Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The General Rule For Licensing

Over the last few years, there has been an explosion in licensing across all levels of government, and much debate over what should be licensed. Here is a simple rule that answers whether any particular profession should be licensed:

The rule is as follows:
If something is done safely and legally without licensing when no money changes hands, a license is unnecessary and oppressive.
Why, for example, does Baltimore County require a license to sell things door-to-door? Not because there is a serious public safety issue - when I inquired, the response boiled down to "So that the police can harass salesmen out of the county."

Not only door-to-door sales, but licenses are required for coin-op arcade games, roller-skating rinks, campgrounds, public picnics, and even donation solicitations. Why?

"Public health and safety".

That's a rote response given to any challenge to any regulation. How does it have merit to a campground? Or a public picnic?

If you have a coin-op video game in your basement, you can play it as often as you like. But if you put it in a restaurant and allow people to use it, you need a license. And you need a license for each machine. Why? What public safety threat does an arcade game present?

"Public health and safety" is not a real answer, and everyone knows it. The purpose of the licensing is to require free Americans to go to their government on bent knee and request permission to indulge in even basic activities.

And the government sees no limit on that authority. When they require licenses for barbers and hair stylists, they require hair braiders, who use no tools or chemicals at all, to get a license requiring training in nothing that they do and a great deal of things they don't.

These licenses are often used to harass the poor and keep them from making their own profit honestly. By creating laws to prevent people from making their money honestly, it diverts ambitious people into criminal activity. After all, if the police will arrest you for selling pastries or drugs out of your home, well, drugs offer larger profit.

And with what justification? Does hair-braiding pose a public safety risk? Do arcade games? Does a roller rink?

And the cost of licensing, indeed the very purpose of nearly all modern licensing, is to raise the costs to the consumer and allow existing businesses higher profits. The result is that individual people are compelled to ask others for the right to go into business in a particular profession and earn an independent living. And they are often told no.

As an American, that should be disgusting.

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