There are many ways to ensure safety without the policy extreme of occupational licensing

Reforming occupational licensing is one of those rare political ideas that unites right, left, and center. But it faces fierce opposition from the highly self-interested cronies, which to anyone who knows public-choice economics means it’s a hard slog.

Earlier this month, for example, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, wrote an editorial in the Washington Post entitled “If states want to help workers find jobs, they should reform licensing.” Markell concludes:

For far too long, we haven’t been sufficiently thoughtful when industries create high barriers to entry. The government has a moral obligation to protect its citizens from dangerous professional conduct, but we also have an obligation to ensure that hard-working Americans have every opportunity to improve their lives. States must lead the way.

Importantly, states don’t face a choice between protecting their citizens and keeping employment opportunities open. There are policy tools available that respect labor freedom while addressing legitimate concerns (legitimate as opposed to cronies’ special-interest pleading).

The Institute for Justice uses an inverted pyramid to depict the many policy options available. I expand upon that below (click the image for the full size):

labor policy pyramid

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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