It’s easy to understand why drug legalization is a hard sell: The most visible drug users are drug abusers, where as moderate drug use is under the radar (because moderate drug users don’t get in trouble with the law). It’s true that prohibition causes more problems than it solves, but that isn’t intuitively obvious. Drug addicts often oppose legalization because they generalize from their own experiences and assume that if drugs were readily available everyone would have the same problems they do, even though there’s ample evidence that the vast majority of people who try drugs — even the “scary” ones, like heroin and meth — don’t become addicted.
Prostitution seems like it should be an easier sell. After all, almost every adult has sex, and only a tiny minority become sex-addicts. The experience in Nevada, the Netherlands, and other jurisdictions where prostitution is legal demonstrates pretty resoundingly that prostitution is a much, much safer business within the law than without. So why is legalization such a political non-starter in most jurisdictions? Part of it is the understandable impulse to marginalize sleaze, of course, but I can’t help but wonder whether there’s something about politicians themselves that makes them think exactly like drug addicts — that buying sex is just too tempting to be legal.
Perhaps there’s something about the personality that attracts one to politics that also makes one more likely to indulge in prostitution with the recklessness of a gambling- or drug-addict. Are politicians — like celebrities — disproportionately prone to the sort of self-destructive narcissism that would lead a guy like Eliot Spitzer to spend thousands of dollars and risk career-ending scandal to cheat on his wife? It certainly seems like it.
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