Red light district

Why outlawing particular goods and services is bad public policy

The ‘nanny state’ has expanded in recent years. Politicians and bureaucrats have increasingly sought to restrict what individuals are permitted to do with their own bodies on their own property. Prohibitions is a corrective to the prevailing support for such authoritarianism.

This collection examines the outlawing of the manufacture, distribution, sale or provision of particular goods and services by consenting adults. It begins with an overview of the economics of prohibition and subsequently analyses particular prohibition issues including gambling, prostitution, recreational drugs and trade in body parts.

The authors find that in most cases prohibition imposes significant costs on individuals and society as a whole and produces few benefits in return. Prohibition places markets into the hands of criminal enterprises and criminalises people who would not otherwise come into conflict with the law. It makes risky behaviour even more risky, increases public ignorance and often encourages the behaviour it seeks to prevent. Given the substantial costs and minimal benefits, it is clear that prohibition is bad public policy.

1. Introduction by John Meadowcroft
2. Prohibitions and economics: an overview by Martin Ricketts and Geoffrey E Wood
3. Recreational drugs by Mark Thornton and Simon W Bowmaker
4. Boxing by Ralf M Bader
5. Firearms by Gary A Mauser
6. Advertising by Alberto Mingardi
7. Pornography by Nadine Strossen
8. Medical drugs and devices by Alexander Tabarrok
9. Prostitution by John Meadowcroft
10. Gambling by Robert Simmons
11. Human body parts for transplantation by Mark J Cherry
12. Alcohol by K Austin Kerr

2008, ISBN 978 0 255 36585 7, 269pp, PB

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