Thursday, July 12, 2012

Call Out Licensing Requirements For What They Are

Here is a letter to the editor I sent to my local paper regarding an example of this lesson in political economy that affected me personally.  In this case, recent action was taken by the Spotsylvania County Health Inspector to put a stop to my local barbershop's practice of performing a relaxing head, neck, and upper back massage at the end of a haircut.

July 12, 2012

To the editor,

One of the best barbershops in the Fredericksburg area is the one located on Bragg Road, next to the Towne Centre.  For the low price of $13, one can get not only a very good haircut but also a relaxing neck-and-upper-back massage.  It really is one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had, which is why I am a long-time repeat customer.

So what is my point in sharing this?  A few days ago, I found out that the Spotsylvania Health Inspector has recently put a stop to the shop’s practice of providing the neck-and-upper-back massage.  Apparently, such a service requires a license or certification, which the barbershop did not have.

Why should any license or certification be required?  Some would say ‘safety.’  Ludicrous.  Nobody who gets a haircut there fears they will somehow be harmed (if they did, they would stop going).  Others would say ‘liability protection.’  Again, ridiculous.  That is why we have the rule of law.  The barbershop, given the option, would clearly choose to offer the service on the extremely off-chance that they might get sued one day for accidentally causing damage.

The fact of the matter is that this kind of licensing regulation is nothing more than government-enforced monopoly protection for politically connected cronies.  Such restrictions are typically lobbied for by the very beneficiaries of such regulations:  existing businesses.  Why?  To restrict entry of would-be competitors.  Similar regulations prevent many African-American women from being able to run braiding businesses (without a cosmetology license) or even a monastery in Louisiana from selling caskets to raise money.  The same goes for this barbershop, where they were simply making the haircut experience more enjoyable and relaxing to customers willing to pay for it.  Over-reaching regulation has now robbed Fredericksburg residents of this luxury.  This decision should be over-turned.

Very respectfully,
Ben Bursae
Fredericksburg, VA

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