Topless Taxes, Really

by The New Republic Staff | February 14, 2007

A proposed bill in the Texas legislature known as the "Topless Tax" would tax patrons a $5 cover charge to enter strip clubs. The cover charge would then go directly into sexual-assault prevention and counseling services. This makes a certain amount of sense to me. Just as sin taxes on cigarettes end up funding everything from health care programs to education spending, taxing strip-club patrons to support worthy state mandates like assault prevention has a certain symmetry to it. Taxing the sex trade is as natural as taxing casinos and booze. The only reason it is controversial is that people don't like to think about sex taxes funding their elementary schools (which was incorporated in an earlier incarnation of the Texas bill). I say, get over it. In fact, hopefully the Texas bill will be successful enough to inspire California, which needs a major overhaul of its sex-trade industry. Putting taxes on pornography, for example, could ensure that performers are tested for STDs before every film, use safety precautions during filmed sex, and ensure that women in pornography get organized and demand royalties for their work (currently men reap the vast majority of the billions of dollars in the pornography industry literally off the backs of women). The taxes would lower STD rates, health care costs, and regulate an out-of-control industry that no one wants to talk about. I nominate Jenna Jameson to oversee the spending of the tax revenue. Or maybe I'm just feeling all sentimental because it's Valentine's Day. --Sacha Zimmerman

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