Laws and regulations that limit entry into or continued exercise of a particular occupation

Occupational licensing, also called occupational licensure, is a form of government regulation requiring a license to pursue a particular profession or vocation for compensation. Professions that can have a large negative effect on individuals, like physicians and lawyers, require occupational licenses in most developed countries, but many jurisdictions also require licenses for professions without that possibility, like plumbers, taxi drivers and electricians. Licensing creates a regulatory barrier to entry into licensed occupations, and this results in higher income for those with licenses and usually higher costs for consumers.


An Independent Judiciary: Edward Coke, by Jim Powell, The Triumph of Liberty, 4 Jul 2000
Lengthy biographical essay
"In Bonham's Case, Coke ruled that the common law stood above Parliament. Here Dr. Thomas Bonham was imprisoned for practicing medicine without a certificate from the Royal College of Physicians. Coke ruled: 'when an Act of Parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant, or impossible to be performed, the common law will control it and adjudge such Act to be void.' This was his most controversial decision."
Crony-in-Chief: Donald Trump epitomizes Ayn Rand's "Aristocracy of Pull", by Steve Simpson, 2 Feb 2017
Examines the issues of "cronyism" or "pull-peddling", suggesting --as Ayn Rand did-- that the solution is "to limit government strictly to protecting rights and nothing more"
"These terms obscure the fact that what people are competing for when they engage in cronyism is the 'privilege' of legally using force .. to prevent them from contracting or associating with others. ... When individuals in a given profession lobby for occupational licensing laws, they are asking government to grant a select group of people a kind of monopoly status that prevents others who don't meet their standards from competing with them — that is, from contracting with willing customers to do business."
Gertrude B. Kelly: A Forgotten Feminist, by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman, Oct 1998
Lengthy profile of Dr. Gertrude B. Kelly (1862–1934), Irish immigrant, individualist feminist and contributor to the Liberty periodical
"'... Woe to the nation that would strive to increase knowledge or happiness at the expense of justice. It will end by not having morality, or happiness, or knowledge.' Using similar logic, Kelly opposed any government attempt to license physicians or regulate medicine because government could not guarantee the safety or quality of medical care. It could only create a quasi-union of medical elites and block progress."
Health Care, by Michael F. Cannon, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Discusses various aspects of healthcare from a libertarian perspective: control of contagious diseases, self-directed treatment, occupational licensing, sale of human organs, health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid
"Licensing laws restrict entry into the medical professions, dictate what tasks each profession may perform, and deny patients the right to be treated by the practitioner of their choice. ... Proponents of licensing argue that it enhances the quality of care, but libertarians point to the fact that low-quality care is widespread despite licensing, that licensing does not improve overall quality because it reduces access to care for the poor, and that the chief proponents of licensing are incumbent practitioners who profit by restricting entry."
Related Topics: Health, Health Care
How to Help Fast-Food Workers, by Sheldon Richman, 1 Aug 2013
Discusses the strikes by fast food workers demanding doubling of the minimum wage, the economic realities behind wages and alternatives that would truly help
"Occupational licensing restricts entry into many kinds of work by raising the cost of going into business. Zoning restrictions prevent people from using their homes for commercial purposes. Restrictions on street vendors and cabbies quash small-scale entrepreneurship. Intellectual-property law inhibits or harasses those whose products might be construed as violating patents or copyrights. ... All this and more shrink the options of those with limited skills and meager resources, forcing them to vie with one another for the remaining, perhaps less-desirable jobs with reduced bargaining power."
Related Topics: Minimum Wage Laws, Wages
Let's Make 2014 the Year of Freedom for Low-Wage Workers, by Sheldon Richman, 2 Jan 2014
Examines various hindrances to economic independence, in particular occupational licensing, but also zoning, intellectual property and taxes
"Licensing is one way that freedom is limited on behalf of special interests. The licensing regime is overseen by the current practitioners, giving them the power to limit the number of their competitors. This is a double whammy. It locks people out of occupations, and it raises prices to consumers. We're told that licensing exists to protect consumers from shoddy work, but licensing does not protect consumers."
Socialized Medicine in a Wealthy Country, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 2 Dec 2006
Discusses the view of socialised medicine held by left-socialists, examining the problems that existed in Soviet-controlled countries as well as current U.S. problems, and urges for a "complete separation of health and state"
