Free Market

Business Licensure: A Protectionist’s Dream

Should businesses be required to obtain a permission slip from the government before offering their goods and services to other consenting adults? Should a hair braider, for example, be required to attend a cosmetology school for 2,000 hours (at her own expense) in order to legally braid the hair of people who want her to? This and hundreds of other related examples are currently the law in Utah.

Occupational licensing is economic protectionism—the act of inhibiting competition by increasing the barrier to entry, thus allowing the existing people in that industry to keep their prices high and not be incentivized to improve quality and efficiency. Individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise each demand that consenting adults be able to freely engage in commerce with whom they wish, without needing the government’s permission to do so.