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Unemployment Benefits & Brothels
January 30, 2005 4:13 PM   Subscribe

“If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits”

Prostitution was legalized in Germany just over two years ago, and brothel owners, who must pay tax and employee health insurance, have been granted access to official government databases of jobseekers and have equal status with any other employer. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse. Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job or lose her unemployment benefit.

“There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry. The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits.”
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (119 comments total)

 
Yes, it is disturbing. But it strikes me as an argument for unemployment law reform rather than an argument against legalized prostitution. Other than that... not much to say.
posted by Justinian at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2005


The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars.

Well, that's pretty stupid, isn't it.
posted by josh at 4:21 PM on January 30, 2005


I'm trying to think of an intelligent, reflective, and insightful-sounding way of saying, "Dude that's fucked up right there."

Unfortunately I'm having trouble coming up with anything because I'm left a bit numb from the degree to which this is wrong on so many levels. I am not exactly the world's foremost champion of women's rights, but goddamn . . .
posted by Ryvar at 4:22 PM on January 30, 2005


German bars must be PRETTY interesting.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:23 PM on January 30, 2005


It'll be interesting to see how the first lawsuit regarding this turns out. I can't imagine it being the intentional product of coordinated laws.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 4:23 PM on January 30, 2005


Social welfare, fight for it, it is all you could hope for.
posted by sled at 4:24 PM on January 30, 2005


Add that to my pile of why Germany is bad.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:30 PM on January 30, 2005


"possible cuts?"

I smell sensationalism and an agenda here...

I'll put 5 big ones down on the table that this turns out to be less than it seems.

Any takers?
posted by PissOnYourParade at 4:37 PM on January 30, 2005


I'm with Piss. Come on, guys, I need the cash.

GambleFilter!
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 4:48 PM on January 30, 2005


Seems to me to be an effective argument against mandating that people take a job they hate with the threat of cut benefits.

If a person has objections to a job they should not be forced to work at that job, or coerced with the threat of financial harm.
posted by sotonohito at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2005


What Germany needs to do is elect a good old fashioned theocracy to put morality back in the Reichstag.
posted by orange clock at 5:10 PM on January 30, 2005


Seems to me this is an unintended consequence of otherwise good laws. Considering the outrage it will cause, I have no doubt it'll be fixed as quickly as legally possible. A politician could win or lose an election on this issue alone.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:12 PM on January 30, 2005


You mean a Night of the Long Schlongs?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:12 PM on January 30, 2005


Amazing how quick right-wingers are to note the occasional idiocies of European "welfare states" (not my terminology,) and the same time they tend to militantly defend the innumerable stupidities, and sometimes downright criminal injustices of the US style jungle capitalism...
posted by Finder at 5:14 PM on January 30, 2005


sotonohito: possibly, but then how do you deal with the people who simply don't want to work? I know they are not the majority, but I have met many of them, and it's a real problem, removing money from the system without actually helping people get back to work.

Anybody knows how this works with something like a construction job, or anything else that is strenuous and possibly hazardous physical labour? Do people have to take those or be cut off as well?
posted by freedryk at 5:14 PM on January 30, 2005


You mean a Night of the Long Schlongs?

I don't usually go for the Nazi humor, but that caused me to spit on my keyboard. Thanks!
posted by me & my monkey at 5:15 PM on January 30, 2005


sotonohito sums it up succinctly. The prostitution angle is a red herring. The same issue could have come up with a vegetarian forced to work at a McDonalds. But I guess an article on a general need for unemployment benefits reform would have been a real snoozer.
posted by vacapinta at 5:16 PM on January 30, 2005


The question behind the sensationalism is: can you lose your benefits if you refuse a job because of personal beliefs?

For example, if you're an atheist and the only job opening involves heavily promoting a religious belief, should refusing the job cost you your benefits? Or if you're pro-life, and have to promote abortion? How about a pacifist becoming a gun-toting security guard?

This goes beyond political lines; it's about the right to government entitlements vs. personal beliefs. Whether conservative or liberal, most of us here don't seem to agree with Germany's interpretation.

On preview: what vacapinta said.
posted by Maxson at 5:17 PM on January 30, 2005


You mean a Night of the Long Schlongs?

Was it that or Kristallkoks? I get them confused.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:19 PM on January 30, 2005


This is the result of the major package of labor reform laws passed by the German parliament in December of 2003. The part of the law in question mandates that those who receive unemployment benefits must take any job offered or take a 30% cut. It just went into effect on January 1 of this year.

That part of the law was put in pretty much at the last minute at the behest of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), and it was bitterly contested by the trade unions. But ultimately, the trade unions got more worried about the possible destruction of the collective bargaining system, so they gave in on this part as a compromise. The head of the United Service Union, Frank Bsirske, who called the result of the parliamentary negotiations a "compromise at the expense of unemployed people and employees."

While prostitution is probably the most sensational aspect of it for the press, the more important consideration is that refusing any job offer - be it however dangerous or distasteful to the person - will have the same result. One could as easily say this law will result in people being "forced to be human cannonballs."

It's a pretty horrible law, really. Maybe the prostitution thing will force the German government to realize how awful it is. If so, then thank heaven for the legal brothels.
posted by kyrademon at 5:21 PM on January 30, 2005


Sex-work is perfectly ethical, so long as the sex-workers are not coerced by poverty and their working conditions are safe.

Prostitution is not the problem here, it's the welfare changes. Creating conditions of poverty is the crime. Also, the way the Church creates conditions of sexual deprivation with their anti-sex agenda - that's another crime.

Maybe the government should start with the assumption that people want to pull their weight, then figure out how to get people satisfactory jobs so they can contribute.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:25 PM on January 30, 2005


It's a pretty horrible law, really. Maybe the prostitution thing will force the German government to realize how awful it is. If so, then thank heaven for the legal brothels.

