by Justin Gardner, Activist Post:
Government licensing as an extortion racket and depressor of prosperity
Government has, for thousands of years, refined its methods of extracting wealth from people, perhaps with no greater efficiency than in 20th century America. The Federal Reserve, corporatism, and consumerism proved a winning combination for achieving what is known as The Great Fleecing.
While this brought about the largest transfer of wealth in history from the middle class to the 1 percent, through taxes it has also fueled the growth of an incomprehensible leviathan. The Pentagon alone “spends” (actually borrows from the Fed) $600 billion a year using our tax dollars to perpetuate endless war, and it’s never been audited.
The federal tax code is a nightmare for most ordinary people, but this complexity is for the benefit of government’s corporate partners in extortion. The feds are always fiddling with taxes for the supposed benefit of American citizens—such as “housing stimulus packages” which ultimately benefited the bankers.
The feds and the states join forces to tax every facet of life, for individuals and again for businesses. Sales taxes continually creep up, and new niches in taxation are always explored. When a small, aspiring business wants to hire someone, a double burden is created. Reports must be filed continuously for multiple government agencies, and profit that could stimulate the economy is diverted into feeding the State.
Licensing as Extortion
A favorite of state and local governments is the practice of requiring everyone who wants to provide certain products or services to be “licensed.” These licenses involve paying government to take some sort of test and/or provide documentation of state-approved training, and then paying government every year—at steadily increasing rates—until you quit, retire or die.
The notion of being licensed may sound nice to people looking for a service, and the basic idea of demonstrating knowledge about a trade is good. But mandatory government licensing can be described simply as extortion rackets with no real purpose in making things safer or better.
Take landscaping, for instance. In most places, when someone wants to install ornamental plantings at a person’s private home, he or she must be “licensed” by government. Being licensed is not really a way to demonstrate knowledge of how to successfully landscape a home. It is a test and a lifetime of government fees.
One of the most absurd examples of government licensing is African hairbraiding. In 17 states, people who offer this traditional practice must have a cosmetology license or another special license. The cosmetology license takes thousands of hours of classroom training and costs $5,000-15,000, and is usually unrelated to African hairbraiding.
The Institute for Justice (IJ), along with several activists, has managed to dissolve these ridiculous barriers to prosperity in some places. Eleven states now exempt braiders from the cosmetology licensing requirement.
Others have fought the system and won. Sheila Champion, owner of The Good Earth Burial Ground, wanted to provide inexpensive, environmentally friendly burials with biodegradable caskets. The Alabama Board of Funeral Service would have effectively ended Sheila’s entrepreneurial effort by making her become a licensed funeral director.
However, Sheila championed the idea of freedom by suing the Board for her constitutional right. It soon became clear to authorities that the law was bad, and “the governor signed a bill removing sales of funeral supplies and merchandise from the definition of ‘funeral directing.’”
To put licensing in perspective:
Twenty-nine percent of all American workers must secure a government-issued licensed before they can practice their trade. Unfortunately for would-be entrepreneurs who seek to create jobs for themselves and others, government-imposed licensing has grown significantly. In the 1950s less than five percent of workers were licensed. But the explosion of licensing laws and the shift to a service economy has caused tremendous growth in licensing… Approximately 50 occupations are licensed in all states and about 800 occupations are licensed in at least one state.
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