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Study Reveals U.S. Consumers and Economy Lose Billions to Occupational Licensing (forbes.com)
116 points by CryptoPunk 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments



For anyone that wants to read the study.

(https://ij.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Licensure_Report_W...)

I glanced through it and was not impressed.Why would they not show me what are the pros and cons of licensing besides just the cost. Would you not want someone to be able to verify that they have the skills to do what they say they offer. ( I understand that depending on the occupation this may be up for debate, due to verification issues and people gaming the tests, but I bet it becomes paramount where the occupation is related a matter of life or death like a doctor/surgeon.

I am sure there are things where getting a license is ridiculous, but for other areas where it is absolutely necessary.

What I found interesting is that, those with licenses make more money?

It seems if I wanted to lobby an organization to suppress wages, it be at a place such as the " Institute for Justice."


> Why would they not show me what are the pros and cons of licensing besides just the cost.

Calculating only the cost is useful information. If you have something that produces a $5B benefit at a $4.5B cost, the proponents will tout a $500M gain without considering whether there is any alternative that can produce the same benefit at a much lower cost.

It points out that there is a very large cost which is an opportunity for optimization.

For example, if hairdressers are licensed due to questions of sanitation, perhaps the same benefit -- or more benefit -- could be achieved through periodic health inspections rather then licensing individual hairdressers.

Perhaps having licenses for electricians is net positive, but the existing licensing system is wasteful or corrupt and makes it artificially more difficult to obtain a license than is optimal.

Perhaps it is useful to license doctors and lawyers, but much of the work the law currently requires them to do is less sensitive and could reasonably be allowed to be done by nurses and paralegals instead.

> What I found interesting is that, those with licenses make more money?

This is the same kind of issue. If you make an extra $5000 but have to spend $5500 in time/money related to keeping your license, you're not making $5000 more, you're losing $500. But your customers are paying $5000 more. And someone who was qualified but couldn't navigate the Kafakaesque licensing system had to take a lower paying job doing something else.


> Calculating only the cost is useful information.

I mean, kind of, but it's not remotely the only relevant piece of information. I could make you a car for $2,000. Would you want to drive it at highway speeds in it? What do you think your chances of survival would be in an accident?

The article makes a point to call out the music therapy case to conjure the specter of seemingly unnecessary regulation leading to regulatory capture, but the vast majority of licensed occupations are licensed because bad shit happened when they weren't. Doctors were quacks. Bridges fell down. Buildings caught fire. Planes fell from the sky. Millions of dollars in damages and countless lives were lost over and over because some greedy sumbitch decided to cut corners or defraud his customers or just didn't think about the consequences of his design or service decisions. These regulations exist because people ruined it.

And I mean, is music therapy dangerous if it's misused? I don't know. I don't even know what music therapy is used to treat! What harm can unethical application music therapy cause? Physiotherapy can easily be unethical. So can psychotherapy and counseling. Why is music therapy harmless, especially if it's been shown to have measurable heath effects? And how can I tell the difference between an actual music therapist whose treatment is based on established practices, and some guy with a blindfold, some headphones, a nice couch, and an mp3 player? Rely on my for-profit insurance company to do that for me, when they have a conflict of interest as well?

Yes, it's difficult to gauge the effectiveness of regulation, especially because you can't tell if what you got for $5,000 in regulation might have been just as effective as if it had cost $500. But arguing that the choice of whether or not to regulate comes down entirely to cost is kind of absurd.


> But arguing that the choice of whether or not to regulate comes down entirely to cost is kind of absurd.

But this isn't what was argued. From the post you replied to

> For example, if hairdressers are licensed due to questions of sanitation, perhaps the same benefit -- or more benefit -- could be achieved through periodic health inspections rather then licensing individual hairdressers.

Regulation has many forms. Licensing is only one of them.


Most hairdressers are independent subcontractors. The license is the only handle the regulatory system has on them short of criminal proceedings.


Perhaps the 1400 hour instruction requirement could be cut down to 20 hours, and the licensing could remain to give health inspectors a registry of who to inspect?

Something like that would be the approach if the goal were to use regulations to maintain good hygiene without imposing undue costs on young people hoping to get into the industry. If the intention of the license is to keep others out of the field of work though, 1400 hours of instruction would be the approach taken.


> What harm can unethical application music therapy cause?

For that matter, what about retail clerks? They could defraud their customers or steal from their employers. We could license them too. Farmers workers could contaminate food. So could restaurant workers. Janitors who fail to clean properly could allow disease to spread. Groundskeepers operate dangerous equipment. News reporters could misreport the news. Priests could give bad advice -- or worse. To say nothing of legislators.

Just about anyone could screw up their job with severe consequences. So why do we license the people who cut your hair but not the people who make your food? It makes no sense. And before you conclude that the answer should be that we license people who make food, consider the consequences for people who would no longer be able to afford food. (Or a medical care, or legal services, or to have a working toilet.)

The more important something is, the more important it is that we don't price people out of being able to afford it.


>>but the vast majority of licensed occupations are licensed because bad shit happened when they weren't. Doctors were quacks. Bridges fell down. Buildings caught fire. Planes fell from the sky.

You repeat this as an article of faith. Do you have any evidence that licensing increased safety?

If yes, do you have any evidence that the increase in friction for those wanting to enter a field of work incurred less social costs than the risks alleviated from the occupational licensing?

If you're going to massively intervene to restrict economic interactions between consenting adults, at the very least you need a comprehensive, well-sourced argument for the net utility of such restrictions. I've personally never seen such a case made for the centralization approach.

It's all just repeating a narrative as if it's self-evident it's true, which is not giving things as complex and impactful as economics and the laws that govern us the respect they deserve.


> Calculating only the cost is useful information.

> It points out that there is a very large cost which is an opportunity for optimization.

Two things, one: why does everything need to be perfectly optimized? And two: You're assuming that intangible benefits aren't useful. Is money all that matters?

> Andrew Wimer works to make the case for economic liberty, free speech, private property rights and school choice in the court of public opinion.

This is also a politically charged study and this guy has an axe to grind. Sure, tear down everything that protects people from quacks and charlatans - that's the American Dream, after all.

> If you make an extra $5000 but have to spend $5500 in time/money related to keeping your license, you're not making $5000 more, you're losing $500.

I don't see why there's this concern about $500 of inefficiency, this isn't an optimization problem. The benefits to licensing are intangible.