Thanks for that summary. And you may be right. In some cases, it takes an extreme case to most obviously point out the more subtle flaws in a system. I dont know if the original poster here meant for us to applaud brothels for taking this role, but that is my take-away from it too.
posted by vacapinta at 5:26 PM on January 30, 2005


(Yes, I was surprised that Steve_at_Linwood put up a post which seems to be against a law with such apparently conservative values. Goes to show that you can never tell about people, I guess.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:27 PM on January 30, 2005


Every time I think about all the sex and drugs I'm missing out on because of the Christians, I get pissed off all over again.

Fuck our government and all the uptight christians who don't know how to mind their own god-damned business.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:29 PM on January 30, 2005


I think that Pretty_Generic hit this mofo on the head... what's going on in German bars, and why aren't we in one right now?

I think that there was a preexisting problem with the welfare system if women could be forced to work in bars or loose their benefits. Not that I am hammering on bars, but a lot of people might have a real problem with that.
posted by Tullius at 5:32 PM on January 30, 2005


Are you guys always so quick to blindly believe things you read on the Internet?
posted by fingerbang at 5:32 PM on January 30, 2005


Sorry - that was rude, but really...
posted by fingerbang at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2005


I'm sure the Christians are to blame for your celibacy, VP_Admin.
posted by trharlan at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2005


Offtopic: Is it me or has today been full of good posts? It is like WellWrittenFilter today.

Ontopic: Egh, this is a prime example of what is wrong with the news these days.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2005


The funniest - and most disturbing - bit of this is the fact that the waitress is an unemployed IT professional. Where's are those 'will HTML for food' or 'sparechange.com' photos when you need them?

Others here nailed it - the sensationalism of the article, focusing on prostitution, etc. seems pretty standard Telegraph best practice. I am amazed 'government sells citizens into sex slavery' wasn't in the tagline.

Considering how (comparatively) socially conscious Germany as a whole is nowdays, I think it's an unforseen side-effect of the recent labour reforms.

Is anyone in this thread actually saying 'legal prostitution is bad'? Some seem to be reading that into it.
posted by cosmonik at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2005


This is legit, fingerbang. See my last post.

(And I'm all in favor of legalized prostitution.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2005


I'm sure the Christians are to blame for your celibacy, VP_Admin.
posted by trharlan


You can make fun of me, but that takes nothing away from the issue.

To the degree that Christians contribute to the legislation which keeps prostitution illegal and drugs illegal, they are responsible for keeping me and everyone miserable.

Don't you get it? That's what religion is for. To keep you miserable.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:40 PM on January 30, 2005


I too think the article is rather sensational. Maybe I'm not understanding something: the only jobs in Germany available to a information technology professional is sex job at a brothel? What is available for less qualified people? Maybe a job search engine could come in handy.
posted by nickerbocker at 5:44 PM on January 30, 2005


Ah yes, it's good to see the inherent mistakeness of mandated welfare-to-work programs finally rear its ugly head. You should never be forced into a job that is dangerous to your well-being in exchange for the chance to stay out of poverty.

Someone needs to realize that the social costs of limiting people's time on the social safety net are going to outweigh the costs of keeping them on as long as they want. Thanks for the insight, Steve.
posted by ontic at 5:49 PM on January 30, 2005


If it's anything like the Australian law, and it probably is, unemployed people are not required to accept "unsuitable work".

For the purposes of NSA and YA, work may be unsuitable for a customer if it:
* requires particular skills, experience or qualifications that a customer does not have, and no training will be provided by the employer,
* may aggravate a pre-existing illness, disability (1.1.D.160) or injury and medical evidence has been provided,
* involves health or safety risks,
* involves self-employment,
* is covered by an industrial award but the employer will only employ the customer if they enter into a work place agreement which qualifies or abolishes the rights of that award,
* is not covered by an industrial award or agreement, and the pay offered for the job is less than the minimum rate of pay for comparable work that is covered by an award,
* involves commuting from home to work that would be unreasonably difficult,
* involves enlistment in the Defence force or the Reserve forces,
* requires that the customer join a union,
* is the subject of industrial disputation, OR
* is unsuitable on the basis of moral, cultural, or religious grounds.


So if this occurred in Australia, where prostitution is legal in at least two state-like entities--I'm not actually sure about the other five--then there would be three good reasons for the "customer" (an objectionable term, in my opinion) to reject the job.

Similar saving provisions apply to telemarketing, for example, which is less widely objectionable, but an equally unpleasant prospect to many potential employees, as the social security provider knows.

Although the Australian government for the last few years has been a kind of Republican-lite, theoretically business-oriented party that snuggles up to the more Christian and xenophobic voter groups, they are smart enough--or advised by smart enough advisors--to recognize a few pertinent facts about (un)employment.

Firstly, there aren't enough jobs to go around anyway, never have been, and never will be. It's impossible to have full employment without a centrally planned economy, and that's a worse solution than the problem is. Unfilled vacancies turn into unemployment when the business with the vacancies goes bust.

Secondly, the chronically unemployed are not employable without major social work (which the Australian government funds). Some people are completely unemployable: "I'm pretty sure even McDonalds has an underwear inside the pants policy." In Australia, we put them on disability pensions. I hear that in the USA, they wander the streets until a sufficiently cold winter.

Thirdly, if bereft of any means of support, people will cause trouble - sometimes through crime, sometimes through drain on welfare agencies which the government funds anyway and which cost more money than the social security system would because private sector organizations suffer from small size inefficiencies and narrow targeting. People without social support so rudely refuse to quietly die off - a perennial problem with right-wing social policies.

