by Simon Black, Sovereign Man:
Long ago in the Land of the Free, if you wanted to start a saloon, you rented a space and started serving booze.
You didn’t have to go through years of petitioning a bunch of bureaucrats for permits and licenses.
If you weren’t qualified or good enough at your job, your reputation would suffer and you’d go out of business.
This is the way it used to be for just about every industry and profession.
It wasn’t until 1889 that the US Supreme Court ruled in Dent v. West Virginia that states had the right to impose “reasonable” certifications or licenses for various professions.
At first, most states only licensed physicians, dentists, and lawyers.
In fact, by 1920, only about 30 occupations in the US required any sort of licensing.
By the 1950s, about 5% of US workers required a license to perform his/her job.
Today that number has risen to 30%, and climbing.
Some of our modern examples are completely insane.
According to the Brookings Institute, the state of Nevada requires 733 days of training and a $1,500 fee for a license… just to become a tour guide.
Over in Michigan, it takes 1,460 days of education to become an athletic trainer.
45 other states have license or certification requirements for athletic trainers. All fifty states have licenses for barbers and cosmetologists.
36 states require licenses for make-up artists. 34 states license milk samplers. And a mere 33 states license auctioneers.
These license requirements continue to grow, along with the overall level of rules and regulations in the Land of the Free.
Just this morning the US government published an extra 227 pages of rules, regulations, and proposals.
This happens every single business day in America.
Last week the government published over 2,000 pages of new rules, many of which border on absurdity.
To give you an idea, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service proposed a rule about minimum and maximum diameters of potatoes that are sold in the State of Colorado.
Yes I’m serious.
This is the sort of madness that government bureaucrats churn out on a daily basis: more rules, more licenses.
Needless to say, the more of these rules they create, the more difficult it becomes for people and businesses to produce.
So it wasn’t exactly a big surprise when the US Labor Department released statistics a few days ago showing that, for the third straight quarter in a row, productivity in the Land of the Free declined.
In other words, US workers are producing less than they did before.
We haven’t seen this trend since 1979. And it’s the exact opposite of what’s supposed to happen.
As workers get more experienced and technologically advanced, productivity should grow.
But it’s not. US production is buried under countless pages of regulations and licensing requirements. And the trend has been negative for quite some time.
From 2000 through 2007, US productivity was about 2.6%.
Between 2007 and 2015, it shrank by half to about 1.3%, barely keeping up with population growth.
Now productivity is actually shrinking. America is going backward.
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