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Businesses United States

Occupational Licensing Blunts Competition and Boosts Inequality ( 373

Occupational licensing -- the practice of regulating who can do what jobs -- has been on the rise for decades. In 1950 one in 20 employed Americans required a licence to work. By 2017 that had risen to more than one in five. From a report: The trend partly reflects an economic shift towards service industries, in which licences are more common. But it has also been driven by a growing number of professions successfully lobbying state governments to make it harder to enter their industries. Most studies find that licensing requirements raise wages in a profession by around 10%, probably by making it harder for competitors to set up shop.

Lobbyists justify licences by claiming consumers need protection from unqualified providers. In many cases this is obviously a charade. Forty-one states license makeup artists, as if wielding concealer requires government oversight. Thirteen license bartending; in nine, those who wish to pull pints must first pass an exam. Such examples are popular among critics of licensing, because the threat from unlicensed staff in low-skilled jobs seems paltry. Yet they are not representative of the broader harm done by licensing, which affects crowds of more highly educated workers like Ms Varnam. Among those with only a high-school education, 13% are licensed. The figure for those with postgraduate degrees is 45%.

[...] One way of telling that many licences are superfluous is the sheer variance in the law across states. About 1,100 occupations are regulated in at least one state, but fewer than 60 are regulated in all 50, according to a report from 2015 by Barack Obama's White House. Yet a handful of high-earning professions are regulated everywhere. In particular, licences are more common in legal and health-care occupations than in any other.

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Occupational Licensing Blunts Competition and Boosts Inequality

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  • by saloomy ( 2817221 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @06:43PM (#56149072)

    A prospective: Milton Friedman's thoughts on Licensing [].

  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @06:48PM (#56149098)

    You want a capitalist free market, but only for other people.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not a problem with Americans, it's a problem with government. People in the public sector spend the majority of their time coming up with useless ways to justify their existence. There's a slow creep where governments create more oversight bodies, comities and other useless organisations which create more useless regulations. This leads to a situation where the government is wasting vast amounts of money while doing very little of value.

      I think a lot of Americans would like the government to be scal

      • People in the public sector spend the majority of their time coming up with useless ways to justify their existence.

        The thing you didn't mention explicitly is that coming up with these things is not useless to them.

        Unless a way can be found to make it so, they'll keep doing it, and their power extends strongly downward, while ours extends upwards in a very weak and diffused manner. Even that may be an illusion; the number of non-establishment legislators who are willing to reform the various agencies with r

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Another problem with Americans is that they think the problems with their country and government are universal and fundamental, and can't be solved except by the best and brightest (i.e. Americans) despite the overwhelming number of other countries that aren't affected by equivalents of America's (for example) gun culture or business-enthralled healthcare...

        A third is that this will likely be modded troll by people who don't understand that pointing out they lack context isn't just an attempt to make them f

        • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @08:38PM (#56149604)
          Nothing wrong with gun culture. Murder with a gun, perhaps, but gun culture is no different than any other hobby here. Non-US people and US people in large cities with ultra-strict gun control and higher rates of violent crime don't really understand that people can appreciate and enjoy guns and not be stupid with said guns. Europeans hear about high-profile mass shootings and assume that we're all blowing each others' heads off over here, but that's not the case at all. The vast majority of gun deaths in the US are suicides.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by stabiesoft ( 733417 )

            About 2/3rds and likely the suicide group would find another way. That still leaves 11K (there are about 33K gun deaths/year). I don't see a problem with allowing guns, but I don't see the reason to allow assault weapons. If I want a tank, can I have one? An RPG? Cannon? One could argue the 2nd amendment should allow me all of those things.

            • Ha silly Euro

              Running Sherman Tank for sale or would you prefer a different make ?

            • On a Federal level (individual states get weird with stuff)

              If I want a tank, can I have one?

              Yes, although for the actual guns you'd need the appropriate tax stamps. Same for the actual exploding munitions, tax stamp (and associated background checks, etc) for each one purchased. Oh, and there aren't that many of the machine guns registered for civilian ownerhsip... so its gonna cost a whole lot of money. You probably won't be allowed to drive on city/county/state/fed maintained roads since tracks mess up

            • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @01:31AM (#56150516)

              FWIW I think I ought to be able to own anything that a law enforcement agency can own. Or, if you'd rather, law enforcement agencies should be restricted to the same firearms, magazines, ammo types, etc. that I can own :)

            • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @05:47AM (#56150988) Homepage
              And of those 11k roughly 9k are inner city gang violence in just a few cities with strict gun controls, leaving roughly 1700 homicides for the rest of the rather large country. Add in a few hundred accidental shootings (those are dropping even as more and more guns are being sold) to round out the numbers.

              Second as to your biased and incorrect claims about "assault weapons" First of all homicides using long guns of all types is usually less than 300 per year, lower than the number killed with blunt objects. Yes they get used in High profile, big news events but otherwise are very rarely used in homicides. They are not the biggest problem. Handguns account for the vast majority of firearm homicides.

              Additionally regarding "Assault Weapons" That classification is based entirely on cosmetic features that do not impact their functionality. They are semi-automatic as are most firearms sold today. That means pull the trigger once and one bullet comes out. They are not automatic or burst capable. Such weapons have been tightly restricted and controlled since 1934 and since the Hughes Amendment of 1986 have become very expensive as no new automatic weapons can be sold to the public.

              And yes one could argue that those other weapons could and should fall under the 2nd. Cannon certainly did. Citizens owned licensed warships and cannon. But more specifically, why shouldn't I be allowed to own them if I can use them safely? If by my negligence or intentional actions with said weapons injury or damage to others or their property occurs I would be fully liable. But if I can drive my Self Propelled Howitzer to the local public artillery range and safely send the rounds down range why not let me waste my money throwing 100 lb slugs of metal a few miles downrange? If I use it inappropriately and cause harm or damage throw the book at me.

              As to Nukes (people love to bring up Nukes) they are not safe to use anywhere due to the spread of fall-out thus they are not in consideration.

              No I'm not going to campaign or push for the right to own my own howitzer (I can already own one if it's a muzzle loader) but if we go back to the principle of holding people responsible for when their actions harm others why shouldn't a responsible owner be able to own one?
            • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

              Yes, to all...

              If I want a tank, can I have one?


              An RPG?




            • I don't see a problem with allowing guns, but I don't see the reason to allow assault weapons. If I want a tank, can I have one? An RPG? Cannon?

              The guys who fought the revolution that led to their leaders writing and approving the Bill of Rights used personally-owned cannon and personally-owned warships in the war - which was the peak military technology of the time. Many of the foot-soldiers' long guns were rifled, and higher-tech than the muskets of their opponents.

              They'd just fought a revolution against

        • ... A third is that this will likely be modded troll by people who don't understand that pointing out they lack context isn't just an attempt to make them feel small... yeah other cultures have this issue, but gosh y'all...

          As a certified and licensed modder and card-carrying member of the MRA (Modulators Ruffle Association) I intended to give this +1:interesting but misclicked and gave it +-0:frunobulous. Slashdot only allows a modicum of modified moderations to a more modern modality via modem. Bummer.

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          ...aren't affected by equivalents of America's (for example) gun culture ...

          Besides being off-topic (but since you went there), what "gun culture" are you speaking of? You can go about your business in the U.S., as the vast majority of the population does, and outside of police and security guards, or video games and TV, it's extremely unlikely that you'll see or hear a gun...likely for months or years, unless you make an effort to do so. Sure there are exceptions in certain gang infested, crime ridden areas. And I say this having lived through the '67 riots in Detroit, and bei

      • by jezwel ( 2451108 )
        It's not a problem with government, it's a problem with people causing or creating problems that then require government oversight or regulation.
        For example, the EPA was created because of environmental concerns about dumping/burning waste. That's an $8billion annual budget on making sure companies do the right thing.

        You want it scaled back? Companies need to comply with the regulations enough that the number of FTEs can be dropped. It's a long timeline, but it does happen - especially when government c

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          The EPA enacted nearly 4,000 regulations during the previous administration. You're telling us that that's all necessary? Bullshit.

          How about federal agencies monitoring individuals w/o a warrant, I suppose you're okay with that, and that it's not overreach.

          How about the government telling women they can't have an abortion, or that adults can't smoke pot, or gays (for many years) can't get married? Or that screwing anyone but your wife in any position other than missionary would land you in jail.

          People in

    • This sounds like propaganda to get you to agree that specialist should work for minimum wage. Believe me, you want that engineer that designs the office building building you work in or the house you live in, to be certified
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @08:52PM (#56149678)
      A capitalist free market is an excellent (arguably the best) method for searching vast solution spaces to find the most effective solution to a problem. It works. If you believe in evolution, then you also believe capitalism works. They're the same thing.

      The issue here is insuring that any solutions proferred by an "expert" surpasses some minimum threshold of safety and effectiveness. Regulation accomplishes that.

      The two are not incompatible. Where you get into trouble is when you believe so much in regulation that you start imposing regulations on things that haven't been tried before or hasn't proven to be a problem before - that ends up impeding the market's ability to find new innovative and unconventional solutions. e.g. the EU mandating GSM, thereby preventing EU companies from trying what turned out to be the better solution - CDMA (which turned out to be so much better that the EU had to incorporate it into the GSM spec for 3G data []). Or when you believe so much in the free market that you start repealing basic regulations which have safeguarded the market against activities which had proven to be a problem in the past. e.g. the U.S. repealing the regulation separating savings banks from investment banks, thereby exacerbating the housing bubble.

      This isn't an either/or choice. In fact the people presenting it as an either/or choice (on both sides) are the ones causing the problems. The licenses TFA calls a "charade" really aren't. Stylists don't just put on makeup, they can also apply caustic chemicals to your hair or skin. Likewise, bartenders mix substances which are consumed - do you really want someone merely pretending to be a bartender to mix something you'll end up drinking? Food service workers (cooks, chefs, waiters and waitresses) must pass a food handling exam for the same reason. All this is to guarantee that someone working in these fields have at least been taught basic pitfalls and mistakes to avoid.
      • by Gaxx ( 76064 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:23AM (#56151088)

        Sorry - I don't buy the evolution analogy. There's elements of it that match but here's the issue. In a free market, companies don't 'evolve' to innovate. Innovation isn't the end goal, surviving and profiting is. There's a hell of a lot of ways to profit other than innovation and innovation is always a risky strategy to reach that end. Often it's easier to make a measured approach and plan to drag down anyone else who innovates, especially once you're big enough.

        A free market is about the profitability and survival being the end goal and whatever achieves that is what happens. This is why licensing is required, to ensure that people don't get trampled underfoot on the way to that profitability.

        As Solandri stated, licensing applies to people who could endanger your wellbeing through incompetence or negligence and we all benefit from that. You _could_ argue that people can vote with their feet, avoid restaurants that develop a reputation for food poisoning etc. Noone wants to be one of the ones who dies on the way to building that reputation, though.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Sorry - I don't buy the evolution analogy.

          That's because you misunderstand it. Allow me to explain.

          In a free market, companies don't 'evolve' to innovate. Innovation isn't the end goal, surviving and profiting is.

          Individuals of a species don't evolve either. Survival and reproduction is their goal. Evolution is something that a population does. Just as the statistical distribution of alleles in a population changes over time, the statistical distribution of business practices in a market changes over time. E.g. the slow fade of brick-and-mortar stores in many sectors.

          A free market is about the profitability and survival being the end goal and whatever achieves that is what happens.

          So, yeah, just like nature.

          licensing applies to people who could endanger your wellbeing through incompetence or negligence

          Everyone you meet could endanger your wellbeing through incomp

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        If you believe in evolution, then you also believe capitalism works.

        Evolution is brutal though. It works by the weakest members of the population dying before they can reproduce. Okay, it's a bit more complicated but it's not a process that produces good outcomes for a lot of individuals.

        That's why most capitalist societies also have regulation and welfare.

        I suppose you could say that capitalism is the baseline, a system that works but which is not very desirable.

        e.g. the EU mandating GSM

        Actually a great counter example. We don't have the horrendous network lock-in that the US does. European phones

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      No. We want people who at least half-know what they're doing before they put their hands on nuclear reactors/people's internals/motorized vehicles etc, just like you (assumed) europeans do. Of course, most of this is moot because licensing has become little more than a papermill industry shim between real life applicant experience and HR department expectations.

      • It takes about the same amount of time to become an airline pilot as it does to become a fully licensed air conditioning technician in my state.
        • In Arizona, it takes more hours of education to become a licensed hair stylist than it does to become an EMT. It's crazy. Currently the legislature is trying to at least exempt people who only wash hair from the hair stylist license, but the State cosmetology board is fighting them on it. 1,000 hours of education to wash hair!

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @06:57PM (#56149138)
    there are multiple tiers of the license. How much you need depends on what chemicals you work with. If you're a dude (most of us /.ers are) you have no idea how crazy some of chemicals they work with are. The stuff women will do to get straight hair if they're born with curly or curly hair if they're born with straight is absurd. Come to think of it, every girl I've ever met wants the opposite type of hair they were born with...

    I think the rise of licenses isn't just mean spirited folks wanting to raise wages. It's got more to do with computers making it easy to track folks and wide spread mass media leading to more people hearing stories of what happens when somebody without training does something dangerous. If it's one thing that 20 years in the workforce has taught me it's that companies do as little training as humanly possible.
    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @07:15PM (#56149230) Homepage Journal

      There is a theory that most regulations and red tape are unnecessary - we should rely on common sense.

      There's another which states that most regulations and red tape are there because common sense is actually quite rare and someone did something stupid.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Say a person, company invests in a stage play, opera, band and has a set number of days and times to have everything ready.
      A license ensures the person doing the make up has some way of telling the everyone that the make up will not be a problem.
      Everyone will look as needed and be able to look good over the days and week.
      Everything used will be safe and no questions of what is been used has to be asked every time by everyone. That "new" makeup effort would slow everything down and add extra complexity
    • there are multiple tiers of the license. How much you need depends on what chemicals you work with. If you're a dude (most of us /.ers are) you have no idea how crazy some of chemicals they work with are. The stuff women will do to get straight hair if they're born with curly or curly hair if they're born with straight is absurd. Come to think of it, every girl I've ever met wants the opposite type of hair they were born with....

      There's also questions of hygiene, such as how often you clean your hands, equipment, towels, environment etc. Some of the stuff being done by cosmetologists blends over into the quasi-medical, like Botox injections, mild chemical peels, laser, IPL or waxing hair removal (in sensitive places). etc.

      If I was a woman I'd be in favor of at least some basic qualifications for the people working on me.

    • Besides working with strong chemicals, hairstylists and similar trades would need proper sanitation and often business skills, so it's not just aesthetics, but the length of schooling required still seems absurd.

  • To help out (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @06:59PM (#56149150)

    If you want to help solve this, donate to the Institute for Justice []. They are the most prominent organization fighting "license to be employed" laws.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      I wonder if they would be helpful in my attempt to set myself up in business as a self-taught attorney.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Do the also fight mandatory Union membership?

    • by pots ( 5047349 )
      The Institute for Justice is a libertarian group which fought against a law intended to equalize campaign funding between candidates. They used the argument, no exaggeration, that equal funding would have a chilling effect on speech because it would dissuade potential campaign donors. In other words: bribery is speech and so we can't have anything which might suppress bribery. They won this suit with an unsurprisingly 5 - 4 decision, split exactly as you'd expect.

