Monday, January 21, 2013

Billie Holiday on the evils of Occupational Licensing

If you've read Les Miserables (or seen the recent film of the musical) you know that Jean ValJean had a heck of a time getting a job.  Something to do with having the word "Convict" stamped on his papers. 

On a related note, here's Billie Holiday, courtesy of Bryan Kaplan, talking about the evils of Occupational Licensing.  This is from her autobiography: 
Before you can work in a joint where liquor is sold you have to have a permit from the police department and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. This is a life-and-death matter. According to the law, which must be a hangover from the days of prohibition, nobody who has a police record can hold a liquor license...

When I got out of jail they threw the book at me. My application for a cabaret card was turned down flat. Without a card no one would hire me, and there was no place I could work in New York - not if they sold juice there.

I could play in theaters and sing to an audience of kids in their teens who couldn't get in any bar. I could appear on radio or TV... But if I opened my mouth in the crummiest bar in town, I was violating the law...

That's how screwy the setup is. The right to work everybody screams about doesn't mean a damn. If I had been a booster or a petty thief I'd have the parole board helping me to get a job so I could go straight and keep straight. But as a singer, the parole board couldn't do a thing for me. It was out of their hands.
Sometime in the next few weeks, I have to attend a Drug'n'Alcohol Awareness Seminar for work.  The cheapest one is $100.00 and the more expensive ones are $200.00.  This is so I can tell if a truck driver is drunk or stoned.  The instructor will have little or no idea what he's talking about.  But someone, somewhere, convinced a congressman once started an Awareness School and convinced a bureaucrat to make his school a requirement for Freight Brokers and Dispatchers.  (I promise you, the Congressman responsible didn't have the idea himself.) 

The same thing happens with interior designers, hairdressers, food-handlers, and coffin-makers. 
Here's a handy chart, broken down by state, of the funnier ones. :

Occupation State(s)
Athletic Trainer Most
Auctioneer Several
Barber, Cosmetologist All
Beekeeper Maine
Casket Seller Several
Chimney Sweep Vermont
Dietician Most
Elevator Operator Massachusetts
Florist Louisiana
Fortune Teller Maryland
Hairbraider Several
Hearing Aid Dispenser/Fitter All
Interior Designer Several
Interpreter for the Deaf Illinois, Texas
Jai Alai Athlete, Umpire, Vendor, Ball Maker, Ticket Seller Rhode Island
Junkyard Dealer Ohio
Lightning Rod Installer Vermont
Lobster Seller Rhode Island
Manure Applicator Iowa
Maple Dealer Vermont
Motion Picture Projectionist Massachusetts
Mussel Dealer Illinois
Photographer (Itinerant) Vermont
Prospector Maine
Quilted Clothing Manufacturer Utah
Rainmaker Arizona

If I'm going to hire an Arizona Rainmaker, I want to have the confidence that John McCain has approved his license.  Sheesh....

When time permits, hit the 2nd link in the Bryan Kaplan piece.  It's an outstanding PDF about what all this licensing does to the economy, and how it harms entrepreneurs.  Even Interior Designers and Lightning Rod Installers....

Here's some Billie Holiday. 


Tim said...

I even oppose licenses for doctors.

What makes someone think that a politician, or other government employee, knows what it takes to be a doctor more so than the hospitals who hire them?

CenTexTim said...

On the other hand, maybe we should have occupational licensing for elected officials and appointees.

Test topics could include basic math skills to calculate when entitlement programs will run out of (our) money, macroeconomics to ensure they understand that printing more money cheapens everything else, English comprehension to determine if they can understand the Constitution, etc.

JT said...

I recently completed the DOT required D&A training. Two hours of ass numbing information that my 5-year old could comprehend. Luckily, I did it online and could multi-task (and it only cost my boss $40)

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I've also been through the Food Handler's Permit program. 4-5 hours of a German woman speaking English to 20 Mexicans and me.

Anonymous said...

Note that your table includes the title of Manure Applicator for the state of Iowa. This is a Department of Natural Resources requirement.

I recently talked to a farmer who had gone through the annual training for the certification.

He had listened to a several hour presentation on liquid swine manure. He raises cattle that produce solid manure.