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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
29 Oct 2014
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Cruel Laws

Comment

What does it take to be able to own and operate a taxi and earn $30,000, $40,000 or more a year? You need to purchase a used car and liability insurance. Compared with other businesses, the startup cost to become a taxi owner/operator is modest; that's until you have to come up with money for a license. In May 2010, the price of a license, called a medallion, to own one taxi in New York City sold for $603,000. As referenced in my recent book, "Race and Economics," New York City is not alone. In Chicago, a taxi license costs $56,000, Boston $285,000 and Philadelphia $75,000. It's not rocket science to understand the effect of laws that produce these prices: They discriminate against anyone getting into the taxi business who lacks tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars or bank credit to be able to get a loan.

Suppose you're a trucker with an interstate license to ship goods but you want to expand to shipping goods within your state. Is it fair for the government to permit your competition to show up at your hearing, with their attorneys, to protest that your services are not needed and therefore you are denied what's called a "certificate of necessity," which would allow you to ship goods within the state? Attorney Timothy Sandefur discusses this despicable process in his recent article "CON Job," published by the Cato Institute (summer 2011). "Certificate of necessity" monopolistic restrictions exist across the country, governing a variety of industries, from moving companies and taxicabs to hospitals and car lots. The intention and the effect of these laws is to protect incumbent practitioners from open market competition, enabling them to charge higher prices as a means to higher income.

Interior designing has almost no startup costs. Not so if you want to practice in Florida. State law mandates that anyone who wants to practice interior designing have six years of education and experience, including graduating from a state-approved interior design program and completing an apprenticeship under a state-licensed interior designer.

Then the applicant must pass a state-mandated licensing exam. The sole purpose of the law is to keep the outs out so the ins can charge monopoly prices.

If interior designing is not for you, how about being a tour guide in Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.? Neither city will permit you to be a tour guide without a government-issued license.

In Phoenix, you could earn a living doing something as simple as shaping eyebrows, a safe and common practice known as "eyebrow threading." To do so legally, the Phoenix government requires you to take hundreds of hours of irrelevant training and spend thousands of dollars on classes. None of those classes actually teaches you how to practice eyebrow threading.

One would think that civil rights organizations, leftists and progressives would be fighting the battle for people's rights to earn a living. The fact of business is that they are often on the other side, and it's the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice that has been waging war against entrenched incumbents who use government to protect them from competition. In fact, the Institute for Justice has current court battles against restrictions on tour guides, eyebrow threading and interior designing, as well as several more found at its website (http://ij.org/economicliberty). The Institute for Justice has had remarkable success in lawsuits, breaking many economic barriers, such as those against hair braiding in Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and California and taxi restrictions in Denver, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Arbitrary licensing and permitting laws foreclose many occupations that are ideally suited to people of modest means, particularly minorities. Here's my bet: Ask any liberal politician, from the president and the Congressional Black Caucus to civil rights organizations and black local politicians, whether he'd take up the fight to eliminate these barriers to upward mobility. You'll get answers, but they won't be a simple yes. The reason is the ins contribute to their political campaigns and the outs don't.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Perhaps civil rights organizations only battle for the rights of people that work for others and not for themselves. People who work for government or established concerns may be unaware of how the game is rigged against the small entrepreneur by government protected monopolies. Government is quite a hypocrite in posing as monopoly buster while protecting monopolies that a free economy would quite handily bust, such as those rent seekers on Wall Street that the government deemed to big to fail.
Then there is efficiently distributed electricity generation, forever waiting in the wings due to government treatment of electricity as a natural monopoly rather than the government monopoly that it is, as well as the massive subsidies poured into inefficient central station generation utilizing fossil and nuclear fuels.
Ending on a personal note that seconds your reference to cruel laws is the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code that precluded someone like me in northern Wisconsin from building an alternative and inexpensive home while eschewing the benefit of subsidized mortgages that played such a role in bringing down the economy. The American dream of homeownership became for me nothing but a nightmare.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ernest Martinson
Tue Aug 2, 2011 4:27 PM
Perhaps civil rights organizations only battle for the rights of people that work for others and not work for themselves. People who work for government or established concerns may be unaware of how the game is rigged against the small entrepreneur by government protected monopolies. Government is quite a hypocrite in posing as monopoly buster while protecting monopolies that a free economy would quite handily bust, such as those rent seekers on Wall Street that the government deemed too big to fail.
Then there is efficiently distributed electricity generation forever waiting in the wings due to government treatment of electricity as a natural monopoly rather than the government monopoly that it is and also to massive subsidies poured into inefficient central station generation utilizing fossil and nuclear fuels.
Ending on a personal note that reverberates with your title of cruel laws is the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code that precluded someone like me in northern Wisconsin from building an alternative and inexpensive home while eschewing the benefit of subsidized mortgages that played such a role in bringing down the economy. The American dream of home ownership turned into a nightmare for me.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Ernest Martinson
Tue Aug 2, 2011 4:42 PM
This very thing is happening to trucker owner-operators. The gov is forcing them out of business and subsidizing large companies like Swift by requiring a S22,000 particle inhibitor in CA this year. Due to the economy, fuel prices, insurance, and a mountain of regulations (all costing money somewhere down the road), many truckers have been put out of business. Now what is amazing, Mexican trucks do not have to follow the same safety requirements, can operate under a phony CDL and insurance and are never cited by the DOT. The Dot officers say it is" because the Mexicans never pay the fines anyway and just get another phony set of papers tomorrow", but the truth is that they have been instructed to leave them alone. Hence, that is why they will not close the borders. Big business controls Obama (and Bush as well) and wants all owner operators off the road. (Alot of American trucks are stolen, taken to Mexico and re-licensed. Don't you ever wonder how a wet-back was able to buy a$250,000 truck? It is just plain nuts.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Charlie
Tue Aug 2, 2011 4:46 PM
They more I read about our governmental systems, the more I become aware of how entwined the corruption is and it seems impossible to unravel it. I just fear we are on a downward spiral that can't or won't be stopped no matter how many Tea Party people try. The "ins" have the power and they aren't giving it up. I fear it will only end when our country topples like those of the Middle East or Europe and then the corrupt leaders will be there to pick apart the tattered pieces. I truly feel for the next generations. They have no idea what is in stored for them and it doesn't appear to be a pleasant life. I believe the states of the United States will secede when they are asked to bail out states like California. Perhaps we will be better off as separated states for awhile and hopefully, inflation will not be so high that we can't afford to eat much less drive a car. A sad future awaits us all. Just sign me doom and gloom today.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Mandy
Wed Aug 3, 2011 8:13 AM
Like to see workcomp overseen by a federal agency.receently treated. Harshly by the state comp office. And state osha for reporting employer for violating the law. No medical care for my injuries. And comp claim not settled. State osha was no help with discrimination claim.African Americans are treated harshly for report Ingram these matters.MAJORITY WHITE EMPLOYEES WORK FIR STATE AND UNFAIR TO MINORITIES.WW
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jacqueline
Wed Aug 3, 2011 2:43 PM
Doom and Gloom, I hear you. It always seems to be some special interst group. As in, I have heard,(havn't checked it out, though.), from a friend who did, that it is $1,200 to APPLY for a Kennel license in the state of WA. Non-refundable. Many laws are being passed by Animal rights activists nationaly and in individual states for philisophical reasons including but not limited to vegitarianism. How can you come against them when they make it a holy war and say 'God told me to do this. (I have read that Hitler was a vegitarian.)...And how many people do you know of who have gotten sick from eating at a church potluck, but you can't sell any food items made in a 'home' kitchen. It has to be 'specially approved' and 'separate' from your home kitchen!
Comment: #6
Posted by: joy
Thu Aug 4, 2011 3:26 PM
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