Missouri's Stripper Anti-Stimulus

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A job's a job, right? Even when the job means stripping, and especially when the job means stripping during a downturn. But Missouri's Republican legislature is looking to crack down on the adult entertainment industry, even if that means piling onto the state's unemployment rate of 9.3%. From the WSJ:

Last month, the Republican-controlled legislature passed one of the nation's toughest state laws aimed at strip clubs and other adult-entertainment venues. It would ban nude dancing and the serving of alcohol in adult cabarets, force strip clubs to close at midnight and forbid seminude dancers to touch patrons.

Missouri's strip club scene is a $4 million industry that employs about 3,000 people, according to its backers (read: might be slightly exaggerated).

But Kansas City isn't the first recession-city to face stripping crackdowns. Detroit passed a law to tighten strip club regulations in February this year, as the U.S. attorney general has named the city's clubs as human trafficking hot spots.

I see this as an important distinction. That state law should crack down on human trafficking is a moral obligation that exists above and beyond the question of stimulus spending. But the Missouri law to ban alcohol and force clubs to close at midnight sounds like a broad death warrant for the industry rather than a reasonable bill that aims to root out a particular illegality associated with Kansas City strip clubs.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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