Monday, June 21, 2010

Leave those Strippers Alone!

According to the latest issue of TIME and its cover story article ('The Other Financial Crisis') on the economic crisis in the states, 48 states have large deficits that will have to be addressed by cost –cutting necessary services (including Medicaid) and 14 states are essentially living “hand to mouth”.


In one of the states, Missouri, the Governor foresees the need for some $301 million in budget cuts as the state seeks to get its finances in order. At the same time, a Republican drive in the state seeks to clamp down on “Strip clubs” and female strippers with one of the most draconian laws in the nation (‘Showdown over Strippers’ in The Wall Street Journal’, June 21, p. A3)

This, despite the fact that strip clubs are a legal business that currently employs nearly 3,000 people and brings in some $4.5 million in state sales tax revenue. According to Dick Snow, the owner of one all nude cabaret in Kansas City (WSJ):

The law was written to close us down.”

He added the proposed legislation “makes no sense” given the state’s unemployment and its struggle to get free of the recession.

However, let’s be clear those sort of concerns have never stopped moralist, puritanical Repubs before. Their whole shtick in fact (see Thomas Frank’s ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’) is to forever entice the slower folks of the populace to take their eyes off their own self-interest and be distracted by moralistic puffery – whether by playing the abortion card, the gay card, the porn card…or now, the strip club card.

The bill proposed by these 21st century Mizzou Puritans has a number of horrific, business-slaying components, but the worst are probably:

- All Adult entertainment clubs must close at midnight (the clubs – according to statistics, do 60% of their business after midnight)

- All alcohol is to be banned from the clubs (a major reason people go there is for alcohol)

- Prohibit nudity at all times (Nudity is what brings the customers in!)

The main “champion” of the bill (according to the WSJ article) is one state Senator, Matt Bartle, who claims:

“You’ve got very vulnerable people who are coerced into being the fodder for some of these places”

But that malarkey doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the history of women working at strip clubs (or in porn) is that they do so because they earn much better wages – many to support their families – than they could flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. While the latter offers a minimum wage and some minor benefits – often at the expense of having Medicaid cut (because the amount earned is too much) in many states, at least the "skin jobs" provide stability and a basis for greater freedom.

According to one Women’s advocate, Colleen Coble, quoted in the article:

“One of the ironies is that for many young women, it is the best way they can support themselves , maintain custody of their children or escape an abusive relationship”

This is confirmed by reference to one of the dancers in the article, a 24 year old suffering from bipolar disorder. The young woman receives about $900 a month in government disability checks – and earns another $700 – by dancing 2-3 weeks. (That balance is the maximum she is able to earn without losing her benefits, and it delivers a time dividend she wouldn’t have if she had to work at Mickey D’s flipping burgers)

The young woman was so incensed at the prospect of losing her job she actually prepared a video message for the Governor, Jay Nixon, stating:

“I really feel safe here. It’s really going to mess up a lot of people’s lives if the law completely passes”

So, the question again becomes: Will a senseless – show morality trump human welfare and needs?

Of course, the zany religionists will scream: “well there are OTHER needs besides economic”

But generally they aren’t in those dicey situations, so can afford to shoot their mouths off and self-righteously pontificate and preach to others.

In fact, this isn't even a genuine morality but rather moralism. Moralism, unlike genuine morality, constructs a false behavior code predicated on the unsubstantiated belief in a uniform human response to external stimuli. They then generalize this codex to ALL in their purview. If they are shamed or mortified into insensibility by a nude female performing a strip tease, they believe 100% all others must be too, so seek to legislate their moralist neurosis. Via such legislation, any group can thereby exploit moralism to garner more political or economic power than they'd otherwise have.

One hopes Gov. Nixon, who claims to “count job creation among his priorities” won’t now destroy jobs in order to appease the moralism of halfwits.

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