Vice Squad
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Playing Catch-Up

During the past week of slow blogging here at Vice Squad, lots of exciting vice-related stories have appeared on blogs to which we link. We can't possibly make good the arrears, but I will mention just a few of the highlights:

(1) Mark Kleiman offers a fairly detailed post about personal alcohol licenses, which would be revoked (for some period of time) if a person is convicted of misbehavior under the influence of alcohol. Mark suggests that to be efficacious, sellers would have to do the enforcing, that is, check all potential buyers for a valid alcohol license. Related systems now in use in the US as conditions for probation or pre-trial release rely on such things as random tests to provide a modicum of enforceability.

Vice Squad has mentioned the possibility of personal licenses for drug use many times in the past, most recently, here. Such licensing, which could be used for heroin and cocaine as well as alcohol, also would create an environment conducive to some private drug policy responses: some employers might be unwilling to hire someone with who has a heroin license, while life, health, or auto insurance rates might vary based on the licenses a person holds. People might even use the license to control their consumption, perhaps by agreeing to be licensed for only limited purchases (that is, below some maximum that would be established by law) of their drug per month.

Mark also links to and comments upon this fine LA Weekly piece on the use of psilocybin (the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms) to reduce death anxiety.

(2) Tyler Cohen at Marginal Revolution brings word of the World Trade Organization decision that the US cannot legally ban Internet gambling by US residents from web-based casinos located abroad. The case pitted the nation of Antigua and Barbuda (population: under 70,000; Internet betting operations: 30) against the most powerful nation on earth, and the underdog has won the first round. Some members of Congress won't take this lying down, however, as this NY Times article (registration required) linked by Tyler makes clear. (Vice Squad occasionally comments upon the regulation of Internet gambling.)

(3) Belle at Belle de Jour offers an FAQ-style post that provides some information you probably didn't know about the call-girl business in Britain; for instance, only about one-quarter of her customers tip. (Keep in mind, as you read the linked post, that commercial sex is not illegal in Britain, though Belle's "manager" is on the wrong side of the law. ) Belle's award-winning blog has led to a book deal for her. Those of us who will never earn a dime can try to take the moral high ground: making money off of a blog? Isn't that a sort of, er, prostitution?

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