That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
My radical proposal is therefore for the federal government to pre-empt as much occupational licensing as is possible. That’s right, these functions would be taken away from the state and local governments.
Unfortunately, I don’t expect the federal bureaucracy to usher in the reign of Milton Friedman’s Chicago School economics. But the federal regulatory process would likely pay less heed to local special interests, and it would produce a more homogenized and less idiosyncratic body of regulatory law more geared toward the most important cases, such as medicine and child care. The federal government is less likely than many state and local governments to obsess over licensing rules for fortune tellers, florists and athletic trainers.
A federal approach to these regulations would also bring standardization and uniformity across state lines, making it easier to move from one part of the country to another, and helping restore the great American tradition of mobility. As it stands now, imagine yours is a military family and you are transferred every few years or so, and your spouse works in a profession that would require relicensing. What justification could there be for such a hardship and inconvenience?
I consider how legally difficult this would be, and toward the end I argue:
If my idea sounds too ambitious, a smaller first step against anti-competitive licensing would have state governments pre-empt requirements at the city level, as Tennessee did last year. That doesn’t raise major constitutional issues, and at least it limits the possibility that American cities become a crazy patchwork of mobility-limiting interventions.
Keep in mind that the alternative to my suggestion is not the status quo but rather a regime where occupational licensing becomes progressively worse at multiple levels of government.
Do read the whole thing.