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Op-ed Placement

The White House Makes a Surprising Plea for Licensing Reform

Originally Published in Watchdog.org on 8/4/15.

Occupational licensure is one of those relatively obscure topics that it’s hard to get people fired up about. Most people are not aware that their barbers, their florists, their personal trainers, all need permission from the government to practice their professions. Even when they do know, most people don’t regard it as a big deal. The mindset that consumer protection trumps all other concerns is pervasive, even when this assumption fails an objective cost benefit analysis.

Occasional stories of professionals who fail dramatically at their jobs are far more visible than the sad tales of unemployed workers forbidden by law to earn a living. We don’t often hear about the talented decorator who might have made a career of it if not for the burdensome license requirements, or the immigrants with a knack for hair braiding who can’t charge for their services because they don’t speak English well enough to make it through beauty school.