>>Two things, one: why does everything need to be perfectly optimized?

Any sub-optimization is wages, quality-of-life, scientific funding, etc that is being foregone.

>>Sure, tear down everything that protects people from quacks and charlatans - that's the American Dream, after all.

Reputation markets are extremely effective at protecting people from quacks. In any case, to some extent, people have to take responsibility for their own consumer choices. They shouldn't have market choices taken away from them for their own good, by a paternalistic government/voting-base. That's not how a healthy/free society is governed.

The reason why paternalistic centralization isn't functional is that those very same quacks can exploit the public through licensing. They can make false appeals to safety and claims of benefits to argue for highly restrictive licensing rules that cost society far more than they provide in the way of safety, just so that they can enjoy wages inflated from suppressing competition.

Then fighting quacks becomes a political process requiring an election win, and that is all-or-nothing (either you get the quack's representative voted out, or you don't), and doesn't allow the incremental, parallel improvement possible through a decentralized market consisting of millions of consumers making independent consumer choices not subordinate to a single regulatory agency wielding monopoly power.


"Reputation markets are extremely effective at protecting people from quacks."

You mean like vote totals on Reddit, or StackOverflow points?


I believe, based on the contexts I've seen the term used in, that a reputation market just means the competition created between market providers to gain a better reputation than each other, due to the competitive advantage that having a superior reputation provides. There doesn't have to be explicit quantification of reputation, like Reddit/StackOverFlow points, to qualify as a reputation market.

Reputation obviously has a huge impact on market success, and this effect leads to high quality providers dominating the market overtime.

Probably the best example of this dynamic is eBay. The vast majority of trades are not fraudulent, because consumers rely on the seller ratings as indicators of reliability. Most top sellers have something like 99% positive ratings. The market is pretty much totally unregulated, yet very reliable.


That works for ebay because it is very simple to determine if you got the result you wanted.

Case A: You get the correct product, it is working. Case B: Didn't get product, doesn't work, etc...

A gets +1, B gets -1. Simple to judge for 99% of people.

More complex things, like medicine or law or even wiring electrics in a house, the consumer is completely incapable of determining if the service they got is good, because they don't understand it well enough to judge.

This is why reputation systems won't work for anything more complex than ebay. Studies already show doctors get judged mostly by how nice they are. Sure, a reputation system might help you find the nicest doctor, but that isn't whats important right?


This is a common argument for having government take over, but it's unsubstantiated in my opinion.

For example, an automobile is an extremely complex product where the outcome of a purchase takes years to materialize, and yet we have highly developed market-based mechanisms for ascertaining the quality of automobiles.

Bottom-up decentralized processes disseminate correct information very efficiently. Wikipedia would be a good example of that. Anyone can quickly find a reasonably good answer on almost any issue, of any level of complexity, using a Google search to return the top Wikipedia page on it.

>>Studies already show doctors get judged mostly by how nice they are.

That doesn't tell us much. The quality of doctors may already be assured by the overly stringent licensing process, and price is made a non-factor by insurance/government coverage, so consumers look for signs of empathy, as its the only other relevant variable and the only one that they control.

While there's no indication that reputation markets don't work, there's plenty of evidence that government take-over of industries turns out just as classical economic theory would predict: disastrously.

One major case is healthcare: in every developed country over the last 50 years, government regulation and control of healthcare has massively increased, and this as corresponded with substantial increases in healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

In the US for example, the number of hospital administrators increased 3,200% between 1975 and 2010, compared to a 150% increase in physicians, and this increasing inefficiency is due to an increasing number of regulations:

https://www.athenahealth.com/insight/expert-forum-rise-and-r...


> Two things, one: why does everything need to be perfectly optimized? And two: You're assuming that intangible benefits aren't useful. Is money all that matters?

Intangible benefits are difficult to quantify, but that's no excuse for assigning their value as infinity and assuming they justify any cost. Or for wasting resources unnecessarily.

You could try to estimate the intangible value in QALYs or some other made up thing, but it's usually best to just estimate it in monetary terms, because money is fungible and well-understood. If you lose $5000, that's $5000 you don't have to spend on fighting climate change or education or cancer research or whatever other productive use it could have been put towards if you hadn't wasted it.

And if you get $5000 in intangible value by spending $4500, you're still wasting $4000 if the same intangible value could have been produced by spending $500.


> perhaps the same benefit -- or more benefit -- could be achieved through periodic health inspections rather then licensing individual hairdressers

Inspections with out a license would be unenforceable. If they fail an inspection, you revoke their license, requiring them to shut down. If there is no license to revoke, there is nothing stopping them from continuing to operate.


I think the difference is between a license that requires you to drive down to the statehouse with $50 and a valid state ID vs. a license that requires you to pass the tests at the end of an 8 week course held once every other year that costs $40k.


Calculating the costs without analyzing all of the pros and cons means not actually calculating the costs. It is borderline dishonest.


If you wanted to do the study fairly, you'd make also some attempt to quantify the benefits from fewer accidents, lower insurance premiums, lower remediation costs and faster work etc associated with licensed professionals carrying it out. In a number of fields, you might well get an indication that there's a net financial benefit to doing so (even before you start trying to quantify intangible stuff like peace of mind). If you wanted to represent the scope of the study honestly, you wouldn't claim the gross difference in earnings between licensed and unlicensed professionals as the "cost"

You'd probably want something more granular than SOC code and age to identify the difference between the premium licensed professionals earn for having their document and the premium they earn for also being on average more experienced and capable professionals performing more specialised and difficult work than unlicensed ones in their field.

But then the study is far more about headlines than anything else. Disappointed they weren't bold enough to note that the coefficient on "married" was similar in size to the coefficient on "licensed" and use the same dataset to argue that "U.S. Consumers and the Economy Loses Billions to Professionals Being Married"!


> If you wanted to do the study fairly, you'd make also some attempt to quantify the benefits from fewer accidents, lower insurance premiums, lower remediation costs and faster work etc associated with licensed professionals carrying it out.

I disagree. The report is eplicitly about the costs of licensing. It's not trying to be an all encompassing and comprehensive study of all possible pros and cons. Let those benefits be the focus of another study.

"Hey $accountant, I need you to write up a report of all business expenditures."

"Sorry boss, that wouldn't be fair. All I'll tell you is that we made a net profit of X million. I don't want to tell only one side of the story"


Except that the report claims to be a "conservative" estimate of "deadweight loss", implying no possible benefit to the licensing whatsoever.

So actually much closer to using the compensation figures from your accountant to argue "this is how much our business is losing from having a sales team"


"Deadweight loss" is a term in economics that refers specifically to loss of producer and consumer surplus due to distortions in the prices or quantities that are supplied or demanded. This is different from the colloquial definition of "dead weight" - the latter would imply that licensing produces no benefit, while the former does not.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadweight_loss


If the licensing actually provides benefit to the consumer, the loss in consumer surplus is smaller than that calculated by simply counting the wage differential as the study authors have done. Deadweight loss in economics implies an efficiency loss (hence why Pigouvian taxes, for example, are not considered to produce a deadweight loss even though they actually do reduce producer and consumer surpluses) and thus very much does imply no benefit to licensing when estimated in the manner the study authors have done. The whole field of welfare economics is based around the assumption that a distortion to the price and quantity supplied on an unregulated market might lead to a welfare gain, and thus does not necessarily result in deadweight loss.


You're understanding of dead weight loss is not how economists use the term. Dead weight loss is simply when a market is not at equilibrium and there is some allocative inefficiency. There is absolutely no moral or subjective judgement there: it is literally just a description of a feature of a supply and demand graph. Dead weight loss is often presented negatively, because we don't want inneficiency, but it's not defined by some moral badness.

Your example about sin taxes is wrong. The whole point of a sin tax is to shift the supply curve to the left and let the market come back to equilibrium so as to reduce equilibrium quantity. Sin taxes wouldn't work if they didn't move the market to an equilibrium.

You may think that, in this case, the cost of distortions in the market caused by licensing is morally good and a net positive for society. That is an entirely reasonable position to take. But you cant then pretend like those inneficiencies don't exist by playing word games.


I'm an economics major, fully familiar with the use of the term deadweight loss, and what you're arguing against is welfare economics 101. All forms of tax, subsidy and quota including licensing shift supply and/or demand curves to new equilibria which are different from the unregulated market equilibrium; the purpose of the Pigouvian tax example was that the unregulated market equilibrium is not necessarily the "correct" reference point for calculating deadweight loss in the presence of externalities and information asymmetries. Similarly, comparing wages between licensed and unlicensed professionals across different licensing regimes is useful as a method for estimating deadweight loss from the licensing regime only in the event that there is no benefit from the licensing (i.e. it assumes no externalities related to licensing exist and licensed and unlicensed professionals are undifferentiated in average quality and in an efficient market ought to earn the same amount)


It's not a terribly useful study to me as a result. Granted, the parent piece from a libertarian think tank, so this type of report - an advocacy document - is what to expect. That's fine. But you can also find advocacy from the other side, too... for instance, an advocacy piece concerning the costs (via shoddy work) of using unlicensed contractors for construction, courtesy of Angie's List. (https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-unlicensed-contracto...)

What we don't have is the proper detail to allow me to make up my mind which cases licensing makes sense, and in which cases licensing doesn't. Sure, licensing has costs. That doesn't tell me anything, because licensing may protect me from bad work quality, which also can cost money, or even possibly be a safety hazard (eg the shoddy electrician that didn't ground a light and nearly electrocuted another worker as a result in the Angie's List piece).

I am fine with the position that occupational licenses aren't necessary for careers where licensing doesn't add any value. But my hunch is that in many careers, licensing adds value overall. The posted piece did nothing to change my position on this.


I'm not sure I follow you. I think the situation you describe, where we have factual (but perhaps motivated) studies on both sides of the issue is exactly what we want. We have the costs and benefits laid out to us, and we can make up our own mind about whether it is 'worth it'. I don't think it is the job of a study like this to make that kind of subjective judgement.


> Would you not want someone to be able to verify that they have the skills to do what they say they offer.

The state of Georgia (and likely many others) requires chiropractors to have a license.

Please explain how the State is uniquely qualified to determine the competence of a practitioner of junk science?


Please explain how snide, dismissive statements contribute to a healthy discussion? There are chiropractic techniques which I do not agree are junk science and produce good outcomes for patients. For example:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081245/


How does it compare against a placebo in a double blind trial? This is simply a single case report with no comparison.

Chiropractic remedies have a long history of being questionable.

Wikipedia provides many sources:

> Systematic reviews of this research have not found evidence that chiropractic manipulation is effective, with the possible exception of treatment for back pain.[4] A critical evaluation found that collectively, spinal manipulation was ineffective at treating any condition

> It is frequently associated with mild to moderate adverse effects, with serious or fatal complications in rare cases.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiropractic


I don’t think anyone thinks patients can’t have good outcomes after having chiropractic techniques applied - it’s more a question of causality. A single case where spinal manipulation was used to successfully treat tinnitus is probably not a good argument in that case.


A lot of people have the luxury of raging against licensing and regulation because they don't remember the world before these existed.

It's just assumed that most people are honest about their work and the who aren't will be swiftly punished. But in most cases, it's the opposite: the honest people get driven out because scammers can promise the world for a penny because they know they will never deliver.

People were fed up with being swindled left and right, so they decided to get the government to step in. Obviously, they've been highly successful because Libertarians can't even imagine the world as it was 100 years ago.


The world is also very different than it was 100 years ago. Today we can review a barbershop on Yelp and complain they aren't cleaning their tools. Today we can share digital medical records and delegate decisions to nurse practitioners while having the option to fall back to a doctor if necessary.

There may have been good reasons for certain licensing laws 100 years ago but that doesn't mean those reasons are still valid today.


I remember an unregulated internet. It was better.


The internet has literally never been unregulated.


I'd say it's fairly unregulated. Where else could the silk road, 4chan, or furnitureporn.com exist??


I can put a kilo of cocaine in my trunk and drive on the highway, that does't mean the roads are unregulated.


Very slowly through the postal system.


Didn't regulation create the Internet?

Although if your point is "some regulations are better than others" I definitely agree with you.


Software generally and the internet specifically are relative "wild wests" compared to most industries. Literally anyone can write software or create a website. You don't need any fancy degrees, you don't need a license/certification, and generally speaking you don't really need permission. There's very few things which are "difficult" to do, categories of content which will be difficult to get hosted.

This is slowly getting chipped away though. There's more and more national internet filters, even in relatively free places like UK. There's GDPR, DMCA, SESTA/FOSTA, etc.


