What if we didn’t need the government’s permission to work?

The case for certification instead of licensure

What if the government had told Henry Ford or Bill Gates they were prohibited from manufacturing or selling their products because cars and operating systems do not “serve a useful present or future purpose”, or are “inconsistent with the public convenience and necessity”?

In Missouri until 2012, that’s exactly what the state highways and transportation department told many applicants who wanted to start a moving business. No, their applications were not turned down because they represented a possible risk to life, limb, or furniture, or they might damage public highways. Applicants were denied the right to offer household moving services because a state agency fatuously found that their service did not serve a useful present or future purpose, or was inconsistent with the public convenience and necessity.

Most citizens of Missouri would be appalled to learn that a state agency had the legal authority, not to speak of the wisdom, to determine which household moving businesses were useful or necessary and which were not. Thankfully, the law regulating who may and who may not offer moving services was repealed on August 28, 2012 by amending legislation. Now a household mover must only be “fit, willing & able” to qualify for a certificate to move household goods.

Household movers now have a freer choice of occupations. But there are still thousands of Missourians, who are fit, willing, and able to pursue their occupations and want to risk their time and capital to pursue their dreams, but still must obtain state permission to work. Is there a way we could make it possible for these citizens to find productive work? I think so. Amend the law to allow occupational certification instead of occupational licensing. University of Minnesota Professor Morris Kleiner says that merely changing from occupational licensing to occupational certification would increase the number of jobs in Minnesota by 15,000. Continue reading

Economic Freedom and Regulation

Here is a little score card that reveals the condition of the regulatory structures for the U.S., Greece, and Spain in relation to the 141 countries measured in the 2011 Economic Freedom of the World Report, produced by the Fraser Institute:

Country Overall Economic Freedom ranking Regulation Credit Market Regulation Labor Market Regulation Business Regulation
United States 10 27 116 5 27
Greece 81 129 132 128 87
Spain 54 101 70 118 81

The US has fallen from an overall ranking of 2nd place just a few years ago, helped in part by the ranking of 116th worst in the area of Credit Market Regulations.

The North American report puts Missouri in the middle of the pack: 28th of 60 (U.S. states and Canadian provinces). That is roughly the 47th percentile. The 47th percentile on the World report would make us competitive with Namibia or just one point better than Haiti. Missouri political football fans should congregate under the Capitol dome and demonstrate their disgust in unison by shouting: “We are number 28 – we are number 28”.

Note 1: The report measures a total of five areas: 1) Size of government, 2) Legal system & property rights, 3) Sound Money, 4) Freedom to trade internationally & 5) Regulation