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Spain Lifts Ban on Hooker Advertising

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MADRID -- The Spanish parliament took action over the weekend to address the country's fiscal woes, passing a bill introduced by the opposition that lifts a longstanding ban on the advertising of sexual services. According to a report from UPI, the legislation lifts "the ban on brothels, escort agencies or individuals acting as prostitutes placing ads in classifieds in print or online in Spain, where prostitution is legal."

Wait: Prostitution is legal in Spain?!

Have you seen the Spaniards? I ask you, how does that country have money troubles? It's as if Spain owned 50 million greyhounds and was in debt to the humane society. From the standpoint of looks, the Spaniards are so much easier on the eyes than run-of-the-mill Europeans, there's no conceivable reason why there's not a line stretching from Gibraltar to Andorra, a line of sweaty, shambling desperate people, pockets crammed with wrinkled euros, aching to buy a few minutes of escape from the drudgery of their real lives.

The English alone should be rafting ashore on the Spanish coast in great waves of fumblingly uncomfortable sexuality. Hugh Grant could spend in a month whatever the combined Spanish banking system owes. Here's what one finds for a fistful of pounds in Manchester. Here's the scene in Madrid. [My apologies to the Cruz-Sánchez families.]

Actually, while I'm apologizing, I should apologize to any reader whose parody-resistance leaves them wondering -- yes I'm being sarcastic. Spain's lax prostitution laws should be a source of national embarrassment. In a country where prostitution is a more-or-less open enterprise but pimping is, technically, illegal, there are an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 women working in the sex trade, some 90 percent of whom are likely victims of trafficking. It's a big problem and turning the country into an open red light district might not be the solution.

But hurtful times bring on hurtful legislation and in Spain, the times they are a-hurting. Expect more desperation, not less, from the Spanish parliament in coming months.

Spain accepted EUR100 billion in relief earlier this week to shore up its shaky banking system and despite the government's insistence to the contrary, that acceptance comes with the condition that the country submit to the supervision of a troika made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. So Spain must now deal with not only the indignity of an international bail-out, but also the prying eyes of global capital apparatchiks scrutinizing its practices.

So there was Greece, now Spain and if we wait a week or so we can add Italy to the list of countries that jumped aboard the Eurozone Express without bothering to ask if they had an assigned seat. Those countries, along with Ireland and Portugal, now must figure they got invited along to shovel coal, or whatever metaphor you might choose for externally monitored austerity.

And against that backdrop it makes a bit of sense, actually, that Spain would look to the obvious. They've got a whole uncounted population of imported sex slaves and no real laws against their trade. There just aren't enough people who know about it. Ergo; advertise. Legal sex tourism is worth squat if people don't know about the tour. So kudos to the parliament for some out-of-the-box thinking, the sort of creative problem-solving that Europe's other debtor nations ought to learn from.

Should the Greeks manage to elect themselves some form of leadership this coming Sunday, that leadership should consider bold international action. To address their massive indebtedness and abysmal employment figures, they should file a patent suit against Great Britain for copyright infringement. A month from now the English will be all astir, hosting the world at the Olympic Games, and we all know there's no Olympus in England. The Greeks invented the Olympics and unless someone can produce a signed release, they should still own them. The Brits owe them a share of the gate.

The Irish might want to start taxing everything green and/or alcoholic -- not in their own country, but in all other countries where the annual Exploitin' o' the Stereotypes on March 17 nets many a publican many a farthing but sends nothing back to the place that spawned it all. Next year if some suburban San Diegan gets a snoot-full and pukes in my front yard I want to know that a portion of his tab went straight to Dublin.

The Portuguese should consider a new marketing campaign, given the feeble response to their recent launch, "Portugal - It's a Country!" In the meantime, they should replace their flag with a photo of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Italy (and this idea has some actual merit) should start charging rent on the Vatican.

Those seem like sound ideas to me, but they might be beyond the reach of the various governments in those countries where, much to the chagrin of the European Central Bank, citizens do still have the right to vote. Alas, it's a big bunch of funk and all the world's wrapped up in it. Spain, loose women, hard times, what the heck... here's Carmen.