Pics or it didn't happen.


> What I found interesting is that, those with licenses make more money?

Some (most? all?) US states require not only a degree but "ongoing education" every other year that can amount to a not insignificant chunk of wages. It's pretty awful from those I know in the field.


In the case of dietitians, ONLY a dietitian can be licensed in those states that require it, and only the dietetics board of all dietitians get to decide who can be license. In Florida there are 22 million people, but because of the license monopoly, only 4,000 dietitians.


There is a cottage industry around passing around the material for those courses.

My wife worked in the pharmacy field and had those requirements. The courses were mostly made by the drug companies and were thinly disguised marketing material.


Market forces working through reputation generally do take care of verification fairly well in many countries - even more so in this era of free access to information. I find it ironic that in "socialist" (India, China) countries, these things primarily seem to run via free market forces with little or no licensing restrictions of who can practice a trade while in "free market" countries, there's endless red tape of who is allowed to carry out what trade.

Ultimately these systems are not about quality, they're about restricting free market in the labor pool to keep prices in a trade high.



Product safety is certainly an area where strong regulation is valuable, however this article is focused on occupational licensing.


Occupational licensing has gone way too far, and is in-fact a regressive tax on the poor. Both on the part of the worker and the consumer.

In California you need a license to cut hair (Many European countries are actually more free in this aspect compared to the US). However, you are exempt if you only shampoo hair!

To get a license you need to enroll in a program that takes at least 9 months, and you need to complete 1,600 hours of training...

...to cut hair.


The worst part is, we then enforce these laws with SWAT raids.

"In August 2010, for example, a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area. More raids followed in September and October. The Orlando Sentinel reported that police held barbers and customers at gunpoint and put some in handcuffs, while they turned the shops inside out. The police raided a total of nine shops and arrested thirty-seven people. By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps. Shop owners told the Sentinel that police asked them where they were hiding illegal drugs and weapons. But in the end, thirty-four of the thirty-seven arrests were for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida. The most disturbing aspect of the Orlando raids was that police didn’t even attempt to obtain a legal search warrant. They didn’t need to, because they conducted the raids in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite the guns and handcuffs, under Florida law these were licensure inspections, not criminal searches, so no warrants were necessary."

(Radley Balko, "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces")


This is one of the most quintessentially American paragraphs I've read. Jesus.


That entire book is filled with stuff like this. I would highly recommend it to anybody interested in the subjects upon which it touches (war on drugs, civil asset forfeiture, police militarization in general).

Here's another interesting case that I found about from the book, but which was notable enough to even get its own Wikipedia article. You be the judge of how quintessentially American that is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwyn_Heights,_Maryland_mayor...

For me, the most scary part of it was the final words of the person responsible for it: "Quite frankly, we'd do it again. Tonight."

Another interesting thing was the long-term consequences. Because the target of the raid was a well-off, politically connected individual, they used their clout to mobilize support for a bill that required Maryland to produce an annual report on how its SWAT operates - where it is deployed, legal authority (arrest warrant, search warrant, exigent circumstances etc), what kind of crime, if any, it was targeting, and whether entry was forced or not. There's some eye-opening stuff there, like the fact that most SWAT deployments are serving search warrants for non-violent crimes, but they use forced entry more often than not:

http://goccp.maryland.gov/reports-publications/law-enforceme...

But even more interesting was the reaction of law enforcement agencies (and their unions) in the state to this bill - they were all adamantly opposed to it. It passed anyway, but only with a 5-year sunset clause as a concession; it was never renewed.


That is an eye-opening book.


Because improperly sanitizing barber tools can absolutely spread disease and you're waving sharp objects near somebodies face, including a child who may not sit still.


The question is not just whether licensing is necessary per se, but also whether those licensing requirements are reasonable, proportionate and effective.

Do you really need 1,600 hours of training to learn how to sanitise a pair of scissors? Does that training actually make people less likely to stab someone in the head? Are there alternative routes for hairdressers to demonstrate their competence?

To my mind, it seems far more reasonable for these issues to be addressed through routine inspections and the prompt investigation of complaints. Qualifications may provide supporting evidence for the competence of a practitioner, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient.


1,600 hours does seem excessive. That's basically a full year full time course with a summer break. There is a lot to learn beyond how to operate a pair of scissors (how not to chemically burn people when doing dye jobs for example), but it seems incredible that there is enough material to fill a full school year.

Maybe a big chunk of it is an apprenticeship? You learn the skills over a few weeks and then spend the rest of the year practicing before you're fully licensed?


"but it seems incredible that there is enough material to fill a full school year."

Ever try doing a professional hairstyle? It takes several hundred hours just to learn one. It takes several hours alone just to perform one, many times. I used to be a hair model. I had to sit in a chair in front of about 6,000 students at a casino while the designer explained his haircut to them. That was five hours alone, and my hair hadn't been touched. The next four hours were spent actually working on my hair.


It seems kind of crazy that you would have to go through a catalog and learn each individual style instead of learning a toolbag of techniques and piecing each do out of a combination of those techniques.


From what I have gathered, much of the reason behind the licensing process for barbers is for shaving, with a straight razor, which does have considerably greater risks of cuts and infection.

However, very few people go to a barber for a shave anymore. It used to be that most people would go to a barber for a shave, and shaving yourself was unusual. Since the advent of the safety razor, cartridge razor, and electric razor, it's the other way around, where it is unusual to go to a barber for a shave. But in many states, training on shaving is a large part of the training for barbers.

In fact, it also used to be the case that barbers were the surgeons as well, though I don't know how much of that time overlapped with the licensing era.

I don't know how much of the remaining licensing process for modern barbers has to do with actual safety concerns, or is just inherited from the times of barbers being surgeons or doing the majority of shaving with straight razors.


Restaurant employees, preparing or serving food, could spread disease or cause harm, but are not obligated to be licensed. Would you support requiring cooks, servers, wait staff, etc., to undergo licensing?


They most definitely are licensed at the state, county, and city level. They require food handlers permits, and possible other certifications depending on the specific activity.

That said, these licenses are typically about $10 and can be completed by online website in about an hour. I would expect something similar could work for hair cutting as well, but probably not for all the more exotic things like hair dying.


Former Chef here from the great state of NJ: I have never been licensed. I've worked for some of the better restaurants in the state (including NYT 4 star reviewed and James Beard nominated chefs). I've never known a licensed chef.

