in the criminal justice and penal profession to take the view that the War on Drugs, even if one assumes its intentions to be benign, has come with massive costs. As others on this thread have pointed out, those costs have to be taken into account, whatever one's own moral view on people who injest narcotics or pay for getting their leg over.

I also think Martin is being unfair in accusing Tim of taking some rigid ideological position here. Skepticism about the merits of banning consensual acts between adults is hardly some dogma, but a view derived from decades of hard-won experience of social policy in Britain and many other countries.

brds

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Dec 13, 2006 1:30:11 PM

"I've never read either Tony Adams' or Betty Ford's bios either - however, one would not imagine that their will to quit would have been bolstered by being able to go to the GP to get a bottle of vodka on prescription."

What are you suggesting? That professional footballers would drink more if they could get it cheaper from a GP? Most of them can afford a few bottles of vodka without much bother.

So, there's something else going on that isn't about cost or legality, but things like taking control of their lives, health, family relationships and work.

However, some people aren't at a point where they want to quit their drug, so what should be done is to deal with that on a harm-reduction basis. In the case of heroin, probably prescription - regular dosage, uncontaminated, reduction in burglary, enforcement and gang criminality.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Dec 13, 2006 2:24:00 PM

DSquared,

Thank you for clarifying that the State of Nevada does not permit prostitution at all times and under all circumstances; an important rebuttal to all arguments for legalising prostitution based on the bald premise that 'it's allowed in Nevada' - the rebuttal I was making.

Serf,

See comments above concerning 'Free personal care for the elderly in Scotland'. Legalising an activity is one thing - managing the consequences quite another.

My point in relation to arguments being taken to their logical conclusions is, with all due respect, quite correct. A previous poster had argued for the legalisation of prostitution on the basis that there would always be a demand for it. All I did was invite the commentor to agree with me that if that is a reason for legalising a prohibited activity like prostitution it must also by necessity be a reason for legalising all prohibited activities.

You mentioned childrens' lack of capacity to consent to actions. Of course, I agree with you - the previous poster had forgotten to mention it.

Johnathan,

You're playing fast and loose with the meanings of the word 'sane' and 'sanity'.

You've just flip-flopped into agreeing with my proposition that a sane person can sell themself into chattel slavery (which is the best argument against permitting the voluntary sale of human organs for gain, because it's a very short ethical step from commodifying bits of human beings to commodifying whole ones) - but however desperate and deluded cottagers, junkies, and kerb-crawlers might be 99.999% of them satisfy the legal definition of sanity. To be desperate or deluded is not to be insane; they might be mitigation, depending on circumstances, but their presence does not automatically render the desperate delusional incapax.

You are entitled to have your opinion on the sale of sex for money - I happen to think it's wrong. It spreads disease and encourages violence against women, both by pimps and johns.

And it plays hells with property prices. Residents don't like being hassled on their doorsteps, or having their doorbells being rung at all hours by old men wanting to know if Tatjana's available.

What is causing the horrors now is not prostitution but a nutter running round Ipswich killing women who happen to be prostitutes. One doesn't wish to sound cold-hearted, but prostitution is a commercial activity - it involves risk. Even although they might have been dying for a fix, the victims went on to the streets knowing that that night they could be stabbed, slashed, beaten up or murdered, just as on any other night.

That is not to say 'They had it coming', but just to point out that prostitution is an extremely high risk business and usually not undertaken lightly. Whores tend to be quite thick-skinned about the risks they run; goes with the territory.

Legalising prostitution would in no way diminish those risks. They could be shagging like Duracell bunnies in five star hotels, surrounded by phalanxes of bodyguards, and they would still encounter whackos intent on doing them injury. That is the nature of the beast.

Stamping out violence doled out to prostitutes can only be achieved by stamping out prostitution.

Of course the war on drugs has come with massive costs - but those costs have only been incurred because it was recognised that the abuse of powerful narcotics would produce worse consequences if unregulated than it would do if regulated; a proposition I've never seen any substantive argument against.

Johnathan, other views which might be 'derived from decades of hard-won experience of social policy in Britain' might include the necessity of suppressing Islam on the basis that its values are incompatible with British civic values and scrapping the NHS on the basis that's it's nothing but a black hole that sucks up money and which deludes the British people into thinking that healthcare has no costs.

Putting the first of those statements into practice might have saved 52 lives; while implementing the second would do wonders for the waiting lists.

It's all just a question of perspective.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 4:06:58 PM

First of all being paid for sex isn't illegal, it's the various bits around it that are such as soliciting (nobody likes solicitors do they) and pimping. Hence escorting is a perfectly legal business. And if brothels where legalised that that would take significant numbers off the streets, as it is much easier and safer to work in one than hanging around on a street corner. They aren't stupid its their job, and should a better working enviroment come available they will go for it. Also by getting prostitution inside a more normal legal framework with employment contracts and the like it would be much easier for the workers to secure better conditions. Just as it is easier for workers with proper contracts to secure better conditions compared to casual labour employed by gang masters.

Posted by: chris | Dec 13, 2006 4:39:39 PM

"You are entitled to have your opinion on the sale of sex for money - I happen to think it's wrong. It spreads disease and encourages violence against women, both by pimps and johns."

And those problems get worse when it is illegal, which is why people have campaigned for it to be legalised. QED.

"And it plays hells with property prices. Residents don't like being hassled on their doorsteps, or having their doorbells being rung at all hours by old men wanting to know if Tatjana's available."

It sure does. Another good reason to get the sex trade off the streets and legalise it so it will not cause this sort of damage to property values.

"Stamping out violence doled out to prostitutes can only be achieved by stamping out prostitution.

Why not abolish Original Sin? You are searching for the "crackdown" on X or Y to achieve your desired outcome, ignoring the costs of what happens when consensual, I repeat consensual, activity between adults, is banned. Folk like you, however well-meaning, always overlook the Law of Unintended Consequences in this case.

"Of course the war on drugs has come with massive costs - but those costs have only been incurred because it was recognised that the abuse of powerful narcotics would produce worse consequences if unregulated than it would do if regulated; a proposition I've never seen any substantive argument against."

Are you seriously contending that banning substances that people want has not played a key part in inflating the price? That makes no sense at all. The law of supply and demand has not been suspended.

"Johnathan, other views which might be 'derived from decades of hard-won experience of social policy in Britain' might include the necessity of suppressing Islam on the basis that its values are incompatible with British civic values and scrapping the NHS on the basis that's it's nothing but a black hole that sucks up money and which deludes the British people into thinking that healthcare has no costs."

Authortarian nonsense, half-trths and a truth. How are you going to suppress Islam in a free society, pray? I'd be interested to know how you do that.

I am opposed to the NHS, a soviet model of health care that most people in this country are as yet unwilling to give up, alas.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Dec 13, 2006 5:54:37 PM

[Are you seriously contending that banning substances that people want has not played a key part in inflating the price? That makes no sense at all. The law of supply and demand has not been suspended.]

in the interests of a fair twelve-round fight, I must now point out that if you are going to say "The law of supply and demand has not been suspended" you must not at some future point in this argument claim that the legalisation of hard drugs would not result in a large increase in the number of users and addicts.

thanks, now break! gloves up! ding ding!

Tim adds: Well, Gary Beckers has certainly published a paper stating that legalisation and taxation would lead to a decrease in drug taking. I wrote about it for the SAU. it's somewhere on their blog.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2006 6:00:12 PM

[Well, Gary Beckers has certainly published a paper stating that legalisation and taxation would lead to a decrease in drug taking]

so then he's said that the laws of supply and demand *have* been suspended then.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 13, 2006 6:57:43 PM

Chris,

So you would envisage an arrangement for legalised prostitution whereby Sandy and Mandy clock in at 22.00 and clock out at 06.00 on a wage of £1,500 a week, the johns pay VAT, the girls all get regular health checks, they're all on final salary pensions, they're covered by the Working Time Directive and everyone's in the T & G. Fair?

Let's iron out some of the other practical humps, so to speak.

How would their employers, the brothels, get round our laws against discrimination in hiring practices? These people would in the business of selling sex for money. That means they will want to employ those whores best able to sell sex.

They will want to hire the best looking, and sadly probably also the youngest, whores they can find.

Candy turns up for an interview, aged 32 and still handsome but with a few of life's more bitter experiences etched on her face. 'Too old and too ugly!' cries Hoxha the Albanian brothelkeeper.

Would Candy have title to sue Hoxha for discriminating against her?

If not, where is Candy most likely to go then?

The street. Problem not solved.

Here's another one, and from the point of view of the girls' safety, much more important.

Legalised prostitutes would presumably be able to enjoy freedom of movement between brothels, and be part of the flexible workforce like the rest of us.

Would the johns be considered their customers or the brothel's?

Now if Brandy kept a little black book containing all her gentlemens' private mobile numbers and gets headhunted away from Hoxha by his cousin Ylber, would Hoxha have an enforceable right to prevent Brandy from contacting those gentlemen which would not involve her face and an open razor?

Brandy might be an exceptionally industrious whore, and might be able to cover her costs without the little black book - but if Hoxha does have a legal right to prevent her from contacting them upon her joining another brothel, where might she be going then?

The street. Problem not solved.

And do not think for a moment that the same pressures would not apply to brothels run on either co-operative or partnership models.

Johnathan,

"And those problems get worse when it is illegal, which is why people have campaigned for it to be legalised. QED."

No, D is not QE'd unless and until evidence is produced.

So let's see some evidence that disease would not be spread as widely and violence against women would occur less often in legal rather than illegal prostitution.

"It sure does. Another good reason to get the sex trade off the streets and legalise it so it will not cause this sort of damage to property values."

Except in the places where the brothels are...

Hmmm...

"Why not abolish Original Sin? You are searching for the "crackdown" on X or Y to achieve your desired outcome, ignoring the costs of what happens when consensual, I repeat consensual, activity between adults, is banned. Folk like you, however well-meaning, always overlook the Law of Unintended Consequences in this case."

What would the costs of stamping out prostitution actually be? You've mentioned costs - what would those costs be?

What Unintended Consequences might stamping out prostitution have? One might be that it could give a proportion of the 95% of British prostitutes with serious drugs problems a serious incentive to get off drugs.

Not a bad unintended consequence, as far as unintended consequences go...

"Are you seriously contending that banning substances that people want has not played a key part in inflating the price? That makes no sense at all. The law of supply and demand has not been suspended."

Did I suggest that it had been? You mentioned costs - I had thought you were referring to costs such as policing and imprisonment, which have obviously risen as a result of the regulation of narcotics.

If you're talking about the actual street price of the drugs, that's one of the risks involved in taking something you shouldn't.

Who cares what the street price is? Really? Who cares? It's not germane to this argument.

"Authortarian nonsense, half-trths and a truth. How are you going to suppress Islam in a free society, pray? I'd be interested to know how you do that."

I can guess what the authoritarian nonsense was, not so sure about the half truth and the truth.

Suppress Islam? Dead easy. Marginalise Islam the way we marginalised Communism when we still possessed a measure of cultural confidence and didn't waste time debating the legalisation of prostitution. Communists were still able to be Communists - it was, after all, a free society.

Tim,

Becker's a Nobel Laureate, so obviously his words carry a measure of weight - however one can't help but think he's reached more of a shamanistic than scientific conclusion.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 9:27:46 PM

"Suppress Islam? Dead easy. Marginalise Islam the way we marginalised Communism when we still possessed a measure of cultural confidence and didn't waste time debating the legalisation of prostitution. Communists were still able to be Communists - it was, after all, a free society."

"Dead easy". Communism was defeated in large part because those parts of the world that practised it were slaughterhouses, full of poverty, misery and death. It was a secular ideology that failed on its own terms.

The rest of your comments miss the point by a mile. You seem confident that one can stamp out prostitution, but you seem remarkably coy about spelling out the degree of coercion, of intrusion into people's freedoms, that would be necessary to achieve that. I suspect, Martin, that you will the ends of a drug-free, prostitute-free, sin-free Britain), but have not exactly spelled out how that desirable state of affairs might be achieved.

I don't see much point in debating this point further. You seem blind to the very considerable costs of banning consenting acts, and seem rather blase in your refusal to acknowledge that what you want to do is to ban such consensual acts. I have not debated you before so I don't really want to presume too much, but it seems to me that liberty of the individual is not a priority of yours. You are what I would call a benevolent authortarian. The problem is that your approach is in fact the mainstream, the default setting of the current way of thinking.

It does not work, good sir, it does not work.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Dec 13, 2006 10:29:58 PM

Sorry, I just caught this paragraph, which is extraordinarily wrong, so wrong that it cannot stand unremarked:

"Who cares what the street price is? Really? Who cares? It's not germane to this argument."

It is germaine, Martin, it is in fact the whole bloody point. If you constrain the supply of X, X goes up, and people who want X will do things to get it, like turn to prostitution, crime, etc. Incentives matter. You seem to be blind to the importance of incentives in human behaviour.

All in all, Martin, you have done nothing to convince me that banning prostitution or drugs by ever more savage methods will produce the results you aim for.

Posted by: Johnathan Pearce | Dec 13, 2006 10:35:19 PM

"Communism was defeated in large part because those parts of the world that practised it were slaughterhouses, full of poverty, misery and death. It was a secular ideology that failed on its own terms"

Not quite.

Having 50 American divisions in Germany and the ability to turn Moscow into glass helped. Soviet Communism was not spent out - it was outspent.

"You seem confident that one can stamp out prostitution, but you seem remarkably coy about spelling out the degree of coercion, of intrusion into people's freedoms, that would be necessary to achieve that. I suspect, Martin, that you will the ends of a drug-free, prostitute-free, sin-free Britain), but have not exactly spelled out how that desirable state of affairs might be achieved"

Here goes - criminalise commercial sex. Swamp the red light district with police. Have the newspapers publish the whores' and punters' names and addresses. Turn it into a jailable offence - two years for third conviction.

You are quite wrong to assume I have no, or little, regard for the liberty of the individual; quite the opposite. I rather think an individual's liberty is enhanced by reducing the risk of them having to sell their bodies to buy smack.

Such behaviour is undignified; and liberty cannot exist without dignity.

(I think I've just been profound...)

I take exception to being described as 'mainstream'; but if labels must be bandied I will settle for 'right wing'.

You write,

"It is germaine, Martin, it is in fact the whole bloody point. If you constrain the supply of X, X goes up, and people who want X will do things to get it, like turn to prostitution, crime, etc. Incentives matter. You seem to be blind to the importance of incentives in human behaviour."

Not at all. If people want X when X is prohibited then it means they should not have taken X in the first place- which means that the correct incentive to stop them wanting X is to punish the usage of X very much more harshly than at present.

We are a nation which has forgotten the concept of the exemplary sentence - a blunt instrument, but sometimes useful for reminding thinkers such as yourself that in the eternal battle between economism and the rule of law, the rule of law must always win.

Posted by: Martin | Dec 13, 2006 11:20:38 PM