This question is easier to answer than the famous Chicken and Egg problem first described by Aristotle. Framing the question in terms of Prostitution gets rid of all the messy micro-biological and evolutionary distractions related to chicken embryology.
Whither, the world’s oldest profession??? Is this a Trick Question??? Where do we apply the Stimulus??? Both parties are necessary. Remove either party from the equation and there is no Prostitution. Remove the Hooker, and there is no supply. Remove the Johns, and there is no demand. But in these days of Tight Resource Allocation, we must carefully select the best way to channel our efforts.
Republicans and Libertarians, with their love of Supply Side Economics, would argue that Hookers stimulate demand, and that If you supply it, they will come. Simply free up the producers to produce, and the demand will be there. And not just be there, but be there pulsing, throbbing, and waiting for that supply to just EXPLODE.
This is turn leads to all the catering to the moneyed classes. It isn’t simply a vote-buying kind of Careless Love, like the Democrats do on the Down-Low. No. This is the deep “I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him… ” kind of Love. No trade barriers, no regulations, just on laisse faire la nature (“let nature run its course” – Boisguillebert.)
Progressives, however, think that demand is the driving force. And that demand requires the financial wherewithal to pay for that which is demanded. This is why Progressive agendas focus on infrastructure expenditures, deficit spending, bringing jobs back to America, and making sure American jobs pay a decent and livable wage. Without demand, from the bottom up, Hookers aren’t even able to have a “Going Out Of Business Sale!!!” (And, OH I am sooo resisting the temptation to wonder at the possible advertisements and television commercials , such as— “Prices so low, we should have our head examined!!!” )
All in all, the Progressive argument seems more persuasive. Because the underlying demand for satisfaction can be slaked in many ways. Some, for FREE! For example, Marriage, One Night Stands, Cold Showers, Friends With Benefits Arrangements, Prayer, Third Rate Romance, Low Rent Rendevouz, or Alimony, can all serve to allay Lust. And, what I call the “Onan the Librarian” approach. (A Dirty Book, a Jug of Lotion(Male), [or a Loaf of a Ithyphallos (Female)] and WOW!)
To go beyond those options, and to pay for it, is a move up to or beyond Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In fact, Prostitution directly conflicts with the 3rd and 4th level Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness and Needs for Esteem, respectively.
Of course, one can not examine this issue without considering PRICE. Fortunately, this Girl Reporter can rely on the work of others. From the TuftsObserver, Muddy Drawers: Sexonomic, citing Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s book Superfreakonomics:
Superfreakonomics concentrates on the sex trade in the modern United States, more specifically on what the authors dub the “declining salary of prostitutes.” According to the authors, even the lowest-rent prostitutes in the 1910s made what amounts to $25,000 a year in today’s dollars, and women working at the most expensive brothels made over $430,000. Much has changed over the past century, and the average wage of prostitutes today “pales in comparison to the one enjoyed by even the low-rent prostitutes from a hundred years ago.” The book tells the story of a low-rent prostitute today, “LaSheena,” who makes about $350 a week working the streets in Chicago. This, according to the authors, is typical pay for prostitutes in America today.
Why the sharp decrease in salaries of prostitutes? Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, attributes this steep decline to a fall in demand. So why has the demand for prostitutes fallen? Are men today less horny than they were a hundred years ago? Probably not. Instead, Levitt attributes this decrease to something else: competition. It is no secret that sexual norms have evolved substantially, especially in the last couple of decades. The Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s and the proliferation of contraceptive methods during the 1970s (especially the condom and the birth control pill) led to the “sexual revolution” of the United States. The sexual revolution was a period of loosening sexual norms and increasing sexual liberation. What does all of this have to do with prostitutes? When there are less stringent social norms, women are more likely to have sex before marriage. And when more women are having sex before marriage, men are less likely to seek out prostitutes. As Levitt puts it: “Who poses the greatest competition to a prostitute? Simple: any woman who is willing to have sex for free.”http://tuftsobserver.org/2010/11/muddy-drawers-sexonomic/
So, Demand wins. Of course, I remember what my Mother told me very early on, “Men won’t buy a cow if they can get the milk for free. ” What she forgot to tell me was, “No matter how large the Supply of Cows."