For John, BLUF: Some licensing, but not so much as to stifle free enterprise. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, writing in USA Today, gives us "White House leans right on licensing". The sub-headline is "Recent report on occupational licensing costs echoes libertarians."
Last week, I wrote in these pages about how politicians use regulation and licensing to protect their supporters from competition at the expense of the public welfare."Reducing social mobility". Now there is a bad thing. We should all be fighting this kind of thing, but especially Republicans. Maybe a first step would be to read The Other Path, by Dr Hernado de Soto.
A few days later, the White House essentially endorsed this point with a new report on how occupational licensing hurts the economy, and in particular the working poor. This isn’t a new point, of course. Libertarians (like me) have been making it for decades, and the Institute For Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm, has been suing on behalf of licensing’s victims for many years. But it’s one thing for libertarian economists and lawyers to argue for a position, and it’s another for it to be endorsed by a Democratic White House.
The White House report, entitled Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers, raises some important points. First, “more than one-quarter of U.S. workers now require a license to do their jobs, with most of these workers licensed by the states. The share of workers licensed at the state level has risen fivefold since the 1950s.” Where a license used to be required only for unusual jobs, now licensing requirements take up a major part of the employment sphere — and not just for physicians, but also for florists or funeral attendants.
Many of the jobs subject to licensing are the sort of entry-level or near-entry level jobs traditionally occupied by poor people trying to better themselves. Forcing them to undergo testing, apprenticeships, etc., in order to occupy these jobs makes bettering themselves much harder, reducing social mobility.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff