Taxes

Do Texas Authorities Want to Discourage Pole Dancing or Profit From It?

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Texas strip club owners have stopped paying the pole tax in the midst of a legal dispute, according to The New York Times:

When Texas lawmakers passed a $5-per-patron strip club fee in 2007, they pledged it would raise $40 million in the first year to finance programs to combat sexual assault and low-income health insurance.

In Texas, this is what counts as "family entertainment."

Four years and one seemingly endless lawsuit later, the state has only raised a fraction of that figure — $14.5 million. None of the money has been spent as the state awaits a ruling on the law's constitutionality from the Texas Supreme Court. And just 111 of the state's 176 strip clubs have paid any money, according to an analysis of the state comptroller's records.

Confident that the law will be overturned, many club owners, like Dawn Rizos, who runs The Lodge strip club in Dallas, have stopped paying.

At The Lodge — with its six stages where women swing masterfully around poles — Ms. Rizos said she paid more than $600,000 to the state in the law's first year. It was such a detriment to her bottom line, she said, that she stopped. With a court case pending, "I felt stupid trying to do the right thing," she said.

The fee has hardly left the headlines since lawmakers first passed it and the strip club owners promptly filed suit. Lawmakers revisited it this legislative session, trying unsuccessfully to change it in a way some felt might protect it from the continuing legal challenge. For now, the money that has been collected is sitting in the bank.

Whip it good.

Lower courts have already ruled the state's fees as an unconstitutional violation of free expression, so strip club owners aren't being entirely unreasonable in thinking that the fees won't ever be need to be paid.

At a hearing last year on the tax's legality, a judge asked the the strip club attorney whether it's "proper or not for the state to have the position that live nude dancing should be discouraged?" What might conceivably justify it as "proper?" Proponents of strip club fees have argued that the "secondary effects" of strip clubs, such as increased crime, domestic abuse, and rape, justify state discouragement of the establishments. What they rarely note is that there's not much good evidence to support this argument. As Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported for Doublethink in 2008, the studies cited to prove the existence of such negative side effects fail to factor in the locations of the clubs:

Many studies that have "proved" the existence of secondary effects have (innocently, no doubt) conflated correlation and causation, noting that areas heavy with strip clubs – which are often located in poorer or seedier parts of town – were also heavy on violence and crime.

In the only published, peer-reviewed study of secondary effects, the authors found no more incidents of crime in areas surrounding strip clubs than in control areas without adult businesses. And a 2004 review of secondary effects literature led by University of Central Florida psychology professor Randy D. Fisher found "adult businesses such as nude and semi-nude entertainment facilities have not been identified as crime hotspots" but rather that "research … would suggest that alcohol serving establishments, hotels and restaurants associated with nightlife activities would most likely be crime hotspots."

Moreover, it's hard to believe that the state is attempting to "discourage" strip clubs, not when it's attempting to use the new revenue the strip club fee provides to fund expanded public services. According to The Huffington Post, when the pole tax was passed in 2007, it was "projected to raise about $44 million over the first two years for sexual assault prevention programs and health care for the uninsured." So far, thanks in part to non-payment resulting from the legal dispute, it's raised just $13 million—and because of the legal dispute, none of that money is accessible to state authorities. The ongoing court battle is in part an effort by the state to get access to that money.

The revenue involved undercuts the "moral" case for the fees. At last year's hearing, the same judge also asked whether it is "unconstitutional for the state to target live nude dancing because it believes it's culturally unsound, immoral?" If state authorities truly believed that such dancing was "culturally unsound" and "immoral," then why did they set up a system that relies on the continued popularity and success of the state's many strip clubs in order to fund public services?

This isn't the only time states have tried to profit off of industries they supposedly want to discourage. Last week, I noted the problems Arizona has had funding public health coverage through tobacco industry revenues.

[Via commenter Au H20.]

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  1. Moreover, it’s hard to believe that the state is attempting to “discourage” strip clubs, not when it’s attempting to use the new revenue the strip club fee provides to fund expanded public services.

    Ah the eternal paradox of the sin tax.

    1. Hugh, you just have to keep applying The Boot Heel to your throat until the lack of oxygen makes the cognitive dissonance stop hurting.

      1. Or you cum in your trousers. Whichever comes first. Asphyxiation does strange things.

  2. I’m really tired of that Rand/Greenspan image. Ugh.

    1. It’s new to me, and I’m already tired of it.

      1. Bring on Lobster Girl!

        1. See, so I googled “lobster girl reason” and got this.

          You bastard. I guess they didn’t make it to five hundred donors after all.

    2. At H&R, going to the well once too often is never enough.

      1. You know who else went to the well once too often…

        1. Jack and Jill?

  3. Hehe…It’s a Poll Tax.

    1. That was awful. 🙂

  4. Glad I graduated college some years before that tax was passed. I was already living on a shoe-string budget as it was, and tipping the girls poorly.

    1. p.s. The strip clubs in Lubbock suck, except for sometimes giving away free beer to attract patrons because they suck so much.

      1. “Free Beer!” should always be responded to with “What’s the catch?”

        1. Lubbock is the catch.

          1. So, so, true, Hugh.

        2. Is that a trick question? Because there is no catch.

          1. Because there is no catch.

            “It’s free but you have to help carry 100 barrels of it out of that burning bar.”

          2. Because there is no catch.

            Probably no snatch either.

      2. My best friend lives in Lubbock and when I’ve visited I can honestly say the thought of “let’s go to a strip club!” ever crossed my mind.

        Though, on the other hand, you’d think with a Big 12 campus in town you could find some talent…

        1. There was a year in the early 2000s, though the exact one escapes me, that we actually had the most girls make it into the Playboy Big 12 special that year.

          There’s plenty of talent on campus…they just don’t make it into the clubs for some reason.

          1. One thing Tech has going for it is the coeds. Tech is easily #2 in the Big 12 in that category, imo.

            1. ‘Tis a proud boast amongst Tech-sans that our beloved alma mater has the highest STD rate per capita of any other school in the state.

              Not much to do but drink and screw. All in all, a good college career.

  5. On a more serious note, if the power to tax is the power to destroy, then shouldn’t a whole swath of taxes violate rights?

    1. Yes.

    2. Only if they are used to destroy, I would think. A tax, itself, is not an infringement of anything (outside of absurdities like 100% marginal rates). It is the lateral effects of a tax that can be, depending on how it is implemented and to what purpose.

      1. A tax, itself, is not an infringement of anything

        Uh, what?

        It’s a direct infringement of keeping the money that you earn (in case of an income tax) and paying the market price for goods you desire (in case of a sales tax). It’s practical use by politicians is an attempt at social engineering your behavior. Taxes are, at all levels, very much an infringement.

        1. Except that all those neat property rights are creatures of the state, or more specifically, creatures of the rule of law. What makes transactions regular is, at least in (large) part, security granted by the ability to sue for fraud and recourse to police for criminal violations against one’s property and person. What makes your property yours (after you have labored for it, presumably) is your ability to prove as such to a court of law, using the systems of rules, guarantees, and documentation that the government makes available or otherwise provides.

          Taxes can be used to attempt to change behaviors. When they are thus, then they become possibly infringing. Which is why I put the proviso that the intent and effect of a tax can be infringing even if the bare fact that a tax exists, under normal circumstances, cannot reasonably said to be infringing.

          1. Wow, those are a lot of unqualified assertions.

            Your assumption is that all rights stem from the state.

            1. Your assumption is that all rights stem from the state.

              No, just the ones that obviously stem from the actions of the state. The others come from we-know-not-where, but seem in and of themselves substantive enough to be provided protection even though we cannot trace their origin or divine their metaphysics.

              When someone natters about buying and selling freely, if they decline to include the fact that laws make commerce regular (and in many, many cases, possible at all) with a system of adjudication which includes the power to decisively solve disputes and punish wrongdoers, then that person is telling only the part of the story that happens to lie in front of his or her nose. I would not look to such a person to describe how the world works.

              1. Rights come from the use of, or the threat of the use of, violence. There is no other source of rights whatsoever.

                1. That’s quite possibly true. I would prefer to say that that rights are ultimately guaranteed by recourse to violence or threat thereof, but the metaphysical source of rights themselves–that is, what determines which human concepts qualify as a right and which do not–is still mysterious.

                  1. No mystery about it. If X can and will enforce your right to FITB, it’s yours. Otherwise, it’s just something you’d like to have, or not.

          2. Also the bizarre fallacy that you’ve conjured up is that in order to protect your rights the state must violate your rights.

            1. In order for systems of verification and adjudication to exist, there must be income. After all, the systems don’t run themselves (they require people to labor).

              So, yeah, in order for government to serve the function of defending property rights with the rule of law and police powers, they have to tax you. It’s not a paradox at all.

              1. Volunteer fire depts disagree.

              2. A protection agency that actually served that valuable function would have no more difficulty in obtaining income (and making a profit) than any other business. The state has to rob (“tax”) its victims precisely because it does not, in general, protect their property rights but rather tramples on them.

                1. Only those that pay should have police protection, or have crimes against them investigated and prosecuted?

                  I see.

          3. What makes your property yours (after you have labored for it, presumably) is your ability to prove as such to a court of law

            Alternatively, my willingness to shoot you in the head if you try to take my property is what makes it mine. Or if that’s too late stage civilization, my willingness to beat your brains out with an ungulate femur if you try to take my collection of antlers.

            1. Of course, if he and his big friend, or friend with the snazzier gun (or bigger ungulate femur) decides that you aren’t that scary standing there with your .38 special or your sheep’s rib, and they decide to take in anyway….

              But wait! You have friends too, and they will help you protect your stuff. Of course, they don’t do this for free, and are no use against the organized gang up the hill from you.

              To defend your property from the organized gang, you’re gonna have to get organized yourself. Call your neighbors! Parcel out duties and obligations for the goal of defeating the gang! Create a hierarchy to make sure that things are done smoothly during the fight!

              And, hey, it’s important to keep that structure in place, because you know that there’s a bigger nastier gang over in the next town. This whole organization for common defense is pretty damn useful. I wonder if it works for other things? Like that time you sold your lawnmower (or deer meat) to a neighbor and he paid you in goat’s blood, and you were all “but that’s not the means of transaction I want” and he was all “but you didn’t specify, and now I have a venison lawnmower. Pfffft!”. What if there were a way to solve those disputes? Perhaps a recourse to an authority that could be made impartial and powerful enough to back up its decisions….

              1. Or perhaps the helpful mafia could come along, and offer to protect my property for a fee. If I pay the fee, everything is great. But if I refuse…well, then, something unfortunate might happen to my property. Like arson. Or a lien.

                1. Of course, the major difference between the mafia and legitimate government is consent; namely, consent to be placed under the jurisdiction of the laws generated by the government and (added somewhat more recently, but importantly) the ability to participate in the forming of that government by vote-selecting its members.

                  1. Wow, vote-selecting is the same as consent? So far no I’ve ever voted for has won.

                    Try reading some Spooner. Or Rothbard.

                    1. Wow. “Go read a book”. Classy.

                      Yeah, I’ve read Rothbard and Nozick and even (days I’ll never get back) Rand. Nozick is actually the best exponent I’ve read for libertarianish thought; I found Rothbard fairly unpersuasive and Rand is just a joke as a thinker.

                      Wow, vote-selecting is the same as consent? So far no I’ve ever voted for has won.

                      Well, voting under conditions of actual contest is a component of consent (and, as I noted, a rather late addition in the grand history of politics and government); certainly it helps the case along some.

                      But the root of the consent at issue is that the people agree the government is better than what it would be replaced by if it were made absent. You know, made absent by killing everyone involved. As happened a few times, I’m sure you’ve read about those, no need to give you a reading list.

                    2. Mnemone Jones|7.15.11 @ 8:57PM|#
                      Rand is just a joke as a thinker.

                      How so? Too complex for your crackpot philosophy?

                    3. CE|7.15.11 @ 8:45PM|#
                      Try reading some Spooner. Or Rothbard.

                      Have you ever noticed that the editors at Reason never, ever, cite Spooner or Rothbard? Have you ever wondered why?

                    4. A policy mag doesn’t quote dead philosophers every day? Well, I never!

                      How so? Too complex for your crackpot philosophy?

                      ‘Complex’ is not the word I’d use for Objectivism. Definitely not the right word.

                    5. Only if you win.

                  2. consent to be placed under the jurisdiction of the laws generated by the government and (added somewhat more recently, but importantly) the ability to participate in the forming of that government by vote-selecting its members.

                    Except I never consented.

                    1. You sure about that? Have you ever knowingly partaken in any of the ostensibly optional services that the government provides? Ever sued someone, or defended yourself from being sued? Ever voted or donated to a political candidate?

                      Willingly doing any of those things is as clear a concession of consent as actually saying it.

                    2. No, it isn’t.

                      You’re one of those “social contract” people, huh?

                    3. No, it isn’t.

                      Wow, great point. You turned me right around!

                      You’re one of those “social contract” people, huh?

                      You are, too. You’re just one of those bitchers who whines when someone points out the shape and location of the dotted line.

                    4. So someone giving money to a mugger means he is consenting to being mugged?

                      Someone paying off the mob means he is consenting to rule by the mob?

                      A slave accepting food means he is consenting to slavery?

                      Yes, the examples are Godwin-like extreme, but that is precisely where your logic leads the argument. Lack of struggle isn’t consent. I’m aware of the system I’ve been born into, that doesn’t make me a willing participant in it.

                      I’d like the option to opt out. Would you allow me to opt out? Of everything; social security, welfare, police protection, national defense, the whole shebang. That is all I am asking. If you do not allow me to opt out, then what sort of consent is there?

                    5. Yes, the examples are Godwin-like extreme, but that is precisely where your logic leads the argument.

                      Quite wrong. The fact that a similar logic structure could apply to vastly different facts is unrevealing, since in the physical world logic follows the facts, not the other way around.

                      Lack of struggle isn’t consent. I’m aware of the system I’ve been born into, that doesn’t make me a willing participant in it.

                      You could vote with your feet, could you not? You remain, hence you consent.

                      I’d like the option to opt out. Would you allow me to opt out? Of everything; social security, welfare, police protection, national defense, the whole shebang. That is all I am asking. If you do not allow me to opt out, then what sort of consent is there?

                      Would I, personally? Of course. Is it reasonable for a government to do so? No, because those structures you mention are predicated on universal participation. Again, consent comes in in a few ways: you use these structures and programs, you have not fled from the jurisdiction of the laws you find personally distasteful, and you have not attempted to overthrow the government. If you vote (and I have no idea if you do or not), then that would be a fourth marker of consent.

                    6. “No, because those structures you mention are predicated on universal coercion. ” FTFY

                    7. Generally you can only expect universal participation when some are coerced. Thought that was too obvious to mention.

          4. I’m actually not in disagreement with too much of what you say here.

            Libertarians do believe in the rule of law, courts, contract enforcement and such.

            Personally, I see property rights and much of libertarian philosophy as extensions of the principle of ‘equal justice under law’
            . For instance, regulations should be uniform for everyone, regardless of what product they are producing. That is almost impossible under our current regulatory scheme, where every economic sector has it’s own set of industry-specific rules. By making the rules detailed and complex, you invite corruption by allowing some industries and some market actors to gain an unfair advantage as the result of government interference. That gives everyone an incentive to tweak the rules to favor themselves, instead of trying to win fairly in the marketplace.

            Similarly, our byzantine tax code is riddled with unfair advantages for favored political groups, both rich and poor, commercial and otherwise. By adding a home mortgage deduction, you benefit realtors and home builders. This is a major reason for favoring a flat tax. It is simply a violation of the equal justice principle to expect higher “income” earners to pay a disproportionate share of tax revenue. Not to mention that this rule excludes capital gains and interest and says nothing about existing wealth.

            To a great extent, a lot of libertarianism is simply about saying “Look, everyone should be treated equally, regardless of how much money they have or what they do for a living.”

            1. I’m actually not in disagreement with too much of what you say here. Libertarians do believe in the rule of law, courts, contract enforcement and such.

              That was the impression I was under, which is why I was somewhat surprised by the level of push-back. It was like I accidentally stumbled into a cell of secret anarchists amidst the libertarians.

              For instance, regulations should be uniform for everyone, regardless of what product they are producing. That is almost impossible under our current regulatory scheme, where every economic sector has it’s own set of industry-specific rules.

              Interesting in theory, but I tend to think it would be disastrous in practice. I don’t think the same standards of product safety and production error, say, should be used for manufacturing pharmaceuticals as for manufacturing frisbees, or envelopes, or door handles. There are inherent, and stark, differences in the consequences of error and the tolerable rate of such errors across products.

              While rent seeking is a problem when designing industry-specific regulations, I don’t think it can be solved with such a cure-all.

              Similarly, our byzantine tax code is riddled with unfair advantages for favored political groups, both rich and poor, commercial and otherwise. By adding a home mortgage deduction, you benefit realtors and home builders. This is a major reason for favoring a flat tax. It is simply a violation of the equal justice principle to expect higher “income” earners to pay a disproportionate share of tax revenue. Not to mention that this rule excludes capital gains and interest and says nothing about existing wealth.

              I agree with you more, here, especially regarding deductions (which are almost universally social engineering of the sort I alluded to at the start). I do think there are respectable arguments for a graduated marginal rate for increased income, mostly centering around declining marginal utility for a given quantity of money as a person has more, and around disproportionate benefit from tax dollars spent. However, specialized itemized deductions are for the most part indefensible.

              To a great extent, a lot of libertarianism is simply about saying “Look, everyone should be treated equally, regardless of how much money they have or what they do for a living.”

              I think that’s an idea that some libertarians aspire to through their ideology, but I don’t think it’s a particularly accurate rendering of the reality of libertarian policies, the actual cost and consequence of which would be distributed quite disproportionately on those who do not happen to have as much as others. The argument really becomes is such a change a rectification of past imbalances the other way (possible, but IMO doubtful), or is it merely a failure to understand (or care) how the real burdens don’t generally match up with the theoretical principle.

              1. don’t think the same standards of product safety and production error, say, should be used for manufacturing pharmaceuticals as for manufacturing frisbees, or envelopes, or door handles. There are inherent, and stark, differences in the consequences of error and the tolerable rate of such errors across products.

                The libertarian position is generally full liability plus coasian bargaining. Nozick argues for requiring liability insurance, or equivalent assets, to cover the cost of whatever risks you are imposing on other people.

                So it’s uniform without regard to the specific industry, and the insurers can pay the cost and spend the money to do objective risk analysis, instead of the fucked up political process which tends to result in people being penalized for trivial risks that are hyped up by scaremongering activists with a hidden agenda. For example, in the current system, anti-GMO activists impose enormously unfair costs on companies marketing bioengineered costs, by pushing through the political process for regulations that are not based in science.

                With the libertarian system, you end up with the cost of your liability insurance being directly proportional to the actual, scientific, risks, and no cost of enforcement being imposed on the public.

                It’s really quite an elegant solution.

                1. The libertarian position is generally full liability plus coasian bargaining. Nozick argues for requiring liability insurance, or equivalent assets, to cover the cost of whatever risks you are imposing on other people.

                  The problem with the Nozickian solution (full liability + liability insurance) is that it is likely to make it prohibitively expensive to bring any inherently risky or high-cost failure product to market. The insurance market itself might also have severe problems, since the risk profile of a new product (not to mention a new product type) is unknown and probably unknowable ex ante, and so it is unclear how to assess actuarially how to price out the risk.

                  Also, such a risk liability stance obviates the need for caveat emptor, which is a deficiency since the purchase bargain was entered into by the buyer just as freely as the seller.

                  As for coasean bargaining, there is scant evidence that the Coase theorem would be much help in many cases because its predictive power to point to efficient solutions is predicated on two factors that almost never match theory: zero transaction costs, and invariance. Original property distribution matters. Not to mention, the theory is fairly useless when dealing with a distributed externality (like pollution, say) instead of a specific harm to a specific individual.

                  So it’s uniform without regard to the specific industry, and the insurers can pay the cost and spend the money to do objective risk analysis, instead of the fucked up political process which tends to result in people being penalized for trivial risks that are hyped up by scaremongering activists with a hidden agenda. For example, in the current system, anti-GMO activists impose enormously unfair costs on companies marketing bioengineered costs, by pushing through the political process for regulations that are not based in science.

                  I agree with you here. Whatever my criticisms of the libertarian solution, your analysis of the failures of the current system are spot-on.

                  1. The problem with the Nozickian solution (full liability + liability insurance) is that it is likely to make it prohibitively expensive to bring any inherently risky or high-cost failure product to market.

                    Why is that a bad thing? Don’t we WANT inherently risky and high-failure-cost products to be off the market?

                    The insurance market itself might also have severe problems, since the risk profile of a new product (not to mention a new product type) is unknown and probably unknowable ex ante, and so it is unclear how to assess actuarially how to price out the risk.

                    Isn’t the exactly the same problem that a regulatory agency faces? When the FDA approve a new drug, they require years of independent testing to assess the risks to make a decision. And then that decision is either-or. Either you can market the drug or not, NOT whether the potential liability makes it financially feasible to market it.

                    With the insurance system, if the benefits of a drug (and hence the profitability of it) are great enough, it can get marketed despite the risks, or if it is only marginally beneficial, it might not be. The market-based system tends to seek UNBIASED calculation of the actual risks and benefits – and the costs of mistakes are bourne, via liability, by the people marketing the prodict. Ergo, mistakes are punished financially, and the best way to make money is to make as perfect calculations of the risk as possible.

                    1. Why is that a bad thing? Don’t we WANT inherently risky and high-failure-cost products to be off the market?

                      Because there are venues in which high risk is a natural expectation, and is thought merely to be outweighed by expectant benefit. Medication is a fairly high-cost high-risk field; even “relatively safe” OTC medications, in the best of conditions and with no actionable errors, still kill thousands per year. It is just that the benefits accrued to individuals (and society as a whole) are immense compared to that cost, in the form of millions of lives saved and many more millions qualitatively improved.

                      Transportation technologies are similar; high-cost, high-risk, high-benefit.

                      Isn’t the exactly the same problem that a regulatory agency faces? When the FDA approve a new drug, they require years of independent testing to assess the risks to make a decision. And then that decision is either-or. Either you can market the drug or not, NOT whether the potential liability makes it financially feasible to market it.

                      The problem I see, at the base of the regulatory practice, is that they go beyond determining risk to determining use privileges. I would have absolutely no problem with a regime where the FDA tests drugs for safety and efficacy (or mandates and oversees such testing), and then simply reports out the findings with recommendations for packaging warnings and prescribing doctors. In short, if you’re a woman with refractory morning sickness and adjudge yourself extremely unlikely to get pregnant, you should be able to take thalidomide if you want to.

                      The other problem here is that the money spent on development has already been spent for a medication that is pending FDA approval. Manufacturing drugs is trivial; discovering/designing them in the first place is the hard part. The problem is this: the FDA gets to make a determination after a large amount of data has been collected. On the other hand, a company deciding whether to design in the first place is flying completely blind. By the time they know, the money has already been spent, and bad drugs become a dead-loss.

                      With the insurance system, if the benefits of a drug (and hence the profitability of it) are great enough, it can get marketed despite the risks, or if it is only marginally beneficial, it might not be. The market-based system tends to seek UNBIASED calculation of the actual risks and benefits – and the costs of mistakes are bourne, via liability, by the people marketing the prodict. Ergo, mistakes are punished financially, and the best way to make money is to make as perfect calculations of the risk as possible.

                      The other problem with the all-market solution is that there would be greater pressure for drug companies to only design drugs for easily monetizable conditions suffered primarily by people who can pay. So you end up with a half dozen different ways of treating erectile dysfunction and restless legs syndrome, while AIDS patients and sufferers of rare cancers get fuck-all. We have a solid element of that now, but with the net dropped out there would be no incentive to maintain organ drugs or serve the long tail of comparatively rarer or poverty-linked illnesses at all.

                    2. Er, “organ drugs” in that last part should be “orphan drugs”. Heh.

                    3. Because there are venues in which high risk is a natural expectation, and is thought merely to be outweighed by expectant benefit. Medication is a fairly high-cost high-risk field; even “relatively safe” OTC medications, in the best of conditions and with no actionable errors, still kill thousands per year. It is just that the benefits accrued to individuals (and society as a whole) are immense compared to that cost, in the form of millions of lives saved and many more millions qualitatively improved.

                      Which is presumably reflected in the potential profits of marketing such drugs. So a high-risk drug CAN get marketed under the insurance scheme, it just means that the benefits (calculated in terms of how much people are willing to pay to get it) must outweight the expected costs (calculated in terms of actuarial risk).

                      On the other hand, a company deciding whether to design in the first place is flying completely blind. By the time they know, the money has already been spent, and bad drugs become a dead-loss.

                      Thats true regardless of whether you have FDA regulation or liability insurance. If the drug is too risky to be worth the insurance costs associated with marketing it, you lose money.

                      So you end up with a half dozen different ways of treating erectile dysfunction and restless legs syndrome, while AIDS patients and sufferers of rare cancers get fuck-all.

                      First of all, if there are huge numbers of people who benefit from erectile dysfunction drugs, and only three people who would benefit from research into some obscure cancer, why is that the wrong calculation?
                      And would the government do it any differently anyway? The state is influenced by politics, so their decisions are going to be swayed by majority vote. If anything, more so than the market. If a handful of swing voters in Florida decides the entire presidential race, then the handful of swing voters specific illnesses are going to get more disproportionately more research funds.

                      Also, I suspect there’s a lot more money in AIDS drugs than you like to think.

                      In any case, the market is actually the only thing that really does make any kind of objective utilitarian calculation about costs and benefits. The political process is certainly not anything resembling an objective arbiter of the moral value of which diseases’ treatment’s to fund.

                    4. So a high-risk drug CAN get marketed under the insurance scheme, it just means that the benefits (calculated in terms of how much people are willing to pay to get it) must outweight the expected costs (calculated in terms of actuarial risk).

                      In this world you’re describing, acetaminophen and digitalis never make it to market. Moving away from pharmaceuticals for a moment, how would, say, liquor producers deal with the fact that their product literally kills hundreds of thousands of people and is addictive? Strict liability means no more alcohol. Or cars. Or guns!

                      Thats true regardless of whether you have FDA regulation or liability insurance. If the drug is too risky to be worth the insurance costs associated with marketing it, you lose money.

                      The difference is that under the FDA regime I was describing, the drug still may make it to market for niche uses. Under your strict liability regime, it never goes anywhere; it just remains dead-loss.

                      First of all, if there are huge numbers of people who benefit from erectile dysfunction drugs, and only three people who would benefit from research into some obscure cancer, why is that the wrong calculation?

                      Flip it around. Is it ethical to let someone die that you could save in order to gift a million men with erections? The market comes up with one answer, most humans individually come up with another. This is why aggregated decisions are not always best.

                      And would the government do it any differently anyway? The state is influenced by politics, so their decisions are going to be swayed by majority vote. If anything, more so than the market. If a handful of swing voters in Florida decides the entire presidential race, then the handful of swing voters specific illnesses are going to get more disproportionately more research funds.

                      The Gov. doesn’t (and shouldn’t) tell pharmaceutical companies what they must produce. It is only to preserve the option, that should a pharmaceutical company wish to pursue filling a niche market they wouldn’t be priced out of the game automatically by insurance costs compared to modest drug sales. It also preserves the positive externality of increased overall knowledge of pharmaceuticals, the resulting improved understanding of the human body making it that much easier for companies and researchers to find more drugs to improve human life.

                      In any case, the market is actually the only thing that really does make any kind of objective utilitarian calculation about costs and benefits. The political process is certainly not anything resembling an objective arbiter of the moral value of which diseases’ treatment’s to fund.

                      To reiterate what I pointed out above, this slides an equivocation into the mix. The market does not aggregate moral preferences, only purchase preferences, and is thus in an entirely different game than those engaged in policy formation and governing. I agree with you that government policy does not perfectly reflect the moral sense of the population (which is probably, in any case, an unachievable goal), but it certainly does so better than a mechanism that does not take morality into account at all.


      2. A tax, itself, is not an infringement of anything (outside of absurdities like 100% marginal rates).
        ~ Mnemone Jones

        Far too many, because they do not get economics and economy, render opinions of foolery about concepts like taxes.

        Any tax is an unearned share of the profits.

        After a firm or individual earns beyond break even to stay in business or working, the tax man comes and demands a share of income that would otherwise remain as profits.

        All too often, though, the taxing authority body has not invested into the firm or individual, thus has not transfered money capital to the firm or individual for the conversion into material capital. For in every proper investment where money capital gets converted into material capital, the investor buys a right to any realized profits.

        Taxing authorities claim the right by threat of force.

        The case is far, far worse for the individual than it is for the firm. For the individual must share income immediately with the taxing authority regardless of whether the individual breaks even on his poor man’s capital, that is, his labor.

        1. Far too many, because they do not get economics and economy, render opinions of foolery about concepts like taxes.

          Why, thank you, pompous ass, but I understand economics just fine. On the other hand, you seem a bit fuzzy on exactly what taxes pay for. Your analysis reads like taxes are just this gargantuan pit where money is dumped in to be incinerated.

          Firms and individuals both benefit not just from an impartial guarantor of property rights and police protection, but also various infrastructures (like highways, electrification systems, telecom and internet backbone, especially rurally where the investment was made prior to obvious benefit).

          Taxing authorities claim the right by threat of force.

          Of course. That’s also how they guarantee decisions in favor of property and personal rights. What, do you think courts just ask nicely of a respondent to pony up the cash? Force is intrinsic to the execution of justice as well as to irreconcilable dispute resolution.

          For the individual must share income immediately with the taxing authority regardless of whether the individual breaks even on his poor man’s capital, that is, his labor.

          Great argument for graduated marginal tax rates, there, skippy.

          1. “Firms and individuals both benefit not just from an impartial guarantor of property rights and police protection”

            You must live in some other country. We don’t have those things here in the USA.

            1. You must live in some other country. We don’t have those things here in the USA.

              Of course we do. It’s run by human beings and hence not perfect. God knows, just read Radley Balko’s superb work on criminal justice issues. Could it be made to run better? You bet. Tell me, which private services are run perfectly?

              But, everything aside, I could sue you or you could sue me in state court in any state here in the US and reasonably expect a fair hearing of the facts and a decision that accords with the facts and the law.

        2. You amuse, Mnemone Jones.

          Clearly, from your comments above, you did not get at all what taxes are until I schooled you.

          As to your name calling, well that reflects weak ad hominem, the last bastion of a loser.

          Also, you ought to hire someone to teach reading comprehension skills. For no where in my words above could you or anyone else discover any opinion about the wastefulness of government spending subsequent to tax collection.

