CNN Analyst: Legalized Prostitution Could Help Economy

     Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can “boost” a city’s economic growth.


     CNN “American Morning” legal analyst Sunny Hostin on Oct. 23 examined the pros and cons of a San Francisco ballot measure to be voted on next month called Proposition K. The measure would decriminalize prostitution.


     But Hostin said there was a case not for decriminalized prostitution – which reportedly will save $11 million in municipal police spending – but for legalization, which would help the local economy.


     “I think the more valid argument would be legalizing it because I’ve spoken to a couple of people in San Francisco about this – a couple of voters and what they’re saying  is, ‘Why not legalize prostitution because then brothels will be taxed, prostitutes will be taxed and that will boost the economy in these economic times,’” Hostin said. “This is the one time I think this sort of proposition in San Francisco could, could be passed.


     Hostin has a skewed view of “boosting” the economy. Legalized prostitution, if taxed, would boost the city’s tax revenues, but that is not the same as economic growth. The economic activity would still be occurring – whether it was decriminalized and untaxed or legalized and taxed. But, Hostin said the economic boost wasn’t a “valid argument” for decriminalization alone, even though there would still be this “economic growth” occurring.


     “So, is it a valid argument for decriminalization – I don’t think so,” Hostin added.


     However, the argument that the legalization or decriminalization of prostitution would be any economic boost isn’t necessarily true either. The state of Nevada, where prostitution is legal, regulated and taxed in 11 counties as Hostin proposed, is suffering with very tough economic times. Unemployment in Nevada is at a 23-year high of 7.1 percent and expected to hit to 7.6 percent in January. As far as tax revenue, the state is facing an $898 million and has had to cut spending by $1.2 billion with more cuts expected.


     “American Morning” co-anchor Kiran Chetry did mention some potentially serious downfalls of legalizing prostitution – such as attracting other prostitutes from areas where it is currently illegal and increases in illegal drug use, often associated with the trade. Those aspects could increase illegal activity – which could offset the estimated $11 million in police savings, though Chetry and Hostin didn’t point that out.