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This essay is about vice.  No, not the workshop tool for holding things steady.  More the kind of things the police maintain a vice squad for and the kinds of things your mother warned you about and your preacher railed against.  Yes, the fun stuff.

We’ll start right out with sex.  Prostitution is called the oldest profession and one would suppose that it actually is.  A woman may not like flowers or candy but it’s a really rare woman who doesn’t like having more money so offering money to increase one’s chances of acceptance is almost always a good ploy.  Of course one may have to be subtle about it for some women, perhaps even most women.  Driving an expensive car, wearing expensive clothing, taking her to an expensive restaurant, and introducing her to wealthy friends is almost guaranteed to impress.

Now most women are not prostitutes.  Which leads me to tell a joke.  No, I didn’t invent this joke.  To make it sound more plausible I’ll say that Winston Churchill was its originator though that is almost certainly not true.  It seems that a fine lady was discussing matters with Winston Churchill and agreed that she’d be willing to marry a particularly wealthy person of their acquaintance who was considered to be an old grouch.  Churchill then asked her if she’d sleep with Winston for five pounds.  Her shocked reply was, “What do you think I am?”  Winston answered, “We’ve already determined what you are.  Now we’re dickering over price.”

It’s not a really funny joke though I am sure that Winston probably told it much better than I did.  The point I am trying to make with the joke is that being swayed by money in selecting a mate or a sexual partner or a person to date seems very much like prostitution.  To carry the analogy further I would like to point out the existence of the dowry as an incentive for a man to marry a specific woman.  I also have watched some of the PBS shows about the American “Million Dollar Princesses.”  Wealthy American families wishing to have their daughters marry English (or French?) noblemen would offer multi-million dollar settlements to the impoverished nobles.  Now that sounds very much like prostitution to me.  It might not technically be prostitution but buying a husband that way, though traditional in the upper classes of the world, certainly seems like a commercial transaction.  Of course, even more common than the dowry around the world is the bride price, money paid to the family of the bride to compensate them for the loss of her work and any children she might bear.  In these cases involving marriage contracts the deal is not money just for sex but sex is certainly involved and the contracts would not exist if sex were excluded.

There’s also the very sad situation in which one spouse charges their marriage partner for being allowed to have sex within the marriage.  “If you spend money on me I’ll allow you in my bed.”  Rumor has it that many men expect to get sex from their dates if they spend much money on the date.  Such an attitude speaks ill of both these men and their mothers but I would not be at all surprised if those rumors were true.

I can readily see why sex for money is viewed as a vice, a sin, an abomination.  In my experience sex can be a wonderful, fulfilling, rewarding experience with a person who loves you in return.  The offer of money in return for sex, even if that offer is in the form of a marriage contract, reduces the behavior to an impersonal exchange with no caring or warm feelings at all.  Yet we know that such exchanges are happening every day.

The oldest profession has a companion profession, that of the pimp.  The pimp is typically a man who uses whatever means necessary to take most of the money his “working girls” earn by selling their bodies.  Of course the pimp wants those women and children out of jail so they can bring in more money so the pimp will bribe the police and provide bail money and even hire lawyers to defend his staff.  In this way, prostitution also corrupts not just the general public but also the criminal justice system of police, courts, and prisons as well.  The female pimp usually works as a madam or “abbess” as they were sometimes called in Regency England.  She may operate a “house of ill-repute” in the “red light district” of town where sex, food, and drink plus other light entertainment might be offered.  She provides the same services in protecting her staff from the police and the courts.  In many cases her clients include the town’s “pillars of the community” in the persons of the politicians and church leaders who campaign against commercial sex.

This is the case with physical object money or POM.  You will be hard pressed to find any nation in history which did not have prostitution and in many cases prostitution sponsored by the church depending upon the religion.  You will be even harder pressed to find a nation in which wealthy men are not preferred as sex partners over men of average wealth.  This truth reflects human nature in the context of a POM economy.

