Saturday, April 5, 2008

Debbie's husband does Kasey

The husband of Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow was arrested for prostitution in Troy. The attached link includes the arrest report but no mug shot; apparently Slate's competition with the Smoking Gun has some limits.

Salient details: the prostitution is not street prostitution. It was arranged over the internet and took place in a hotel room. Thus, there are no externalities. This arrangement would be completely legal 30 minutes away in Windsor, Canada, a town that, though not a major tourist destination, does not appear to have sunken to the depths of sin and depravity as a result. Second, it appears that a condom was used. Thus, there is no real health risk to the parties themselves. Why then are the Troy police spending their time on this? One can think of two reasons. First, it may be that there are principal/agent problems at work. The taxpayers of Troy might like the police to focus on actual crimes against person and property but the people who commit those crimes are often dangerous and police officers would be less inclined to ask them for free samples in exchange for looking the other way. Thus, imperfect monitoring of the police by the city administration leads them to spend too little time on what the taxpayers care about and too much on activities that are more fun, less dangerous, and offer more appealing opportunities for corruption. Alternatively, maybe Troy has a large population of bluenoses who pressure the city to spend time policing the harmless leisure activities of others.

There is much good research to be done on the political economy of, and the broader effects of, sex industry regulation in the US (and other countries).

Hat tip to