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.