Fourthly, employers don't actually want unwilling employees. Given that the unemployment rate puts them in the position of choosing who they hire and fire, they obviously choose the ones that will cause them least trouble. That's not the person who was forced to be here by the job placement agency.

On the subject of employability and so on, I am not sure what exactly the meaning of 'ambition' is as a concept. Is it like intelligence, in that a person is born with a certain range of potential intelligences, and according to their life experiences, will end up somewhere in that range? Is it like height, which is damn near impossible to deviate from one's genetic inheritance? Or is it like religiosity, almost purely a function of culture and upbringing? Regardless of its nature, it is a fact that a bell-curve of ambitiousness exists in society. Those at the top end will succeed regardless. Those at the bottom end will fail regardless. Individuals are (probably) responsible for (much of) their position on that bell curve, but the society must take into account the entire bell curve in legislation. We can say to Joe Random that his poverty is his fault, and we may even convince him of that and inspire him to get a job, but we cannot do that for all the poor. Even if by some miracle we did, we'd have either created a society indistinguishable from socialist utopia in the process, or else just moved the bars that indicate wealth and poverty further along with the bulge in the bell curve graph itself.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:57 PM on January 30, 2005


To the degree that Christians contribute to the legislation which keeps prostitution illegal and drugs illegal, they are responsible for keeping me and everyone miserable.

Yes, and to the degree that you refuse to look inwardly and keep blaming others for your own inability to find and obtain sex and/or drugs, you are keeping yourself and everyone who reads your comments miserable.

If it is the fault of religious lobby groups, then why are there people all around you getting high and getting laid, even as we speak, right now.
posted by cosmonik at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2005


Turning hobos into hookers? That will sink the sex industry.
posted by cosmonik at 6:00 PM on January 30, 2005


ontic beat me to it... I was trying to figure out what the hell Steve_at_Linnwood was doing complaining that someone couldn't stay on welfare long enough.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:03 PM on January 30, 2005


To the degree that Christians contribute to the legislation which keeps prostitution illegal and drugs illegal



Christians don't keep drugs illegal. The majority of Oxycontin abusers are Christians in the Midwest, knocked up and voting against abortion rights.

BigPharm keeps them illegal, lest their own patents become less profitable.
posted by orange clock at 6:08 PM on January 30, 2005


Come on, Steve_at_Linnwood is a complex person with his own experiences and insights, capable of a variety of opinions and beliefs. He's engaged with intelligence in many a discussion.

It's not as if ParisParismus posted it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:12 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_admin: Don't you get it? That's what religion is for. To keep you miserable.

Which explains, of course, why so many people--myself included--derive so mcuh joy and satisfaction from our religious beliefs? I think what you probably meant to say was that conservatism is here to keep us miserable.

aeschenkarmos... well said. Brilliantly said.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:14 PM on January 30, 2005


I am german and I am currntly living in Germany. If the whole sex thing would happen because of Hartz IV (the name of the law) it would be all over the media. But it isn't.

So this is sensationalism from the UK - glueing together unrelated stories and current developments.

The current reforms of the german wellfare system are absolutly necessary - it is something many european nations have done before us: the British, the Dutch and even the Swedes.

Germany is late, because we have been blind. Germans always believe they are special and keep up doing stupid stuff, just because we are better then other european nation.

Our model of the Soziale Marktwirtschaft was always thought to be superior: workers and companies working on a mutual consensus - no strikes and in exchange for that regular a regular payrise.


But it simply works no longer for several reasons:


* local companies are no longer just german companies, but have to compete in a global market, so their business model can no longer be just based on the german market.

* german society as a whole always loved stability and planing - this also no longer works in the changed realities after the end of the cold war and the new EU enlargement.

* workers and companies both are much greedier today - Abzocke (making loads of money by doing nothing) is the Volkssport these days.

* the population pyramid works no longer - there are simply not enough (young) workers out there to keep the welfare state running.

* to many retired people - in the 80's and 90's companies as well as the government retired to many people to young (like 45 years) to cut down on unemployment figures. This also dents the social system badly.

* in old welfare system it was often more beneficial NOT to work and stay on the payroll of the social system. This is of course stupid, because many people liked that ...


So overall the mood is bad - because Germans are slow to grasp the realities of the market and the empty pockets of the Bundesregierung. Germany is currently in the same process as the Brits under Thatcher - although I doubt ANY german political party has the willpower, ideas and stomach to make all the necessary changes.

As for the whole sex business: germans are very relaxed about this topic - apart from a very very very few catholic bishops and rightwingers. You find brothels, sexshops and prostitutes all over the place. They can freely advertise in newspapers and you can watch soft core porn on the telly after 22:00. We had openly gay ministers in our government (eeven right wing ones) and nobody said anything.

Most prostitutes here in Germany are imports: mostly eastern and asien ladies. Why? Because they are cheaper and more willing (desperate) to do whatever the market wants them to do.
posted by homodigitalis at 6:18 PM on January 30, 2005


Don't people actually have to be qualified to be placed in a certain job? You couldn't force someone to be a welder without the right experience--how could you force just anyone to have sex all day or do s/m or dominatrix stuff? you have to know what you're doing and be good at it.
posted by amberglow at 6:24 PM on January 30, 2005


Given that this is true....

Sex-work is perfectly ethical

Yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there VP_Admin.
Government equipment would probably start mysteriously blowing up were my wife or daughter forced to take a job in the sex industry or have no job at all.

Certainly I have no issue with the sex industry under those terms you laid out (no pun intended), and I don't have a hard opinion on whether it is the state's business or not, but I do take exception with it being called 'ethical'.
And that would be on secular grounds Scott A. Anderson makes a decent argument on this issue. His examples are a bit far fetched, but I do agree with his basic premise that the sex industry degrades sex and dignity for all of us.
Kinda like what Fox does with relationships.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:26 PM on January 30, 2005


There's another angle here that's been ignored:
What about the gender bias?

