Regulation

August 18, 2010

Matt Yglesias today points out the absurdity of licensing laws for barbers and beauticians. I am simultaneously encouraged and disheartened by his post. Encouraged, because if strongly progressive people like Yglesias agree that such regulations are awful, there’s a real chance for reform. Discouraged, because he cites other bloggers who disagree. I have a lot of crazy ideas that I’d like to see done, and ending the practice of licensing barbers is just about the easiest to get ordinary people to agree with. And yet, there are some people who read Yglesias’ post and don’t say “Oh yeah, of course, why did I ever think that licensing barbers was a good idea?” That’s disheartening.

As I said, I have a lot of crazy ideas, and deregulation has a bad reputation these days. But some things are so obvious that even reasonable people can understand them. It’s plain to see that many regulations unnecessarily limit opportunity and stifle entrepreneurship. One of my favorite scenes in The Wire illustrates this point:

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