It is small wonder that people find “free choice” a confusing idea: [it] appears to refer to what the person being judged…does, whereas it is actually what the person making the judgment…thinks. – Thomas Szasz
I will never understand why people feel compelled to stick their noses into others’ business. Everyone is different, and has different needs and desires; we also each have different strengths and gifts. If one person has something another wants, and that other has something the first wants, and they agree to a trade, how is that anyone else’s concern? If you’ve got money and want food, and a grocer or restaurateur has food and wants money, and the two of you agree to an exchange, that’s business; both parties go away happy. And if one of you is dissatisfied with the transaction – say you thought the quality of the food was poor or the service was lousy, you simply don’t go back; you instead find another food vendor who will give you what you demand for your money. That’s competition, and it’s what keeps the free market free. Some ridiculous people want to claim that it’s somehow exploitative to sell people things they want, and some even more ridiculous people claim it’s exploitative to offer to pay someone for something. These people are living in a fantasy world; here on the material plane, there is nobody who doesn’t need or want something, and very few who have absolutely nothing to offer in exchange. As long as the transaction is voluntary, nobody else has the right to say boo. It’s only when someone is actually coercing the other that there is an issue.
“But Gloria,” you ask, “what if one party’s need for whatever the other one has is so strong it constitutes coercion in and of itself? What if the customer is addicted to the product, or the seller is so poor he’s desperate for money?” Well, what of it? You’re probably addicted to caffeine, so does that mean Starbucks is exploiting you when you walk in for one of their overpriced lattes? You could just as easily go to McDonald’s. As long as there’s a free market, you can still choose who’s going to get the money you spend on your caffeine addiction. The same goes for food, medicine, shelter and everything else. And yes, even labor; if one company offers poor wages and another fair ones, who is everyone going to apply to? It’s only when there is no real competition because there’s a monopoly or a cartel, or because a coercive government fixes prices or establishes a restrictive licensing regime or the like, that exploitation arises because the one who needs the artificially-limited thing is at the mercy of whoever can provide it.
And that is the crux of my ethical dilemma.
In my youth I developed a strong sense of morality and fair play, and despite considerable pressure to abandon it I have never compromised. But now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having a local monopoly on the service I provide, and I’m extremely concerned that I might begin maltreating my clients because of it. I’ve even toyed with the idea of initiating another lady so that I’ll have a competitor, but the only problem with that is I couldn’t be sure she would maintain my high ethical standards. See, the service I sell is…well, kind of addictive I suppose. Once a man has experienced my…attentions, he tends to want them again and again; the temptation to take advantage is therefore very, very high, and I think it’s very likely that any self-created competition would not be as resolute as I am. In other words, in trying to avoid exploiting my clients, I would almost certainly expose them to greater exploitation.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a Lady of the Evening. Yes, I know that term sounds so old-fashioned nowadays, but “prostitute” is so legalistic, “sex worker” so vague and most of the other choices so vulgar…and I sincerely doubt most Americans would even know what “demimondaine” meant. And yes, of course there are plenty of others around; there are probably hundreds of women of every type and stratum within an hour’s drive, all easily contacted via email. But I offer a very unusual service, catering to a kink that used to be relatively rare but is now increasingly popular. See, in the past I could count on that rarity to keep me honest; so few men were interested in what I was selling that I had to carefully cultivate each one lest I “kill the golden goose” as it were, and be caught with fewer clients than needed to maintain my preferred lifestyle. But now, I could treat my clients like dirt were I so inclined, drain each one dry and then discard him, secure in the knowledge that there would be plenty more where he came from. And that’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous; in my line, one has to avoid attracting undue attention.
Ah, well, I didn’t really expect you to have a solution; I mean, it’s not like you’ve ever been in my position, now is it? But sometimes, it just helps to talk to somebody, to voice these things out loud instead of merely letting them rattle around in my brain. Thanks for listening; how much do I owe you? Maybe we’ll talk more another time; I really must fly now. I have to meet a gentleman at eleven, and it’s after ten now; I don’t have far to go, but it takes a lot longer to make sure one looks nice when one can’t make use of a mirror.