by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Mike Lee explain in a Time magazine essay why they’re taking aim at occupational licensing restrictions.
Who’d have thought it would take more time, training and money to be licensed as a hair stylist, interior designer or barber than it does to become an emergency medical technician ready to save people’s lives in an emergency? Yet in California, Utah and every state across the nation, legal absurdities like this have become the new normal, as occupational licensing requirements (essentially government permission slips required to do your job) have become mandated in more fields than ever before.
Their spread has made it increasingly difficult for workers — especially lower-income Americans — to start their careers or take new jobs in any number of fields, including even those as simple as hair-braiding, upholstery or, yes, even flower arranging.
Americans already face a tough economy, and occupational licensing requirements only make it harder for them to build better lives for themselves and their families.
For jobs with a direct impact on health or public safety, the government has a legitimate role to play in protecting customers from unscrupulous or dangerous actors in the marketplace. But many occupational licensing requirements have little to do with ensuring your safety — and a lot to do with keeping people like you out of work.