Free Minds & Free Markets

Cosmetology Board Investigates Student for Giving Free Haircuts to Homeless People

Juan Carlos Montesdeoca thought he was doing an act of charity, but in the eyes of the State Board of Cosmetology, he was putting people in “real risk.”

Caro / Waechter/NewscomCaro / Waechter/NewscomAn unlicensed student gave free haircuts to some homeless people in Tucson, Arizona, and the state's cosmetology licensing board was ON IT.

The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology is investigating Juan Carlos Montesdeoca after receiving complaints that he was cutting hair without a license, Tucson News Now reported Monday. According to the complaint, which Montesdeoca shared with the TV station, the board received an anonymous complaint alleging that Montesdeoca was "requesting local businesses and local stylists to help out with free haircuts (unlicensed individuals) to the homeless."

Montesdeoca gave the free haircuts on January 28 at the library in downtown Tucson. He organized the event through a Facebook group and solicited help from volunteers. He did it "out of the kindness of my heart," and in memory of his mother, who loved her hair, he told Tucson News Now.

But he forgot to get permission from the state—or, rather, from the cosmetologists who apparently view his act of charity as a form of unwanted competition.

There's no shortage of stories about licensing boards using the power of the state to target individuals whose only crime is failing to get permission to start a business. Rarely, though, is the craven anti-competitive nature of those boards made this obvious.

Incredibly, the board is standing by its decision to investigate Montesdeoca.

Donna Aune, the board's executive director, declined to comment to Tucson News Now about the "active investigation," but she pointed to a state law prohibiting a person from practicing cosmetology without a license.

She said working outside a licensed salon and using an unlicensed person, is a "real risk."

The board did not respond to Reason's inquires.

The risk of getting a bad haircut is certainly chilling. But these were free haircuts. Free haircuts given to people who were in no position to pay for one. I'm sure they were aware of the risk they were taking by letting the unlicensed Montesdeoca cut their hair outside of a licensed salon environment, but they were probably okay with that level of risk considering they were homeless and were getting haircuts for free.

Stories like this make it clear why Arizona was rated as "the most broadly and onerously licensed state for low-and moderate-income workers," in a 2012 report from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that provides support to individuals and businesses that challenge anti-competitive licensing schemes. Earlier this week, we reported on how three women, with help from IJ, successfully defeated a rule from the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board prohibiting anyone except licensed veterinarians from giving animal massages.

The absurdities of Montesdeoca's story are almost overwhelming, but set aside the ridiculousness of this situation for a moment and consider the implied relationship between licensing and quality. Sure, getting a license requires years of training—in Arizona, a cosmetology license requires more than a full year of expensive schooling in a wide range of beauty treatments—but it's possible to be skilled in cutting hair without having a government-issued permission slip.

On the flip side, a license isn't a guarantee of quality. Here's a story about a woman who had her eyebrows burned off at a licensed beauty salon (and also an incredible piece of overly-dramatized investigative journalism) in Arizona. In Tennessee, a cosmetology board tried to stop a start-up business that offered in-home visits from licensed cosmetologists. Similar boards in other states have tried to stop hair-braiding, in order to protect their own members at the expense of low-income individuals who are just trying to make a living and are not a threat to anyone's health or safety.

So maybe the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology is interested in something other than quality and public safety.

One of its members, apparently, sees free haircuts for homeless people as a threat to business and the board dutifully is threatening Montesdeoca's livelihood. Depending on the outcome of the board's investigation, his career as a cosmetologist could be over before it starts.

"Even before I even try to get a license, they can say 'no,'" he told the TV station.

That'll teach him to help the homeless.

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  • Zunalter||

    An unlicensed student gave free haircuts to some homeless people in Tucson, Arizona

    I weep for this man if he chooses to run for president in 30 years.

  • Zunalter||

    He was triggered when he saw it and couldn't cover it.

  • Juice||

    Wait until they crack down on Flowbee sales.

  • Hugh Akston||

    First the unauthorized horse massagers and now the unpermitted haircutters. Arizona certainly didn't take long after Sheriff Joe left office to collapse into a Somalian laissez faire hellhole.

