Regulation

Forget the Happy Ending, Mr. Ed: Woman Would Face 20 Years in Jail for Unlicensed Horse Massages

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The libertarian public-interest law firm Institute for Justice reports on one of the most insane, inane, and profane prosecutions in all-time memory.

Karen Hough is a long-time practitioner of "equine massage," which supposedly is beneficial in all sorts of ways to the animals in question.

Last year, she inquired about working in Nebraska. Here's the lowdown on that from IJ:

A 2007 memo from Nebraska's Board of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery asserted that "no health professional other than licensed veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians may perform services/therapies on animals." This means Karen would need to spend thousands of dollars and seven years of her life just to acquire a government permission slip to do what she's been doing for years.

A few weeks later, she received a letter from Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services ordering her to "cease and desist" from the "unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine." In Nebraska, continuing to operate a business without a license after getting a cease and desist letter is a Class III felony. So Karen could face up to 20 years in prison and pay a $25,000 fine. By comparison, that's the same penalty for manslaughter in the Cornhusker State.

What's worse, under Nebraska state law, she can't even give out advice on how to massage horses: "They told me I couldn't give massages for money; I couldn't do it for free and I couldn't even tell friends how to do it. That last one really got to me. To me, that is restricting my free speech." Of course, by using occupational licensing, the board can restrict who gets to massage horses, rubbing out the competition.

IJ notes that a Cornhusker State senator has introduced a bill that would reduce the necessary training time to just 100 hours. Which, IJ rightly notes, is still a ridiculous infringement on economic liberty. We all understand how cartels and licensing and all that jazz works to protect special interests but, really, what the hell is wrong with people?

Read more here.

Hat Tip: The wonderful Twitter feed of Nick Sibilla

Bonus vid: Mr. Ed and Wilbur discuss life insurance and the stock market: