For a recent episode of his Uncut podcast, Matt Allen had an interesting conversation with Bella Robinson, who is (I think it is accurate to say) a prostitute based in Rhode Island. Matt remarked several times that Ms. Robinson seemed to paint those who do charitable work as well as government agencies tasked with human services as unfailingly bad or misguided, while also seeming to prefer big-government policies.
The flip side of this tendency toward blanket condemnations of adverse institutions is blanket praise for one’s own. Listening to Robinson, one would think that prostitution is preferable to, and even safer than, just about any other occupation, and certainly to dating and marriage.
Along those lines, Matt confronted her with the broadly understood reality that a traditional, responsible lifestyle will bring 90% of people out of poverty. Actually, the progressive Brookings Institute finds that 98% of poor people who finish high school, get full-time jobs, and wait until 21 and married to have children will escape poverty, with 75% making it to the middle class.
Bella Robinson’s response, in essence, was that she tried that strategy, and it didn’t work for her. Well, yeah, any system that is 98% effective will not work for 2% of people. That doesn’t mean that we should reorder society in a way that might work for that 2% but fails some much larger percentage. (One thinks of radical feminism, which tears down standards for relationships that work for large numbers of women and replaces it with one that might not work for anybody except the feminists themselves.)
During the entire podcast, listeners get the impression that Robinson doesn’t believe anything works except the subject of her advocacy: sex work. Religion, government, relationships, marriage, social work… all of them are entirely flawed because they’re not 100% perfect. But tossing our “old tired ethics,” which our civilization has honed (yes, with missteps) over thousands of years, that apparently will cure everything.