  • Lee picked the wrong week....||

    The only risk is to Carlos, who will probably pick up lice as a result of his charity (outside of the risk posed by his cosmetology superiors).

  • american socialist||

    Lets just forget about the part about needing permission to give a haircut which is ridiculous

    Is this really a threat to competition as i dont think homeless people go pay for haircuts all that much and if they did it would be negligible

  • Zunalter||

    Don't you dare question the Top. Men.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    It cuts into the pro bono work available to the licensed cosmetologists.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    It constricts supply of the raw material that inspires continuous hipster innovation in fashion and grooming.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    You really should only want bums stabbed in the neck by people with state protection.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Is it OK if they holler Allahu Akbar while cutting people?

  • Diane Merriam||

    You don't know just how dangerous a case this could be ... Today, the homeless. Tomorrow, friends. The next day the entire hair cutting industry is demolished.

  • Rhywun||

    but it's possible to be skilled in cutting hair without having a government-issued permission slip

    Don't tell that to my mom when I was 10 years old.

  • lafe.long||

    +1 Flowbee

  • AlmightyJB||

    Shit my dad sheared my scalp like a marine growing up.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Bowl-cut, FTW!

  • Rhywun||

    Nah, I kid. She was actually pretty good at it. No flowbees or bowls involved.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Or my mom. My one buddy cut our hair for free and we kept the money.

  • AlmightyJB||

    OT: If I were on tape playing this game, I would be fired no questions asked. This is why teachers unions don't want charter schools.

  • We are all Sloopy's mom (RBS)||

    Reprogal says her son, Treyson, was one of the students named in the video.

    Well, did they want to fuck, marry or kill him?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Well, it is from Banger, MI...

    Oh wait, Bangor... Nevermind

  • Rhywun||

    I like all the faux outrage. "Such awful people!" Meanwhile they're thinking of all the crap they've done over the years and not gotten caught for.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Pretty poor judgement playing that with such a large group loudly and publically though.

  • Rhywun||

    Not to mention film it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'm guessing someone else filmed it. I've seen groups of teachers out drinking before. Everyone there knows immediately that they're teachers because they basically announce it. Then they stay playing this game loudly. If you are in public doing something stupid, you will be filmed.

  • Zeb||

    Who doesn't think that teachers do that kind of stuff all the time? Everyone likes to say mean shit about their customers.

  • DesigNate||

    I love how the report tries to sensationalize it by tacking on that some of the student's were special needs. So, are you trying to say it wouldn't be as bad if it was all normal kids?

  • Lee picked the wrong week....||

    In reviewing the latest minutes from the cosmetology board, here are the fine categories that were used.

    Advertising differently - 4 fines
    Delinquent license - 19 fines
    Personal license display - 3 fines
    Display of exterior sign - 1 fine
    No tuberculocidal bottle - 3 fines

    So fully 10% of the fines assessed have anything whatsoever to do with safety/health. That's a tell.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Sort of like ten commandments being more like six once you get the fealties and paperwork out of the way.

  • {|}===[|}:;:;:;:;:;:;:>||

    I just want to point out that Board Members Karla Clodfelter, Thomas Rough, and Jessica M. Stall-Rainbow have absolutely hilarious names.

  • IceTrey||

    You can get tuberculosis from a haircut?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Christ, what a passel of assholes.

  • Longtobefree||

    I propose that a license is required to issue licenses. Any group wishing to issue a license for any reason has to get a license from me before they can issue a license. There will be a nominal five thousand dollar non-refundable fee to submit their request, due for each license they wish to issue. I will be open for applications from 10AM to 10:01AM alternate Thursdays, wherever I happen to be. And only one request at a time from any group.
    Full disclosure; I have no intention of approving any applications at all.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm not giving money to well-coiffed panhandlers.

  • Zunalter||

    +1 Vicious cycle.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Juan Carlos Montesdeoca thought he was doing an act of charity, but in the eyes of the State Board of Cosmetology, he was putting people in "real risk."

