Letter: Occupational licensing hurts the poor big time

Sunday, June 10, 2018

About 30 percent of Americans need government permission to do their jobs. Occupational licenses require fees and long periods of training that low-income people can’t afford.

People already in a business induce government to keep others out. The shortage of workers brings higher prices. The poor get hit twice: They’re excluded from the jobs, and they pay higher prices for their purchases.

Every state licenses hair stylists, requiring an average of 372 days training. A woman wants to make a living braiding hair? Fine, but she has to fork over for a year of unnecessary training. You want to shine shoes on the streets of Washington, D.C.? That’ll be $1,500 in fees.

Mayor Bloomberg banned salty or fatty food donations to the New York City homeless. Going hungry beats consuming salt and fat, right?

Many states impose onerous requirements on child day care centers. Mothers who can’t pay the high costs can’t accept jobs outside the home.

Requirements that mandate college degrees exclude many minorities.

Louisiana licenses florists. It’s so important for government to protect citizens from unattractive flower arrangements.

The top priorities of licensing boards: protecting the turf of those already in the business and raising money for the state. Ex-cons don’t have the money for training and fees. Well, they can always return to crime.

Consumers, not government boards, should choose those who serve them by buying from some and not from others. Free markets help everyone except bureaucrats. Freedom from government interference helps the poor most.