FDR and Dirty Dancing: Porn-to-School Act (or, What I Learned While Studying the New Deal)



With bailouts for banks and Big Business, the media is snickering at the porn industry’s plea for a federal bailout. Sales of pornographic DVDs have plummeted as Americans zipped up their wallets and spent money on other necessities. But the media refuses to feel the pain of sex workers. Apparently, “too big to fail” governs their thinking but there are industries “too small to matter.”

This is wrong. We can fashion a model for economic recovery from the porn plan. Moreover, we can do so in a way that draws upon the New Deal’s efforts in two areas:

1. NRA Code 348 (Burlesque Theatrical Industry):

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was the first New Deal effort at recovery. The agency mandated that all industries draft “Codes of Fair Competition” to benefit business and labor. NRA codes—-all 700 of them—-corporatized the entire economy. Wage and price fixing was o.k. as the experimenters rid themselves of old superstitions that price fixing was somehow harmful to Mrs. Consumer. As long as everyone put in the “fix,” all would be well. The Supreme Court disagreed and ended the experiment in May 1935 (Schechter v. United States).

Yet there was an upside to the code-making. It made Americans realize how complex the economy had become by 1933. After all, there were codes for the Dog Food Industry (Code 450), Curled Hair Manufacturing and Horse Hair Dressing Industry (Code 427), Shoulder Pad Manufacturing (Code 262), and the Burlesque Theatrical Industry (Code 348). The latter limited burlesque dancers to four strip teases per evening. The goal was to spread the work, and it simply wasn’t fair that the pretty girls got to strip more than the other gals.

That leads me to a second New Deal program that might be combined with porn and dirty dancing:

2. Federal work study: began in the New Deal era. The National Youth Administration offered many college students “work study” to enhance their schools and finance their college education.

MODEST PROPOSAL:

An act to create jobs, stimulate the erotic industries, and make college affordable for Americans age 18-25. This “Porn-to-School Act” will build upon the success of the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration (NYA). The act also creates a cabinet-level position, “Secretary of Sex” (SOS) to work in conjunction with the Surgeon General in promoting safe sex practices in this essential industry.

RATIONALE: The erotic industries (pornographic film, pole dancing, legalized prostitution) recruit young people, age 18-25, who have not yet developed the skills to secure more lucrative employment. The Porn-to-School Act will increase turnover in the erotic industries and allow young women (and men) to get the college education they need to compete in our global economy. The influx of erotic work-students will bolster the higher education sector, which is seeking its own separate bailout. Far better to encourage workfare than welfare. Since the goal of the Old New Deal was to take young people out of the workforce, this will achieve that aim while increasing the human capital of those who could not otherwise attend college. This is the “New New Deal” at its best. After all, these young people are our future. And, as proponents of New Deal workfare note, unlike welfare “we get something for our money”—-a better-educated citizenry and young people who can proudly say “I worked my way through college!”

(Full disclosure: The author of this porn-to-school plan has no financial interest in any erotic industry. The above is purely in the public interest).

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