Monday, January 31, 2005

A Seldom-Discussed Problem with Legalized Prostitution

Click on the title to read the article (about unemployment benefits in Germany being denied to woman because there were jobs available at the local brothel). I worked as a Legal Aid lawyer for three years and spent most of my time doing Social Security Disability cases. There were many hearings where the Social Security Administration was denying benefits to someone with no job skills and some physical maladies because "they could work as a dial marker or a potato chip counter." (No kidding - these are real entries in the Dictionary of Occupation Titles, and favorites for disability examiners, who seem to think there are thousands of such positions open in every city).

I've heard and read many arguments for and against legalized prostitution (personally, apart from moral concerns, I think prostitution in general exploits female illegal immigrants), but I hadn't considered the possibility that it would mean adding the "world's oldest profession" to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which would mean Social Security Disability claimants would have the burden of proving they were physically unable to perform this job. Ugh.

Readers who share my intense Puritanical dislike of prostitution can click here to get rankled by the Economist's coverage of a new prostitution resort planned in Nevada with a museum and gift shop. From the story: "George Flint, head of the Nevada Brothel Association, insists that a trip to the Mustang Ranch could be 'just as important as driving to Mount Rushmore'.” I guess I haven't done that yet, either.