      I'm sure they do other things as well, an
  • There's an excellent Planet Money episode about this: []

  • Licensing also benefits bureaucrats and enforcement agencies as well as providing fees to boost the budgets of government.

    If you can't tax it, license it to death.

  • This should be an easy issue. Libertarian publications like Reason [], and center-left publications like The Atlantic [] agree that this is a problem. Heck as The Atlantic article points out, this is even an issue where Donald Trump and Obama seem to agree. Unfortunately, as long as lobbying can occur by licensing groups and professional assoc
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @07:22PM (#56149256) Journal
    That engineer has to be able to prove their bridge will work over time for the use it was designed for, in the conditions it was built.
    Giving away the word "engineer" to someone with no skills for "equality" reasons will not result in a bridge that works long term.
    Nations need to have confidence in the bridges they use.
    Need medical care? the doctor, any doctor in any hospital should have passed that nations medical exams and be under constant review and have their results look at.
    A medical system needs to have confidence that any on duty doctor can do what they got a job for.
    A rescue helicopter to get people to hospital that can fly day and night needs the crew to actually be able to fly in day and night conditions.
    A person working on a production like and its electoral system needs to be able to show they have the skills to work on that system.
    That "licence" tells the factory owner, the insurance company and all other workers the work done is to a nations standards and was correct and safe.
    That any further work can build on existing quality work.
    The electrical, water, gas networks have to be designed and installed to some standard so all surrounding homes are safe to some standard for many years.
    • The cases you list are precisely those where government dictated licensing is unnecessary, and the reason it is unnecessary is for exactly the reasons you have invoked -- the need for qualified individuals in those positions is crucial and self-evident. You might as well pass a law that no one can be hired to be CEO of a multibillion dollar company without an MBA. Quite obviously, no multibillion dollar company is going to hire an unqualified person for that position and is more than capable of doing the ne

      • Quite obviously, no multibillion dollar company is going to hire an unqualified person for that position


        The frightening part is, judging from your username, you're an educated person and yet you somehow still stumbled on this pollyanna belief. Allow me to inform you that you are 100% mistaken. Honestly America would be a better place with a licensing test for CEOs. Not an MBA. One that includes a

  • Blame the guilds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quonset ( 4839537 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @07:26PM (#56149276)

    What guilds you ask? Way back when, anyone could claim to be a bread maker, or tanner, or brewer. At some point, due to various reasons, those who took pride in their work and felt their standard of excellence should be met by the shyster down the stall banded together and formed guilds.

    Those guilds set minimum standards for quality such as no sawdust in bread or beer which wasn't watered down or had spices thrown in to cover up bad tastes or bad alcohol.

    Fast forward to today and for somewhat similar reasons, professions want people to meet minimum standards of service. For example, the person who colors your hair should have some basic knowledge of how not to burn your skin or turn your hair into straw when applying the mixed chemicals.

    Now I know what many of you are going to say. "I'm a programmer and I've never been involved in a guild or union or anything like them. Employers simply hire me."

    Oh really? Those employers never asked what your qualifications were? Never asked how many years experience you had in python or Rust or whatever language they're looking for? They never asked to see examples of your work? Never quizzed you on your knowledge?

    What they did is no different than what people being licensed go through. You have to meet some minimum standard set by the employer in the same manner someone has to meet the minimum standard to be a cosmetologist, an attorney or doctor.

    To those who say, "Free markets!", what happens when your scalp is burned getting your hair colored? What if the person, somehow, gets the wash in your eyes and causes damage? Your response is most likely to get an attorney to sue them for damages. Question: how do you know that attorney is qualified to handle your case?

    • Distinction (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @09:01PM (#56149712)

      At some point you are correct. There are certain professions that should require licensing. Generally these are professions that involve some level of personal safety (medical) or fiduciary responsibility (legal.)

      At some point your argument falls apart. Not exactly sure why you need to be licensed to:

      Decorate a house
      Braid hair (NOT cut it)
      Walk dogs
      Sell caskets
      Be a locksmith
      Run a pawn broker
      Run a flower shop
      Operate a food truck (ON TOP of your regular commercial drivers license AND health certificate)
      Install home theater equipment
      Run a travel agency
      Package things for shipping
      Upholster furniture

      I'm sure you could come up with some corner case that would involve safety in any of these cases, but you could do the same for, pretty much, ANY profession.

      So the question becomes is if the licensing scheme is doing more to protect consumers, or to protect established professionals from competition.

      • Some of those need to be licensed for reasons you aren't aware of.

        Decorate a house: Since some design elements are expected to hold loads, or not fall down on people, they need to know enough to design "safe" decorations.

        Sell caskets: States have a lot of rules when it comes to putting bodies in the ground. A casket needs to be sturdy enough that it won't be crushed when you put 6 feet of dirt on it, or rot when you expose it to years of damp soil and insects.

        Upholster furniture: There are fire codes tha

  • There seem to be 3 kinds of licenses out there for jobs.
    There are licenses that you absolutely do want to exist (for example you most definitely should need a license to be a doctor or a lawyer or a pilot or a bus driver)

    Then there are licenses that definitely should exist but where the things that require such a license go far too overboard. A requirement that someone doing electrical work have a license is a good thing (since it ensures they know how to make things safe) but too many cases exist where a "

    • Like the ridiculous idea that you should need a license to do computer repairs (a thing in some jurisdictions I believe) or that you need a license to be a tour guide or a carpenter. (also a thing in some jurisdictions)

      If you go back far enough in PC history, the first PC cases had a switch on the front that switched the incoming power (110v/220v). This required wiring the power input to the front of the case and back again. The connections of these wires at the switch were exposed. So you had the possibili

      • If there's exposed 110V, then there's a design defect in the chassis/power supply. Otherwise, the "danger" is not anything more than plugging in your toaster. (And yes, I've been working on computers pre-IBM PC.)
      • >If you go back far enough in PC history, the first PC cases had a switch on the front that switched the incoming power (110v/220v).

        Actually, it did not. It required a dual-power power unit, which had a control circuit. Wiring 120 to the front panel would have required far more heavy duty internal wiring.

        I remember those days. Wiring the main power to the power supply could be done very badly by the original manufacturer, but even the cheap vendors did not want to pay for a switch that could handle 120 a

        • I didn't make myself clear. I didn't mean that it switched between 100V and 220V, but instead, it switched the incoming power on or off and the incoming power could be 110V or 220V.

    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @08:29PM (#56149566)

      you need a license to be a tour guide or a carpenter. (also a thing in some jurisdictions)

      Areas where tourism is a big industry obviously are going to want to license tour guides. Bad tour guides can give a destination a bad reputation or lead to tourists getting ripped off or mugged. Much like a hotel wants to maintain a level of service, tourist destinations do as well. Some places also have a healthy respect for their history and want to make sure it is accurately represented.

      Carpenters frame houses. I've seen a badly framed house. I've seen a ceiling collapse due to poor carpentry. Why you think being able to build to code shouldn't require a test is beyond me.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday February 18, 2018 @08:08PM (#56149462) Homepage Journal

    You're required to pass a test on how to recognize fake ids, determine if someone has had too much to drink and needs to be shut off, and what your legal responsibilities and liabilities are as a server. The permit cost is $8.99, and includes a video tutorial.

    That seems pretty reasonable to me. It's not like they're testing you on whether you can mix a Martini.

  • when people cannot understand why a standard or a right exists. Because they live in a world made safe by the existence of it. So they get rid of it.

  • I have been in two jurisdictions where there have been notable (luckily failed) attempts to regulate programmers. One attempt was that all software must be signed off by a professional engineer, and the other was just a professional "self-regulating" society of computer professionals where you couldn't deliver anything software related without being a member in good standing.

    The people who were involved were all assholes. At a local conference someone jokingly suggested that they be blacklisted; which the
  • Of course licensing is unequal: only those who can pass the tests can be licensed. Some can do it while others can't. Welcome to life, we are NOT equal. We are diverse. As a result, I do not have a problem with testing for ability. However, I do have one with the many licensing schemes that fail to do this while producing armies of half useless paper-mill drones. It's turned into a system wide scam.

  • John Stossel likes to go after the whole overly "licensing" thing. Here are some good videos of him that are very relevant to the topic: [] [] [] [] []

    Of course, few people think that all licensing should go away, Stossel doesn't either. But it is getting a bit ridiculous.

  • by richardtallent ( 309050 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @02:05AM (#56150570) Homepage

    As someone who has been involved in fashion, art, and glamour photography for some time, I find the article's dismissal of cosmetology licensing to be careless and poorly researched.

    Applying makeup is a licensed activity because of significant health and safety issues related to hygiene and proper use of certain products (such as latex, for example, as used in the movie and theater industries). You could very literally lose an eye, go into anaphylactic shock, or get a nasty rash because some village idiot decided to play makeup artist and didn't know what they were doing. People doing this really DO need to know what they are doing.

    Likewise, bartender licenses are less about memorizing obscure drink recipes and more about properly working within the law around alcoholic drinks and potentially inebriated customers. These licenses are not a burden to obtain (working with a non-profit art gallery, we obtained them for some of our board members so we could legally serve wine at our shows), and they are a serious intervention to help cut down on drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and underage drinking.

    Here in Texas, the licensing agency recently got rid of mandatory licensing of interior designers (my wife is one) and talent/modeling agencies (which, again, I'm familiar with through photography). The result is a total disaster in both fields. To do an effective job, interior designers need to understand building codes, proper construction techniques, when to call in a structural engineer, permitting, blueprints and drawings, special laws around commercial furniture, etc. But without a license, anyone who watches a bunch of HGTV and thinks they are the next Joanna Gaines can go represent themselves as a designer, and homeowners and businesses *don't know what they don't know*. And in the talent agency world, particularly in modeling, there is a HUGE problem of outright scams, not to mention sketchy guys claiming to "manage" models or singers, who act more like wannabe pimps.

    So yeah, maybe licensing can be a bit of a protection racket in some industries, but it's way too easy to deride someone else's education from a place of ignorance about the service they are performing and the risks involved in the decisions they make.

    (Also, make no mistake, this article isn't about makeup or pints of lager, it's about an ongoing, long-term, well-funded dispute about what the differences should be between a doctor and a nurse practitioner. The arguments about other industries are merely window-dressing.)

    • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

      You're missing the point: the article is basically the standard neo-Liberal (for US readers: Libertarian) propaganda piece you'd expect from The Economist.

      While not as bad as Koch-funded think tanks, on economy their stance is virtually the same: take away all worker protections and let the owner class run Gilded Age style rampant.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      I don't disagree; it's good to have some verification of the expected qualifications. But it needs to be applied sanely. Last time this subject came up, I looked up my state's list of licensed professions (outside of engineering and medicine), and requirements thereto. Most were sane enough -- some 50-60 hours of training for the more-basic jobs, a bit more for the more-complex.

      And then there was the weird outlier -- a requirement of 1100 hours of training for (IIRC) physical trainer. And I was like, WTF? D

  • Many of those "licenses" are trivial to acquire and contain relevant legal or otherwise need-to-know information. Even if much of that knowledge is trivial, you want to be sure that your (insert-profession-here) in fact does have it.

    In particular, licences are more common in legal and health-care occupations than in any other.

    And those are exactly the kind of professions where a) a laymen has no chance to spot any even halfway good con-man and b) you really, really want to be in the hands of someone who actually has the skills they claim.

The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.