Cutting Regulation …

WSJ on Obama’s vow to search out and eliminate regulations that are just dumb:

Tell that to the cat groomers, tattoo artists, tree trimmers and about a dozen other specialists across the country who are clamoring for more rules governing small businesses.

They’re asking to become state-licensed professionals, which would mean anyone wanting to be, say, a music therapist or a locksmith, would have to pay fees, apply for a license and in some cases, take classes and pass exams. The hope is that regulation will boost the prestige of their professions, provide oversight and protect consumers from shoddy work.

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. Licensing forms a barrier to entry that protect the established “professionals.” I mean, you wouldn’t want just anyone grooming your cat, amiright?

The most recent study, from 2008, found 23% of U.S. workers were required to obtain state licenses, up from just 5% in 1950, according to data from Mr. Kleiner. In the mid-1980s, about 800 professions were licensed in at least one state. Today, at least 1,100 are, according to the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation, a trade group for regulatory bodies. Among the professions licensed by one or more states: florists, interior designers, private detectives, hearing-aid fitters, conveyor-belt operators and retailers of frozen desserts.

An unlicensed interior designer? God only knows what kind of havoc they could wreck.

Texas, for instance, requires hair-salon “shampoo specialists” to take 150 hours of classes, 100 of them on the “theory and practice” of shampooing, before they can sit for a licensing exam. That consists of a written test and a 45-minute demonstration of skills such as draping the client with a clean cape and evenly distributing conditioner.

And imagine, I’ve been doing this for years in the privacy of my own bathroom. It’s a miracle I haven’t killed myself yet. In Connecticut, glazers need to be licenced, a process that costs $400 start up, and $150 every year afterwards. To GLAZE a window.

Follow the money:

Over the past two years, Connecticut’s general fund made nearly $21 million on licensing fees, after accounting for the cost of running the state’s primary regulatory agency. California’s general fund borrowed $96.5 million from its regulatory bodies’ ample reserves in fiscal year 2008-9.

And the money quote from the article:

Ms. Gardner worked with the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm, to sue the Florida regulatory body in charge of interior design in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, claiming the law violated their First Amendment rights to call themselves interior designers. A federal judge last year struck down the licensing law for residential designers. But the court upheld a requirement for commercial interior design, holding that the state had a rational basis for protecting the public from inept design, which could create safety hazards.

I’m from the government, and I’m here to protect you from inept interior decorating.

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One Comment on “Cutting Regulation …”


  1. You gotta be careful around that fung schwing stuff. It can really hurt when it bites!


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