- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Vice and victims

“The resignation of Randall Tobias, the chief of the Bush administration’s foreign-aid programs, for ‘personal reasons’ following the revelation that he had engaged the services of two escort-service workers, has provided rich grist for amusement on the punditry circuit. … The reason Tobias’s call-girl adventures became public is that the owner of the Washington, D.C.-based service, [Deborah Jeane Palfrey], is facing prosecution and has turned her records over to news organizations to help pay for her legal defense.

“Even those who feel a certain schadenfreude at Tobias’s downfall should be asking the question: should there have been a criminal case in the first place?

“Prostitution is currently legal in virtually all developed nations, though often surrounded by restrictions and regulations. It is illegal everywhere in the United States except Nevada and, by a legal quirk, in Rhode Island if all transactions are conducted in a private residence.

“Yet prostitution is perhaps the ultimate victimless crime: a consensual transaction in which both parties are supposedly committing a crime, and the person most likely to be charged — the one selling sex — is also the one most likely to be viewed as the victim. … It is sometimes claimed that the true victims of prostitution are the johns’ wives. But surely women whose husbands are involved in noncommercial — and sometimes quite expensive — extramarital affairs are no less victimized.”

— Cathy Young, writing on “Prostitutes and Politics,” Monday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Status babies

“In agrarian societies, children act as assets for the family business of farming, and the economics provide incentives for large families. …

“Now a large family becomes a Rolls-Royce in Chinese society, and the have-nots that find themselves unable to compete face sterilization and forced abortions instead of smiling children at home.

“In the end, the Chinese have approached this problem from the wrong angle. The problem isn’t so much population as it is production. The artificial rationing of children is a response to an inability to produce in the Communist system. Up until they began to liberalize the economy, they could not produce enough to feed an expanding work force. Had they given the people the opportunity to own their own land and control their own production, they would have never had a problem in feeding the offspring of their populace, and the Chinese would eventually have limited their own growth, just as the Western nations did during and after industrialization.”

— Ed Morrissey, writing on “The Rich Get Families,” Tuesday at CaptainsQuartersBlog.com

‘Stupid’ trend

“You should have been here when Eisenhower was president; he was not very good in a press conference because he would start a sentence with a relative clause and by the time he started adding more relative clauses and appositions, he never got to the subject or the predicate. So he was called really stupid. How can this guy run the country? But, you see, all he did was win World War II. …

“Very few people remember the way Reagan was portrayed as an idiot. …

“Bush is portrayed as a moron. I’ve only conversed with him a couple of times — not for very long — but I found he was more literate on literature than the editor of the New York Review of Books, Bob Silvers. I’ve talked to both of them, and he makes Bob Silvers look like a slug.”

— Tom Wolfe, interviewed by Trevor Butterworth, Friday in the Financial Times

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