          Merely because you claim “great argument for … doesn’t make it so. Rather, that happens only in your addled, delusional mind.

          1. Clearly, from your comments above, you did not get at all what taxes are until I schooled you.

            LOL.

            As to your name calling, well that reflects weak ad hominem, the last bastion of a loser.

            LOL, and also, go look up argumentum ad hominem. You seem not to understand what it is.

            Also, you ought to hire someone to teach reading comprehension skills. For no where in my words above could you or anyone else discover any opinion about the wastefulness of government spending subsequent to tax collection.

            After a firm or individual earns beyond break even to stay in business or working, the tax man comes and demands a share of income that would otherwise remain as profits.

            All too often, though, the taxing authority body has not invested into the firm or individual…

            Hence my listing of some very obvious investments (infrastructure, services, and guarantor and arbiter of property rights) that “the taxing authority” makes on behalf of the taxed. Normally I’d throw in education on the pile, but you’d probably pop a vessel.

            Merely because you claim “great argument for … doesn’t make it so. Rather, that happens only in your addled, delusional mind.

            Irony detector FAIL. Best get that recalibrated, or you might make a fool of yourself. You know, again.

          2. You amuse, Mnemone Jones, again!

            Bureaucrats engaging in make work that you call “services” invests money capital converted into material capital, how, exactly?

            You ought to quit while you are oh-so far behind, Mnemone Jones. Clearly, you do not get at all production and the science of profit.

            Keep amusing though.

            1. Bureaucrats engaging in make work that you call “services” invests money capital converted into material capital, how, exactly?

              I don’t know how “bureaucrats” entered into this, as if most businesses don’t employ a middle management tier or something. But when a government collects taxes and then expends them to, for example, build a public road, you have material capital being generated. Productive capital, at that, since it can be utilized to help move people and products to market.

              Duh.

              Clearly, you do not get at all production and the science of profit.

              [points and laughs]He thinks that economics is a science![/points and laughs]

              Keep amusing though.

              Clearly you amuse me, too. I especially like your nickname in view of your comments.

  6. So, that pic has been used a dozen or more times, but …

    I have a feeling that Rand was more of a submissive, than a dominant in bed. Don’t you think, given the, um, rape fanatsies?

    1. Without question, Hazel. In AS when Reardon gives Dagny the bracelet made of Reardon Steal Dagny thinks something like “it is the most feminine looking bracelet because nothing is more feminine than being bound.” And of course the Fountainhead is all about finding a man strong enough to submit to.

      1. It was Reardon Metal – not a kind of “steal” or even steel. And sex in Atlas Shrugged and in The Fountainhead was not about finding a man strong enough to submit to, but about conquest – the ego boost one gets from the idea of being so desirable that even a strong man cannot control himself around one.

        1. Personally I thought it was all a sexual sublimation of all the repressed commie shit Rand grew up with.

          Trains and skyscrapers. Penis and penis.

          1. You just get stupider and stupider.

            1. You just can’t handle Rand’s penis. It’s quite alright that she fucked your brains out; many fulfilling relationships start that way.

          2. Personally I thought it was all a sexual sublimation…

        2. Well, sexual psychology is complex, still I don’t see desiring men to lose control and try to rape you because you’re so desirable exactly in keeping with a dominatrix type of image. The dominatrix would be more about kicking the guy’s ass than allowing herself to be ravished.

  7. Salma Hayek was amazing in that movie.

    1. Agreed. I am in no way a foot-guy, but I have to say I would have gladly partaken of the tequila in that scene.

      But the absolute best part of that movie:

      “Psychos?!? Did they look like psychos? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them…I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!”

    1. Do you now regret using #13 Baby for #11 on your hit parade?

      1. Hell no. I think my choice of This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven for #7 was witty enough to make up for it.

        1. I missed that one. Good play there.

          Seriously, though, are you going to dedicate “Gigantic” to rectal?

  8. with its six stages where women swing masterfully around poles

    Sounds like we got a reporter who was willing to put in copious amounts of research on this topic to make sure he got the story right. Its hard to find that level of professionalism these days.

  9. a judge asked the the strip club attorney whether it’s “proper or not for the state to have the position that live nude dancing should be discouraged?”

    Counsellor Dean: “No.”

    Judge Dimwit Q. Baptist: “Whaddaya mean, no? Are you saying the state has no interest in discouraging lewd and profane behavior?”

    Counsellor Dean: “That’s exactly what I’m saying, as long as such behavior is not inflicted on anyone without their consent. Your honor, as an officer of the court and, to that extent an agent of the state, were you in attendance at the Pussy Galore lounge last Thursday for purposes of discouraging the entertainment? Or were you there solely for the good fellowship of your fellow deacons of First Baptist Church, as I understand a quorum was in attendance?”

    1. I just got a pretty psychotic email about a certain TX state official and why he won’t be running for president. Basically, the email alleges hookers, hookers and more hookers. Apparently he sends his aides out to adult establishments to find available talent, so maybe the $5 was cutting into state revenues in a different fashion.

      1. He should hang out around 35 and Harry Hines Blvd. in Dallas. Lot of Korean hookers, and they’re cheaper than those stuck-up white chicks who demanded “payment up front”. What the hell did they think I was going to do, jump up and run off!? There’s a damn bouncer in the lounge!

