Arkansas Occupational Licensing
Be careful next time walking into a barbershop or salon; one might run into dangerous employees who are out to cause harm to heads across the state of Arkansas. How is this known? Because some have a license provided by the state that says they’re an official barber and others do not. Although that’s pretty tongue in cheek (goodness knows we don’t want some untrained person with scissors or a razor going after us), licensing by the state effectively interferes in the free market – taking away one’s freedom to work as they choose.
Last Tuesday in Kentucky, columnist John Rosemond filed a federal lawsuit against the state for censoring his column on parenting advice. The state is censoring Rosemond’s advice because he does not hold a Kentucky license in psychology. Although Rosemond does hold a psychological license from North Carolina, in Kentucky, it’s not good enough for their standards. In an interview, Rosemond said “This is not about me; this is about the right of an American citizen to seek advice concerning issues or problems of living from whomever they choose.” Even if one doesn’t agree with his advice, that doesn’t negate his First Amendment right to say what he wants in the column. According to his attorney Paul Sherman from the Institute of Justice, “Occupational licensing boards are the new censors.” And these boards are growing everywhere.
In Arkansas, there are 75 different licensing boards for 89 different occupations. While having certain qualifications to do a job is absolutely a good thing, requiring people to wade through an abundant amount of red tape actually hurts entrepreneurs. The state does not have the right to force people to pay for “permission” to start their own business or, in Rosemond’s case, their own advice column. Moreover, the state does not have the right to prevent anyone from speaking their mind, even if they don’t agree with the content.
Yet we see this everywhere. For example, in order to receive a barber’s license one must “file with the Executive Secretary of the State Board of Barber Examiners a written application, under oath, together with two (2) identical two inch by three inch (2×3) signed photographs and satisfactory proof the applicant is of good moral conduct.” It remains a mystery as to why the state must know what a person looks like and what specifically constitutes “satisfactory proof of good moral conduct” to determine how well they can cut hair.
But this is just one example; most of these license programs defy common sense and hurt those who want to speak and work freely. Simply put, the overbearing bureaucracy of licensing restricts individuals’ freedom of choice; people ought to choose for themselves by whom they’d like their hair cut or from whom they seek advice on raising their own children – not the state.
To see a full list of the how gigantic Arkansas’ bureaucracy (including licensing boards) is, CLICK HERE for a video. It’s an oldie by social media standards (created way back in 2011), but is sill relevant today. You’d think the list would be brief, but then you’d be wrong.