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The saying, "It's the thought that counts," is a lame excuse when it comes to bad gifts and an even worse way to justify public policy. Lawmakers and bureaucrats continuously impose new regulations that often sound good. Yet policymakers too often fail to consider obvious economic ripple-effects, many of which hit hard-working Americans like tsunamis. There is no better example than occupational licensing standards, such as the District of Columbia's new requirement that all childcare workers obtain a four-year degree.
The argument for this requirement is the same for all others: Don't we want the best-trained people doing this important job?
Of course. The problem is licensing requirements fall victim to the same conundrum every other big-government promise does: people have unlimited wants but limited resources. History shows that government is very bad at reconciling these differences.
Let's consider some of the side-effects of D.C.'s new rule. Childcare workers must now delay working for at least four years and enter a higher-education system experiencing tuition hyperinflation. This means more folks taking on student debt.