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