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Prostitution, Prostitution Everywhere

As a big fan of prostitution — er, I mean, as someone who’s very interested in the social, economic, legal, and psychological elements of prostitution — it’s always good to see interesting articles about what’s always called “the world’s oldest profession.”

(If I recall correctly, this premise was once countered on an episode of Barney Miller. As I remember it, one character mentions that begging is the world’s oldest profession, and another one says, “I thought prostitution was.” To which the first person replies: “Well, someone had to ask for it.”)

There is a pair of such interesting articles today, both on the front page of prominent newspapers. In the New York Times, Bruce Lambert writes about how Craigslist has become the perfect tool for an increasingly mobile prostitution business, and how police use the same tool to try to arrest the prostitutes and their managers.

In the Wall Street Journal, Matt Moffett writes about a Sao Paulo brothel owner [sub. req’d.] whose new high-rise hotel may pose a danger to the nearby airport. One interesting quote: “Prostitution itself isn’t a crime in Brazil, though procuring it is.” (Let me suggest an industry slogan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell.”)

If this pair of front-page articles is a function of demand, rather than simply news value, that’s a good sign for Levitt and me, since we may be writing a good bit about prostitution in our next book.