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As We See It

Brothel owner has his own ideas about economic stimulation

Illustration: Danny Hellman

The guy who owns the Moonlite Bunny Ranch knows how to avoid the fiscal cliff: sex, drugs and taxes. Dennis “There’s no business like ho business” Hof pays the state of Nevada $350,000 per year in taxes. And he believes other Americans should do the same: “People are making billions on the sex trade in America,” says Hof, “and no government is making any money off of it, except in some places in Nevada … legalization can solve a lot of our problems.”

Havocscope, a group that provides data on the black market, estimates that Americans spend $14 billion a year on prostitution. So if the federal government taxed prostitution at, say, 20 percent, and if everybody actually paid—ha!—we’d have an extra $2 billion. Not bad, but not nearly enough. (By comparison, President Obama’s plan to generate revenue by increasing the income tax rate of the top 2 percent of earners would raise $80 billion.) Hof’s no fool; he realizes that bang bucks aren’t enough. He just thinks that legalized and taxed prostitution (and pot) should be combined with income tax bumps and spending cuts. At any other time, the Republicans would laugh in Hof’s face. But if legalized sin can really decrease the need for an income tax hike, maybe they’ll give the idea a second thought.

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