Taking a break from the news on terrorism, racism and racist terrorism, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was back home in Nevada this week and stopped by the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas. During the Q&A session, Harry took a question on a perennial topic in Nevada… the oldest profession.

“I believe it has hindered economic development in the state,” Reid told the chamber.

So why does he think lawmakers didn’t act on his advice? Reid didn’t mince words.

“The Legislature, they’re all a bunch of cowards,” Reid said. “They were afraid to do anything about it.”

At the time, most lawmakers said they were dealing with a major budget crisis and didn’t have time to spend on debating whether to outlaw prostitution. Others said it’s a local issue for each of Nevada’s 17 counties to determine — a position Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval took, saying, “It’s up to the counties to decide if they want it or not.”

Three years later, there’s no indication lawmakers are moving to close legal brothels any time soon.

Reid told stories which indicate that he’s quite familiar with prostitution, but not in the way you’re thinking. He talked about hooking being the biggest industry in the town where he grew up during the war and how his mother took in laundry from the brothels. So why is he so opposed to it? Primarily it seems to be an economic question, with prostitution – in Reid’s view – driving away business. This is a rather different approach then the usual moral qualms expressed against it.

If this fight is still simmering in Nevada, is the United States actually moving away from broader legalization of prostitution, rather than towards expanding it? It’s generally a hot topic when you find libertarians debating conservatives, and one where they come down on very different sides. The moral aspects of the question seem to be lost on much of the rest of the world, as Canada has been increasingly in the legalization camp, and many European countries were ahead of them by decades, if not centuries.

This question doesn’t just divide the Right, but the Left as well. The “freedom to do anything” liberals don’t want the puritans shaming sexual activity, but the dedicated feminists feel it contributes to the abuse and enslavement of women. From a strictly capitalist perspective, I’d say that the demand for the product is never going to go away, so you should probably try to collect some taxes on it, eh? (Okay… not really.) But if you can get Harry Reid to oppose it, will you ever see national acceptance for it in the United States?