Article from Reason by Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

You might think that requiring people to pay elite gatekeepers for the right to accept money for their services would be anathema to self-styled supporters of workers’ rights. Yet for many progressives, the desire to see people in meaningful, well-paying jobs is tempered by total panic over the idea that any aspect of life go unregulated. For them, the idea of anyone performing a profession without a government permission slip (a.k.a. a license) has spawned paranoia about the alleged dangers this poses to consumers.

Now the folks at ThinkProgress have found another asinine reason to oppose occupational licensing reform: because those libertarian boogeymen, the Koch brothers, are pushing it via a new Americans for Prosperity initiative. (Disclosure: Charles and David Koch have also given money to the nonprofit that publishes Reason.) Over the weekend, ThinkProgress sent out multiple pearl-clutching tweets about “unlicensed, untrained cosmetologists” running amok:

As some pointed out, “unlicensed” is far from synonymous with “untrained.” Most states do not have reciprocal licensing recognition, which means many trained workers are out of a license if they move states. Immigrants to the U.S. may be trained and certified in their home countries but unable to do the same here thanks to language barriers, undocumented status, or other factors unrelated to skill. And in some professions, people will often train informally under family or community members instead of in state-certified programs.

Other critics pointed out that fighting against government-mandated occupational licensing for a particular profession (and aggressive enforcement of it) does not necessarily mean eschewing certification altogether. Voluntary programs could still signal the worker’s skill level.

Read the entire article at Reason.

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