"In medical economics, however, we are supposed to believe that physicians are a class set apart like ordained priests with special powers. You are either ordained to practice medicine or you are not. The limits on the numbers – which are built into the cartel of medical schools as well as the licensure system – are nothing but a mercantilist effort to increase prices and incomes. Of course every profession has its licensure system, but the medical one has been uniquely successful in making the barriers to practice incredibly high."
Spooner, Lysander (1808-1881), by Randy Barnett, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
"At the time, the rules governing Massachusetts courts required a student to study in a lawyer's office before admission to the bar. College graduates were required to study for 3 years, whereas nongraduates were required to do so for 5 years. Spooner's first act as a lawyer was to challenge what he thought was a rule that discriminated against the poor. ... In 1835, Spooner published a petition ... He argued that 'no one has yet ever dared advocate, in direct terms, so monstrous a principle as that the rich ought to be protected by law from the competition of the poor.' In 1836, the legislature abolished the restriction."
Test your freedom IQ, The Orange County Register, 18 Jun 2006
20 multiple-choice questions covering the role of government, free enterprise, taxes, property rights, free speech, religion, civil liberties, transportation, war and foreign policy, the Nanny State, gun ownership, education and immigration
"You discover the handyman who has been doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, including some construction projects, does not have a state contractor's license. Do you: ... Rejoice that someone is finding a way around the state's occupational licensing laws, which function mainly to reduce competition and raise prices for consumers while offering little if any real protection for consumers?"
The Fight for Free Speech in the Courts, by Trevor Burrus, Aaron Ross Powell, Paul Sherman, Free Thoughts, 18 Mar 2016
Burrus and Powell discuss with Paul Sherman, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, about freedom of speech issues, particularly political speech, and occupational licensing
"So if you want to go to Chicago or San Francisco, you can go on a tour in those cities and that tour guide is totally unregulated. He never had to pass a government-issued test and yet the tourism industry in those cities doesn't seem to be suffering as a result. ... We have done occupational speech cases that involve real estate listing services where people want to put up for-sale-by-owner websites and the government says, 'Well, if you want to do that, you have to be a licensed real estate broker,' even though basically all you're doing is putting up an online classified ad."
The Many Monopolies, by Charles W. Johnson, 24 Aug 2011
Describes four ways in which markets are distorted by government interventions, explains Tucker's "Four Monopolies", examines five present-day monopolies and discusses Tucker's libertarian views
"Established businesses stifle competition from below by lobbying for regulatory red tape, extortionist fees, and complex licensing for everything from taxi-driving to hairdressing. Industry standards, which would otherwise be set by social convention and market experimentation, are removed from competition and determined by political pull. High compliance costs insulate incumbents who can afford them from competitors who cannot, shutting the poor out of entrepreneurial opportunities and independent livelihoods."
The Snare of Government Subsidies, by Gary North, Mises Daily, 31 Aug 2006
Explains how government starts by granting a benefit to some group (purportedly for the public interest), someone takes advantage of the system, the group is asked to police itself, cheating grows, a crisis is perceived, leading to increased interventions
"From the era preceding World War I, when the Rockefeller Foundation promoted the government-licensing system that restricted entry into the profession by controlling medical education, the march into the trap of tax-funded medicine began. ... licensing, which is a grant of monopoly rents to those inside the protected profession. The profession elects representatives who sit on government boards, or who actually make up the whole board."
We Shouldn't Have to Ask the State's Permission to Work, by Robert Fellner, 13 Mar 2017
Discusses occupational licensing laws, focusing on the onerous requirements imposed by the state of Nevada
"Decades of empirical research has found that the 'degree of political influence' is 'one of the most important factors in determining whether States regulate an occupation,' according to the authors of the White House report [Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers, July 2015]. In other words, excessive licensing laws are often advanced by industry insiders — who directly profit from the ability to legally exclude potential competitors. This is cronyism at its worst."
Related Topics: Institute for Justice, Nevada

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Occupational licensing" as of 19 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.