Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bill O'Reilly's Prostitutes

“Amsterdam is a disaster.” Bill O’Reilly said on his show last night, “And they’ve finally realized it.” O’ Reilly pontificated about Amsterdam finally realizing what a failure their city policies are and are finally doing something about it.

O’Reilly promoted an impression that crime and social problems are soaring in Amsterdam, that the city now realizes it, and is closing all of it’s prostitution and coffeeshops. He also made mention of the apparent failure of their safe sex programs for teens.

Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Not even remotely close. Bill must be learning journalism and honesty from his friend Geraldo.

Let’s make sure we all understand exactly what Amsterdam is doing. They plan to close approximately 30% of the prostitute windows in the city center area and 22% of the over 200 coffeeshops. The bulk of these are in the relatively unknown areas of The Singel and Pijp. While they are closing some windows along the perimeters of the more famous Walletjes RLD the city said that they plan to leave at least 200 windows and very specifically said that they do not want to close any more as they believe that a legal industry is better for everyone than an illegal underground industry under prohibition. In total the plan represents about a 4% overall reduction of prostitution locales in the Amsterdam area (windows make up less than 15% of legal prostitution in Amsterdam) though likely no reduction in activity as many of the displaced prostitutes are expected to move elsewhere and continue working. This move by the city is aimed more at simply reducing visibility.

Now, back to Amsterdam realizing how screwed up they are.

As we’ve already discussed, Amsterdam appears, from every report published, to have significantly less human trafficking and underage prostitution than the US. The Netherlands has 1/5 the teen pregnancy rate of the US (34/100k in NL vs. 176/100k in the US) and also has about 1/3 the per capita abortion rate. The US has about 2 to 3 times the incidences of AID’s as The Netherlands and over twice the incidences of other STD’s. (I believe in abstinence until marriage, but the results of safe sex programs in The Netherlands and elsewhere cannot be ignored.)

We also know that about 50% more kids smoke pot in the US than in The Netherlands. Adult use of pot in the US is higher by an even greater margin.

As O’Reilly pointed out the government says that one reason for taking these measures is to cut down on crime. Let’s get some perspective on this. ALL of the following is based on per capita rates per 100k population as per the World Bank and US Justice Dept. The Netherlands has less than half the theft rate of the US and 15% less fraud. The US has 12 times (yes, twelve) the arrest rate for drug offenses as The Netherlands. The US has 3 times as many murders and 4 times as many assaults, most of these related to our war on drugs that doesn’t exist in The Netherlands. (And these don't include numerous deaths and assaults such as Tarika Wilson.) The Netherlands has 20% fewer robberies. The US prison population is 9 times that of The Netherlands. And The Netherlands has 32% fewer law enforcement personnel than the US. If the FBI, border patrol, state SBI’s are included they have 69% less and if military personnel used for drug interdiction are included they have 82% fewer.

Organized crime is very difficult to measure but according to what I’ve been able to quickly pull together it appears that the US has about 2 - 3 times as much organized crime as The Netherlands. More research is needed on this one though.

What O’Reilly also didn’t mention is that this past summer when Conservatives in the national government were looking at a law to close all prostitution and coffeeshops throughout the country that over 85% of the mayors, including Amsterdam, Maastricht, and all other major cities, very strongly protested this effort saying that this would increase crime and other problems. And many of these mayors are Conservatives. Nor did he mention that they also hope to close over 50% of the mini-marts and souvenir shops.

The ignorance of O’Reilly and his guests on this issue is a new level for him.

An accurate statement is that Amsterdam is very slightly tweaking their already successful prostitution and drug policy in hopes that they can further reduce crime (that overall is already about 1/6 that of the US crime rate) without increasing social problems (that are overall about 1/3 that of the US).

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