July 27, 2017

Ease occupational licensing, free people to work

By Anastasia P. Boden Attorney

Today we filed this comment letter with the FTC describing how easing occupational licensing would give Americans a pathway to prosperity.  The FTC has assembled an Economic Liberty Taskforce dedicated to addressing occupational licensing abuses, and is holding a roundtable today about how licensing affects people’s ability to move across state lines and find economic opportunity in new states.  Our comment letter describes how a patchwork of burdensome licensing laws not only prevents people from moving to new places, they:

thwart[] the ability of entrepreneurs to use technological innovations to ply their trade across state lines. In theory, it is now easier than ever to communicate with co-workers or customers across the country from the comfort of one’s own home, or through quick and cheap travel. Entrepreneurs are able to provide a range of services across state lines that were formerly confined to offices. People now practice tele-medicine, tele-veterinarianism, and tele-law. They provide tutoring and therapy through Facetime. But licensing laws erect a barrier to practicing outside of one’s home state, thereby frustrating innovations which have reduced costs and improved quality.

With an Acting Chairwoman like Maureen Ohlhausen, there is potential for change. Yesterday she signaled her commitment to combating anti-competitive licensing laws, calling the issue one of her “favorites.”  In a talk titled, “Death by 1,000 Haircuts,” she described how occupational licensing has proliferated—costing Americans millions each year with very little benefit to the public.

We’ll take change however we can get it, but in the meanwhile, we’ll be seeing the licensing boards in court.

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