        1. Korean hookers

          Pics or it didn’t happen.

      2. Meh. If he has to pay for it in Austin, he’s doing it wrong.

      3. Surely not Governor Goodwhore!

  10. Also, I missed it the first time I read this… but hat tip motherfuckers!!!

    1. Goldwater, are you ever gonna get a fucking job?

      1. Dude, I’ll slip the rent under your door. I’m giving your fucking dance a review, all right?

  11. Okay, Reaonsites: What was your first strip club?

    Mine was Stiletto, in Nanuet, New York. There’s a white castle a few blocks away from it, which makes it doubly kick ass.

    1. Have self esteem.

      1. Dude, strip clubs are like theme parks… with boobs!!! They are awesome.

      2. Self-esteem arises in this case when one realizes that a natural gift of beauty and/or athleticism used as a means of earning is just as valid in a strip bar as it is on the football field, on stage, or when modeling clothing. The ridiculous and completely artificial boundary that states that using naturally arising characteristics as a means to earn is “bad” has all of its significant roots in jealousy, power, and unethical social control mechanisms. Or, to put it a bit more succinctly, what you refer to as “self-esteem” is delusion and hangup, no more. Actual self-esteem is more about realizing one has slipped the bounds of Focus on the Fumbling and are now able to appreciate what people are willing to offer you for a fair price.

    2. Okay, Reaonsites: What was your first strip club?

      Some crummy little burlesque theater in San Diego that all the Navy recruits used to go to on their first or boot liberty. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was back in the late 60’s.

    3. I don’t think I could stand the stink of sadness and desperation that permeate strip clubs.

      1. Hugh,

        It’s kind of like the editorial offices at Reason, but less pungent.

    4. Silver Fox in Greensboro, NC.

      Although sadly still in the age of minimally-trimmed pubic hair (ca: 1990), the dancers were amenable to going to a hotel room for the low low price of $200 at the end of their shift.

      1. $200 in 1990 was, like, real money.

        1. Yes it was…and well spent money at that.

          1. I’m just surprised that the average North Carolina pole dancer has enough sexual experience to make $200 real dollars worth it for a one-off.

            1. It’s their lack of experience that makes financial sense, MJ.

    5. Mine wasn’t so much a strip club, as it was a restaurant/club in Yalta (back in 1992 just after the fall of the USSR) that had a topless dancer as part of the post meal entertainment.

    6. I forget the name, but it was just outside of the 610 loop on the I-45 northbound side in Houston.

      1. Baby Ohs?

    7. Living in the Detroit area, Canada, of course. More specifically, Studio Four, one of the several “Windsor Ballet” establishments across the Ambassador Bridge.

      Went on the way home from band practice in St. Thomas, so this had to be early 90’s. By the time we got done, between the three of us, we only had enough money for the bridge toll (so we could get home). Spent every other single nickel in that place.

      Good times, good times.

  12. If the tax was for revenue, would it be constitutional?

  13. The whole Rand Greenspan graphic is boring. My suggeswtion would be to insert lobster girl instead, everytime you think about posting that. FOR GOD SAKES PEOPLE, GIVE US LOBSTER GIRL!

  14. Intellectually, I would like to like strip clubs. I just never quite could, though.

    I feel bad for the strippers. Which is idiotic, because the men in the clubs are the marks and the ones you should feel bad for. But knowing that and feeling that are two different things (sorry, Ayn). So I feel bad for them even though it’s stupid.

    My loss, I guess. Many of my friends consider strip clubs to be a grand old time.

    1. DO NOT APOLOGIZE TO AYN!

      She takes your beating on her like a pro, and she secretly likes it.

    2. Everyone in there is sad. The women, for selling out their sexuality and self-esteem for a few shekels (OK, a buttload of shekels), and the men for buying into the fantasy that the women actually like them.

      But, on occasion, it IS fun to coax one of the strippers into telling you how she’s just putting herself through dental hygienist school.

      1. “…but what I REALLT want to do is direct some day…”

  15. Do Texas Authorities Want to Discourage Pole Dancing or Profit From It?

    Both. In Texas such laws are usually passed by strange-bedfellows coalitions of progressives who want the funding and prohibitionists who want to get rid of the activity.

    1. Ye Olde “Baptist and Bootlegger” Coalition

      I gotta say, Texas was ranked pretty damn high on my list-of-places-to-move-to, right up until I found out about their bizarre laws regarding both strip clubs and alcohol (and the combination of).

      I can’t do anything except shake my head. Never thought I would say it, but there are too many goddamn Christians in Texas. Not just regular Christians, but ones that are willing to take their beliefs and implement them in the polling booth and force them on other people. What a shame.

      1. Well hell, dude, the bible belt runs right through Texas – what else would you expect?

      2. You should see their laws on sex toys… lol

        Texas: “We’re really, really stupid, and we’re gonna prove it to ya”

    1. Anon Bot – #WINNING!

  16. programs to combat sexual assault and low-income health insurance.

    Surprised no one else caught this yet, so here goes:

    “Combat low-income health insurance?! Texas, why do you hate poor people?”

  17. Replace the Rand/Greenspan graphic with McArdle/Suderman. Much more realistic, and a better emetic.

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