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Column: America Should Come To Terms With Natural Behaviorial Patterns

This story was written by , Brown Daily Herald

The tradition continues and Brown's favorite party, Sex Power God, appears to have been a smashing success again this year. The number of EMS'd students was a relatively low nine, and a religious crowd praying for those inside was nowhere in sight.

I remember what SPG was like back in 2005. Who can forget the massive ticket scalping, hordes of EMS'd students and frenzied party hopefuls breaking through the windows of Sayles in a last ditch effort to circumvent the door monitors? Some were willing to pay upwards of $80 for tickets, and the pre-gaming was intense.

I never really asked myself why so many people were caught up in such frenzy over SPG and why such exorbitant prices were paid, including by out-of-staters, to attend this thing. That changed after I spent a semester abroad in Europe and saw how the other western states lived. I realized that SPG was actually a symptom of a larger story.

There is this image of a group of random European students that keeps floating around in my mind. They visit Brown, see the barrage of media coverage surrounding SPG, the huge lines, the ticket scalping (pretend this is before the guest list) and huge prices people are willing to pay to attend and laugh themselves silly.

Let's be honest and assume that maybe 20 percent of SPG attendees go for "ideological" reasons and genuinely see the party as a place to comfortably and freely express their sexuality. The remainder goes for no-strings attached sexual gratification, hoping this one bash would compensate for many long and thankless nights of frat cruising.

I sympathize with this, and so do my imaginary Europeans. Instead of waiting in the huge lines and freezing in the cold on their way to the main event, they simply look up the nearest brothel and take care of their sexual needs directly. Those hoping to top their night off by showing the man how much they can drink before becoming comatose would have no need for bravery, since the drinking age in Europe is set around 18 (16 for beer).

The approach of many Western European countries to these behavioral issues is so different from ours that a Sex Power God equivalent would probably get a quarter of its Brown attendance across the pond. To them, SPG would be just another party whose objectives could be more easily attained elsewhere. Here, it is a byproduct of behavioral monopolies that America continues to deal with, by which I mean limitations on the choices for individuals to satisfy their demand for sex and alcohol.

Going against market forces is pretty much always a bad idea. Restriction and interdiction only produce a thriving black market, drive up prices and heighten exploitation and social costs. The cost of our not having a drinking culture and setting a ridiculously high drinking age is a heavier EMS presence.

Criminalized prostitution produces a horrendous market disequilibrium, where the demand for sexual gratification exceeds an artificially reduced supply. Men who can't get laid the normal way have other options shut to them. They become depressed, less productive and even suicidal. Sex workers are driven underground and left without protection, health benefits and other important support. There is no longer a hint of a level playing field, both because women come to dominate interactions and because a privileged class of men price the "losers" out of the market.

The Europeans came to terms with reality and took appropriate action. When will America do the same?

Those preventing society from living according to rules of nature can be found on both the right and the left. The religious right can't help itself and appears hell-bent - pun intended - on limiting people's choices and pretending markets can simply be wished or regulate away. It would be better for them to keep the values of the 18th century and the apostles to themselves. The same goes for those feminists who make the rest of us feel gloomy and guilty on a 24-hour basis.

We as a country need to join our industrial counterparts, maybe not in nationalizing our health care system, but at least in adjusting how we view natural and inevitable behaviors. Not doing so seems both foolish and incredibly irresponsible. Worse, we might actually come to believe in the farce that our behavioral monopolies perpetuate.

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