Burdens of Regulation

by Chuck Donovan

“State policymakers should review current and proposed licensure schemes to determine whether they truly serve the public or instead fence out competition.  As millions of Americans struggle to find productive work, one of the quickest ways legislators could help would be to reduce or remove needless licensure burdens.[1]

 “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as for barbers, massage therapists and preschool teachers—across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. From this wealth of data, we found that occupational licensing is not only widespread, but also overly burdensome and frequently irrational.[2]

“…Maryland county officials for shutting down an unlicensed lemonade stand and fining the children who operated it $500.  As Jason explained, that kind of tyranny will persist until judges “become more engaged in deciding constitutional cases instead of deferring reflexively to the supposed wisdom of legislators and regulators.”[3]

Whether we are talking about food trucks, lemonade stands, day care providers, interior designers, doctors, barbers, or beauticians, government licensing tells Americans we don’t have enough sense to figure things our for ourselves.  In fact, all government licensing is little more than the few people in the government telling millions of Americans that government knows what is best for us.

Government doesn’t trust us to decide where we get value for our hard earned money.  Instead, government forces free Americans to ask permission to engage in business.  They tell us there is no one outside of government capable of making a logical judgment about what we consume, who we hire, and how we operate our tools, our vehicles, and our business.  Do you actually think the same government that consistently brings us endless traffic jams, poor school performance, a failed economy, massive debt, impenetrable tax codes, war, prisons, and executions is really capable of making the correct choice of a hair stylist for us?

“…cosmetologists need 10 times the training as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), who literally hold lives in their hands. Yet that is what most states require. In fact, 66 occupations face greater average licensing burdens than EMTs.”[4]

Government offers what it calls protection, but what it accomplishes is a violation of our basic rights to freedom of contract, freedom of association, and freedom of trade.  Worse yet, Americans have become used to accepting this faulty logic and to further trusting government despite government’s long track record of cronyism, corruption, tyranny, and failure.

Irrational and overly burdensome licensing laws do not protect public health and safety. They keep some people out of work so those with licenses face fewer competitors and can command higher prices. That is why consumers rarely advocate for licensing laws, but industry insiders do.”[5]

So what is it, do we have freedom of choice or not?

Let’s stop trusting government and stop being so afraid of letting freedom win.






[1] “License to Work, IJ’s Newest Study Reveals the Burdens of Occupational Licensing”, by Dick Carpenter and Lisa Knepper, Liberty & Law, June 2012, Volume 21, Number 3, http://www.ij.org/l-l-license-to-work-2

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid