Occupational Licensing

Stossel: Tour Guides Under Attack

Want to give people a tour? It might not be as easy as you think.


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Want to earn money showing someone around? It's not as simple as it sounds. Many cities require a license in order to do that.

For Michelle Freenor, owner of "Savannah Belle Walking Tours" in Savannah, this meant a background check complete with blood and urine samples, a physical fitness test, plus months of studying for a college-level history exam. The city charges $100 every time the exam is taken. She passed on her first try, but many fail.

All of this, just to speak for a living.

Bill Durrence, Alderman of the 2nd District of Savannah, admits parts of the licensing requirements may have gone too far, but said: "the licensing and the testing, I thought was a good idea just to make sure people had the accurate information."

When Michelle was diagnosed with Lupus, she told the city she might not be able to pass the physical. A licensing bureaucrat told her "you'll have to find another occupation… if you don't like it then you can sue us."

So she did.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, took her case for free. The Savannah bureaucrats backed down, but it doesn't happen easily, says Dick Carpenter. "There's discovery, depositions are taken… [it can take] months, often years."

But Savannah isn't the only city to create bottlenecks for those who want to give tours: Charleston (SC), New York (NY), Williamsburg (VA), St. Augustine (FL), and New Orleans (LA) all have tests.

Washington, D.C. used to, until the Institute for Justice fought them too. Watch John Stossel give his own segway tour in DC, and learn about yet another way that the government makes it harder for people to find jobs.

It is part three of our Bottleneckers series.

Produced by Naomi Brockwell. Edited by Joshua Swain.

Stossel on Reason

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