Government Licensing Gone Wild

One way that President Obama, Congress, Susana Martinez, the Legislature, and even city governments could spur their respective economies is by abolishing most professional licensing or at least making such licensing optional. Thus, if you wish to go to a business that is licensed by the relevant government agency, you are free to do that (and pay whatever the additional price is for such services). If you wish to patronize an unlicensed establishment, be that a restaurant, barber shop, or even a doctor, you should be able to do that, but they must tell you that they are not government licensed.

This would create competition while spurring economic growth, and it would put busy-body regulators out of business and force them to find real jobs. One recent illustration of how crazy such regulations can get is from Los Angeles where police raided several African-American barber shops due to a lack of licenses.

Another example is of a hot dog vendor in North Carolina that would have had to obtain a license to operate from his competition. He is now in jail.

Government licensing may be well-intended, but it often leads to abuses. To enable competition while preserving it for those who want to keep it in place, I say make it optional.

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6 Replies to “Government Licensing Gone Wild”

  1. Paul,
    Such and such “may be well-intended” is a phrase I see often when liberal positions are criticized. This grants liberals the moral high ground and with this phrase we lose the argument. I would like to see that phrase abolished.

    “Well intended” usually means altruistic intentions but that is a bad morality–it got us where we are with big government. I think our situation cannot be changed without understanding Ayn Rand’s philosophy and morality. Leonard Peikoff’s “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand” has a good explanation.

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  2. I had to go back to work in order to survive retirement and I decided to do basic woodworking, like making furniture and refinishing hardwood floors. It seemed very basic to me, but the City Inspector told me that I could not advertise without a license or use my garage (city ordinance against furniture making in your garage). I applied for a GS11 (millwork) and a GS12 (flooring) with the State last August and I still have not gotten my license for one reason after another. Just the process of getting the license is discouraging for anyone wanting to do business in New Mexico. I am working without a license and I do tell my customers. So far, they all seem to be okay with that because they get an excellent product for a very good price. That is the American way – free markets.

  3. Government licensing is not well-intended. It shows who dominates who. Licenses are simply a block to competition. Washington said government is violence. Less government, less taxes, less harassment.

  4. As a practicing dentist and editor of the Seattle-King County Dental Journal in the 1970’s I editorialized against the dental practice act which established governmental licensing. The result was a howl of protest from my colleagues and the establishment of intractable enmity between me and the dental society leadership.

    It is clear that licensing is sold to the gullible public as a means for the government to protect it, when the real reason is using the coersive power of government to protect established claims to turf.

  5. I have two neighbors, recently buying their property. Both have businesses in their home area, both are interested in working within New Mexico as they have found waiting time for the services they provide extreme here in NM. Both checked into getting licensed in their respective trades in NM. They have indicated that the roadblocks for starting a business here are rather large and they have decided to not participate. Both businesses would have required local labor and considerable investment in infrastructure. BTW they both come from Right to Work states and apparently have all the business they need without the hassle here in NM.

  6. These are excellent suggestions and a great starting point for unleashing the entrepreneur and moving the ecomomy in the right direction.

    As a Commercial real estate broker, I can tell you that a real estate license means nothing when applied in the business world. And is not, by any measeure, an indication of knowledge or expertise.

    I have come to believe that mandatory government licensing (at least in my profession), locks out free-market competition and exposes the public to a higher level of incompetence.

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