Empathy over Morals when Legislating Sex Trafficking

Zack Boyden -Sex trafficking is a universally reviled profession and yet it persists—mostly due to the fact that those involved are underground enough that it’s hard to investigate and arrest those behind the industry. There’s an inherent struggle between finding top-down solutions that will hopefully be pragmatic.

In Nevada they’ve taken aim at legal prostitution. Nevadan Republicans and Democrats have argued that due to their being a legal sex trade that an illegal one is much more likely to pass under the radar.

It’s a fair assumption, and legal prostitution is something that socially religious Nevadans don’t feel comfortable with regardless.

In principle, I am all for analyzing the laws we enact and making sure we don’t enact something that will prove to create a bigger problem than it attempts to solve.

I am skeptical of proposals for new laws against prostitution in Nevada, for two reasons: the first is that keeping prostitution legal protects sex workers involved in the trade. Sex workers are at a much greater risk of being victims of abuse or violent crime, and keeping prostitution illegal would prevent them from seeking help from legal services designed to protect the community. They call it the “oldest profession” for a reason, and simply making it illegal will not end prostitution.

The second concern is that sex trafficking exists in plenty of states where there is no legal prostitution. Clearly the problem occurs regardless of whether the law says so or not.

In this case, I feel it is far better to air on the side of pragmatism—do not use the law to try to subvert something that already operates under it. Using laws to protect people is far more important than hoping that they solve all problems. Prostitution is a touchy subject morally for many, but looking past individual morals and aiming for empathy will likely result in the best possible procedure.

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In Times of Crisis, Don’t Blame the Pragmatists

Zack Boyden     -SB 483, known to Nevadans as the Commerce Tax, was the most divisive law passed in 2015, so much so that we are still hearing the aftermath. In short, part of the law proposed to increase taxes on Nevada businesses making over four million dollars in gross sales to go towards Nevada schools. It was proposed by Republican governor Brian Sandoval with Republicans giving enough support to have it pass at 30-10 in the Assembly, and certainly not without controversy.

It has subsequently divided the Republican Party in Nevada with criticism directed at Republicans who voted for the bill. P.K. O’Neill, Republican representative of Assembly District 40, was voted out of the Carson City Republican Party two weeks ago for his support. Robert Haynes, the chairman of the Carson Party, stated: “If he doesn’t want to walk like a Republican, talk like a Republican and vote like a Republican, he isn’t one.”

The issue of party identity is a strong one, especially considering the large ideological debate occurring on the main stage between establishment Republicans and Trump. Nevadans in general are skeptical about government size, and Nevada Republicans especially so. The fact this passed with Republican approval is downright scandalous, especially considering that Republicans are almost defined by their aggression towards increased taxation.

The issue here is that Republicans keep framing issue around the tax itself—forgetting what the tax is laid out for. Nevada schools have been the worst in the nation for seven years, and they were not exactly top tier before then either.

I guarantee the Republicans who voted in this tax did not frame this bill as a means to increase government revenue but rather to section off more funding Nevada schools, which are in desperate need of some kind of help.

No, I don’t think more taxes are necessarily the answer to everything but we shouldn’t immediately go scorched earth on people who are genuinely trying to help in the time of crisis. We need to do something about our poor schools, and no, we cannot enforce better parental involvement.

If we’re working with a two party system, we have to recognize that there will be divides between party members and that making sure everyone lives up to a party standard is a little tough to expect if you hope to capture half of the voting population. A little wiggle room would do everyone some good.