Can I Open a Day Care Center in a Tattoo Parlor?
The Post-Dispatch has had some fine articles recently about occupations involving state licensing. Both articles apply statewide, not just in St. Louis. Yesterday, there was a story about the growth in tattoo parlors around St. Louis and the entire state, and today there is a story on the Nixon administration’s plan to increase regulations on child care centers in Missouri. (Latter link via Combest.)
I basically don’t support licensing of either type of establishment. I’ll accept tattoo parlor licensing if the requirements are more focused on health issues, as they are for restaurants, and less on training requirements and education, as they are for accountants. From what I read of Missouri’s tattoo regulations, they appear to lean in the right direction. There are some educational or apprenticeship requirements, but the 300 hours required are far less than those required for many other occupations (1,500 for a cosmetologist), so that won’t increase costs by substantially limiting the number of people who can become tattoo artists.
Indeed, the article details the significant growth in tattoo parlors in Missouri during the past five years, from 217 shops to 325, in response to the surge in popularity of tattoos — which I personally cannot comprehend, but that is way beside the point. So, obviously, existing licensing requirements are not strict enough to harm the industry’s primary economic incentives.
The silliest part of laws regarding tattoo parlors are the distinctions between tattooing, piercing, and branding — as if the state has any need to distinguish between those things. Most of all, though, getting a tattoo is an entirely voluntary and unnecessary act, so I see no reason for the state to get involved in it at all. People should be responsible for their own choices and decisions.
My opinions on child care licensing are more controversial, so at least I can say I have two young kids and I obviously understand the importance of child safety. However, these proposed regulations would only apply to certain day care centers — they would not apply to church day cares, or in-home day cares serving fewer than a certain number of children.
The increased regulations would increase costs for the newly regulated establishments, as everyone admits. Those increased costs, most obviously in the form of higher staffing requirements, would in turn cause some people to choose less-expensive, unregulated options. So, even if you believe that increased licensing would increase child safety — a belief that is unproven (and I am open to being proven wrong here) — the changes would have the unintended consequence of driving some marginal number of people toward other alternatives. So, regulate them, too, you say? Sure, what the hell, let’s just regulate everyone for everything. My wife should have to get a license just to be a mom! (There are probably some people who think the government should license the right to have kids.)
For a refreshing antidote to the regulation and licensing mania in America, check out this post from the Freakonomics blog. For more information on this subject, please check out the substantial amount of work we have done regarding this issue here at the Show-Me Institute.