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The Presumption of Liberty & Occupational Licensing
Dick M. Carpenter, II on Occupational Licensing
What do landscape architects, manicurists, kickboxing trainers, and yoga instructors from California all have in common? Besides making our state healthier and better looking, all of these professions require an occupational license.
What's wrong with that, you might wonder? Licensing might sound like an important form of consumer protection. But does licensing actually increase the safety and quality of services offered? To answer that, we need data.
Dick M. Carpenter, II, senior director of strategic research at the Institute for Justice, recently published a report analyzing Yelp! reviews for six occupations across several states – some with licensing requirements and others without.
Unsurprisingly to anyone who understands the nature of licensing, the license made no difference to the service quality according to Yelp’s ratings.
In some cases, licensing actually seems to correlate with inferior service. The reality is that it represents a barrier to competition promoted by industry insiders to earn more profit.
Carpenter joins me this Sunday to explain how good intent by legislators backfires when lobbyists get their way.
We will discuss the constitutionality of various licensing requirements through Randy Barnett's "presumption of liberty" framework, and review the voluntary alternatives to licensing that actually improve service quality. Barnett argues that people should be presumed to have economic rights – i.e., the ability to work without government permission – unless there is a very compelling reason for the restriction.
However, the Supreme Court has often decided in favor of a “presumption of constitutionality” – giving states the authority to interfere with our personal and economic liberties for virtually no reason at all. Hence licensing laws. Thankfully, the IJ is fighting for our rights every day in court and in the arena of public opinion.
ICYMI – Last week’s show
Last week I brought back Dr. Jeffrey Singer to the show, along with his Cato colleague – immigration expert David Bier. The two of them wrote an important op-ed in the Washington Post recently, debunking the myth that Fentanyl smuggling is a byproduct of open borders and illegal immigration [No, Biden’s immigration policies are not to blame for the fentanyl crisis, Oct. 27, 2022].
I learned that the reality is the opposite: tougher border security and regulations around opioid prescriptions have activated the “Iron Law of Prohibition,” which dictates that the potency (and dangers) of the banned substance increase with the strictness of regulation.
Don’t miss it.