Monday, August 13, 2007

Vice in Edwardian Chicago: a pro-business story (buy)
Reminds me of one of my favourite films in recent years, Blow (more) with Johnny Depp as ’70s cocaine entrepreneur George Jung. (And Paul Reubens as one of his early business partners selling pot on Californian beaches at the end of the ’60s, reminding me of what P.J. O’Rourke wrote about the hippies having loads of practical business experience.) I’m not condoning the morals here, just remarking on how the market works. (Neither thing should be illegal BTW. The church historically has been libertarian about prostitution.)

Apparently slavery in the sex trade, which goes on in the Third World — duping or kidnapping young women to force them into prostitution — went on in the US in the Edwardian era. Or least Protestant moral crusaders said it did.

That said, as LRC once observed there are some, believe it or not, who go into this business voluntarily and it doesn’t make business sense to abuse the staff (down time means that person doesn’t bring in money for you). Treating them well, keeping them healthy, does, as the Everleigh sisters knew:
They dressed their women in keeping with their sumptuous surroundings (a gold piano, gurgling fountains, banquet rooms, themed rooms and even a fancy brochure advertising the place) and treated them relatively well. They made sure the women received medical care, and they paid them decent wages. The Everleighs called their women ‘butterflies’ and when they made mistakes they were given a second chance. When they chose, they were free to leave.
(Libertarianism is not necessarily libertine.)

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