License Me, Please, Please, Please …
According to legend, when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, the British military band played "And The World Turned Upside Down." I sometimes feel that way when I read about occupational licensing. David Nicklaus has a great article in the Post-Dispatch today about a recent study released by the Reason Foundation, about licensing just for the right to work in America, which I wrote about here. Nicklaus writes that Missouri may not actually lead the nation in the fewest licensing requirements the study missed some but we clearly have far fewer statewide license requirements than most other states. As I said previously, this is something we can be very proud of.
Back in the 1990s, I owned a legal support company and we did a lot of process service and some investigation for attorneys. So I joined the statewide investigators association, a voluntary group, and I recall how badly many of them wanted to be licensed statewide by the government. There were different reasons for this, but I vividly remember some people arguing that their profession could never be a truly respected occupation until it was licensed, as if some governmental entity regulating you makes you legitimate. I think a great deal of people share that sentiment, and it is one I cannot fathom. Many people in professions like being licensed, because not only does it help to eliminate competition, but for some strange reason it makes them feel more proud of their own occupation.
From the Nicklaus article:
Missouri’s interior designers, who sought and won state licensing in 1998, and sports agents, who have been licensed since 2004, also show up as unregulated on the Reason Foundation’s list.
Why the hell should interior decorators be licensed by the state? What is god’s name could possibly be the safety rational for protecting someone from having the interior coloring and furniture of their house poorly designed? Please don’t read this as a rip on interior designers we had one come to our house last year, and she was terrific. I assume she was licensed, as I just read a few minutes ago that they have to be, but I honestly could not care less whether or not she had a license. Rugged Individualism is in deep trouble in our society if people continue to think that what they choose to do for a living is not truly valued or impressive until they get a government license to do it. To use one of the best clichés we have: All work is honorable government license or not.