But in a non-POM economy matters are quite different.  In as much as non-POM cannot be given to anyone else by its owner, there is simply no means by which a man or woman with money can give that money to someone else in exchange for sex.  Now it’s true that a person could buy some object which the woman wanted and offer that object in exchange for sex.  That would certainly be possible and would work because it brought in a physical object.  But the ownership of that object would be a matter of public record and the transfer of ownership would similarly be there for all to see.  With non-POM ownership is public, not private.  Your ownership of a car or a house is on the public record with POM.  If you buy something in a store that purchase is recorded.  The same will be true with a non-POM economy.  So if a person receives many gifts from strangers that will attract attention.  Also, the gifts would have to be of modest price.  At today’s prices probably no more than a couple hundred dollars in the vast majority of cases.  (I really don’t know the going price of prostitutes so that figure may be off.)  Now objects which are worth, say, $100 may be desirable but they don’t make a good commodity money especially when they are a variety of objects like perfume, cheap jewelry, and small appliances.  How would a pimp deal with such junk?  Since he could not sell the items, not being the owner and even if ownership were transferred to him he would have to convert himself into a shop keeper to manage it, he could hardly get rich in such a system.  He would also have serious problems bribing law enforcement officials since, again, the ownership transfers would be on the public record.  In other words, the whole operation would be public and simply would not work.  Sex slaves would be a thing of the sordid past.  So there would be no pimps and no madams profiting from the sexual sins of others.

If there were women who would offer sex in return for presents they would be able to do so.  But, again, what is such a woman going to do with all that junk?  It can’t be the kind of “cash and carry” relationship street prostitutes practice.  It would require at least getting to know the other person.  In order to work up to really impressive presents the woman would have to establish a rather long term relationship such as those the famous mistresses in history managed to maintain.

Today, with our POM economies, millions of women are forced into prostitution by poverty.  Non-POM has no poverty at all.  No woman would have any need to sell her body to take care of her children or to survive on the streets.  Nor would she need prostitution to maintain her drug habit which we’ll take up later in this lecture.  Any woman could get along just fine in a non-POM economy since she need pay nothing for the basic necessities for herself and her children.

The evils of prostitution include the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases or STDs.  Given the current state of human nature, I am quite confident that STDs will continue to exist because sex outside marriage will continue to exist.  Human beings find other persons to be sexually attractive and a certain percentage will yield to that temptation no matter what kind of money is used in the economy.  So even with non-POM there will be cases of STD.  The use of non-POM will reduce the incidence of STDs, however.  Also, finding cures and preventive measures will mean large non-POM incomes for those who discover and spread the word about those cures and preventions.  Yes, even to finding better ways to get people to abstain from sex while unmarried.  Though I would not expect that to be the only means discovered or used.

With non-POM, your sex life is no one else’s business.  No policeman or FBI agent will be paid to snoop into your private life.  So if you have sex with someone and they give you a gift, no one else cares that you received that gift.  Should circumstances arise that make such information of importance to others, the information will be available.  If you are violating your marriage vows by being unfaithful to your spouse, that fact, not the gift given or received, is what’s important to your spouse.  So if you are a celebrity your sex life will not be in the papers or magazines.

With non-POM prostitution the crime as we know it today will cease to exist.  The whole organized crime aspect will be unable to function depending as it presently does on POM.  Will people find wealth attractive with non-POM?  Almost certainly.  I don’t expect human nature to change.  But whereas today with POM, one can hope to gain some of that wealth using sex, with non-POM, one cannot get any money from anyone using sex, though one could get presents from wealthy people.  One might still think of sex outside marriage as a sin but that sin would not be promoted by non-POM and any harms that it might do would be reduced by non-POM.

Now that we have discussed “wild, wild women” as the old country song had it, let’s move on to alcohol.  Alcohol has been both a blessing and a curse for thousands of years.  Rather soon after women invented agriculture man discovered that certain grains could be fermented and the result had certain pleasant aspects.  Brewing was born.  It enabled people to preserve grain in a form that could last for many months while retaining some of its nutrients.  Alcohol also had the great virtue of killing many kinds of bacteria.  Therefore, beer (and other drinks of that family) was safer to drink than many sources of water.  Wine preserved the “fruit of the vine” for years in some cases and was not likely to make one sick.  Alcohol in moderation also had certain psychological effects on the human mind.  Again those effects were and are a mixed bag with some good consequences and some bad consequences.

The bad consequences have tended to overshadow, in the minds of some, all the good consequences.  What would be desirable would be to have the good without the bad.  With POM we get both.  In fact, with POM any attempt to prohibit the use of alcohol tends to bring in lots of bad consequences.  Prohibition greatly expanded the scope of organized crime in the U.S. making it as powerful in politics as most major industries.  So we are already quite familiar with the evils of prohibition and the evils of over consumption of alcohol such as auto accidents, bar fights, and fraternity hazing leading to deaths.  The incidence of alcoholism is frighteningly high.

How would non-POM deal with alcohol?  I just happen to have an excerpt from “Invisible Hand” which addresses that issue.

I quote.

“What do you think of the class so far?”

“It’s neat, Ricardo. I had no idea there were so many kinds of liquor.”

“I bet you didn’t know there were that many kinds of drinks either did you?”

“I knew there were a lot of drinks. I figured there’d be maybe a couple hundred.”

“Well there are thousands.”

“They’d better be in the book ‘cause I’ll never remember them all.”

“They are. But I still think you’ll fail as a bartender.”

“What do you mean? I make a great martini, dry as a desert.”

“Yeah but you don’t have good sense. You’d give drinks to a drunk until he passed out.”

“It’s his money. If he wants drinks why shouldn’t he be able to buy them?”

“Jeff, what does a bartender get paid for?”

“For serving drinks and keeping up the bar.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, there’s being a good listener.”

“Jeff, please remember that it isn’t like the old days.”

“You’re darn right, Ricardo. It costs a lot more for a beer these days.”

“Jeff, listen to me. It used to be that you were paid for how many drinks you sold and nothing else. Well, maybe a few tips for friendly service. But now you’re being paid for the consequences of what you do.”

“Yeah? So how does that change anything? If I don’t sell any drinks, I don’t get paid. I bet that’s still true.”

“Yes, I guess you’re right about that. If nobody uses your services as a bartender I guess you wouldn’t get paid.”

“Hah. See?”

“But Jeff, what if you gave some guy his fifth or sixth drink and he fell leaving the bar and broke his wrist?”

“I’d rush out and help him, of course.”

“No, no, I mean, what would happen to your pay?”

“What should happen to my pay? I served the guy. I sold the drinks. He got a good feeling for his money. Why should anything happen to my pay?”

“If the drunk fell down because he was drunk then you are partly responsible for his injury. If he can’t work for a while, you get less pay for a while. If the guy needs medical treatment, then you’ll be paid less to compensate for that. The mere fact that the guy is feeling significant pain will show up as less pay for you.”

“Hey, that’s not fair. I didn’t push him. Just because he does something stupid doesn’t mean I should suffer for it. He’s a grown man. If he can’t hold his liquor he shouldn’t drink so much.”

“But Jeff, he was drunk on liquor you gave him. If you hadn’t given him the booze he would have been sober enough to avoid falling.”

“It’s still his own fault for falling. Nobody made him drink.”

“You allowed him to drink your liquor. You stood there behind the bar and every time he asked for more you gave it to him, even when you knew he was becoming drunk.”

“It’s his money. If he wants to spend it to get drunk what business is it of mine.”

“Part of why you’re getting paid is for taking care of your customers. If you help them do something dumb, you aren’t taking care of them at all. I mean, you know that alcohol makes you stupid if you drink too much. So you know that if you give a guy too much to drink he’ll be too stupid to take care of himself. You’ll need to do that for him. So are you going to take care of that guy until he sobers up and gets smart again? Are you going to stay with him every minute and carry him and hold him up when he falls and drive him home and be sure he doesn’t pass out, vomit, and strangle? You going to do all those things? I don’t think so.”

“Jeff you can’t just give people all they want to drink. You know the alcohol makes them do dumb things and they’ll hurt themselves. You have to say, ‘That’s enough for you, wait an hour’ when they’ve had enough. Otherwise, you know that sometimes they’re going to get hurt.”

“You mean I’m their nanny?”

“You’re their nanny if you give them enough booze to get drunk on.”

“You’re telling me that some guy who works hard all week comes into my bar and wants to have a few beers and I’m supposed to tell him I won’t serve him? Doesn’t he have a right to buy liquor whenever he wants with his money?”

“Sure he does, Jeff. He has every right to buy whatever he wants whenever he wants. But that’s your liquor he’s trying to buy. You don’t have any obligation to sell it to anyone unless you want to. Just because some guy has money doesn’t mean that you have to sell to him. It’s your right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason you like, or for no reason at all. You’re nobody’s slave.”

“Okay, I don’t have to sell but what if this guy comes into the bar already a little tipsy? Are they going to blame me if I only give him one drink and then he gets hurt?”

