Montag, Januar 31, 2005

Prostitution is just a job...

Hi -

Well, a number of sources have confirmed this story, that the German attempts to get people off the dole and back to work are having some unintended consequences. The story is not exaggerated: the original German is here and there's little in the Guardian article that doesn't hold up.

It's a typical clueless bureaucratic screw-up: if a bordello, which is legally operating and is willing to provide the usual amenities to working there (health care, pension, etc), makes any woman looking for work an offer to work in the bordello - it doesn't have to be as a prostitute, but... - and the woman refuses, she may be docked on her dole payments for refusing employment.

Prostitution has been legal here since 2002. As an economist, I know that it is NACE rev 1.1 category 93.05, Other service activities n.e.c., i.e. other personal service activities not elsewhere classified. This is, of course, based on ISIC Rev 3.1 code 93.09, which corresponds to NAICS 2002 classification 81.2990.

This class includes:
- activities of Turkish baths, sauna and steam baths, solariums, reducing and slendering salons, massage salons etc.
- astrological and spiritualists' activities
- social activities such as escort services, dating services, services of marriage bureaux
- pet care services such as boarding, grooming, sitting and training pets
- genealogical organizations
- shoeshiners, porters, valet car parkers etc.
- coin-operated personal service machines (photo booths, weighing machines, machines for checking blood pressure, coin-operated lockers etc.)

The key is here identifying escort services and data services as being the closest analogues to bordellos, which are specifically not classified (illegal activity in most classification countries: for this reason there isn't a category for illegal drug trading, unless you decide to use the classification 99.00, which is...

activities of international organizations such as the United Nations and the specialized agencies of the United Nations system, regional bodies etc., the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Customs Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Organization the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the European Communities, the European Free Trade Association etc.

But getting back to the point of the article above: it's just a bureaucracy running its mindless way through its procedures. At some points virtually all such bureaucracies will come up with something mindless - when I got married, I had to provide proof that I didn't have a police record, an easy thing to get in Germany but impossible in the US: I had to file a form for the release of the requirement of providing proof that I didn't have a police record - and shouldn't really be taken as proof of the perfidy and licentiousness of German society.

Because if you live here for any length of time, you realize that you often don't need proof.


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