In Washington, D.C., shoe-shiners have to wade through four layers of bureaucracy and pay at least $337 in fees to get city permission to clean shoes for money.
In Florida, it takes about six years and $400 to become a licensed interior decorator.
In Alabama, you’ll need more than four months of training and $135 to be allowed to give a manicure.
And in Idaho, it is harder to become a licensed barber than a bounty hunter. Seriously. The State of Idaho has more stringent requirements for people who cut hair than for people who catch dangerous fugitives, as Nick Sibilla explains at Forbes:
Pursuing fugitives who skipped bail, bounty hunters can carry weaponry, make arrests and even enter homes without a warrant. In Idaho, “any person of suitable age and discretion” can hunt for bounties, as long as they’re a resident—no license required. But cut hair with a pair of scissors? That takes 900 hours of training. …
Likewise, while bail recovery agents needs zero days of experience, manicurists, massage therapists and athletic trainers must complete 93 days, 117 days and 1,460 days of training respectively.
This bizarro world is occupational licensing at its most typical: irrational, onerous, and a real impediment for entrepreneurship and economic growth.
As Sibilla reports, “The Heritage Foundation estimates that licensing raises the cost for the average household in Idaho by more than $800 a year,” which is enough to cover a month of average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Boise.
That’s a lot of money, enough to literally get a family evicted.
Unfortunately, Idaho is hardly the only state with bad occupational licensing laws. Roughly one in four jobs in America today are subject to occupational licensing, and those rules raise prices, vary widely from state to state (which makes relocation difficult), and tend to help well-connected, established companies while posing insurmountable hurdles for new businesses.
That’s not just bizarre; it’s oppressive and unfair. Take a look at this video from the Institute for Justice explaining why we shouldn’t need to ask the government’s permission to earn an honest living: