How might politicians address voter anger at vanishing economic opportunity for working people that helped push unexpected numbers of Americans to Donald Trump’s corner on election day? Immigration and trade have dominated the discussion thus far, but it’s important that policymakers don’t lose sight of more subtle ways the government has distorted the economy to favor the politically connected.
One example: Onerous occupational licensing laws that force people to undergo thousands of hours of often redundant and gratuitous training to perform jobs like auctioneering, tree trimming, and hair styling. . . .
Often, licensing laws are the result of higher-skilled professionals seeking to protect their market share at the consumers’ expense. For example, the New York Times reported over the summer on a state veterinary board that threatened an animal masseuse with a lawsuit unless she went to veterinary school. And Brookings has described the way that dentists lobbied to prevent qualified people from offering teeth-whitening services at a lower price.
Licensing regulations have grown steadily over the last few decades thanks to interest group pressure. This not just a minor concern for a few key industries; it is a weight dragging down the entire economy, raising prices while blocking access to less-skilled trades. The Obama administration has already recommended that states look at ways to loosen these requirements. If governors and legislators are interested in responding to voter anger over an economy tilted against ordinary people, this would be a good place to start.
The most infamous one is the Con-Board here in NH – that entity that decides if more or less healthcare provisioning / competition is necessary or not. I watched it up close and personal here in my locale in the NH Lakes Region a few years ago when OPA tried to set up their own complete shop for practicing orthopedic surgeries and the local hospital bully, LRGH, spent years in outspending them pretty much to bankruptcy to keep them from earning a living for themselves and their employees – they essentially sold the remains to LRGH.
Other lesser examples have happened we’ve blogged them: cosmetology, general ruminitions here and here. Each exists not to keep standards high (one can look at Underwriters Laboratories, Better Business Bureau and other private concerns to have standards mean something in the private sector. Let’s also not forget (even as they can be manipulated) that the Internet has disrupted these normal channels so that the ordinary person can find out who is good and who isn’t.
I am hoping that Sununu, especially with his call to deleting those Government erected walls that hinder employment and new business formation. Will he be sufficiently courageous politically to take on these ancient political forces (and those politicians that stand with them)?