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Same Ol’ Story: Blocking Opportunity, Freedom, Prosperity


I know. Sometimes we sound like a broken record. ANOTHER blog about licensing? Long-term care administration licensing? Seriously? Does this theme not get old?


Well, yeah, it’s old. We wish we could stop writing about what may very well be the stupidest, most onerous, and most disgusting type of regulation on the books. Frankly, until something is done about it, we don’t believe we have a choice. And more should be getting done. This is not a partisan issue, after all. The Obama administration put out a white paper on the over-abundance of licensing in the United States and its deleterious effects.


Nevertheless, Oklahoma has a do-nothing Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission headed by Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn who clearly couldn’t care less. They rarely meet and almost never recommend that the legislature repeal a license.


Nonetheless, NOTHING is more fundamental to freedom than the ownership of oneself. Therefore, the most basic freedom we have is the right to sell our time – our skills and God-given talents – as we see fit. This ability is a pre-requisite, indeed what it truly means, to have freedom of opportunity – the opportunity to develop talent, to grow income, to obtain property, and to attain prosperity.


Licensing takes this fundamental freedom away. Licensing artificially constructs obstacles to selling skills and talents. Licensing denies opportunity. Licensing denies the ability for many to earn more income and gain greater prosperity for themselves, their families, and their communities. Licensing requires individuals to get permission from government to work in a chosen area, usually with that permission begged from a board with every interest in keeping people from joining their occupation.


Some might say, “Hey, wait a minute, when I got my license, all kinds of opportunity opened up for me!”


Yeah, and the same licensees, no doubt, resent the suggestion that their license be rendered worthless by having the law repealed, especially after the work and money they had to put in to get licensed. But if all that work and effort is rendered worthless by the mere repeal of the law, what does that say about the worth of the education, training, and other hoops required to get a license?


That work and money getting a license is partly the point. Most who have licenses will admit that much of what was required to obtain the license (not the skills, but the license itself) added nothing in value either to the licensee or to future customers. Licensing exams often bear little resemblance or applicability to the real world. Many of the courses required have nothing to do with actual practice.


Why does an electrologist (hair remover) need a 4-year college degree in science (Oklahoma being the only state with that requirement)? Most states don’t even license perfusionists but we do, and we require them to have a college degree! Why? Why do we license athletic trainers when California doesn’t? Why do we make it prohibitively expensive for out-of-state funeral directors and embalmers to move to Oklahoma? Last I checked, the skills needed don’t vary by geography.


Licensing is a mechanism for some who have been fortunate to climb the ladder of opportunity to pull it up behind them. Plumbers and barbers in Britain aren’t licensed. Nor are most lawyers. Meanwhile, we license massage therapists on the pretext that it’s a blow to human trafficking, no doubt a pretext promoted by massage therapists.


So, why are we licensing long-term care facilities administrators? Well, it’s not to make sure the best, most experienced managers in the state get into managing nursing homes. Nope, it’s just to block people from jobs currently occupied by people who’ve leapt the tall and expensive hurdle of getting a college degree in – oh, we don’t care – literally, anything.


Byron Schlomach is 1889 Institute Director; bschlomach@1889institute.org

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.

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