The following is an excerpt from the updated edition of Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism. How to Enrich the Poor, Protect the Environment, Deter Crime & Defuse Terrorism by Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D, with a forward by Ron Paul. Go to this webpage for a synopsis of the book and a 50 percent discount through August 15, 2015.
Licensing laws and regulations give us the illusion of safety.
In reality, our aggression boomerangs back to us,
costing us our wealth, our health, and our very lives.
We’ve tolerated, even encouraged, the aggression of licensing laws to protect ourselves from shoddy service providers whose mistakes could kill. However, studies show that the licensing laws themselves are often even more deadly. For example, licensing laws lower the number of electricians in a given area by imposing extra requirements. Fewer electricians mean higher prices. People, especially the disadvantaged, either do without a needed repair or attempt it themselves, resulting in injury or even death. Accidental electrocutions go up when licensing requirements for electricians increase, as people attempt to do their own wiring
Licensing laws intended to protect us can and do kill.
By limiting availability, licensing laws lower the overall amount of quality service delivered. The decrease in availability far outweighs any increase in quality that may occur, as the cited studies indicate. For the most part, licensing laws are redundant, because few service providers will attempt to do work for which they are totally unqualified. Just as licensing laws created two classes of taxis, the legal ones and the underground gypsy cabs, so too do licensing laws create two classes of electricians and other service providers. For example, in my community, electrical work permits had to be signed by one of the few licensed electricians. Because those electricians were so busy and so expensive, many people actually employed unlicensed workers to do most of their wiring. Referrals from neighbors, or even from overworked licensed electricians, helped ensure quality service. The licensed electricians finished and signed off on the job. The regulations created a class system of well-paid licensed workers and lower-paid underground ones.
Because the unlicensed electricians were operating illegally, licensed electricians couldn’t work with them directly. Instead, the two groups did their work sequentially, increasing the possibility of error. Thus, even when licensed electricians were involved, the regulations set the stage for dangerous mistakes.