The restaurants require licensing out the ass, and I know there are ABC (alcohol handling) certifications required for servers, but cooks don't. At least one person (typically a manager) needs to be ServSafe certified, but that's not a requirement for every worker.

Meanwhile, a hairdresser must be licensed before they can step into a salon and do work. My sister and wife both worked in the industry, and I promise you they would both scoff at the idea of a 1 hour form/test for someone cutting hair. There's a ton of hygiene related things that they need to know to prevent disease transmission from cutting and handling hair daily.


Whether or not you need a food handler's card is likely state-specific.


Cooks and other individuals have to get their food handlers cards. The class is fairly simple - you show up for a few hours and then take a test - but they still have to have a valid food handlers card in order to be employed.


By that standard we should also require 1600 hours of training for driving a car.


Commercial Drivers Licenses are a requirement for anyone driving a vehicle over 26,000# or towing more than 10,000#.

You're plenty free to cut your own hair and that of your friends and family without a license. And you can drive your family around with minimal licensing. But there's a threshold you cross where licensing becomes mandatory.


Driving is not like cutting hair at home.

I can drive a car in public and kill other people, not only my own family. Considering how safe cars are today it's even more likely my family will be safe while I kill other people.


Driving a car requires licensing though. I needed to go through a driving class, 24h of driving with a certified instructor, and six months of supervised driving under provisional permit before being granted my driving license. That's pretty rigorous considering how easy driving is.

Granted, these requirements loosen after a person reaches a certain age. But they still need to demonstrate an ability to drive and knowledge of the rules of the road before being licensed.

A CDL takes a lot training to earn, and you have to demonstrate a clean driving record for the previous 10 years.


Safely driving is far harder than safely cutting hair and the consequences of failing at it are incomparably worse than the consequences of failing at safe hair cutting.

Driving is one of the most dangerous things that ordinary people engage in. You're hundreds of times more likely to kill someone driving than doing any other activity, by virtue of the relative deadliness of motor vehicle accidents, and how much driving the ordinary person does.

That you need 1,600 hours of instruction to cut hair in California, far in excess of what any jurisdiction requires to get a license to drive, is the most blatant demonstration of the injustice of occupational licensing.


Just make the barbers that are "certified by the state" on one side, and "the others" on the other side. Then people pay for their preferences.


Not wiping your ass properly and washing your hands can absolutely spread disease. I think we need a license for using public toilets.


Yeah, so you might manage to spread the flu through secondary contact and that wouldn't be great. It's not as bad as spreading lice, or several serious bacterial or fungal infections that can do a lot of damage.

We should also really encourage people to wash their hands because that's super important, especially in environments like hospitals and daycares.


We have restaurant food and safety inspections as the non-hyperbolic implementation of this as applied to preparers.


Fine, which is good, but none of those restaurant workers had to go through hundreds/thousands of hours of training to get licensed.


And literally no one who knows anything about the industry thinks that requires more than a few hours of classes.


It depends. I would argue for licensing in fields where improper training can affect lives, safety, and welfare, e.g. Doctors, Mechanics, Engineers, Pilots, etc. We need some kind of way to verify that an individual who proclaims to be a professional in potentially harmful fields has received proper training and can demonstrate that they can perform their work safely. I don't know enough about the intricacies of hairdressing, but I could definitely see the case be made for at least some kind of training, given that they regularly handle caustic chemicals (think relaxers), heating devices, and sharp objects (i.e. straight-razors). Maybe a certificate would suffice, but I don't know. On the other hand I would agree that requiring a florist to be licensed, as the article mentions, is probably going too far and most likely used to stifle competition.


I wonder if licensing really even is the right way to avoid harm even in industries like aviation and medicine. At least: licensing in its current form, which is pretty all encompassing.

If licensing were merely focused on knowing your own limitations, avoiding harm, and transparency rather than being all mixed up with general education and sometimes extremely overbroad vocational training that is only tenuously connection to the actual vocation... I'd be less skeptical.

Obviously simply dumping licensing and having a snake-oil free for all is probably not an improvement. But the choice shouldn't need to be "no regulation at all" and "status quo regulation".


So then any software engineer working at facebook and google needs to be licensed? As we have seen facebook and search results can easily affect lives.

Additionally, software engineers that work on self-driving cars, rockets, any healthcare systems, etc, etc, etc?


Do you inspect the license of the person who cuts your hair every time you get a haircut?

No, you don't.


How do you know what I do? Admittedly, it doesn't happen very often, but you can bet your butt I'll at least take a cursory glance at a barber's licence before I trust him/her with giving me a straight-razor shave.


I can print one off in 5 minutes.


would argue for licensing in fields where improper training can affect lives, safety, and welfare, e.g. Doctors, Mechanics, Engineers, Pilots, etc

And software developers working on anything that handles personal data.


That actually seems pretty reasonable to me. If cutting hair were easy then barbershops wouldn’t exist right? It’s a perfectly valid trade and I don’t see a problem with enforcing certification.


I was good friends with a stylist. She told me the training she received and it's pretty in depth. Cutting hair involves a lot more than operating sharp objects within an inch of another person's head.

Most of their income comes from dying, high-lights, etc, which involve applying harsh chemicals to another person's hair. They need to understand what can be mixed safely and how to identify issues. Plus there's the whole sanitation aspect.

Even the person who wipes your butt in a hospital has more training than a stylist.


So have a minimum required certification that covers just sanitation and safe use of chemicals. The market can sort out the rest (i.e. the skill of the stylist).


That's exactly what we have now. There is no certification for "good stylist," "excellent stylist," or "average stylist."


Right, but my point is that California basically requires a full year's worth of training (1600 hours) in order to be licensed, which seems to cost approx. $16k at some of the schools I just looked at. From looking at one random course book, that consists of:

- 10 hours of training on state law - 75 hours of training on infection control - 200 hours of training on chemical hair control - another 1,265 hours on other topics (shampooing, hair shaping, hair coloring, styling, business skills, etc.).

Perhaps those first three areas are important perquisites to being licensed, but the extra 1200 hours seem like something the market could sort out without being a prerequisite for receiving a license.


How does the difficulty of the trade imply the need for state enforced certification?

