Liberty and License

Let’s celebrate a small victory for economic freedom, which, as the great Milton Friedman was wont to point out, is essential to political freedom. It is now legal in Arizona to get paid to give a horse a massage without having, first, acquired a license to practice veterinary medicine.

Last spring, The Weekly Stand­ard reported on efforts, both legislative and litigious, to cut back the kudzu-growth of occupational licensing in the Grand Canyon State (see “Licensing Arizona” by Eric Felten, April 18, 2016). For all its wild west heritage and one-time Goldwater conservatism, Arizona long ago fell into the habit of requiring ridiculous (and often expensive) state-sanctioned licenses to work, barriers used by various trades to keep out the competition. Gov. Doug Ducey, working with free-market-oriented state legislators, pushed for a law removing a handful of these barriers. They failed to remove license requirements for landscape architects, but had better luck freeing the economic prospects of citrus-packers, driving-school instructors, and yoga teachers.

Occupational licenses afflict states across the country, blunting the employment prospects of people who would like to work. There are at least a thousand occupations that one or another state regulates. And as equine masseuse Celeste Kelly found out the hard way, her occupation is one. The Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board sent her cease-and-desist letters demanding that she go to veterinary medical school and obtain a license as an animal doctor or be fined $1,000 for every horse she massaged.

Lawyers for the Institute for Justice have been litigating Kelly’s case since 2014 and now have finally won a consent judgment. The veterinary board agreed to stop enforcing the state’s ridiculous rules against animal massage “practitioners.”

Now if somebody can just do something about the licenses Louisiana requires of retail florists.

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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