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Reason.tv: Why is the "Live Free or Die" state banning fish pedicures?

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The always-expanding Nanny State does more than treat adults like children, it can also smother job creation—even in the "live free or die" state of New Hampshire. So as the national debate "pivots" from health care to jobs, Reason.tv suggests that politicians looking to "do something" about the stubbornly high unemployment rate first undo the regulations that ensnare entrepreneurs like Kim Ong.

Ong's parents brought her family from Vietnam to the United States in 1985. "They said this is a country of freedom, a country of opportunities," recalls Ong, who took their words to heart and now owns Kim's Spa & Nails in Derry, New Hampshire. When the recession hit she began looking for new ways to generate business. Her thoughts turned to a luxurious practice that's popular in parts of Asia—fish pedicures.

Ong spent over $6,000 to purchase fish and equipment, a big investment for the small business owner. However, her gamble paid off when she saw how much customers loved having their feet exfoliated by tiny fish. Soon Ong had a waiting list for this hip new service. But instead of hiring more employees, Ong hired a lawyer to plead her case to state regulators who questioned the safety and hygeine of fish pedicures. Unfortunately for Ong and her customers, New Hampshire's Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics banned the practice.

That's right, the state that lets adults motorcycle without a helmet or drive without a seat belt won't tolerate tiny fish nibbling at the dead skin on your feet. This is just one small example of a larger problem. Most people have no idea how many local, state, and federal regulations entrepreneurs struggle against, notes Adrian Moore, an economist with Reason Foundation. "Every day new businesses try to start but find out they're not allowed to because of some regulation or it's too expensive because of some regulation," Moore says. 

And if the Nanny State is spreading into New Hampshire, the one place we thought was immune to it, we may all be in bigger trouble than we thought.

"New Hampshire Nannies" is written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Producer: Hawk Jensen; Associate Producer: Paul Detrick, Additional Camera: Meredith Bragg. Special thanks to Yvonne Hair & Nails in Alexandria, Virginia.

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  1. Legislators continue to nibble away at America’s freedoms, so of course they don’t want competition from fish, even if it’s only the dead skin on your feet that they’re nibbling.

  2. And if the Nanny State is spreading into New Hampshire, the one place we thought was immune to it

    Wishful thinking. NH has been overrun by nanny statists for years. The Democrats own NH, and have for most of the last six years. And with them have come child bicycle helmet laws, anti-smoking laws, expansion of licensure laws, and much much more.

    This state is a shadow of its former self.

    1. They should have put up a wall along the Masshole border.

      1. Exactly why I left. The barbarian hordes from the south came over in such large numbers to take advantage of lower tax rates that the “real” New Hampshirites are less and less of a constituency. And of course, as soon as they come over the border they things like, “This town doesn’t have it’s own Recreation Department? Back home, we’d have activities set up for us!” etc. Thus, they slowly erode any advantage they gained by coming to New Hampshire in the first place…

        The good thing about Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana is that none of them are near enough to California, New York, etc. to get any refugees in meaningful numbers.

        1. “Thus, they slowly erode any advantage they gained by coming to New Hampshire in the first place…”

          Liberals are like locusts… they move to virgin land in pursuit of lower taxes and then they systematically destroy the very thing that drove them there in the first place. Then they move on.

          1. EJ: Truly. As a Colorado native I thought it had gotten really bad here from the influx of Californians. In 2000 I moved to New Hampshire and found out what nanny laws really are. I’m ready to move to Alaska.

            1. Try West Texas (like, far West Texas – Marathon, say, or Fort Davis). Its full of hard-core individualists, but without the savage winters.

              1. Come to Austin and dilute the Californians please!

          2. The mental disconnect is amazing. My stepbrother is a big lib and Obama supporter but somehow always complains about how much he is paying in taxes.

      2. Honestly. At this point I just want to cede the SE corner of the state to Massholia.

  3. You know who else banned fish pedicures?

    1. North Korea? Venezuala? China? Cuba? Don’t leave us hanging…

  4. “New Hampshire’s Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics banned the practice.”

    Where are they in the constitutional chain of command? I mean if the Reds nuke Concord and take out all the top tier officials, when does the board of Barbering take over?

  5. Have they also mandated helmets for fish bicyclists?

  6. So as the national debate “pivots” from health care to jobs

    How about sticking to health care until its repealed?

  7. New Hampshire’s Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics

    Not to be confused with old Hampshire’s Ministry of Toes, Razors and Pubic Hairs.

    1. Was that established *before* or *after* the Ministry of Silly Walks?

      1. What’s the New Hampshire policy on Brazilians?

        1. They can do a mean samba, but they have to get a license first from the Department of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Suggestive Dances and Brightly-Colored Costumes.

        2. HUAHUEHUAHUEHUAHUEHUAHUEHUAHUE

          GIBE MONIE

  8. Do they also ban you from swimming in lakes?

    1. What if you’re swimming and a fish nibbles you?

      1. They’ll need to catch all the fish and tag them with miniature cosmetology licenses, I suppose.

      2. Well, depending on which part of you the fish nibbles, you either have to report an unlicensed fish cosmetologist or turn yourself in to the proper authorities for bestiality.

        1. “It was a million to one shot Doc, a million to one!”

      3. That’s a benefit not a bug.

  9. I blame Spielberg.

  10. The good thing about Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana is that none of them are near enough to California, New York, etc. to get any refugees in meaningful numbers.

    I wish that were true.

    Fucking Californicators.

    *spits*

  11. “Why is the “Live Free or Die” state banning fish pedicures?”

    Because democrats now control the entire government, elected in by largely massholes who have irronically moved their in search of lower taxes.

    Not that the GOP are a bunch fo saints either, but traditionally the New Hampshire brand of republican is quite libertarian.

    1. What bullshit. The PC immigrant loving Democrats are the ones who support the poor oppressed Asians in this story. You’ll find the average NH Republican kind of wishes Asians would stop moving to NH in the first place.

      1. Yeah, in this case I think it is less a Democrat/Republican thing than a petty bureaucrat doing the petty shit that they do. Whoever thought we needed a “Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics” is ultimately to blame. And that was probably mostly established people in the field seeking barriers to entry for potential competitors.

        1. True that. When I was growing up every small NH town had 2 or 3 little hair salons people were basically running out of their living rooms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Supercuts of the world are trying to drive the low priced housewives out of business.

          1. Exactly right! My mother-in-law ran a small shop, 2 chairs (1 cut and 1 color), out of house and the next thing you know she needs a license for this, inspections for that, state business forms for the other and some silly certificate that basically says she has been trained in the operation of scissors. She has since sold the place and the Stupercuts 2 blocks up the street complains because they can’t put up a bigger sign in addition to upping their rates.

        2. Here in Minneapolis, the government wanted Ethiopian hair braiders to get cosmotology licenses in order to braid the hair of Ethiopian immigrants. And all I could think was — WTF does the lily-white Board of Cosmotology know about Ethiopian hair braiding?

    2. I am going to be sick.

  12. There are over 125 listings for different state “departments” for New Hampshire. And this from a state that has a reputation for limited government! Elimination of this sort of extravagance on the government level should be a priority. Its a pity most people don’t see it that way.

  13. But NOTHING the government does is nonessential. Just ask the ChonyBot.

  14. The regulators are following existing law. If you give pedicures all of your tools have to be sterilized before you use them on another customer. Sounds reasonable, eh? You don’t want a second-hand ringworm infection do you? Well how are you going to sterilize a fish? Put them in an autoclave and you get fish stew. Enough with the ‘THEM NANNY STATERS IS TAKIN’ OUR FREEDUMS!!!’ If you want fish pedicures, repeal the law stating you have to sterilize your tools.

    1. Or you could let the customer decide for themselves what they consider safe.

      1. I’m pretty sure there’s a scientific consensus that Americans don’t know whats good for themselves.

    2. Are you serious?

      Are you serious?

      So the licensing board has no power to interpret the law and apply it to specific facts? The only solution is to simply repeal the whole law?

      Do you have anything resembling scientific evidence that these fish present a risk of transmitting a “second-hand ringworm infection”, or is that just your strawman of the hour?

      1. You seem to forget that thinking for yourself is not one of the qualities looked for in potential regulators. Their job is to mindlessly create regulation from vague laws. Scientific evidence does not factor in here.

    3. Or you know, leave it to the tort system and the insurers to sort this out.

    4. Well, you could have single-use only nibble fish. No one uses a condom twice either. Single-use nibble fish would enable the cosmotolgist to charge a premium.

      1. Interesting idea! I bet the PETA folks would go batshit insane tho. Even better 😉

  15. But is there a liberal justification? For example – aren’t we offering poor unwashed the chance to get their feet cleaned? And aren’t we providing food for rare underprivileged fish? What about LBGT fish or fish with a foot fetish ? Don’t they have a ‘right’ to eat off of our feet? It isn’t what the humans want. The liberals have to hear the same thing, but proposed and couched in the manner that they are accustomed to thinking, in their delusional minds.

    1. Only if getting a fish pedicure is a “right”, and then only if the State Department of Pedicures and Manicures provides them free to all residents. And of course all the pedicure providers must belong to the International Union of Pedicurists, Manicurists and Exfoliators, and be paid prevailing wages with a full package of state guaranteed benefits.

  16. Oh, c’mon, you guys aren’t buying the ‘slippery slope’ argument here? Imean, if fish nibbling is allowed what comes next? Sleeping with the fishes?

    Bit late to nip that in the bud in New York.

  17. I think I have some dead skin on my scrotum…

    How much for a “nibblejob”?

