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If on the other hand they were actually building features designed to keep more pimps on the platform (not sure what that would look like for pimps specifically vs. other Salesforce use cases, but just hypothetically)

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about this article. I've read a number of things that suggest that Backpage was better for women, allowing them to market themselves, protect their safety, etc.

I'm for the decriminalization of sex work -- as described in the book "Working: My life as a prostitute" by Dolores French. She makes the point that legalization usually means regulation and it winds up being just as bad as or worse than being pimped. It winds up being done to benefit male clients at the expense of female sex workers, basically.

So I can easily see a situation where, in a world where the current system typically exploits female sex workers, trying to increase sales as your stated goal could deepen the problems of women who are already victims.

If you are against sex work, please try to help women access other work safely and at a living wage/"equal pay" (instead of or at least in addition to preaching about your opinions that sex work is a bad thing and simply shouldn't be tolerated). Women wind up trapped in part because it pays well and they often have little to no viable alternatives. If you aren't actively working in some way to help make it possible for women to adequately support themselves some other way, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I spent nearly six years homeless. There was no shortage of men offering to give me a few bucks to sleep with them. Meanwhile, I was mostly failing to get taken seriously in my attempts to earn income some other way.

There are reasons why I was able to still say "no" in the face of tremendous circumstantial pressure, but it made me very aware that a lot of women simply don't have enough wherewithal to just say "no" themselves. (There is some truth to the idea that you need a middle class income to be able to afford a middle class morality.)

I was briefly acquainted with another homeless woman whose solution was to move in with some guy she had just met in order to get back into housing. She apparently only spent a few days on the street because of making this choice.

It's perhaps a more polite form of prostitution to call him your boyfriend and not charge by the hour, but I've thought a whole lot about it and I would much rather charge by the hour than move in with some man for his money and wind up probably essentially being his prisoner. This goes double in the case of a stranger I've just met and know nothing about. Wow. That idea just scares the hell out of me.

Edit: Just for the record, I'm also against UBI, in addition to being against "legalization"/regulation of sex work.




"it winds up being just as bad as or worse than being pimped. It winds up being done to benefit male clients at the expense of female sex workers, basically."

I did an essay on legalization in college after a lot of research. I favor decriminalization, too, but I strongly disagree that regulation is just as bad or worse. The biggest problem I found was that prostitutes could be beaten, raped, and murdered with either no legal recourse or much less action by police. That's because people couldn't report the act or importance circumstances without risking jail time. Regulation, aka the circumstance itself is no longer criminal, might dramatically boost the safety and legal protections for prostitutes despite hardships it brings. What little data I had on regulated brothels here and overseas suggested they were way safer.


The biggest problem I found was that prostitutes could be beaten, raped, and murdered with either no legal recourse or much less action by police.

This is certainly a huge, huge issue that I would like to see go away.


>Yeah, I have mixed feelings about this article. I've read a number of things that suggest that Backpage was better for women, allowing them to market themselves, protect their safety, etc.

How much of that was from the EFF or other tech industry allies about avoiding any weakening of Section 230?

The actual way to make things safer for sex workers is what you mentioned, decriminalization.


How much of that was from the EFF or other tech industry allies about avoiding any weakening of Section 230?

I couldn't say. I can say at least some of it was first-hand testimony from former sex workers who likely had never heard of EFF or Section 230. They focused on things like what a mess their life was, why they ended up doing sex work to begin with and why they credit Backpage with "saving their life" by allowing them to check out clients beforehand for safety purposes, etc.

I'm kind of a demographic outlier for HN. I tend to run in different circles, so to speak, from most folks here. (I had to google EFF and Section 230 to answer your question. I didn't readily know what you were even asking.)


This is an excellent podcast episode that answers your question and is also fascinating: https://www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/119-no-more-safe-harbo...


Interesting to hear you oppose UBI especially given your experiences with homelessness. What's your reasoning?


Since I originally mentioned UBI in my reply, I'm going to clarify. Many people oppose UBI in the sense of not expecting UBI as the one solution to every social issue. From that POV, I also oppose UBI. In fact, I think everyone should be enabled to engage in productive and highly-paid work, as far as practicable. However we should acknowledge that people sometimes get stuck in poverty/welfare traps, that traditional forms of assistance are all too often ineffective and lead to people falling through the cracks. It's hard to see a solution to this that doesn't involve a UBI of some sort.

Edit: We should also point out that UBI does play a role in addressing the housing-unaffordability problem. Being stuck in a high-rent, high-COL place is a sort of poverty trap that is solved by enabling people to move to somewhere cheaper and seek successful work there.


We should also point out that UBI does play a role in addressing the housing-unaffordability problem. Being stuck in a high-rent, high-COL place is a sort of poverty trap that is solved by enabling people to move to somewhere cheaper and seek successful work there.

