Free Minds & Free Markets

Want More Jobs? Fight Occupational Licensing!

Joanna AndreassonJoanna Andreasson

Photo Credit: Joanna Andreasson

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


    Law makers spend their time dreaming up ways to bother people and do damage. If you are a moral person, you are supposed to hate them and let them know about your hatred. This can be as simple as going into your municipal hall saying: "how are all the crooks today?" Then stand there explaining the crookedness. When I sold my house, my realtor handled all municipal interactions because of the trouble that I caused. He called me a "loose cannon". That is a lot better than being called a Libertarian.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Does it not bother you that your attempt to parody us just made us sound cooler, AmSock?

  • Boomer||

    I probably shouldn't say anything out of fear the "regulators" will show up at my house, but my wife cuts my hair for me. She gets paid in trade. Her training consisted of watching a couple of Youtube videos and some coaching from me. I, of course, have had NO training, making me preeminently qualified to coach her.

    I wonder if one or both of us are in violation of the law?

  • Cloudbuster||

    Well,she's an unlicensed barber and you're a sex worker. Yeah, it's about time the SWAT team showed up and shot your dog, beat the crap out of you both, took your house in civil forfeiture, and laid a raft of regulatory fines for which you have little legal recourse for appeal. Sucks to be you, man.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    But forget to perform full cavity searches for contraband? Sloppy workmanship. Poor form.

  • Rat on a train||

    I doubly in trouble because I cut my own hair and ...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Self-reliance is an affront to society. Also, eww."

    {a shot rings out}

  • SpankzdatMonkey||

    LMFAO, Cloudbuster just won the internet for the day!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Whatever happened to that Free State Project? Let's aggregate all the liberty in one place and show 'em how it's done!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Doesn't surprise me. Licensing is that good ol' fashioned public/private collusion Republicans love so well.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Though, looking again, it seems the burden is measured by the predicted gain from removing licensing laws. So what we might be seeing is not so much a significant difference in licensing laws, as what percentage of the population works in these types of jobs. So, the smaller more working class states are more affected.

    I don't know. I wish they would clarify the meaning of that term.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Are your cleaners licensed to do that?

  • DiegoF||

    Not to detract from the larger point, but the inclusion of "athletic trainer" and its accompanying little "muscle arm" icon is misleading and probably reflects a rather common misconception on Boehm's part.
    Athletic trainers, despite their name, are completely unrelated to "personal trainers" or "strength trainers"; they're health care professionals who work in the orthopedics field. The bandage-wrapping "student trainers" from your varsity sports days were apprentices; full-fledged ones have Masters degrees and a national certification exam. State licensure is always wrong, of course, but hardly unexpected in this particular field.
    If 50 states require a license to give a back massage and con your patients into thinking it's something more (chiropractic), then I suppose this is hardly any odder!

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "Getting a cosmetology license in Oregon requires 2,300 hours of classroom instruction, but getting a similar permit in New York requires a mere 1,000 hours of training. Are makeup artists in the Empire State putting the safety and welfare of their customers at risk, or would hairstylists in Portland probably be just fine if they could get certified without spending so much time and money on schooling"

    I know I'm at the most super awesome libertarian website ever because I was reminded constantly during fundraising week.

    However, Is the author of this piece suggesting occupational licensing is fine as long as the top men can choose a training burden that is merely ridiculous, and not so much "are-you-fucking-kidding-me" ridiculous?

    Maybe I need another week of propoganda, I'm not getting the libertarian slant here.

  • Jordan||

    Maybe you're at a libertarian website that wants to convince others instead of just preaching to fellow libertarians.

  • Lester224||

    I suppose you could make licenses just a marketing thing and then people would have to weed out the fake ones. I'd worry about professions which could actually damage your body if they are done wrong. (Chiropractor does come to mind).

  • Brian C. LeVasseur||

    Some - again SOME - occupational licencing makes sense. For instance Emergency Medical Technician seems reasonable. If if trip, fall, and knock myself unconscious, I get no say in what ambulance shows up. It is little consolation to me that the untrained EMT who leaves me disabled for life (say by giving me the wrong medication) will be fired. Knowledge imbalance, selection opportunity, and risk show play a role in what occupations should require licensing.

    On that note, a pest control worker who handles or uses potential lethal chemicals should probably require licensing. But the guy running around with a net trying to catch the raccoon in my attic shouldn't have to be.

    But a manicurist or locksmith? I get plenty of time to chose and what is the worst they can do even if they screw up horrible (and what is the likelihood they will).

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "On that note, a pest control worker who handles or uses potential lethal chemicals should probably require licensing. But the guy running around with a net trying to catch the raccoon in my attic shouldn't have to be."

    That's quite a bit of decision-making power you just took on yourself, oh would-be Minister of Licensing Determination. What if the raccoons have rabies and lyme disease, whereas the pesticides are all actually harmless? Do we trust you to "get it right next time" and reverse the licensing requirements for the 2 professions, just license all professions just in case, or, perhaps, accept that government can never determine which professions "need" licensing and instead rely on the market forces you partially disparaged?

    Because, incidentally, that EMT example you cited above would only happen at the outset of a market in said profession, before private EMT services started self-regulating in response to it to prevent further loss of reputation and revenue. Moreover, in a genuine free market, you would have already contracted with a specific EMT business or consortium in the area before moving there, and enlisted the aid of a private review/consumer protection agency to make your selection and alleviate any information deficit you might be suffering from. Certainly at a minimum more reliable than a monopolist government agency that stands to suffer little to no personal consequences from any failures in scrutiny it is responsible for.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online