Professional Licensing Watch, Liberal Division

Modern liberal wunderkind Matthew Yglesias continues to burn his own base by getting peeved at unneccessarily restrictive professional licensing laws, in this case to lead tours in Washington D.C:

Washington, DC gets a lot of tourists every year. We also have business travelers and summer interns and the like. We also have a high unemployment rate, especially in the city’s working class neighborhoods. One thing a long-time resident who finds himself jobless might try to do is guide visitors around the city in exchange for money. In other words, be a tour guide.

Except that turns out to be illegal.

To be a tour guide in DC, in addition to getting a basic business license and paying taxes, you need to apply for a special tour guide license (PDF) a process that involves $200 worth application fees, license fees, and an exam fees. You need to fill out a long application. You also need to score at least 70% on the DC District of Columbia Sightseeing Tour Guide Professional Licensing Examination (PDF) which involves questions from the following areas:

— Architectural
— Dates
— Government
— Historical Events
— Landmark Buildings
— Locations
— Monuments, Memorials
— Museums and Art Galleries
— Parks, Gardens, and Zoo Aquariums
— Presidents
— Sculptures and Statues
— Universities
— Pictures
— Regulations

You mean if I want to try to give a walking tour of the U Street era, talk about its heritage as the “Black Broadway,” it’s decline in the 70s and 80s, and it’s rebirth over the past 20 years I need to pass a test about presidents? About Aquariums? If I want to do an embassy tour I need to be quizzed on universities?

Yglesias was hipped to the stupidity of these laws by those paladins of libertarian law at the Institute for Justice, who are suing to overturn these legal restrictions on what is, in reality, being paid to talk.

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  • Apologetic California||

    I'm for professionally licensing libtard bloggers before they post.

  • ||

    Who licenses the licensors?

  • Kristen||

    The unions.

  • ||

    Ah, I see.

  • ||

    "Who licenses the licensors?"

    That's a market system--"licensor" just goes to the highest bidder.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    A stopped clock is correct twice a day.
    Way to go Matt. I'll check on you again in twelve hours.

  • ||

    Go to Matty-Matt-Matt's blog. The accompanying picture for the post... wishful thinking or daydream?

  • ||

    He was thinking of me.

  • Trespassers W||


    I think you misspelled "child horrible".

    I may have done so too.

  • ||

    Since I can't pass the license exam, I just steal the tourists' expensive shoes.

  • Warty||

    joe from Lowell says:
    September 16th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Don’t get suckered by the IJ. They seize on cute, fuzzy poster boys in order to push radical changes to the law in the service of corporate deregulation.

    “Simply put, the government is not allowed to require people to get a license in order to talk.”

    Simply put, this outfit is committed to eliminating the distinction between commercial speech and individual speech.

    By the way, has anyone tried using the inline link trick to goatse Yglesias' blog?

  • nobody||

    It's cute that joe thinks he has a relationship with Yglesias. What a dumbass.

  • robc||

    Its cute that joe thinks there is a difference between commercial speech and individual speech.

  • Anon||

    You forgot to call him a dumbass.

  • ||

    You forgot to call him a dumbass.

    No need to. It's assumed.

  • || this our joe of old?

  • ||

    It's amazing how completely batshit insane joe went after we drove him off. I think this site was actually keeping him somewhat normalized.

    By the way, if you come back, joe, we will fucking destroy you. So please come back. The sadist in me is looking for some fun.

  • joe from somewhere else||

    Still a big man in fantasyland, I see.

  • ||

    Still a dick, I see.

  • ||

    Has anybody read some of the other comments, besides Joe's? Some of those posters make Joe look like Rothbard.

  • ||

    I wonder if joe from Lowell knows that The New York Times is a commercial institution.

  • ||

    joe is still beating the drum, eh? Good to know that some things never change in this crazy world.

  • doomboy||

    Hit n' Run and Yglesias, its like the Carville and Matalin of hipster political blogs.

  • Virginia||

    Matt is getting PANNED in his comments. Even a shoutout to l'Empire Kochtopus - nice!

    Good thing DC doesn't have a budget deficit nor unemployment so it doesn't have to worry about silly things like barriers to market entry.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Do panhandlers need licenses too?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Good point. It is commercial speech, after all.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Someone has to make sure that they know the proper type of cardboard to use for their signs, and how to spell "WILL WORK FOR FOOD", properly. What size the letters should be, what size the cardboard should be, etc. Panhandling can be very challenging, and we want to make sure none of the residents or tourists are taken advantage of by cheap, unskilled bums.

  • adam||

    City of Rochester beat you to it on that idea:

  • ||

    I was laughing at Mr Whipple's jest, and after reading your link, I am no longer laughing.

  • Mr Whipple||

    That's just sad.

  • ||

    Wasn't Lazarus Long an unlicensed beggar at some point in the Heinlein novels?

  • The Gobbler||

    We need to pass a federal law that says anyone who wants to run for office must first acquire a politicians license. And we would make the process as onerous as hell.

  • adam||

    It could involve passing a test on economics...

  • ||

    And the Constitution.

  • ||

    If you read Friedman, you'll see his speculations that legislators took a lot longer to establish the ABA cartel than the AMA cartel simply because so many of the legislators had gotten their own law degrees from night schools or were self-taught, and they didn't want to pass a law declaring themselves incompetent.

  • ||

    Professional licensing is good, because corporate whores are against it!

  • ||

    Of course, corporate whores are for it too.

  • ||

    I'm talking about the people who shill for the corporations, not the actual corporations themselves!

  • ||

    Huh? How are you "shilling" for a group if you advocate something other than what they want?

    Big corporations in general are in favor of professional licensing, because the incumbents get to set the rules and keep others out.

    The corporations that oppose licensing tend to be outsiders and those that want to enter a market.

  • Greer||

    one of my 12 friends on facebook today was so proud that she is very close to becoming a certified professional photographer. I didn't want to piss on her parade but why would you need to be certified to take a fucking picture?

  • ||

    Why not?

  • Warty||

    Does something like this fall under the purview of the IJ? Fucking stupid-ass IP law.

    But the signature offering at his Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant isn't on the menu; it's the goats grazing on the grass-covered roof.

    Any other business thinking of putting goats on the roof will have Mr. Johnson's lawyers to contend with.

  • ||

    I think Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant has a legit trademark claim.

  • Mad Scientist||

    People with no knowledge of a city can be loads of fun. A few years ago the wife and I went on a walking tour of San Francisco with...let's call him "Some Guy." The tour group was mostly Asians and Germans who didn't have the best command of English. Some Guy was fantastic. "This building is a monument to the first female fire fighter in San Francisco." Ohh, ahh. And "this is the street corner where Jimi Hendrix was abducted by aliens." Snap, snap, click. I'd gladly go on that tour again.


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