Create Jobs By Repealing Unnecessary Laws


Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Chip Mellor and Dick Carpenter of the Institute for Justice explain how repealing unnecessary occupational licensing laws can help create jobs and spark economic growth:

By imposing onerous and usually pointless requirements on those wishing to enter a trade or line of work, state legislatures erect needless barriers around occupations perfectly suited for those entering the work force, midcareer switchers, and pink-slip recipients. Only one in 20 workers needed the government's permission to pursue their chosen occupation in the 1950s, notes University of Minnesota Prof. Morris Kleiner. Today that figure is nearly one in three….

The breadth of jobs is remarkable. Travel and tourist guides, funeral attendants, home-entertainment installers, florists, makeup artists, even interpreters for the deaf are all regulated by various states. Want to work as an alarm installer? In 35 states, you will need to earn the government's permission.

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch in the Washington Examiner on Three Government Policies Right for Reform

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  1. Next thing you know, we’ll have unlicensed interior decorators using (illegal and unobtainable) lead paint and flammable fabrics! Unlicensed tour guides getting people lost in swamps and eaten by alligators! Chaos will reign.

  2. I admit it is a little silly in the case of florists, but there is value in this. I think people want licensing because it gives them assurance that the person is competent. If they are not properly certified how do you know?

    1. Something called “consumer research.” Ever hear of Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau? How many times have you asked a friend or neighbor for a reference? Compare that to the number of times you have checked the licensing website before ordering?

      1. Word

    2. We could, I don’t know, use extant civil laws to resolve damages and AS1776’s suggestion above. Government licensing is a business ploy to make it harder for competitors to get in to a market and lower a business’s exposure to liability. That doesn’t mean it is in the interest of the citizenry (there are usually more consumers than employees for any given sector).

    3. I think that if you equate “licensed” with “competent” you are in for some disappointing business interactions.

    4. And what about the incompetent licensed contractors I have hired? Competent enough to game the licensing system, incompetent at the actual trade they’re supposed to be doing, incompetent at basic business practices. Yeah.

      1. except their licenses can be suspended

        1. Re: OO,

          except their licenses can be suspended

          If they can be suspended after ripping someone off, what the FUCK was the point of giving them a license in the first place, you MORON?

          1. foam teh winnguts lol old mix mabye u shoujd warfterbord them lollo

            1. Re: OO,

              foam teh winnguts lol old mix mabye u shoujd warfterbord them lollo<?blockquote>
              Clearly you were not given license to write coherently…

              1. Perhaps that was poetic license?

    5. Anyone who think licensing is a guarantee of competence deserves to get ripped off.

    6. Re: Bill J,

      I think people want licensing because it gives them assurance that the person is competent.

      Just tell me if this makes sense: A person will trust a perfect stranger with his business only because another person even less known than the provider gave him a license.

      I have a bridge to sell you – oh, and I am licensed!

  3. OT: Bulgaria! Bulgaria!…

    1. But how much footage did they manage to capture and where is it posted? I must see it.

    2. They are hot.

  4. Here is how you create jobs:

  5. If things truly go to hell, starting with an affirmation of ObamaCare and its premise for legitimacy by the Supreme Court, would you guys be open to secession? Is that something you’d consider?

    I’ve spoken to a few friends about this, and even country-club Republican friends agree that secession might be necessary in the near future, and I agree thoroughly.

    But I’m curious of your opinions on this.

    1. I’m not sure what was decided at the secret meeting (“Uh, it’s a secret.” “…shuuuuuut uuuuUUUUup!”), but secession is not terribly likely unless conditions get *really* bad (that is, third-world bad) and the feds are popularly perceived as nothing but parasites. We are nowhere near that stage yet.

      Even then, I think you are more likely to see precursors such as a grant of greater autonomy to richer areas of the country, like the northeast, as appeasement against secession movements. Eliminating the direct income tax and replacing it with payments from the state to the feds would go a long way toward reducing whatever antipathy toward the feds appears.

      1. If we all move to New Hampshire, maybe…

    2. Not gonna happen. For all of our bitching and moaning, 95% of the time society still functions in spite of our shitty gummint.

      1. “Society functions” is a God-awful and shitty standard for tolerating an evil, especially such a colossal one. Holy fuck. That just placed me firmly into depression.

        1. What is your standard? You think creating giant power vacuums is going to do good things for economies and the average person’s quality of life?

          1. If I were being an idealist, I’d say my standard would be freedom and prosperity born of it, but then I’d wake up and realize most people just don’t give a shit, and we’re always going to be stuck in this cesspool.

            I don’t know.

      2. But my representatives are the good ones. It’s all the other guys out there that are making a mess of things. Why can’t you people just elect good reps?

        1. You’re in Ron Paul’s district?

        2. OK, I’ll admit that this isn’t my actual belief but my understanding of why things never change. I live in Mass and I have no hope of ever having a rep that truly represents me.

    3. If I thought secession would mean a better life for me, I wouldn’t hesitate an instant.

      The State exists for one reason and one reason only: to allow me to live as good a life as I can manage. Right now, there’s little question in my mind that the federal government is an impediment, not a help. I’d jettison it in a heartbeat if I got a better offer.

      1. What states would have the best chance of seceding successfully and smoothly? I’m betting on Texas, Arizona, Florida, or North Carolina.

        1. Believe me, Florida would fuck itself up worse.

          1. Hey! What has Florida ever done to you?

            1. Hosted me for the first and last seven years of my existence. I’ve earned the right to bitch. Our politics are basically an armed truce between fundies and old people that come together on “tough on crime” and that’s about it. There would be huge numbers of Federal partisans.

              1. But can they truly fuck up anywhere near as badly as Mr and Mrs Federale?

                1. We elected Charlie Crist governor but shot down Harridopolos’ Senatorial campaign before it got off the ground. I’d give it a qualified maybe. Certainly can’t afford our old people in the current style they are accustomed.

                  1. Are there any Thomas Jeffersons or libertarian populations in Florida?

                    1. There are at least 3 of us in Tallahassee (me, the other commentor here, and the guy with the Libertarian sticker on his Jeep).

        2. New Hampshire

    4. I just don’t believe the level of apathy for most of the citizenry in this nation will ever die down enough for something like this to happen.

      Look at the deficit debates. Both sides are arguing over how big our credit limit should be, and no one is arguing that we should stop spending money, since you know, WE ARE OUT OF MONEY.

      It’s more likely we become Greece before anyone gets serious about secession. And even then, it will just look like Greece where the tax consumers demand more and more despite the fact that the Tax payers are all gone.

      1. I think no secession movement would get off the ground until the federal government hit the fiscal wall.

        With the currency cratering, federal services and payments evaporating, and likely major supply chain disruptions, secession could start sounding pretty good to a lot of people.

        1. I agree with this and add there is a large disconnect with many people concerning the federal government or even the state government. It just doesn’t seem to impact their day-to-day life, even though it really does.

          They will be quick to blame corporations if health-care price rise, but won’t even try to recognize the distortion caused by the government.

      2. While I think a great deal of people severely underestimate the possibility of something like this, what you’re saying is particularly heartbreaking for people who live in what I call pro-American enclaves, especially in radically blue states. Take

        Take North Carolina as an example — statist shitheads roam and rule, but there are towns in the middle of the fray that are dominated by genuinely anti-government blocks, from honest Republicans to libertarian-ish Tea Party-esque movements.

        I imagine being stuck in the middle of all this shit, and knowing that millions of your neighbors are either too fucking stupid, ignorant, or apathetic to make a difference, is pretty damned saddening and angering.

        1. Welcome to the USSA. Insert rant here about how democracy is just a fancy word for tyranny of the majority.

          1. Okay.

            Democracy is really majoritarianism, rather than a synonym for freedom. Majoritarianism is the believe that the majority is right, for mystical or utilitarian reasons (though the two may overlap). Now for a slightly off topic Ayn Rand quote:

            “Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

        2. You just described Massachusetts pretty well too. It get pretty damned depressing knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop the bullshit.

          1. The Peoples Republic of Cambridge awaits your contribution to our glorious community!!

            I actually bought a postcard with that slogan from Leavitt & Peirce ( – best smelling store in the history of the universe) in Havard Square last time I was in town.

            1. Didn’t you just go ahead and contribute by buying that?

              1. Nah, someone made the postcard and Leavitt-Pierce also profited off of the sale.

                God I miss that shop SOOOO MUCH.

  6. Tough to be landlocked as a sovereign nation.

    If secession actually starts to happen (think of it as something like what happened to the Sovit Union), I think you might see, for lack of a better term, confederations of neighboring states.

    Texas could probably go it alone, and likely would. California could, as well, I expect. Other states would probably need to buddy up.

    1. That’s assuming the federal titan dares to apply force in its attempts to reintegrate the seceding states. You think it’ll come to that if, say, Texas or North Carolina seceded?

      1. Depends on how crippled the feds are, in part. If the fiscal collapse is bad enough, there won’t really be as much of a federal titan to throw its weight around.

        Also, without a grand moral crusade (like slavery), I think it would be difficult to get Army units to fire on Americans. Consider also that soldiers come disproportionately from the very states likely to secede.

        In the unlikely event it comes to this, I think you would probably see some sort of Constitutional convention or interstate compact to muddy the waters of legality while a new reality took root.

        1. I would support a Constitutional Amendment explicitly describing the process for secession and rejoining of states. The Founding Fathers should really have put that in the Constitution. Would have spared us the Civil War.

          1. There are a lot of things the founders left unsaid or stated in an ambiguous manner because the prevailing opinions on those things were covered under the BFO theorem at the time.

            IMO, it’s better to keep contracts time-limited so there’s a do-nothing escape clause. If Jefferson believed what he said about rewatering the tree of liberty from time to time, he would have insisted that the Constitution be re-ratified by the individual states every 20 years.

            1. I would be cool with that. Hell, let’s revise it every thirty years (through a clearly described process).

            2. TJ did encourage the re-writing of the Constitution with the passing of each generation. However, he was in Europe during the convention and did not directly participate in the creation of the document.


