Prostitution is alive and well in Utah | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Prostitution is alive and well in Utah 

Taking a Gander

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I realize that it may be hard for some of you to visualize Gov. Spencer Cox, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. John Curtis all dolled up in their stiletto heels, halter-tops and mini-skirts—swish-swaying down State Street during the wee hours.

Just imagine it: Cox with a bit too much ruby lipstick; Curtis in his lacy fishnet hose; and Lee topped off with a blonde wig and false eyelashes so long that when he bats them, they send lost receipts and discarded flyers airborne.

Titillating? Not exactly, but the reality is that prostitution is alive and well in our state. Maybe just not the same kind.

Everyone knows the most common usage of that word, but "prostitution" has more than one meaning. One, of course, is about selling sex for money. The other, according to Webster is the unworthy or corrupt use of one's talents for the sake of personal or financial gain.

Many of our elected leaders fit into that second category—and it all boils down to money. Loyal only to the big money that put them into office, they are watching the rest of us being raped by the greed of the corporations that provide their campaign funds. It's not insignificant that, between Cox, Lee and Curtis, the fossil fuels industry provided close to $500,000 in campaign funding.

If you're not in the top ranks of income earners, you've noticed that the prices on all kinds of consumer goods and services have been heading into the stratosphere. You've also wondered—if you're at all the inquisitive type—about how there seems to be no rhyme or reason for why pricing on some things has far outpaced others.

Take a look at your home heating bill. Notice how much you're spending on electricity. Think about what it's costing to fill the tank of your car. It seems that everything else is up, too—the price per pound for a nice steak to throw on the grill, the cost to enjoy some ocean-caught salmon, or the soaring price on a few eggs to scrabble along with the morning cup of Joe.

We shake our heads, determined that we're not going to allow a few bumps in the road to sour our outlooks. But in the backs of all our minds, there's a lingering question: Why?

Oh sure, we've been steadily fed the rationale that prices on consumer goods are determined by the simple logic of supply and demand. Everyone can figure that out—when the supply is small, relative to the demand, it signals exorbitant prices; but when the supply is large, prices naturally fall.

Of course, other factors can make a difference—such as when supply and demand are essentially balanced, but shipping and handling costs throw a monkey wrench into the math. Transportation and supply bottlenecks have taken their toll on consumers and supply factors, like the culling of millions of laying hens, have been added to the bottom line of our grocery receipts.

But, that logic doesn't actually explain the presently outrageous gouging that's becoming a "normal" part of our lives as consumers.

Part of the problem lies with the people we've elected—our president, governors and legislators—who seem to have only one choice in life, to figure out how to maintain the appearances of public servants while giving their real loyalties to the man in the mirror.

Of course, they'll claim to be innocent choir boys, but the reality is that, if they had our best interests in mind, they could do their part in bringing down the high prices that are sorely hurting Americans. Any of our elected officials could file a lawsuit—it's their right—against the multi-sector monopolies that are bullying the American consumer. We have our antitrust laws—they're on the books—but because of election financing, no politicians are willing to push for enforcement. We must insist that they enforce the laws that were enacted to protect us.

We also have a public service commission, which is there for the specific task of regulating the cost of essential needs—like natural gas and electricity—but they've caved in to the demands of corporate and stockholder greed.

Our elected leaders have the right to demand that public utilities serve our citizens and yet, the cost of natural gas to the consumer is between 5 and10 times its price on the world market. Gasoline, which as a common necessity should be a public utility, is far out of line with the price of the barrel—which is not, presently, so far from its five-year average. Look it up, these prices are public information. If the barrel prices are merely average, then we are being fed a bunch of B.S. and when we're told, in advance, that the price of gas is headed up again, we must ask, "Why?"

(Sen. Mike Lee, you took more than a quarter of a million dollars from fossil fuel donors. Rep. John Curtis, you got almost $100,000. And it looks like our own Spencer Cox got around $80,000. That's more than pocket-change.)

It's high time that our elected leaders gave up prostitution and became the champions and defenders of their loyal constituents. That's what they're supposed to be, and that's the reason we elected them. And yet, they all suffer from a woeful conflict of interest. The reality seems to be that the commercial interests that funded their successful elections are their real constituents—we are not.

And as someone wise once said, a man cannot serve two masters.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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