Why should they send only unemployed WOMEN to jobs at brothels? Doesn't Germany have gender-equality rules?
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2005


Smedleyman - I can see how some people have a moral objection, but I don't see how the sex industry can be 'unethical'. This kind of co-erced involvement in it - against the participant's will - is absolutely unethical, as per your example of family members being forced into it. But for consensual involvement, I think it's not anybody's call - state, church or otherwise - to control.

I don't find Scott Anderson's reasoning persuasive. In fact, he states my main point himself - "The importance sexual autonomy has for us depends on the importance or significance that sexual activity and sexual characteristics have in our lives." I draw from that the conclusion that the decision should be left up to the individual. Some people do not value sexual autonomy.
posted by cosmonik at 6:41 PM on January 30, 2005


Wefare?
posted by socratic at 6:53 PM on January 30, 2005


This is just damned wrong. If someone wants to be a prostitute, thats their own choice, and if those sex workers are protected from abuse, and have decent care, but its wholly unconscionable.

Forcing someone to be a sex worker, regardless of reason, is no better than kidnapping someone and pimping them on the corner.
posted by MrLint at 6:54 PM on January 30, 2005


The job offer at the brothel mentioned in the Telegraph article was probably this case from 2003 [google translation]. The offer was NOT for work as a prostitute but as a bartender and the job center merely forwarded the offer, without pressuring the woman to take the job (and later apologized). Here's another [g.t.] (rather slanted) article also mentioning this case.

Cutting benefits for a refusal to work as a prostitute might not be explicitly prohibited by this new law (and I don't know if it is), but it would be clearly unconstitutional under the German Basic Law. Anyone at a job center trying to do this would be searching for a new job himself rather quickly.

Legally, prostitution in Germany is certainly not regarded as a job as any other, there are exceptions to the normal labor laws: For example, there is no period of notice for quitting work in a brothel and the directive authority of the employer is reduced as well, so that a prostitute e.g. can refuse a costumer.

I don't know if the google translations are really useful, they certainly are funny...
posted by ltl at 6:54 PM on January 30, 2005


Asyouknowbob - damn, now that would be a headline. "German Government Forces Poor Into Becoming Gay Sex Slaves."

There's this beautifully surreal quality to it.
posted by Ryvar at 6:58 PM on January 30, 2005


"German Government Forces Poor Into Becoming Gay Sex Slaves."

I bet that would get the American government to mobilize their military faster than if they started up the concentration camps again.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:00 PM on January 30, 2005


Which explains, of course, why so many people--myself included--derive so mcuh joy and satisfaction from our religious beliefs? I think what you probably meant to say was that conservatism is here to keep us miserable.
...
posted by dirtynumbangelboy


What is the source of this conservatism, if not the values of the dominant religion?

Also, which religion is it that brings you so much joy and satisfaction?
posted by VP_Admin at 8:04 PM on January 30, 2005


Christians don't keep drugs illegal. The majority of Oxycontin abusers are Christians in the Midwest, knocked up and voting against abortion rights.

BigPharm keeps them illegal, lest their own patents become less profitable.
posted by orange clock


Remember that prohibition was pushed by evangelical christians. Does the name "Billy Sunday" ring a bell? You haven't convinced me that the Christians aren't the main reason for our perverted system of law.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:09 PM on January 30, 2005


It seems to me that VP_admin is just using any possible opportunity to rant against Christians.

Also what Cosmonik said.
posted by blue shadows at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2005


Yes, and to the degree that you refuse to look inwardly and keep blaming others for your own inability to find and obtain sex and/or drugs, you are keeping yourself and everyone who reads your comments miserable.

If it is the fault of religious lobby groups, then why are there people all around you getting high and getting laid, even as we speak, right now.
posted by cosmonik


It's not an inability to obtain sex, it's available to me now, but not on the terms I wish.

The price of drugs, both legal and recreational is exorbitant.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:21 PM on January 30, 2005


Amazing how quick right-wingers are to note the occasional idiocies of European "welfare states"... and ... militantly defend ... US style jungle capitalism...

&

I was trying to figure out what the hell Steve_at_Linnwood was doing complaining that someone couldn't stay on welfare long enough.


I'm wondering where you read all of that? I simply quoted the article I linked. Me thinks some of you are assuming things due to the username attached to the post.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:21 PM on January 30, 2005


Come on, I think homodigitalis has nailed it...

Once again, I challenge anybody to find any supporting evidence that this story is true.

If it is, I will walk around New York City with a T-shirt that says "Sucks Dick for Bush." for two days.

If nothing shows up, I will settle for a signed apology from every knee jerker in this thread...
posted by PissOnYourParade at 8:22 PM on January 30, 2005


cosmonik, I see your point, and I happen to disagree with you on the sex-worker ethics (it's fine by me).

But don't you see the conundrum that thinking such as yours opens up for a law such as the one Germany has? Any job could be ethically objectionable to anyone. So while a provision to punish welfare recipients that turn down a job offer is one of those things that most employed people heartily 'here-here' (at least at first), the reality is that it a very sketchy area of state coercion.

The person up-thread that outlined how Australia handles thei similar law: that is interesting. The criteria you lay out basically makes the law in Australia useless. Every job has health and safety risks. So while the idea is good, I wonder if in practice it is either useless, or very selectively enforced.

Thanks for the link, Steve_at_Linnwood, interesting stuff.

Also: aeschenkarnos, brilliant post. If only we could get the right-wing over here in America to understand even half of that.
posted by teece at 8:27 PM on January 30, 2005


It seems to me that VP_admin is just using any possible opportunity to rant against Christians.
posted by blue shadows


You say that like there's something wrong with me ranting against Christians.