  18. What if I buy the fish and take them home?

    1. I think you’d make more money pimping the fish at your beauty parlor than you’d make if you just ran a fish store.

  19. Under Obamacare you will be mandated to buy fish pedicare insurance.

    1. What about health coverage for the fish? They’ll mandate that too, right?

  20. I live in NH and I’ve never even heard of such a thing. Seems silly to ban it though.

  21. Seriously though, how hard is it to buy a tank of your own plecos and do this at home?

  22. Yawn. I thought we already clarified on the FSP thread that NH isn’t Galt’s Gulch.

    Why exactly are we singling out NH for its instances of nanny-state idiocy? Is it because they’re rare enough there to make it newsworthy? NH isn’t perfect – neither are CO, WY, AK, SD, etc. – but it’s still a far freer place to live than nearly everywhere else in the country.

  23. Liberals are like locusts…

    Where does that put us on the timeline of The Apocalypse?

  24. This is mostly irrelevant, but isn’t New Hampshire the state where a bunch of libertarians, under the Freedom Project or something like that, are supposed to move?

    If so, I would definitely move there.

    1. We just reached 10,000 for the free state project! please considering moving here to NH. We are mobilizing, getting political and getting proliberty folks into office.

  25. New Hampshire’s Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics banned the practice.

    Nah, we don’t have bloated government filled with useless bureaucrats sucking the financial life out of taxpayers. Everything the government does is necessary.

    No rent seeking or regulatory capture here, move along.

  26. Government is good. Nonbelievers will be pilloried.

  27. I laughed when John Stossel and Nick Gillespie were getting their feet nibbled on “Stossel” while the bureaucrat tried to justify the law. “Boy,” I thought, “I’m glad I live in New Hampshire where something this intrusive and capricious could *never* become law!”

    Sigh.

  28. Yuck, fish pedicures are fucked up, they should be banned.

  29. As a currently nomadic NH native, I think it’s time to be honest and change the state motto to “Live Free is Dead” and the name to “New Handbasket-shire”. With it’s ever broadening array of narrow based taxes, I can only hope I’m getting out soon enough.

  30. I moved from NH to CA in 2001 for employment purposes. I have had about all I can of CA and was seriously looking at going back to NH in the next year or two (FSP etc). If its really been overrun with Massholes where would the liberty lovers recommend? Texas?
    (P.S. Not all Californians are nanny state, I grew up in rural Alaska and really liked the minimal-government.)

  31. “I have had about all I can of CA and was seriously looking at going back to NH in the next year or two (FSP etc).”

    I moved to CA in 2004 and am going back to NH in the next few months. The statists have vastly expanded their grasp over the state over the last decade, however there is a small but significant liberty movement. There is the FSP but the natives are also ticked off. In addition economic reality is forcing cutbacks and will limit the growth of the state as the resistance grows. For these reasons it may yet be possible to save the state.

    As states such as Mass. and Conn. go down the death spiral, it might be possible that the demand for a better alternative will be met. The Western states are too far away to serve the Eastern market for liberty – NH and also VT may very well become a sanctuary of liberty on the East Coast.

  32. Looks like the NH The Board of Barbering,
    Cosmetology, and Esthetics has 107 pages of legal rules to obey. The application process fortunately will weed out any convicted criminals, drug users, and insane people.

  33. NH does have some ridiculous laws and the state continues to expand its power. Under the current state leadership, we have the highest business tax rates in the country!There are many of us who are fighting back though. If you live in New Hampshire, look up Jack Kimball who is running for governor. I am a supporter and his goal is to roll back the state government to its rightful place. There are also local candidates who deserve our support. We can throw out the current tax and spend Democrats and elect fiscally responsible politicans of any party who will restore our role as one of the most free states in the country.

  34. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke.

  35. “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”

  36. Well said. Tucker is despicable, Crossfire became despicable (despite the presence of supposed “heavyweights” like Novack and Carville), and Jon Stewart is a comedian who has never proclaimed himself to be anything else. Just because certain people here don’t understand how satire works doesn’t change that fact. The fact that The Daily Show has gained some cultural traction doesn’t change that.

  37. Even if you go on his website, it’s still just a a ten minute discussion. The interview with Jim Cramer simply amounted to Jim sputtering something every couple of minutes while John wagged his finger at him the whole time. I’ve never seen him have an intelligent discussion with anybody, and he only talks to people that he knows he can bully into a corner. Usually idiots, yes, but it’s still dispicable. I don’t watch him that often, but it is people like him that make me wretch. The fact that people go around saying “He slammed so and so” in that “debate” pisses me off. John’s not directly responsible for that, but he certainly plays his audience to get that effect.

  38. Even if you go on his website, it’s still just a a ten minute discussion. The interview with Jim Cramer simply amounted to Jim sputtering something every couple of minutes while John wagged his finger at him the whole time. I’ve never seen him have an intelligent discussion with anybody, and he only talks to people that he knows he can bully into a corner. Usually idiots, yes, but it’s still dispicable. I don’t watch him that often, but it is people like him that make me wretch. The fact that people go around saying “He slammed so and so” in that “debate” pisses me off. John’s not directly responsible for that, but he certainly plays his audience to get that effect.

  39. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  40. Because democrats now control the entire government, elected in by largely massholes who have irronically moved their in search of lower taxes. the government wanted Ethiopian hair braiders to get cosmotology licenses in order to braid the hair of Ethiopian immigrants

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