August 22, 2010

Unlicensed barbers and consumer protection

By Unlicensed barbers and consumer protection

Author: Timothy Sandefur

Jonathan Adler makes some very good points about the unfairness of many occupational licensing laws. These kinds of abuses are precisely why PLF’s Economic Liberty Project exists.

Some licensing laws aren’t even just abused for self-interested (“rent-seeking”) purposes, but are explicitly designed to protect private interests instead of the consumer. In Missouri, it’s illegal to run a moving business until you first get permission from your own competitors! That’s because the license exists, not to protect the consumer, but to protect existing moving companies. These laws were enacted largely on the early years of the Depression, when the prevailing economic theory was that consumers should be forced to pay more for products and services. Economists today now generally agree that this was a foolish notion, but at the time, many states (and the federal government) bought it, and the laws they enacted remain on the books today, stifling entrepreneurship, raising the cost of living, and violating the constitutional right to earn a living. You can learn more about our challenge to these protectionist licensing laws here.

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