I can't stand their lame religion. Excuse me for not feeling tolerant of the doomsday cultists who are dragging our country off a cliff.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2005


teece said: Any job could be ethically objectionable to anyone.

I understand that, and it's fine, so long as not all jobs are objectionable to somebody, the system will work (theoretically - there are a myriad of reasons why it may not in real life). I still don't see how it speaks to the ethics of the situation. Most legal systems have mechanisms for establishing grounds for finding something objectionable. I'm not explaining this well; apologies.

S@L: this is by far your best work I've seen on MeFi. That is the only judgement I'd attach to the username making the post.

VP_Admin, you do more damage to your agenda every time you comment. The massive chip on your shoulder against religion is blocking your view. You admit you're ranting...and there is something wrong with irrational off-topic venting.
posted by cosmonik at 8:38 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_Admin, you do more damage to your agenda every time you comment. The massive chip on your shoulder against religion is blocking your view. You admit you're ranting...and there is something wrong with irrational off-topic venting.
posted by cosmonik



I know I'm just one guy with opinions that almost nobody cares about. It doesn't stop me from expressing them anyway. Also, who gives a rat's ass about what topic you think I should confine myself to?

Why does America suck so much?

I guess it's because it's home to so many ignorant people.
posted by VP_Admin at 8:50 PM on January 30, 2005


Don't feed the troll.
posted by sillygit at 8:50 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_Admin, you're going off topic and pissing on this thread. It's rude.

And for my contribution, I think "AsYouKnow Bob" has the best counter strawman argument. Bring on the previously chronically unemployed male German prostitutes. They will be the BMW of prostitutes on the world market. Russian and Thai businessmen will be lining up.
posted by anthill at 9:12 PM on January 30, 2005


Interested by the responses from the Germans on this thread, who seem to think that 1) prostitution almost certainly wouldn't be considered a "must take or lose benefits" job under the bill, and 2) it's a good law because people were using unemployment benefits to "game the system." Two questions, though -

Why wouldn't prostitution be a legit job offer under the law? For the same reason as the Australian model?

My (possibly flawed) understanding was that prior to this law, German unemployment benefits worked more as a "pay into the system while you're working - get benefits back when you're not" insurance-style set-up. How could that have been gamed into a free ride?
posted by kyrademon at 9:17 PM on January 30, 2005


Why oh why do German sex club workers hate VP_admin's religous preferences?

Won't someone please think of the poor starving corperations?
posted by Balisong at 9:32 PM on January 30, 2005


(VP_Admin, I like your rantings, please continue..)
posted by Balisong at 9:34 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_Admin: Why does America suck so much?

I guess it's because it's home to so many ignorant people.


That is as irrelevant to this thread as your babblings about Christianity.

Ah well, about time we have a left-winged troll around here.
posted by cosmonik at 9:38 PM on January 30, 2005


Fuck our government and all the uptight christians who don't know how to mind their own god-damned business.

Well, that's one way to get the sex you're missing, I guess.
posted by kindall at 9:39 PM on January 30, 2005


The idea of legalizing prostitution was floated by some members of city council not too long ago in Vancouver. You know, get it off the streets, protect the "sex trade workers" as they are called.

Didn't happen and one of the main arguments against was exactly this problem. Once legalized how do you separate it legally from any other form of enterprise. The implications were many and the conclusion was, you couldn't and the implications were unacceptable.

As collectors of tax, would govenment and ultimately the people they represent (everyone) not become de facto pimps?

And yes exactly this, why could poor women or men for that matter not be pressured, if not forced, to take jobs in that industry?

And others, so yes the whole idea went away very quickly.
posted by scheptech at 9:55 PM on January 30, 2005


According to an article from Stern, it says, "The paragraph in the prostitution law, it forbids forcing the women" [source - it's in German] Also something here and here but babelfish is doing a horrid job at translating so I wont try to quote the articles.
posted by squeak at 9:58 PM on January 30, 2005


(VP_Admin, I like your rantings, please continue..)
posted by Balisong


Thanks Balisong, I knew there had to be someone feeling my pain. If you want to see how I rip it up, check out my photoshop cartoons. Click the link to my site from my profile.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:00 PM on January 30, 2005


I can't stand their lame religion. Excuse me for not feeling tolerant of the doomsday cultists who are dragging our country off a cliff.
I hate to feed, but I truly can't comprehend this kind of attitude. Certain aspects, I can understand...but to disregard an entire segment?
Also, I have a system of beliefs and morals I live by; so do you. What inherently makes yours better than mine exactly?
posted by jmd82 at 10:04 PM on January 30, 2005


Also, I have a system of beliefs and morals I live by; so do you. What inherently makes yours better than mine exactly?
posted by jmd82


That would be a long and futile conversation. In a nutshell, if you're religious, you're buying into the articles of faith of a particular religion, you're wasting your mind. Buying into religion is like going to sleep at the wheel. If there were no consequences to your delusion, I wouldn't be bothered in the slightest, but some of us sane people have to live with the results of choices made by the religious.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:11 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_Admin: You really ought'a stop begging people to visit your site. It is unseemly. I bit the first time you encouraged people to do so, and I would like my 2 clicks back.
posted by thirteen at 10:18 PM on January 30, 2005


but some of us sane people have to live with the results of choices made by the religious.
I can understand most of what you say, except the fact that we, religious and atheists alike, have to live with the result of your choices, too, regardless of your affiliation with any organization so.
Either way, people buy into some particular way of living, be it Platonic, Nietzscheism, Religion, your own moral precepts you've devices all on your lonesome- you buy into some form of living. So do I. w00t.
My point is you make it sound like my choices, which do indeed affect you, are worse due to my religious beliefs. I can see how your choices can be inherently better or worse than mine. What I can't see is why my beliefs affect the quality of those choices, unless I guess you assume all choices I make due to my religious nature are bad ones.
On another de-rail I make an AskMeFi post about drug costs from a point from VP Admin.
And with that, I'm done re-railing for the evening here.
posted by jmd82 at 10:22 PM on January 30, 2005


I knew there had to be someone feeling my pain. If you want to see how I rip it up, check out my photoshop cartoons. Click the link to my site from my profile

ok I did... thanks?

They had some humor to them, so I guess you could call them comix.. Biting for sure!!


I, being an agnostic, militaristic, anti-Bush, pro-underdog Libreatarian grumpy hermit, can definately see where you're going there..

But please, let's get back to the Ladies...

What is any better in the US than Germany?

We don't coerce people into prostitution, but what would an American legalized prostitution look like?

Just like what's there now, except "Independent Contractor" status?

Shouldn't their jobs preclude some sort of health certification? (instead of what you might find today)

Who gives them their 1099's?
posted by Balisong at 10:33 PM on January 30, 2005


VP_Admin: You really ought'a stop begging people to visit your site. It is unseemly. I bit the first time you encouraged people to do so, and I would like my 2 clicks back.
posted by thirteen


Tough luck, you'll never get your two clicks back. I wasn't begging anyone to visit my site, I was just letting Balisong know I have one, since he seemed to like my opinions.


My point is you make it sound like my choices, which do indeed affect you, are worse due to my religious beliefs.
...
posted by jmd82


I tell you what specifically makes me want to flip out about religious people. First of all, it's the "Abrahamic" religions that are most virulent and obnoxious - Christianity & Islam - the mutated offspring of Judaism. The followers of these religions have a predisposition toward violating other people's boundaries. They tend to favor theocracy, because they hold the laws of their imaginary god above the laws of man. Also, the evangelical Christians of the US are bat-shit crazy and are waiting eagerly for the lake of fire to consume sinners such as myself, while they expect to go to heaven for eternity. This belief makes them free of concern for the environment or for the future of our children who will live in the mess they are creating.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:35 PM on January 30, 2005


But the bliss....

The beautiful bliss of letting go and letting God......

Wheeee..... it's a burden that someone else should take...


See, I can bash christianity, too..

C'mon!! Don't leave me out!!
posted by Balisong at 10:39 PM on January 30, 2005


Christianity is so dumb, it thinks "Peter Pan" in a wash basin in a cathouse...
posted by Balisong at 10:41 PM on January 30, 2005


We don't coerce people into prostitution, but what would an American legalized prostitution look like?

Just like what's there now, except "Independent Contractor" status?

Shouldn't their jobs preclude some sort of health certification? (instead of what you might find today)

Who gives them their 1099's?
posted by Balisong


First of all, decriminalized, not legalized is the way to go. There are existing workplace safety laws on the books to be interpreted to create the guidelines for prostitution. Health certification is an obvious way to improve the service.

The point is, prostitution already exists, but it can and should be safe, regulated, and respected.

It's the right of adults to participate in consentual activities which do not affect others. People should be treated as adults.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:42 PM on January 30, 2005


Well, decriminalized Marijuana is the way to go, too, but it doesn't let R,J, Reynolds sell you a pack of 20 with filters...

Every country has always had prostitution, and there will never be a country free of it.

It's the most primal capitalistic endevor.

"you have it.. you sell it.. you still have it.."

The way a country deals with this is the subject..

Germany's program is fupped up because it coerces an individual to continue in the path s/he has chosen. To change looses benefits.

What could be done better?
posted by Balisong at 10:48 PM on January 30, 2005


Balisong, thanks for checking out my site. It's cathartic for me to release my political rage with my crass attempts at humor. If anyone else gets giggles out of it, that's icing on the cake.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:48 PM on January 30, 2005


We don't coerce people into prostitution, but what would an American legalized prostitution look like?

Balisong, I'm pretty sure your questions are answered here.

VP_Admin, I wish I wish I wish you would learn to spell "consensual."
posted by coelecanth at 10:48 PM on January 30, 2005


Balisong,
those questions are too taxing on my enfeebled mind. I require sleep. Maybe tommorrow I'll wake up in a better mood.

Coelecanth:

consensual, consensual, consensual
posted by VP_Admin at 10:51 PM on January 30, 2005


From your link, Coelecanth
The women that work in Nevada's brothels get regular medical checkups. All these precautions are not just for the lady's protection, but for your's and mine too.

What can be done on a national scale to both provide benefits to people working in the "sex industry" and still allow them to change professions so like what happened in Germany won't be a hinderence to legalization in "other countries"...
posted by Balisong at 10:53 PM on January 30, 2005


Good link Steve (and good response to the comments directed at you).

This issue was raised in New Zealand a year or so ago when prostitution became legal here. I think it was just decided that our welfare agency wouldn't accept ads from brothels (they didn't justify the decision, just said it would be inappropriate to take the ads).

I think overall it's a red herring. An employer, any employer, is going to want workers who are at least vaguely motivated and good at their job. Motivation might not matter so much if you're just filling cans on an assembly line or something, but it sure as hell matters in a brothel. All the women (men?) would need to do is turn up at the interview, act bored as hell or incredibly prudish and there's no way that the brothel would want to hire them.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:56 PM on January 30, 2005


you gotta work it, baby!!
posted by Balisong at 11:00 PM on January 30, 2005


damn hippies
posted by tiamat at 11:03 PM on January 30, 2005


All the women (men?) would need to do is turn up at the interview, act bored as hell or incredibly prudish and there's no way that the brothel would want to hire them.

