Still, these negatives just might not seem that important when the wage is $500 an hour. Indeed, when Allie confided to one longtime friend that she had become a prostitute and described her new life, it was only a few weeks before the friend joined Allie in the business.
Allie has never had any trouble with the police, and doesn't expect to. The truth is that she would be distraught if prostitution were legalized, because her stratospherically high wage stems from the fact that the service she provides cannot be gotten legally.
Allie had mastered her domain. She was a shrewd entrepreneur who kept her overhead low, maintained quality control, learned to price-discriminate, and understood well the market forces of supply and demand.
She also enjoyed her work.
But all that said, Allie began looking for an exit strategy. She was in her early thirties by now and, while still attractive, she understood that her commodity was perishable. She felt sorry for older prostitutes who, like aging athletes, didn't know when to quit. (One such athlete, a future Hall of Fame baseball player, had propositioned Allie while she was vacationing in South America, not knowing that she was a professional. Allie declined, uninterested in a busman's holiday.)
She had also grown tired of living a secret life. Her family and friends didn't know she was a prostitute, and the constant deception wore her out. The only people with whom she could be unguarded were other girls in the business, and they weren't her closest friends. She had saved money but not enough to retire. So she began casting about for her next career. She got her real-estate license. The housing boom was in full swing, and it seemed pretty simple to transition out of her old job and into the new, since both allowed a flexible schedule. But too many other people had the same idea. The barrier to entry for real estate agents is so low that every boom inevitably attracts a swarm of new agents- in the previous ten years, membership in the National Association of Realtors had risen 75 percent- which has the effect of depressing their median income. And Allie was aghast when she realized she'd have to give half of her commission to the agency that employed her. That was a steeper cut than any pimp would dare take!
Finally Allie realized what she really wanted to do: go back to college. She would build on everything she'd learned by running her own business and, if all went well, apply this newfound knowledge to some profession that would pay an insanely high wage without relying on her own physical labor. Her chosen field of study? Economics, of course.
From SUPERFREAKONOMICS: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Copyright 2009 by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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