Monday, October 15, 2012

To Hell With Pubic (sic) Policy - No On Measure B


(Actual text of proposed measure heading from yesonb website)
Polls reportedly show LA County voters 63% in favor of Measure B, which is being sold to votes as a requirement for porn actors to wear condoms.  That's not really what the measure is about.  Sadly too many voters are being fooled, once again, to vote for increases in taxes and regulations in the guise of protecting some supposedly helpless group.  As the measure itself notes, California regulations already require porn actors to wear condoms.  So there is absolutely no need for the County to enact its own condom requirement, even if one believes such regulations are needed.  In actuality, the main effect of Measure B would be to impose yet another occupational licensing requirement and potentially unlimited permit fees on anybody still foolish enough to produce porn flicks within L.A. County. 

Here is the part that imposes an unlimited permit fee on film producers:

So the sky is the limit on what may be charged; enough to pay salaries, overhead, expenses, health insurance, pensions, vacations, and other benefits for an untold number of County employees to trundle around the County making sure all of the rapidly dwindling number of porn shoots in the County have completed the proper written plans, posted the required notices on the set, and are all wearing the proper County-mandated condoms.  Are requirements for full-body condoms far behind?

Porn movies are not highly elaborate affairs and do not require the resources of a major studio to produce.  It's easy enough to throw a few cameras in a truck and drive to a nearby County with less onerous regulations, if only to avoid the burden of obtaining an L.A. County public health permit.  But that's not the only problem.  In the highly competitive world of porn production, the condom requirement changes the quality of the finished products.  Porn with condoms, shot in L.A. County, will be less desirable to most consumers of porn than porn sans condoms shot outside of the County.  People consume porn as escapist fantasy, and the presence of condoms only serves as a reminder that the promiscuous, no-strings attached sex being depicted is not as free and wild as the viewer might wish to fantasize.  One can deplore the escapist desires of porn consumers, but that is missing the point.  Fully-permitted porn with condoms is likely to be a money-losing proposition, and the proponents of Measure B are indulging their own statist fantasies to think otherwise.

So the main economic effect of passing Measure B will be to drive most of what remains of the porn movie industry out of the County.  Those who tolerate governmental interference in the free market might find this acceptable, if L.A. County were experiencing economic growth in other areas.  Obviously the County is generally speaking in the doldrums with no real relief in sight, and the effect of passing the Measure will be to further depress the local economy while swelling the County bureaucracy, even if only a little.

Another economic effect will be to discourage smaller producers from producing these sorts of films.  In general, regulatory burdens are regressive because they fall most heavily on smaller and less well-financed business.  Big businesses typically influence and support added regulatory burdens, because such burdens reduce competition and cement the dominance of the established players, as well as discourage innovation.  So if you are an anti-big business sort, you should not be comfortable voting for this measure.

Economic issues aside, there is also the matter of individual freedom.  Porn actors are adults engaging in consensual sex.  Their motivation may be unusual, in that most people do not engage in sex professionally and are not comfortable in making a public performance out of their sexual escapades.  But the motivations of the actors are personal to them and do not alter the essential character of the act.  So if the County or state can regulate sexual intercourse between consenting adults who happen to be filming their activity, what sexual behavior will it seek to regulate next?  Could the county regulate the wearing of condoms in other circumstances?  Because the vast majority of sexually transmitted disease is NOT spread by actors working in porn production, it would seem that the imposition of condom requirements in more general circumstances can't be far off.  I say, keep the county out of our pubic policy.  If you are going to vote, vote NO on Measure B.