NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Curious why Uber has exploded in Manhattan? Why Chicago hasn’t yet caught up with the food truck craze and florists seem just a little more expensive in New Orleans? The reason is the spread of business licenses. Properly used, professional registration lets the government keep tabs on professions that could harm consumers. Restaurants have their kitchens inspected, and doctors must pass board certification, because, in those industries, shoddy work could kill somebody.
While protecting the public from danger or fraud is one thing, however, simply making sure that everyone is doing a good job is another. Many business licenses today have less to do with protecting consumers than with fencing out competition. The more expensive it is to enter a business, the fewer people will try to do so. Unfortunately, the trend is growing.“About one in three people now need the government’s permission to work,” according to Matt Miller, managing attorney for the Texas office of the Institute for Justice. “It’s often things that people have been doing for a long time and are perfectly safe, but then a group of [businesses] will go to the legislature and seek the legitimacy and the protection that comes from having the government regulate.”
This isn’t about whose job is better or whose is worse. It’s about when government agencies should demand time, effort and cash before they’ll let someone work. Want some examples? Here are 12 of the most absurd or overbearing licenses standing between you and your next job.