Matt Yglesias shouts it from the rooftops on occupational licensing:
Licensing requirements…are by far the best statistical predictor of business-friendliness, for those subjected to them. And unlike taxes or environmental rules, these have spread like kudzu, with little scrutiny and often scant policy rationale.
A recent comprehensive survey of state licensing practices by the Institute for Justice reveals little consistency or coherent purpose behind most licensing. Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, and the District of Columbia, for example, all require aspiring interior designers to undergo 2,190 hours of training and apprenticeship and pass an exam before practicing. In the other 47 states, meanwhile, there’s no legal training requirement. My friends and co-workers living in D.C.’s Virginia and Maryland suburbs appear to get on fine with unlicensed interior decorators, and all across America, amateurs have decorated their own homes without imperiling public safety.
Almost all states—though not Alabama or the anarchic United Kingdom—require barbers to be licensed, but the specific requirements seem to vary arbitrarily. New York barbers need 884 days of education and apprenticeship. Across the river in New Jersey, it’s 280. But getting one’s hair cut in New Jersey (to say nothing of England) is hardly a life-threatening gamble.
…a wide range of these rules could be done away with entirely at basically no risk. Regulation is needed when it would make sense for a firm to deliberately engage in malfeasance. Dumping harmful toxins into the air is highly profitable unless it’s prohibited. Financiers can draw huge bonuses by taking on too much risk, only to wreck the economy later. In other occupations, though, shoddy work brings its own punishments. An interior decorator who can’t get recommendations from satisfied customers probably won’t remain an interior decorator for long.
In these cases, licensing rules raise the prices the rest of us pay, make it difficult for successful entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, and are often a major barrier to employment for the most vulnerable populations.
We have covered these issues before on MR but sometimes you just have to KEEP SHOUTING.