Gov’t Licenses: Protecting or Stealing Liberty?

By Judge Jim Gray

January 19, 2015—Most people feel that the government protects them from being sold inferior services by requiring the providers to be licensed. That may have been the original intent, but the actual practice has strayed far from that result.

Instead many vested interests have used government licensing requirements simply to protect themselves from competition from others. And frequently those being restrained are young people just trying to get started in the business world. Examples of this are rampant, such as in braiding hair, selling caskets, providing childcare or teeth-whitening services and many more.

The cosmetology lobby keeps people from braiding hair without a license, even though few if any of the schools of cosmetology teach that skill.

The morticians lobby has mostly been able to restrict the sales of caskets only for its members.

There are no special dentistry skills required for the whitening of teeth, but the dentist lobby works actively to restrict this business solely for its members.

Instead, if people were “allowed” to provide these services simply by being privately bonded, the customers could decide whether the services deserved their business. For example, many stay-at-home moms would like to provide child care services for their neighbors, but cannot get a license because they don’t have enough bathrooms in their houses, or their doorways are not wide enough to allow for wheelchair access. Of course, that results in their potential consumers either being forced to pay more money or travel longer distances for childcare services—or simply do without. Or it results in all participants resorting to the completely uncontrolled Black Market.

But under this suggested approach, the private bonding companies would certainly require a threshold of competence and safety, but otherwise the customers could choose. So not only would this approach promote Liberty, more people would be able to enter the marketplace, which would result in the costs of all of these services being reduced.

The same analysis applies to the practice of law, but that will be addressed in a future article.

Do you believe liberty can help grow the economy? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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