In my personal opinion, I'm happy to rely on the reputation of a branded salon/barber shop/individual stylist. I've had both good hair cuts and bad hair cuts from state certified barbers. As far as I can tell the state doesn't provide any value to me other than limiting my choices. To the extent we might be concerned about poor people cutting people's hair without the state's permission, and doing so with non-optimum sanitary practices... well... poor people are already doing this and it doesn't seem to be causing any real public health crisis. I say we give it a shot in some locales and see what happens.


I'll wager you also haven't had chemical burns to your scalp, either. Weirdly, there was just a thread on Berkson's paradox: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18667423


I feel like this is a bias first world people have. I grew up poor, got plenty of haircuts from "a lady in the neighborhood" and never got chemical burns on my scalp, never had lice, etc. Sure, anecdata, but travel to basically any third world country where regulation is either nonexistent or unenforceable. Countless people do this every year. These things just aren't a real problem. You can get a haircut, you can get street food, etc. Basically just eat where the locals are eating and be careful about water/drinks that haven't been boiled. In other words, drink hot tea instead of water, or bottled stuff.


The argument to rid licensing for music therapy or florists (as per article) seems stronger than for a hair salon. Do you know the difference between cutting straight, thin hair and thick, curly hair? What about kinky (usually African American) hair?

If you would like your market to be more than just those clients that request an Army buzz cut, you need to know those differences. My hair, for instance, looks terrible if given a straight chop with scissors. Because it's wavy and thick, it needs "thinning" all throughout its length to make it lie flat. Enforcing practicing on mannequins how to do just that without ruining someone's actual hair seems reasonable to me.


The purpose of licensing here isn't to ensure quality of work (how good or bad your haircut/highlights are). It's there to make sure disease isn't transmitted, and physical harm isn't inflicted.

The hours requirement could be scaled down, and the process more streamlined certainly, but the point of going to cosmetology school isn't really to learn how to style hair, although that happens, it's to pass state boards. Then you can assistant in a salon and learn how to do something economically useful.


Cutting hair in a way that doesn't trasmit is actually a quality of work.

So, licensing does ensures the minimum quality.


You're arguing for some kind of private quality assurance scheme or yelp reviews, not a mandatory government license.


JFC it's because hair stylists use chemicals that can be dangerous if used incorrectly!!!


While it exists, learn how to use occupational licensing to protect your interests.

The next time you need a contractor for work, ask for his license and a certificate of insurance. Using a search engine, confirm that the phone number on the COI corresponds to the insurance company. Once verified, call the insurance company and simply tell the agent who you are and that you're verifying the account.

On an estimate for thousands of dollars of roofing work, I caught a property manager colluding with a handyman acting as a roofer with the intent of defrauding a condominium association of thousands of dollars. The license # provided was years expired. Further, the insurance company had no record of the customer. It was a complete fraud.


This article is from a fantastic nonprofit public interest law firm that does GREAT work in this area: the Institute for Justice (https://ij.org/issues/economic-liberty/occupational-licensin...)

They've successfully gotten a number of these stupid licenses struck down. In terms of my perceived ROI for my donations, IJ is one of my favorite/most worthwhile organizations that I support. They're also in Charity Navigator's top 1% of nonprofits. I highly recommend donating! (https://ij.org/support/)


>They've successfully gotten a number of these stupid licenses struck down.

Can you share which ones?


Makeup licensing in NC: https://ij.org/case/north-carolina-makeup-schools/

Eyebrow threading in Louisiana: https://ij.org/case/louisiana-threading/

Casket sales in Alabama (after the attention on the case, the AL legislature changed the law): https://ij.org/case/alabama-caskets/

Hair braiding in Iowa (after attention on the case, the governor used line-item veto to remove the offending provisions in a bill): https://ij.org/press-release/victory-african-style-hair-brai...

Hair braiding in Arkansas (after attention on the case, legislators sponsored new legislation to change the treatment of hair braiding under the law): https://ij.org/case/arkansas-hair-braiding/

Hair braiding in Washington (the Department of Licensing changed its rules in response to being sued): https://ij.org/case/washington-african-hair-braiding/

Animal massage therapy in Arizona: https://ij.org/case/azmassage/

Hair braiding in Texas (struck down in Federal court and then fully deregulated by the legislature afterward): https://ij.org/case/txbraiding/

That's the last 5 years or so of won cases just on this issue. They also take on civil asset forfeiture and legislated monopolies (such as taxi companies that have been given an exclusive license to a city), among a few other issues.


That's an uncomfortable number of laws against African-style braiding.

Is licensure the new oppression meta?


It's mostly just overbreadth of hairdressing laws -- legislators (largely white males) don't think about putting in exceptions for certain types of what they consider hairdressing, so it ends up covering braiding. You then get an entrenched oligopoly of companies that have jumped through the hoops and provide the service and therefore don't want the competition from unlicensed people, so the law (even if it came into being through ignorance) gains supporters with a vested interest in keeping the status quo.


Planet Money had a good episode on this:

Why It's Illegal To Braid Hair Without A License

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/15/356428708/epis...


This primarily impacts the young and/or poor, who are losing their ability to enter the job market with these increased moats. As long as it continues to benefit incumbent wealth who has the power to market FUD to the consumer about "unlicensed" workers, this will remain.

Here's another article I recommend from The Atlantic last year which touches on this topic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/11/the-rig...


The problem isn't that the licensing exists, the problem is licensing, once implemented, is almost never critically reexamined and regularly gets pushed for more difficult requirements regardless of those requirement's efficacy or results. Why? Because harder to obtain licenses means anyone who already has a license has much less competition and thus easier and more profits.

Why does someone who never uses a straight razor ever in their hair stylist career need to learn all about straight razor shaving? Why does a barber that doesn't apply or even possess any hair dye agents need to learn about hair dyes? The license could easily be split into categories, split into multiple licenses or otherwise be examined, but instead it is all packed into one license that is much harder to get without having money pouring out of your ass already to pay for 'schooling'.

I have a beauty school in my town, it doesn't make better stylists, it just pumps them all out of their money and then throws them to the wind with their piece of paper. They just followed some directions on a piece of paper and didn't majorly fuck up, they don't actually have to understand what or why they do certain things and definitely don't need to be skilled. "directions: Shave some hair and clean the razor properly" "Oh wow I managed to do it a single time, now im qualified for it! (yea right) Now I just gotta do 1000 hours of unrelated highlights and buzz cuts, and regardless of quality or fuckups, I still get my license!" Yeah some people do study and become good stylists, the majority of them however are just passed through because they are paid to do so.


