Ethically Speaking – Should Patrons Be Charged a Tax to Watch Strippers Strip? Texas Pole Tax Shot Down!

Under the catagory of “You Gotta Be Kidding” I couldn’t help but deviate from the normal serious blog articles about white collar crime and business ethics gone haywire. Tonight we’ll talk a bit about stripping! Yep, the fine art of taking money from – mostly – men in order to see the person naked or – well – partially naked.

Counting My Tips!Seems that the fine state of Texas – of which I am a proud resident – decided effective January 2008 to tax all strip joint patrons $5 as a way to extract more money – mind you no one got to see anything yet – from the patron in order to provide funding for sexual assault prevention programs. The tax was to raise some $44 million.

Wow…that means that there should be 8.8 million visitors each year to strip clubs. Hum…perhaps that is more of a profitable business than I thought. Actually I never gave it much thought.

Well…you knew it was coming. According to the The Texas Entertainment Association Inc., which is a group of topless clubs, and Karpod Inc., the owner of an Amarillo club, sued Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Comptroller Susan Combs over the fee.

A state judge in Texas ruled that the state’s $5 “Pole Tax” was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that the law singled “out business activity involving expression that, while politically unpopular, is nevertheless protected by the First Amendment.” According to the judge: “There is no evidence that combining alcohol with nude erotic dancing causes dancers to be uninsured, that any dancer is in fact uninsured, or that any uninsured dancer could qualify for assistance.”

Despite the Texas Attorney General’s presentation of evidence at trial showing a link between “nude erotic dancing” and “secondary effects of domestic violence addressed by state’s sexual assault program fund, the ‘Pole Tax’ did not pass constitutional muster.

So here’s the question(s) for today:

  • Should the tax be levied so that funds can be raised to fund the sexual assault program?
  • Is it ethical or unethical to tax this “form of expression”?
  • Should “stripping” be regulated just as other professions are regulated?

Your comments are welcome!


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