What's wrong with pimps?


I have to admit that I'm getting very confused over these proposed changes in the law regarding prostitution. It's not just that they're going to be unworkable, or that they're clearly the result of a near deranged view of how morality should be imposed through the political system. Phillip outlines the basic liberal view that we should simply legalize transactions between consenting adults. Unity both has some fun creating a tagline for the proposed policies and details the farrago of nonsensical research upon which they are based. But over and above those critiques, what is confusing me is this:

And, crucially, her plan placed the duty on the punter to discover whether the prostitute is controlled by a pimp, a trafficker in human flesh or a drug dealer.

What's wrong with pimps?

A pimp isn't, contrary to what many believe, someone who holds a prostitute captive and steals whatever pitiful amount of cash she manages to earn by degrading herself. The relationship between the two is, rather, an economic one and a voluntary one at that. One which, like all voluntary exchanges, benefits both parties to it.

OK, so perhaps you'll not accept that statement from me but what about from Steven Levitt and Sudhir Alladi Venktash, two of the very few economists who have ever actually tried to understand the subject?

In Roseland, there are no pimps and women solicit customers from the street. Just a few blocks away in Pullman, all women work with pimps who locate customers and set-up tricks, so that the prostitutes rarely solicit on street corners. Under the pimp model, there are fewer transactions, but the prices charged are substantially higher and the clientele is different. Prostitutes who work with pimps appear to earn more, and are less likely to be arrested. It appears that the pimps choose to pay efficiency wages. Consistent with this hypothesis, many of the women who do not work with pimps are eager to work with pimps, and indeed we observe a few switches in that direction over the course of the sample. Pimps are limited by their ability to find customers, however, so they operate on a small scale.

Higher wages for less work and a reduction in risk. Pimps are therefore beneficial for the prostitutes which is why they choose to work with them.

So I ask again, what's wrong with pimps?

It's not as if politicians don't employ agents to promote their work, is it?