At the end of last week, The Daily Caller published a two-part, uh, exposé on court-mandated reforms to the exotic dancer trade in my adopted home state of Massachusetts. It’s relevant because a recent court ruling mandated that strippers could no longer consider themselves “independent contractors,” and instead must be full-time employees of a club.
(At press time, there’s no word on how this affects “amateur night.”)
Massachusetts law is designed to carefully scrutinize independent contractors – even if they keep their clothes on – to make sure businesses aren’t getting away with something. The reasoning is that most workers would prefer to be full-time employees instead.
But it turns out, that isn’t always true. Independent contractor status allowed strippers to work multiple clubs, set their own pricing for things like lap dances, write off commuting expenses, and – most important – pocket much of the money they received from customers, save for what they would pay in taxes. Strippers are now guaranteed a nightly payout – an assurance they did not enjoy as independent contractors. Previously, though, an astute practitioner of the burlesque could use the aforementioned freedoms to earn a much bigger payout, without having to share every single tossed their way with the owners of the runways.
As it turns out, the most successful strippers are the ones that are best at math. Oddly enough, that was never an answer back in school when people asked when they’d have to use algebra.
The Massachusetts Stripper Story isn’t about women removing their clothes. (It may, however, be why the story gets read.) This is about laws meant to protect workers – laws like compulsory unionism, minimum wage, and overtime – that actually limit workers’ ability to work. Limiting things like independent contractor status really limit employee innovation and entrepreneurship – the ability to find a market for your skill and make money off it. It has potential implications, for instance, for freelance writers.
With national employment in the state it’s in, workers need flexibility to make as much money as possible. Creative thinking like that should be rewarded.
(Lest anyone think this is a partisan story because Massachusetts Democrats were behind the independent contractor ruling, Republicans apparently have their own issues with punishing strippers.)