Williams blasts occupational licensing restrictions

This forum has exposed the problems associated with medical certificate-of-need laws and over-the-top occupational licensing laws.

Now Walter Williams uses his latest column to examine the harmful impacts of these types of government restriction.

“Certificate of necessity” monopolistic restrictions exist across the country, governing a variety of industries, from moving companies and taxicabs to hospitals and car lots.

The intention and the effect of these laws is to protect incumbent practitioners from open-market competition, enabling them to charge higher prices as a means to higher income.

Interior designing has almost no startup costs. Not so if you want to practice in Florida. State law mandates that anyone who wants to practice interior design have six years of education and experience, including graduating from a state-approved interior design program and completing an apprenticeship under a state-licensed interior designer.

Then the applicant must pass a state-mandated licensing exam. The sole purpose of the law is to keep the outs out so the ins can charge monopoly prices. …

… One would think that civil rights organizations, leftists and progressives would be fighting the battle for people’s right to earn a living. The fact of business is that they are often on the other side, and it’s the Washington-based Institute for Justice that has been waging war against entrenched incumbents who use government to protect them from competition. …

… Arbitrary licensing and permitting laws foreclose many occupations that are ideally suited to people of modest means, particularly minorities. Here’s my bet: Ask any liberal politician, from the president and the Congressional Black Caucus to civil rights organizations and black local politicians, whether he’d take up the fight to eliminate these barriers to upward mobility.

You’ll get answers, but they won’t be a simple yes. The reason is the ins contribute to their political campaigns and the outs don’t.

Rick Henderson recently discussed occupational licensing in an interview with Carolina Journal Radio/CarolinaJournal.tv.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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