Licensing Craziness

Seriously, it takes over $1000, 1460 hours of special education, and the passing of two tests to be a floor sanding contractor in Nevada.  This is an amazing roundup of state licensure requirements, via Reason.  Note the profession at the top of the list of requirements, which by implication is the most dangerous possible activity to customers if it is done poorly.

A reminder from Milton Friedman on professional licensing:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber.


  1. me:

    Now we know where the payoff is: in Upholstery and Travel Agencies. Licensing restrictions like these are a mess; they cost on multiple levels (individuals who might be great in that professions never enter it or enter it late, they end up restricted in their decisionmaking by rulesystems based on tenure and legacy).

    The worst part is that there's an obvious adaptive alternative that does not require any legislation: Have consumers choose freely and allow professions to issue protected labels that are only handed out based on the criteria of that specific organisation. That way, folks who want a thoroughly trained interior designer only need to look for those who claim to be IDA-certified.

    Land of the free, indeed. I came here to get away from this kind of BS.

  2. Knucklehead:

    Umm... for the Reason article, who counts the states? Must be someone from Obama's staff. Any chance they could tell us something about the mysterious 51st state that requires so many of these licenses?

  3. Sam L.:

    Interior design: I hear of so many, many deaths and severe injuries in that field, mainly from horrendous hissy fits and assaults with a loafer.

    Truly, truly ugly.

  4. Mark2:

    I was house shopping recently, and walked into a room with orange carpets and yellow walls. The sun shown through the window on the floor making the orange mix in with yellow on one side of the room.

    Gotta say walking into the room, both my wife and I felt nauseous just from the color scheme. I was surprised colors could have such an effect.

  5. Jackazz:

    Yes, these licensing requirements are just job protection rackets. But to be fair, "Interior Design" is not the same as "Interior Decorating." Designers are to architects like physicians assistants are to doctors. So electrical, structural, plumbing, building codes, etc are all involved (plus the decorating too).
    Still shouldn't require a license, but they can certainly do more harm than a shampooer or manicurist if they screw something up...

  6. Vic Kelley:

    This "licensing" encroaches on more and more occupations. It's all about control. It lets the licensing authority - usually a state government agency - control who gets to do what kind of work. Eventually teens won't be able to get starter jobs in fast food or in stores without "certified hamburger clerk" or "certified retail clerk" paperwork. Same goes for low-skilled adults. You'll have to pay your own way to get into training courses and pay your own fee to take the certification test.

  7. Craig:

    Knucklehead - it's probably DC.

  8. Benjamin Cole:

    First, let's de-license the practice of law. Once we topple that hoary icon, the rest will tumble too.

    Really, if you hire a bad lawyer, you will die?

  9. markm:

    I also think the "51"st state in that article must have been DC. It's one of the places where moving your own furniture without the advice of a licensed interior designer may be a crime.