    One of the ways people tell the difference between homeless people and "real" people is the grungy, matted hair. If it's harder to tell the homeless from the normals, that does put people at "real risk." /sarc

  • Rhywun||

    I see a bum outside my office regularly chatting on his cell phone as he's begging for change.


  • {|}===[|}:;:;:;:;:;:;:>||

    I usually judge 'em by their shoes.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    That'll teach him to help the homeless.

    Well, it's the State's job to perform "charity," it's everyone else's job to be tax cattle. /not really sarc, sadly

  • Doctor Whom||

    "Without government, who would help the homeless."

    "I will."

    "You are hereby summoned to appear before the board at ...."

  • Doctor Whom||


  • lafe.long||

    Meme posted by the LP of Florida:

    "A license is what you get when government steals your rights away from you and then sells them back."

  • AlmightyJB||


  • Doctor Whom||

    Since I get all of my economic knowledge from progressives, I have never heard of regulatory capture or rent-seeking, so I blame deregulation.

  • Cloudbuster||

    You know, you let a few unlicensed haircuts slide and next thing you know, someone's opening up a meat pie shop downstairs. Thank God the government is here to protect us!

  • JayMan||

    State Board of Cosmetology can investigate all they want. They have no enforcement power over a man. Also, unless one is engaged in commercial activity (making a profit), no state entity, such as courts, has any authority over a man. Carlos Montesdeoca is free to cut anyone's hair, with their permission. No one may order him not to.
    Simple common law - the supreme law of the land.

    Commenters on this post would help themselves and others by learning some law - not statute and code, instead of running on emotions only. Real law (common law) will back-up your common sense reasoning.

    No offense intended to anyone.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    What they can do is not grant the guy his license, which he does need in order to earn a living cutting hair.

  • JayMan||

    If you read the article Fatty, Carlos is a student. He was doing this voluntarily, free, as sort of a community service. He doesn't earn a living by cutting hair.
    Of course, if he wanted to earn a living by cutting hair, he'd need the license.

  • IceTrey||

    Common law is not what they go by and they are a gang.

  • Hank Phillips||

    None taken, but I want to see chapter and verse. With that I can undermine Texas state licensing of state and muni court interpreters. If enough altruists volunteer to do it for free, so there is no money in the continuous extortion, er, education racket, maybe we can get back to the dog-eat-dog anarchism we had before. I managed to force repeal of one such law by posting an audio of an attorney explaining it was not a coercive general requirement. But the looters passed another such law with different wording.

  • Hank Phillips||

    They call it unlicensed activity. The actual citations do not insert dirty words like commercial or profit.

  • eyeroller||

    I support haircuts, but not ILLEGAL haircuts.

  • DesigNate||

    I'm sure Tony will be along any minute to lament this poor guys fate.

    Any minute.

  • DarrenM||

    a state law prohibiting a person from practicing cosmetology without a license

    Cosmetology - "the professional skill or practice of beautifying the face, hair, and skin."

    Perhaps the problem was with the beautification party. If he just give bad haircuts, he'd be OK.

  • Rockabilly||

    The progs did this so your mullet would come out cool> it's for your own good, man

  • Hank Phillips||

    So there is something altruism does not justify? Hey, it's a start...

  • Poolside at the Decline||

    End Game> That which is not compulsory will be either prohibited or licensed.

  • macsnafu||

    I cut my own hair. Obviously the cosmetology board should be investigating me. Never mind that I'm not in their jurisdiction, that's just a technicality I'm sure they'd be willing to overlook.

  • Snort||

    Is there a bounty for turning people in? Where do you live?

    (not really) (seriously) (no, not really) (um....)

  • Dave Boz||

    The governor, to his credit, has told the cosmetology nazis to back off. They might just do that when they remember that they serve at the pleasure of the gov.

  • laurajones||

    How is the free haircuts to the homeless a threat to existing salons?.. he gave them a haircut as they cannot afford the salons in the first place...maybe the salons should do it once in a while as a good will act...


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