Stokes Massages the Post-Dispatch
The Show-Me Institute’s very own David Stokes was interviewed by David Nicklaus of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for an article discussing the topic of licensing in the state of Missouri. While Missouri has been ranked to have the least amount of licensing restrictions, Stokes was still able to show how regulation can affect the economy by focusing on the massage therapy industry, which is a licensed profession in Missouri but not in Kansas.
His latest case study compared the prices of the metropolitan Kansas City market on both sides of the state line, and compared Springfield to Wichita. Unsurprisingly, the data show that Missourians pay a higher cost for massage services, a situation likely caused by market regulation. Stokes is quoted in the article as saying:
“This is a system designed to limit competition for the people who have the current licenses,” Stokes asserts. “That’s the only reason. Everything else is a smoke screen.”
I agree with David Stokes 100 percent. It baffles me how people try to argue for occupational licensing by saying that it is a form of consumer protection. Although his study demonstrates some of the ancillary benefits that licensing can provide, such as reduced search costs when trying to find a competent practitioner, government officials aren’t in a position to determine whether those benefits are worth the higher market costs that reduced competition brings. Ultimately, the primary thing being protected is the income of a particular set of licensed professionals.
I could easily prolong this post, but interns at the Show-Me Institute don’t get that long of a break. So excuse me while I go to Kansas to get a massage — it’s been a loooong day!