The Porn Bailout

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The Porn Bailout

by Doug French by Doug French

With the federal government ladling out billions in bailout money to the financial and auto industries, a number of businesses now have their hands out. Home builders, retailers and commercial real estate developers all want a piece of the bailout pie. Not like there is an existing warm pie cooling on the window sill waiting to be cut and served. No, this money pie is created out of nowhere, to be paid for in higher prices as the inflation is forced upon the unwitting public.

Nobody could imagine that pornographers would be brazen enough to line up at the government trough. But sure enough, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame have asked their local Congressman Henry Waxman for $5 billion because: "People are too depressed to be sexually active," according to Flynt. Ever the patriot, Flynt says an unsexed nation is an "unhealthy" nation. "Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

No doubt being depressed about losing your job or the general correction of the real estate bubble doesn’t do much for your get up and go. And if past escapades on Capitol Hill are any guide, this is a subject lawmakers are very interested in. However, the head Hustler honcho is stretching it a bit to think that a $5 billion injection into the porn industry will provide a lasting stimulus — economic or otherwise.

Upon hearing the news of Flynt and Francis’s panhandling, most people likely figured that it was all a big publicity stunt. But there really is a method to their madness. In an interview with Fox Business, Francis revealed what really has his business in a funk. When asked what he would do with the $5 billion, he said they would "invest in building new means of distribution, and shoring up our distribution right now to prevent further erosion from factors like Youporn and other internet content that has seriously affected our business over the past few years."

Indeed, Francis was once one of these small-scale producers until his Girls Gone Wild series took off. Now that his company employs 400 people and sales exceed $100 million, it sounds like he wants to use intellectual property laws to protect his content from pesky competitors like Youporn.

So the jobs that Joe Francis assured Fox Business that he and Flynt would create are likely to be jobs for intellectual property law lawyers, in hopes of benefiting Hustler and Francis’s Mantra Films, Inc. at the expense of their innovative and creative competitors.

No matter what Larry Flynt contends there is no lack of inexpensive porn available to stimulate Americans. In fact, using $5 billion of taxpayer money "to prevent further erosion from factors like Youporn and other internet content that has seriously affected our business over the past few years," will only make his product more expensive and less accessible.

Throwing money at Flynt and Francis, like bailing out the automakers and the big banks, stifles innovation and new technologies in order to keep outmoded business models in place at the expense of taxpayers.

Doug French [send him mail] is executive vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and associate editor for Liberty Watch Magazine. He received the Murray N. Rothbard Award from the Center for Libertarian Studies. See his tribute to Murray Rothbard.

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