This is the crux of it - these licensing boards, inspectors, and licensed professionals have become their own little fiefdoms serving their own entrenched power rather than the public good.

When it comes down to it, the only thing licensure does is set a bar to keep out the extreme boneheads [0]. And that is necessary for sure - I've been around long enough to see how many indiligent jokers there are in the world. But I still philosophically believe everybody has an inherent right to do their own work.

I came across a court case a while ago - Meyer vs Nantucket - of a guy who was building his own house and did his own plumbing in Massachusetts [1]. The ensuing saga reads like scenes from the movie Brazil. He made it all the way to the state supreme court with photo documentation of how the plumbing met code, and how the Nantucket plumbing inspector was not following their own internal regulations. Meyer even found and hired a licensed plumber [2] as an independent inspector. and he found no defects. The court stayed logical through two rounds of appeals, and then suddenly nosedived into nonsense about local boards having ultimate authority of all interpretation, and kicked the case back down - seemingly having gotten the memo that if they were to do the right thing, the status quo would be disrupted. Then the town fiefdom forced him to pay a plumber to destroy the entirety of the work he did and have it redone - basically pure vindictive punishment for thinking he could rock the boat in the first place. This is the attitude that every bureaucratic institution develops after they are taken for granted.

The code bodies operate in the same rent-seeking manner. The National Electrical Code - law that we are all bound by - used to be up as a PDF on public.resource.org, until they were bullied through the legal system into taking it down. Now it is only available from magnet URLs. In a just world, it would be published prominently on states' own websites alongside the rest of the law.

[0] And just in case you don't know, work being done "to code" is a bare minimum. It implies little about the actual quality or longevity of said work.

[1] It's fine to do your own electrical, although many inspectors still become hostile. But plumbing is strictly verboten.

[2] Retired, from out of the area. Because any licensed plumber still earning their living would not want to get on the shit list.


>the problem is licensing, once implemented, is almost never critically reexamined and regularly gets pushed for more difficult requirements regardless of those requirement's efficacy or results.

There's also the "license fee" treadmill, where the state sees an easy way to get more money from a captive audience by raising fees. For example in California this year the license renewal fee for being a locksmith went from $45 to $500 every 3 years, and it's still just a paper card they mail you that certifies that you sent them a form and a fingerprint livescan once, usually many years ago.


That's from a front for the Koch brothers.[1]

I'm trying to find the source for the 20% or even 30% figure for jobs requiring licenses. The trail leads back to a book published by the Upjohn Institute. The New York Times cites that. That book makes the percentage claim. But when they list the occupations requiring licensing, their toplist is "Accountants, doctors, dentists, elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, lawyers, hairdressers and cosmetologists".[2] Those aren't 20% or 30% of the workforce.

The book is paywalled, but there is a free intro. Table 1.1 seems to be where the lobbyists and the press are getting their numbers. The source for that data is "The data for the 1980s are from Kleiner (1990) tabulations, and new estimates were developed for 2000." Kleiner is the author of the book. He's citing himself.

I wonder if he's including driving licenses. Looks like you have to pay to find out.

[1] https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Institute_for_Justice

[2] https://research.upjohn.org/up_press/18/


Why does it matter that an organization dedicated to political research and philosophy is funded by X, Y, and Z individuals of repute? That's the essence of ad hominem. I'm glad you take on the content of the study in your second point.

Imagine if liberal-leaning research papers shared on HN were immediately accosted with comments claiming the publication to be a "front" for George Soros. Not helpful.


I don't want to be all ad hominem or anything, but...

"Now, thanks to a new report from the Institute for Justice, University of Minnesota economics professor Dr. Morris Kleiner and economist Dr. Evgeny Vorotnikov, those costs have been quantified both nationally and in 36 separate states."

The Institute of Justice:

"Since 1991, IJ has come to the aid of individuals who want to do the simple things every American has the right to do—including own property, start and grow a business, speak freely about commerce or politics, and provide their children with a good education—but can’t because they find the government in their way.

"The Institute for Justice combines cutting-edge litigation, sophisticated media relations, strategic research, boots-on-the-ground advocacy and much more to fight on behalf of those individuals who are denied their constitutional rights."


I just had a discussion about this with my physical therapist yesterday. In Texas, only three types of people are allowed to touch patients for healing purposes: doctors, certified therapists, and priests.

In many cases, the certification process for therapy is such a time and money sink that people will become priests in small "religions" as a legal workaround to taking 1yr+ of archaic training.


The priests bit may not be the best example.


Obviously there are risks involved in occupations involving contact, as your allusion to priest sexual abuse scandals references, but people need human touch.

How much depression, suicide and drug-abuse is caused by the desire to tightly control commercial human contact and the resultant dead-weight loss of people not getting enough of it?

Unless there is a pressing public health threat from an activity (e.g. someone who doesn't know how to drive, operating a motor vehicle on public roads), society should think very long and hard before restricting people from engaging in that activity.

If there is going to be licensing, it should be limited to restricting how people can market their skills, where only those licensed can market themselves as licensed. This gives quality-conscious consumers an easy way to identify licensed practitioners, while giving those who value affordability over safety the option of unlicensed services.


I believe that licenses ensure that employers will struggle to commoditize and exploit their workers. Highly licensed professions manage to capture significant value in their industry value chains, the alternative is that shareholders and the providers of leverage (banks and shadow banks) get everything.


Check out this other IJ lawsuit about a Health Coach in Florida. This made it into the WSJ.

https://ij.org/case/florida-diet-coaching/

Why should anyone need a license to help people choose better foods to eat?


Licensing is one way to deal with the issue where the damage done by an inept practitioner is likely to exceed their abilities to pay[1]. Bad dieting advice can cause serious lifetime health issues. It seems possible (or even likely) to me that Florida's dietician licensing doesn't address this situation well, but there is nothing inherently nonsensical about licensing dieticians.

1: I'm not saying that licensing is the only way. If you want a list of a half-dozen others, consult your local libertarian.


Is there ever a case we’re lobbying is beneficial to the general public or does it only ever benefit the few?


More like they can't pay people less than subsistence wages in certain professions.


This is an op-ed from a libertarian think tank about a study they conducted themselves. Quite a bit of bias here. Sure, there exists a grey area with the music therapist anecdote they use, but personally, I'm quite fond of electricians, plumbers, etc being licensed.