“They would blame both you and whoever gave the guy the other drinks but mostly you because he wasn’t as drunk when the other guy served him.”

“Well what if somebody wants to buy a whole bottle of scotch? That’s enough to get anyone drunk. If they buy the bottle I can’t always watch what they do with it.”

“No, you can’t. So you’d better know that person well enough to know how they’re going to use that scotch. If they take only one or two drinks a day, you’re all right. If they drink it all in one afternoon, you’re taking a big chance.”

“Well, damn. Everybody I know really well would take that scotch and get smashed, except maybe my mother.

“Then you’d better not sell bottles of liquor to anybody.”

“You know, Juan, I thought the hard part of this job was going to be remembering how to make the drinks. Now it sounds like it’s a pretty risky business. You’ve got to keep track of how many drinks everybody’s had and everything.”

“Like I said, Jeff, I don’t think you’re cut out for this job.”

“Say, that bit about it’s being my right to refuse service to anyone, what if I won’t serve blacks, or women… or Jews?”

“Yeah? What about it?”

“Isn’t that unfair? Shouldn’t a person be able to buy what they want no matter what their race, creed, or color?”

“Well, I think so, sure. But if you’re forced to sell something of yours to somebody else then you don’t really own that something at all, do you?”

“You’ve got title to it with the computer so it must be yours.”

“But if it’s yours, can somebody take it away from you… even if you don’t want to give it up? I don’t think so.”

“But you do admit it’s unfair that just because you’re black or whatever you can’t buy something that other folks can buy.”

“Nobody said you couldn’t buy it if you were black. It’s just that you can’t necessarily buy some particular luxury item from some particular owner. See, it’s like this. Say some person has a store that sells jewelry. Jewelry’s a luxury, right?”


“So you go into that store and ask to buy a diamond ring and the guy there says, ‘Get out of my store. We don’t serve trash like you.’ Well it’s his store so you’ve got to leave.”

“Hey, that’s even worse. Why can’t I be in the store?”

“Because it’s his store, dummy. Okay, so you’re mad at him, aren’t you?”

“Damn right, I am. I’d like to bust him one in the face.”

“Well, sure. Anybody would. So you tell a Payer what a shit that guy in the jewelry store was and how  badly he treated you.”

“Why should I tell him? Is he going to go beat up the guy?”

“No, dummy. But he will see that the guy gets paid less than he would otherwise. Also, the people who gave up those rings to the jeweler won’t get paid for a ring you bought from him, they’ll get paid for the ring you bought at the store down the street or off the Internet. So if you make diamond rings, who would you want to have selling your rings?”

“The guy down the street, sure. But what if the guy down the street feels the same way? What if all the jewelry shops refuse to sell things to me?”

“What if the sky falls on you? Come on Jeff, be reasonable. People can earn money selling you jewelry. You think there won’t be lots of folks who want that money? People are greedy. You can depend on that. There’s bound to be lots of greedy jewelry owners. Besides, if they won’t sell to you, there must be lots of other folks like you they won’t sell to, so you should go into the jewelry store business just to sell to those people yourself even if you have to make your own jewelry. You’d make a fortune.”

“What if none of the jewelry makers will give me their jewelry to sell?”

“What if you were making jewelry? Would you turn down a chance to have somebody sell your stuff? What if you were just getting started and trying to establish a reputation for the things you made? Wouldn’t you take a chance on some guy just getting started? Sure you would. I’m telling you, Jeff, human greed will guarantee that before long any bigot who refuses to sell to women, or blacks, or Jews or whatever, will be out of business because it will cost everybody he deals with money for him to refuse sales to them. Being a bigot is a very expensive proposition any more.”

“But you can still refuse service to anyone?”

“Sometimes refusing service is the smartest thing you can do. Sometimes it’s a really dumb thing to do. If you can’t tell when it’s smart and when it’s dumb, then you aren’t going to make much money and nobody’s going to want to work with you. You’ll have to get a keeper to tell you what to do if you want to have a lot of money. I can’t believe you’re that dumb, Jeff.”

“I’m not dumb. I’m just lazy. I don’t want to have to think that hard. I don’t want to have to pay that close attention all the time.”

“Then you have to choose, don’t you? You can choose to be lazy if you like, but it’s going to be expensive.”

End of quote from “Invisible Hand.”

As you can see from this excerpt, those who produce alcoholic drinks are held responsible for the consequences of their actions.  If those consequences are good, they are rewarded by an increase in non-POM.  If those consequences are harmful, they lose potential income.  Those who sell to a consumer share the responsibility for harms done and that sharing goes right back through the supply chain to the people who provided farm equipment to the grain or grape growers.  This maximizes to the extent humanly possible the benefits of alcohol and minimizes the harm it does.

What about tobacco products?  That song I referred to above does start “cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women…”.  Tobacco is also a mixed bag.  It gives people pleasure and it kills them and produces medical conditions which are very expensive to treat like cancer and emphysema.  A different aspect of non-POM is revealed in the following quote from “Invisible Hand.”

I quote.

“Those damn bastards! Those scummy no good bastards! Did you see what they did?”

“What who did?”

“Those tobacco companies, that’s who. They raised the price of a pack of cigarettes to over $30. Can you believe that? That’s more than a dollar a cigarette?”

“Willie,” she said shaking her head, “that wasn’t the cigarette companies, that was the Payers. The Payers are the ones setting the prices on luxuries now.”

“The Payers? What do they think they’re doing? That’s just plain stupid. They can’t do that.”

“Willie, it was in all the papers. All luxuries have their prices set by the Payers. Cigarettes are a luxury. The paper said they set the prices based on what it cost to produce and consume the products. In the case of cigarettes they must be figuring in the health costs as well as the resources used to manufacture the things.”

“But $32.50 a pack? It can’t be that much.”

“Well, they do say that cigarette smoking kills hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. every year and smokers miss more work from illness and pregnant women who smoke have sicklier babies and so forth.”

“Do I look like a pregnant woman to you?”

“No, Willie, but you do cough a lot. Also, you keep going out to smoke those things every half hour or so. It does slow down your working.”

“I take a break to think and smoking helps me think. That doesn’t detract from my work at all.”

“Well you’ve been talking and thinking about the price of cigarettes for the last five minutes and haven’t gotten a thing done.”

“If the Payers didn’t see me, it didn’t happen.” Willie stuck out his tongue at her, then grinned.

End of quote.

I consider nicotine in its various forms of consumable tobacco products to be one of the most dangerous and deadly of all the recreational drugs.  But whatever the drug, if its use is a vice, it would be dealt with in a non-POM economy just as I have described for alcohol and cigarettes.  If new vices are invented, the same procedures and approaches would be applied without any need for legislation or governmental actions.  There would be no “War on Drugs” and no prison terms for use of drugs for whatever purpose.  The criminal justice system would not be involved.  But no one will be paid to help you harm yourself.  So an alcoholic might find it difficult though not impossible to acquire alcohol.  The manufacture of recreational drugs would probably decline sharply since the risk would be great of losing considerable possible income and the rewards would be slight.

Another vice is that of gambling.  The casinos of the world turn a handsome profit.  The lottery generates considerable income for those who run the lottery.  There are even people who are addicted to gambling.  Families have been impoverished despite high levels of income by gambling.  But a large number of people gamble without ill effects and take considerable pleasure in doing so.  Again we have a mixed bag.  We would like to keep the good aspects of gambling and eliminate the harm that gambling causes.  Once again, non-POM provides a major improvement in that regard.

With non-POM one cannot gamble using non-POM because the owner of non-POM cannot give it to anyone else.   But among friends, one can gamble using something like poker chips and then the losers can go to stores with the winners and buy them products to the amount of their losing.  In this fashion one can still gamble using cards, dice, or any other means.  But the harm gambling can do in these circumstances is minimal.  After all, with non-POM one does not use money to buy basic necessities so one’s dependents are not dependent on one’s income.  Your family may have fewer luxuries to enjoy but that’s about the worst thing that would happen to them if you use all your money to buy luxuries for the people you gamble with.  Doing without luxuries is not suffering.

So in general, with a non-POM economy there may still be vices but the harm those vices do will be minimized.  The law will not be involved in those vices which will reduce the harm.  No one can earn non-POM by encouraging people to harm themselves.  Those big casinos will probably go away.  Houses of ill repute and red light districts will probably become a thing of the past.  Use of alcohol and cigarettes will diminish though many people will still take pleasure in their use.  In other words, the externalization of costs of consumer goods and services will end.  No longer will the general public have to pick up the tab for the harms done by vice as you now do through taxes and health insurance among other things.

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