This is basically an extremely classist, racist and uninformed version of NIMBY that says "Poor people: They are allowed to exist, but Not In My Back Yard. Go be poor someplace else!"

It's a complicated issue and I've already written a couple of long comments and I have other things I need to be doing. But telling people we will cut you a small check so you can move someplace cheaper amounts to saying poor people cannot live in desirable areas with lots of amenities and have no right whatsoever to desire to do so.

I also have zero reason to believe it actually solves the housing affordability issue. I was willing to move to almost anywhere in the western US to get off the street and back into housing. I left California and moved to a small town in Washington. But it was extremely challenging trying to find a place to make my life work with affordable rent and no car.

I no longer drive. Even if I did, buying a car is typically the second highest household expense for most American households.

We just don't have a lot of options for a full and vibrant life without a car in the US. Living without a car requires a certain level of urban fabric so you can do your shopping etc on foot and via public transit. The lack of walkable places in the US is a primary part of the affordability issue.

It will not get solved by injecting funds into the system for poor people to use to cover rent. In fact, doing so likely makes the issue more intractable.

Real change is always hard. People inherently do not like change. UBI is a "status quo is god" answer when the current status quo has terrible problems that will not be fixed by simply giving poor people a few more bucks to live on.


One problem I see with UBI is that it may just act as a subsidy for companies like Amazon and Uber allowing them to pay their lowest paid workers even less.


I have a whole lot of reasons. It boils down to the fact that I think it amounts to rich people imagining they can cut a small check and make poor people shut up and go away rather than giving them real rights, access to the means to build wealth, etc.

Also, every time humans try to "share and share alike" like this -- socialism, communism, etc -- it winds up going bad places. Such idealistic schemes only ever work well when it is some small self-selected group of like-minded people. The minute it gets opened up to "everyone," it promptly goes to hell in a hand basket.

Articles about UBI suggest that we need UBI because automation is displacing workers and you can assume permanent high unemployment as a normal future state. The jobs that are going away due to automation typically pay $20k to $50k annually. UBI is usually posited as being about $10k annually or maybe $18k annually tops.

Such articles then go on to describe how wonderful it will be for people currently doing underpaid "good work," like social workers, to have UBI on top of their current meager paycheck. They never actually go into the dystopian scenario of 80 percent permanent unemployment, you getting a mere $10k annually with nearly zero hope of making more than that while rents, medical expenses, etc. remain just as high as they are today.

I think a much better solution is single payer healthcare and real solutions to the housing affordability crisis. Make it possible for someone to get free or cheap healthcare and a cheap, decent place to live where it is possible for a single person (for example) to support themselves working a minimum wage job or part-time at gig work that pays a bit better than minimum wage and a lot of social ills we see today will largely go away.

Here is a piece that I think does a good idea of outlining some of the issues with UBI. I especially like the phrase "California optimistic" in the piece:

https://medium.com/s/free-money/after-universal-basic-income...

It recently occurred to me that UBI treats most people as "consumers" and their "consumer" function as the only thing they can contribute to the system while trying to survive. This means UBI actively tries to turn people into parasites.

We need to integrate people into the body of the nation as productive, responsible citizens, even if they don't produce very much. There is no end to how much people can spend, as evidenced by the fact that about 2/3 of lottery winners wind up bankrupt within five years from what I gather.


> I think it amounts to rich people imagining they can cut a small check and make poor people shut up and go away rather than giving them real rights

This reminds me of the dystopian option in Manna http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm


> Also, every time humans try to "share and share alike" like this -- socialism, communism, etc -- it winds up going bad places.

How do you reconcile that with the quite successful Scandinavian (and to a lesser extent Canadian and other) examples of quite left/socialist leaning societies?

I hear this argument ("It just doesn't work!") quite often but it sounds to me to be just parroting far-right propaganda, and selectively looking at evidence that supports that line of thinking (eg russia/china which have a lot of issues that aren't really tied to the left/right spectrum).

[edit] I actually like the reasonable approach you're taking in the rest of your comment :) I'm just picking at that one statement as I see it fairly often and really have a hard time understanding it.


From what I've read, they do things in line with what I advocate, such as making healthcare available to all, not free money for existing.


Interesting angle, thanks for the post.


> She makes the point that legalization usually means regulation and it winds up being just as bad as or worse than being pimped. ...

I'm pretty sure that "keep people who are in duress from entering this particular line of business" would be part of any meaningful regulation of sex work. If there's no feasible regulation that can achieve this (something I'm not sure about one way or the other) then we should avoid de-regulation and just keep the status quo. I agree that the broader issue of "what to do about people who are shut out of the labor market or stuck in dead-end, low-paying jobs" is quite relevant. UBI might be an important piece of the puzzle.




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