Joe The Unlicensed Plumber
In discussing the news that “Joe the Plumber” is not, in fact, a licensed plumber, Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious:
Which to me once again raises the issue of whether or not it really serves the public interest to have so many occupational licensing rules. Like most people, if I needed to hire a plumber, I’d probably look for a recommendation. I don’t have any real confidence that these licensing schemes are tracking quality in any meaningful way, just preventing a certain number of people from earning a living and raising the general cost of plumbing services for everyone else.
He’ll get no arguments from me. I can think of very few professions that should be subject to licensure, and even those professions I only support some variant of a licensing scheme simply because the damages risked from fraud are much more substantial than can really be remedied by a court (e.g. If someone claims to be a stylist but gives you a lousy haircut, there’s not much harm. If someone claims to be a doctor and ends up killing you because he doesn’t actually know anything about medicine, there’s a lot.) Plumbers, interior designers, and hair stylists simply don’t fall into that category.