One in four Americans needs permission to work
In a fascinating article, the Wall Street Journal reports that the percentage of workers who need a state license to do their jobs is growing steadily. That percentage was 5% in the 1950s. In 2008, it was 23%.
Think about it: one of every four workers is not permitted to work without begging permission from a bureaucrat. While I don’t agree with the article’s assumption that licensure is an acceptable government activity, and I don’t find the quoted experts’ analyses particularly deep, I recommend the article for its catalog of occupations on which licensing requirements have been and are being imposed. A sample:
Florida for years required anyone marketing their services as “interior design” to get a license that called for six years of education and apprenticeship and a two-day exam. That requirement stunned Barbara Vanderkolk Gardner, a mostly self-taught designer who worked on luxury homes in New Jersey—no license required—and wanted to open a practice in Florida. If clients wanted to hire her to pick out pillows, paints and furnishings, Ms. Gardner says, she couldn’t understand why the state would object: “I view myself as an artist, and I don’t think art needs to be licensed.”
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.
Ms. Gardner says her residential business is now flourishing in Sarasota, Fla., but she remains frustrated that she has to turn down jobs designing offices.
In Ohio, dieticians, athletic trainers and boxing promoters are among the professions that require licenses. If Kimberly Raisanen has anything to say about it, cat groomers might one day make it onto the list, too. Ms. Raisanen, a groomer in Fairview Park, Ohio, helped found the Professional Cat Groomers Association of America in 2008 to establish better education standards for the animal specialists who trim, clip, style and fluff felines.
Do readers have their own stories of licensure’s effects on people’s ability to practice their occupations? I’d like to hear them through the comment function at the bottom of this post.
Image: Wikimedia Commons