So you mean if some babe with a huge rack showed up but had a bad 'tude she'd be out? (Not that any such creature could conceivably be unemployed). Do you think they're running Myers-Briggs tests on candidates?!
posted by missbossy at 11:10 PM on January 30, 2005


Metafilter: Myers-Briggs tests on candidates
posted by Balisong at 11:16 PM on January 30, 2005


So you mean if some babe with a huge rack showed up but had a bad 'tude she'd be out?

Something like that... I meant that, if a woman didn't want the job, it wouldn't be hard for her to convey that to the putative employer. Sort of like acting gay to get out of the draft. Or whatever.

And as a potential customer I'd say that a "babe with a huge rack and a bad attitude" would not be terrible attractive to me. Hell, she could just say something like "give me this job and I will point and laugh at all the clients, and mock their tiny penii".
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:49 PM on January 30, 2005


And as a potential customer I'd say that a "babe with a huge rack and a bad attitude" would not be terrible attractive to me. Hell, she could just say something like "give me this job and I will point and laugh at all the clients, and mock their tiny penii".

I'm guessing that there are probably men out there who would get turned on by that.
posted by gyc at 11:57 PM on January 30, 2005


Babes with huge racks just can't win aye?
posted by dabitch at 12:38 AM on January 31, 2005


Just wait until they bring back those human skin lamp shades.
posted by HTuttle at 2:03 AM on January 31, 2005


VP_Admin, when i read things like you write about Christianity, it leads me to believe you are what we call "under conviction."
posted by konolia at 4:17 AM on January 31, 2005


HEY ! Have you actually read the article ?

It does NOT SAY that the woman was asked to actually offer her body for prostitution ..she probably was offered a job in the brothel as secretary, bartender or something else..maybe she's "offended" by casually looking at other semi naked women..but that's another thing from being sexually harrassed or practically forced to sell her sexual services.

The other women mentioned in the article are being asked to interview for nude modeling or work at a sex call center..exception could be build for this kind of performance, being very sexual and intimate in nature and not without health risks.

It would be interesting to see how the brothels in U.S.A. are operating, how and if some people is practically forced to work into them, what's the distribution of money and if as usual workers are being overtly exposed to monetary risks and health risks by outsourcing responsability to some big megainsurance company.
posted by elpapacito at 4:25 AM on January 31, 2005


It's been alluded to, but it's worth spelling out: The Telegraph, where this article appeared, has been crusading against "Europe" (and British involvement in same) for years. You could fill a book with Telegraph articles carefully crafted to show that Europe in general, and Germany in particular, combine mindless bureaucratic complexity with terrifying sexual libertinism.
posted by pnh at 5:19 AM on January 31, 2005


Also: the article is highly misleading and poorly reported, cobbled together from existing reports. Courts in Germany have, in fact, differentiated between prostitution and other types of work. Put another way: no woman in Germany has or ever will face reduced benefits because she refuses to work as a prostitute. True, the actual legislation doesn't spell this out, and in theory, it would have been possible. But now the legal precedent makes it impossible. I would post the relevant German articles, but then, they're in German. I live in Berlin, so just trust me on this one.
posted by jasonsmall at 5:28 AM on January 31, 2005


Is it like intelligence, in that a person is born with a certain range of potential intelligences, and according to their life experiences, will end up somewhere in that range? Is it like height, which is damn near impossible to deviate from one's genetic inheritance? Or is it like religiosity, almost purely a function of culture and upbringing?

Yours was an intelligent and well-reasoned comment, but you're mistaken about the fatalism of height - nutrition in formative years is known to have a major impact. I'd also guess that religion is not as cut & dry, either - whichreligion is surely cultural, but whether someone is attracted by religious ideas in general could easily be partly genetic/structural (eg, epileptics commonly have a greater interest in 'spiritual' matters). Basically, very little is solidly on one side or the other of the nature/nurture "divide".

I draw from that the conclusion that the decision should be left up to the individual. Some people do not value sexual autonomy.

No, that is not true. Sexual autonomy is only compromised by rape, and no one wants to be raped (if they want to be 'raped', they're not really being raped - by definition it is the act against the will of the victim). Selling sex is not compromising your sexual autonomy; it is choosing to trade sex for money. This happens in just about every area of life. People do things they otherwise would not do for money. This doesn't mean they do things which are against their will; it means they do things which they otherwise would not do. Do you think most americans would spend 40 hrs a week in a cubicle just for kicks? People are motivated by making a living. The whole theory of communism was that people would be willing to work for the sake of work, and in return the state would make sure everyone was taken care of. But it didn't work!

People are motivated to work by earning money in exchange for it. Prostitution can be the same thing - a person can choose to draw charts, teach classes, weld metal, dig ditches or have sex on occasions when they otherwise wouldn't, in exchange for money that will allow them to purchase further things they do want.
posted by mdn at 6:04 AM on January 31, 2005


, but whether someone is attracted by religious ideas in general could easily be partly genetic/structural (eg, epileptics commonly have a greater interest in 'spiritual' matters).

Off topic, but as this thread as gone to religion and back again...

I really really really hate this assumption. I'm epileptic and never have I ever been described by anyone as having a "greater interest in spiritual matters" than the next guy.

Why on earth do people keep quoting this one misguided statistic as if all epileptics talk to God or whoever on a daily basis? I find it to be practically offensive. What if we went around saying that all diabetics were Republicans? You can't say that sort of shit without someone getting pissed off. But epileptics as "spirtual beings" has been going around for eons and it's just as stupid.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:52 AM on January 31, 2005


I've never heard that assumption about epileptics - what a bizarre thing to say.
posted by agregoli at 7:12 AM on January 31, 2005


It would be too difficult to distinguish brothels from bars?!? How bout this, if job discription includes, “washing out **girl bits with vinegar after customer drops his **liquid appreciation” it is considered a brothel, not a bar.
posted by herting at 9:34 AM on January 31, 2005


"The whole theory of communism was that people would be willing to work for the sake of work, and in return the state would make sure everyone was taken care of."

Way off-topic perhaps, but you're confusing the (mostly erstwhile) state capitalist regimes with communist countries, of which there have so far been none; I think what you mean is "countries ruled by a so-called Communist party", and even so you're also leaving out China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and Cuba, which do not fit your past tense.

Secondly, please cite your sources for your "theory of communism"?
posted by davy at 9:37 AM on January 31, 2005


herting, there are bars in brothels and brothels in bars. Take for example Irma's Lounge (I think that's what it was called) in Ciudad Juarez: a big bar where you first come in with "bedrooms" off to the side. (No piano player though.)
posted by davy at 9:43 AM on January 31, 2005


(Not having read the entire discussion - sorry:)

In the Netherlands we had a similar situation: prostitution is legal, and thus potentially 'suitable employment' for the unemployed. The consensus is that it isn't such a good idea for the government to pressure unemployed women to become prostitutes, and the rules are being implemented accordingly.

(Something similar happened when the government drafted some regulations to make it easier for 'knowledge workers' - people with specific expertise - to get permits to work in the Netherlands. It turned out that these regulations made it easier for high-paid prostitutes to enter the country, as well as for the scientists and engineers for whom the regulations had originally been intended.)
posted by rjs at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2005


Excuse me for not feeling tolerant of the doomsday cultists who are dragging our country off a cliff.

VP_Admin- first of all, you're using an awfully broad brush in characterizing all Christians as "doomsday cultists". You've been as critical of Christianity in general as you have been of the administration. But you simply can't paint all Christians with the same brush, just like you can't paint all Americans with the same brush.

Secondly- if you really want to rail against Christianity, try the forums at BeliefNet, especially this one.
posted by Doohickie at 11:20 AM on January 31, 2005


VP_admin: if you're going to direct people to your site, could you put a NSFW notice beside it in future? Much obliged.
posted by Sparx at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2005


Sparx,
I haven't been employed for so long, I forgot about that issue completely. Sorry, I hope it didn't cause any trouble for you at work. Henceforth, I'll remember to include that warning.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:39 PM on January 31, 2005


VP_Admin- first of all, you're using an awfully broad brush in characterizing all Christians as "doomsday cultists".
...
posted by Doohickie


Belief in the rapture is one of the articles of faith of Christianity. It's built into Christian creation-mythology, that someday the world will end and the people will be judged.
BTW, all Christians are cultists. If you're not a cultist, you're not a Christian. So, that makes all Christians, by definition, doomsday cultists.

They contribute in varying degrees, to the social ills of this country and the world. The more fundamentalist they are, the more they contribute to the problems. It's the same with Islam and Judaism.
posted by VP_Admin at 5:48 PM on January 31, 2005


Belief in the rapture is one of the articles of faith of Christianity.

The word "rapture" isn't in the Bible, and was unknown in Christian circles until the 19th Century. Most Christians do not believe in it.

Your facts are fupped duck.
posted by Doohickie at 8:12 PM on January 31, 2005


See what I mean?
posted by Doohickie at 8:15 PM on January 31, 2005


VP- You're living in a fantasy world of boogie men that is more superstitious than the religion you criticize.
posted by Doohickie at 8:17 PM on January 31, 2005


Hey ris, would the Netherlands pay me to stay home?
posted by davy at 11:39 PM on January 31, 2005


Thinking the Rapture was integral to our Christian ancestors notwithstanding, he's right on in his judgment of the Abrahamite religions.

But what's that got to do with this thread? Is davyitis catching?
posted by davy at 11:42 PM on January 31, 2005


I've never heard that assumption about epileptics - what a bizarre thing to say.

Sorry, it is generalizing, so perhaps it just took away focus. My point was that it's entirely possible that a certain sort of brain is more enticed by questions of ontology and meaning which are traditionally explored in religion, and other brains are more focused on praxis and action. [I'm epileptic too, and an atheist, but I'm mesmerized by philosophy and religious studies and perhaps read into that an affirmation of the common claim that epilepsy is linked to metaphysical wonder blah blah blah. It's generally associated with temporal lobe epilepsy, and many people do feel as if they're encountering god. If I were less of a materialist, I would probably describe my spells that way; they're kinda like acid trips or whatever, which people also often suggest feel like 'spiritual' (whatever that means) encounters.]

Anyway, sorry for the off topic.

Secondly, please cite your sources for your "theory of communism"?

I think it's Marx - the idea that the worker would derive fulfillment from the work itself, not from the incentive to make empty money. The idea was that people would be part of something, create a society together by all working together, and support one another's needs communally. The problem is that a lot of people just aren't all that motivated by the work itself and are better able to put real effort forth if they're going to get some more concrete benefit, represented by money.

In any case, regardless of whether that's an accurate representation of communism, the point was, most people in capitalistic societies don't do their jobs for the sake of the job; they do it for the money - so having sex as a job is not degrading sex anymore than doing carpentry for money degrades carpentry, and you can still do your own carpentry for fun at home later if you want, without it being ruined by having earned your living making cabinets for The Man. We differentiate between life/pleasure, and work, in capitalistic societies. This can extend to sex work without it denying anyone their autonomy.
posted by mdn at 3:05 PM on February 1, 2005


The article in the Daily Telegraph seems to have been cobbled together from two German sources. And, as others have posted, there is much less here than the original story would lead one to believe.
posted by WestCoaster at 4:48 PM on February 1, 2005


i just wanna say this whole thread sucks. When the fuck did beggers get to be choosers?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:33 PM on February 2, 2005


VP_Amin: Move to China. Grow up.
posted by blue shadows at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2005


VP_Admin: Move to China. Grow up.
posted by blue shadows at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2005


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