This reminds me of a discussion I had with someone who self identified as a libertarian and was on the extreme side of anti-regulation. Their argument was that if regulations didn't exist then in those situations where they had an issue with a company or the government they would sue. Which, for me, raised the immediate question of "Who is going to do the suing?". The response, "A lawyer..." and a look that was supposed to inform me that I was being dense. Then after a few seconds it clicked and they started coming up with any number of criteria by which they'd use to determine who was a "qualified lawyer". All of which were based on their own experiences and knowledge. While obviously this is an anecdote, it was interesting to see how much all of us (even those in the opposition camp) take for granted with regards to the regulatory structures that exist. I can't help but think "CHESTERTON'S FENCE" anytime someone proposes a radical change such as that which is proposed by the extreme anti-regulatory side.


Self-representation would be the sensible answer here. Just because your friend didn't have a good answer doesn't mean there isn't one.


Feel free to represent yourself against a multi-hundred-million dollar (or larger) corporation and let me know how that goes.


All the people I know who went into music therapy needed a masters degree (on top of a background in music). Am I crazy for expecting a mental health profession to require some sort of education/licensure?


The last three or so times I saw this topic on HN it was a link to an article that cited a Koch funded think tank.

It seems to be a particular hobby horse of theirs.

Which is weird, why are a bunch of oil guys obsessed with hairdresser licensing?


Billionaires are human beings capable of donating to political causes out of idealism for the greater good, not necessarily only because they think it will increase their net worth by another few million dollars.

Sure, there exist conspiracy theories of mustache-twirling malevolent villains in the Kochs wanting the extra profits from deregulation or in Soros desiring to short the currency of a destabilized countries. But it is disingenuous to begin one's speculation and curiosity with the assumption that those theories of malevolence are true.


These billionaires do pollute a lot and have had run ins with the NEA which may suggest a certain dislike of government regulation.

But yes, perhaps I'm just spreading conspiracy theories and their obsession with hairdresser licenses has the purest of idealistic motives.


It's possible for people to have lasting ideals and biases that were shaped by their personal experiences in work and life, and their advocacy in old age does not necessarily indicate that they are still on the warpath to make their next buck or pollute even more.


Why does anyone support legal advocacy nonprofits? They believe in something (in this case, economic freedom).


Well, other than believing in something, the motive is usually money.


I think it's terribly worrisome that anybody is talking this article seriously.

To be upfront about my own assumptions: I totally believe that licensing in general is nonsense.

But that's not the point! Just because something agrees with our preconceived notions doesn't mean the evidence holds any water whatsoever.

And this piece has a few classic "terrible science reporting" features:

- It wildly overstates the scope of the original research, making it sound way more broadly applicable that it really is. The research doesn't actually appear to have a solid method for quantifying costs at all, and it doesn't appear to have a method for quantifying benefits either. Sounding like your using statistics https://ij.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Licensure_Report_W... doesn't make your data any more real-world impactful. The data does appear to reasonably quantify the amount of licensing, and there are some indications as to how much that affects labor costs. That's pretty much it. - It omits key facts that would lead readers to critically examine the evidence, such as the fact that it was funded (at least in part) by an advocacy group (John Templeton Foundation) dedicated to market freedom, and it was performed and published by a thinktank similarly dedicated towards deregulation (Institute for Justice). That doesn't automatically invalidate the research, but insofar as the researchers and publishers have considerable leeway in choosing methods, areas of study and what to publish, you should expect considerable bias - and the fact that their analysis supports their political stance certainly doesn't suggest otherwise. - It's published by and appears to target those who likely already hold similar beliefs; i.e.: this appears to be part of the trend to live in your own bubble. - I don't think they actually linked to the original research? I'm assuming it's https://ij.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Licensure_Report_W...?

If anything, the lack of convincing evidence despite all of that and despite my own assumptions leads me to question if this belief really is valid. But I'm still betting it is, and that this kind of thing is simply hard to measure with means like this.

TL;DR: unconvincing, but at least honest-looking research that tries to extrapolate some solid-looking questionnaire into something totally different, which was then regurgitated into trash journalism designed to deceive, not inform. I don't read a lot of Forbes, but clearly they're a publisher to be wary of.


Thank you.

This is a PERFECT example of one of the things I try to teach students about statistics and science communication.

The Forbes articles wildly WILDLY overstates the relatively modest conclusions of the paper. Academic papers take small, almost microscopic steps for a reason - each step in a chain of logic needs to be heavily and clearly supported by evidence.

Often they say things like X is correlated with Y and then someone else (intentionally for clicks or from a lack of understanding) implies causality and turns conditional observation into absolutist pronouncements.

Academic studies are almost always exercises in nuance...if a news article is not the same don't trust it.


We just defunded the College of Midwives in Ontario. $800,000 a year to support a professional organization of 900 people.

Somehow, the midwifery profession was able to exist for thousands of years before this professional organization existed. I am sure it will be fine without it. The administration, on the other hand....


I feel like this argument should be a class of fallacy. Lots of things have "existed" for a long time, but that doesn't mean previous iterations were effective. All it proves is that a problem has existed for a long time and people have been attempting to address it.

Historically, women frequently died from child birth. Modern medicine has made child birth significantly safer for both mother and child. These advancements need to be disseminated to individuals, and society has a need to determine whether or not a person knows the latest scientifically sound techniques.

Professional licensing fulfills this role.

Of course, it's more expensive to hire a person whose spent years training. But without some verification, there's going to be a race to the bottom as untrained individuals undercut the competition. And yes, it does act as a barrier to entry for people who could do a great job.

But, the risks of hiring an poorly trained midwife are much more serious than those of hiring an untrained software developer. Thus, society is okay with having unlicensed people writing software but isn't okay with unlicensed people treating them for injuries.


> I feel like this argument should be a class of fallacy. Lots of things have "existed" for a long time, but that doesn't mean previous iterations were effective.

This is pretty close to Survivorship Bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias). Outcomes of midwifery of yore is no different than present midwifery if you ignore the fatalities and only focus on successful deliveries.


It's similar to appeal to antiquity[1]. Easy enough to dismiss: humans have been eating beef for thousands of years so why do we need the USDA?

[1] https://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/appeals/appeal-t...


How is this relavent? This story is about licensed professions in the US


We have the same thing here...CNM...Certified Nurse Midwife




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