          Damn you George R.R. Martin…

    2. “The Great Lakes” States could easily splinter off if they use Canada as their trading partner. The border states both North and Sound wouldn’t be bad off either.

  7. Even after they get the license, then in about 5 or 10 years the state board will start requiring “professional development hours”, ie continuing education. Oh and by the way, the lobbyists for PDH will be professional societies, trade groups, online continuing ed programs, all of which will qualify under the state requirements in the PDH bill, and all of which charge a nice fee to get credit for each PDH. What a bunch of crap, and of all places that DON’T require continuing ed for professional engineers? California, go figure.

  8. If only the private sector would stop lobbying the government to pass these restraint of trade laws! If only the private sector believed in free markets and free competition! If only!

    1. A laughable attempt to take advantage of the Holmesian’s desire for new adventures. Giant Rat indeed…must be a reference to the author. Please..Please…Please..don’t waste your money. Fortunately I borrowed a copy from the Library. After two chapters I started skimming and finally threw the book aside in disgust.

  9. This is leftists argue:

    Re: Tony,

    Well, whatever the inherent problems with voting, I don’t know of a better way of determining people’s will for the purpose of shaping policy.

    Why would policy need shaping? Why would you need policy in the first place?

    And I don’t think market participation is quite as pristinely rational as you think it is.

    And voting is?

    More importantly, perfectly rational market decisions by individuals can on the macro scale[sic] lead to unintended and negative consequences.

    “On the macro scale”? That’s a red herring. Besides, wouldn’t voting have the same dire consequences “on the macro scale”?

    We elect governments to create the environment in which markets are allowed to operate.

    That’s a crock. “We” don’t do anything of the sort. Markets HAPPEN because WE’RE HERE, regardless of which government exists. The market is a human phenomenon, not something that was conjured into existence by magi.

    There are at least two reasons for this: the market is not perfect, and at least with government everyone gets an equal say.

    That’s an obvious lie. Governments operate by political pressure, which always means whoever yields more power. With markets, every single person votes with his wallet, and each person’s money is just as green as the person besides of him.

    In a market, some people are more equal than others, since people have different spending power depending on how much money they have.

    Who cares about “spending power”? Just because you can buy more widgets than your neighbor does not mean you get to dictate terms to your neighbor; that’s a ridiculous notion.

    It’s perfectly plausible that supply and demand alone can lead to unacceptable results.

    Unacceptable for whom? Another red herring.

    If the market rewards, say, foodsellers that skimp on safety, we may have a successful model for foodselling based on market terms (it makes a profit) that nonetheless poisons more people than is acceptable to social standards.

    Despite of the obvious fact that dead consumers don’t buy food.

    Having food safety regulations doesn’t limit anyone’s choices — it makes the choices better.

    This is an unsubstantiated assertion, besides the fact that you cannot presume to know how a choice looks to someone else besides YOU: VALUE IS SUBJECTIVE, and YOU DON’T READ MINDS.

    The only institution in which people have an equal say is their government.

    Again, you’re repeating yourself. This is an obvious lie: NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE can support this assertion.

    Your opinion of how your society should be structured does not have more weight because you have more money,

    Under a government? YES IT DOES. See: “Soros.”

    So markets have to operate in whatever environment they find themselves in. And, importantly, no private business has a right to succeed, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

    I agree, which is why I am against bailouts and governments picking winners and loosers through, for instance: food safety laws!

    If you can’t figure out how to sell food without poisoning an unacceptable number of people, too bad for you.

    Yes, indeed. What makes you think the market cannot figure this out, though?

    Besides, you think bureaucrats are so extremely clever they can figure out regulations ex nihilo? Such angels they must be!

    Too often, I think, you guys get confused on this point: just because a regulation might cut into the bottom line of a particular business, that doesn’t mean the regulation is stifling capitalism.

    The confused party is someone else here. Regulations do not “cut the bottom line,” they create anti-competitive barriers of entry to smaller, more dynamic competitors but with less capital.

    Without people shaping the way markets work through government, people are enslaved to the market.

    This is pure nonsese. You can’t be “enslaved” by something you already shape. YOUR confusion begins with your concept of the market as a machine working above humans, but this is the result of your own limited conceptualization. The market IS people.

    1. Old Mex…here’s all you need to know about your friend:

      Tony|7.12.11 @ 1:18PM|#
      …..What I often fail to acknowledge is that often I’m merely playing devil’s advocate. I try not to have too many deeply held beliefs, if I can help it.

      So why do you waste your time ?

      1. Re: Mainer,

        So why do you waste your time ?

        It’s therapeutic.

    2. Totally owned. Taken out to the woodshed and whipped.

      But it’s too bad, you really can’t reason with people like Tony. Nicely done though.

  10. Want to work as an alarm installer? In 35 states, you will need to earn the government’s permission.

    I think he meant “buy” permission.

  11. But think of the rent-seekers! Oh how will they survive?

    1. Food Stamps are edible, aren’t they?

  12. Under the current requirements, Bill Gates is not qualified to teach college business administration classes. How dumb is that?!

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