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License To Be Stolen From

A while ago, a group of libertarians and like-minded people set up something they call the "Free State Project." Their idea was that they would all move to a smallish state and try to (peacefully and legally) take it over politically, then put their ideas to the test. We here in New Hampshire were the chosen state, and a bunch of them moved here.

So far, the results have been pretty indifferent. We've had exactly one election since they started coming, and in that one we didn't turn libertarian, but turned profoundly blue as a bunch of Democrats, nanny-staters, and moonbats damn near swept the state.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

One of their beliefs is that government intrudes too much into people's private and commercial lives. One way that is represented is in the whole concept of the state licensing and regulating a lot of trades -- and it's one place I agree with them.

Certain professions do require a level of government oversight. Food preparation and service, for example -- health codes are a necessary evil. Toss in law and medicine -- we depend on those people for our very lives and freedom, so I want them to have shown at least a minimum level of competence, and want the power of the state behind me when I demand they perform their duties properly.

But in some cases, it's downright silly. Plumbers? Beauticians? Massage therapists? I think not. I have no problem with the state offering licensing and certification, but it should be optional. If people want to get their hair cut by some guy or gal down the street, or if they insist that the person show their credentials, that should be their business.

Part of the Free State Project's publicity blitz was to stage certain illegal actions in a way to highlight just how absurd some regulations are, in such a way as to demand the state enforce their laws. I recall chuckling when two Free Staters met on the green in front of our State House and one of them -- completely unlicensed, unauthorized, and uncertified -- performed a pedicure on the other.

That is a long, roundabout way of bringing up this story from today's Boston Globe. The state agency in charge of licensing professionals makes a bit of money by selling its lists of licensed professionals to marketers, and recently sold CDs of data about them -- including the Social Security numbers of almost half a million people.

Just for giggles, I meandered over to the agency in question's web site, and perused the list of professions they regulate. These are the people who can not conduct business without the state's permission in Massachusetts:

Allied Health Professionals Athletic Trainer, Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapy Facility

Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals
Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Rehabilitation Counselor, Educational Psychologist



Barbers (Apprentice, Master, Instructor), Barber Shop, Barber School

Certified Health Officer
Certified Health Officer

Chiropractor, Chiropractic Facility

Advanced Training Institute, Aesthetician, Aesthetician Instructor, Aesthetician School, Cosmetologist (Hairdresser), Cosmetology Instructor, Cosmetology School, Demonstrator, Manicuring School, Manicurist, Operator, Salon, Shop

Dietitians and Nutritionists


Dispensing Opticians
Dispensing Optician

Electricians and Alarm System Installers
Alarm System Business, Alarm System Installer and Technician, Journeyman Electrician, Electrical Corporation or Partnership, Fire Alarm System Business, Fire Alarm System Installer and Technician, Master Electrician

Electrologist, Electrology Instructor, Electrology School

Funeral Directors, Embalmers and Establishments
Embalmer, Embalmer Apprentice, Funeral Director, Funeral Establishment

Hearing Instrument Specialists
Hearing Instrument (Hearing Aid) Specialist

Home Inspectors
Associate Home Inspector, Home Inspector

Landscape Architects
Landscape Architect

Massage Therapy
Massage Therapist/Practitioner, Massage Therapy Salon, Massage Therapy School

Operators of Drinking Water Supply Facilities
Drinking Water Supply Facility Operator


Plumbers and Gas Fitters
Gas Fitter (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master) , Gasfitting Corporation or Partnership, Gasfitting Inspector (Journeyman, Master), LP Gas Installer, Limited LP Gas Installer, Plumber (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master), Plumbing Corporation or Partnership, Plumbing Inspector (Journeyman, Master)


Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors
Aeronautical, Aeronautical/Aerospace, Agricultural, Architectural, Architectural Marine, Astronautical, Ceramic, Chemical, Civil, Construction, Control Systems, Corrosion, Electrical, Electronic, Engineering Physics, Environmental, Fire Protection, Geotechnical, Heating & Ventilation, Highway, Industrial, Land Surveyor, Manufacturing, Marine, Materials, Mechanical, Metallurgical, Mining and Mineral, Naval Architecture, Nuclear, Petroleum, Plumbing, Quality, Railroad, Safety, Sanitary, Structural, Systems, Traffic, Transportation

Public Accountancy
Business Corporation, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), CPA Corporation, CPA LLC, CPA LLP, CPA Partnership


Radio and Television Technicians

Registered Technician, Registered Master Technician

Real Estate Appraisers

Certified General, Certified Residential, State Licensed, Trainee

Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons

Real Estate Broker, Real Estate Corporation or Partnership, Real Estate LLC or LLP, Real Estate Salesperson



Social Workers
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Certified Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker Associate

Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Audiologist, Audiologist Assistant, Speech Pathologist, Speech Pathologist Assistant

Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarian, Limited Practitioner

Those are the professions that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts think are so essential to our everyday lives that the state has not only the right, but the duty to license and regulate and control.

Or, if you're of a more cynical bent, the professions that the state believes it can hold up regularly for money, as well as extend the state's power to control its subjects citizens.

And if the deliberate abuse and exploitation isn't enough, this incident also shows the sheer greed and ineptitude of the bureaucrats that are "entrusted" with this power and responsibility.

And let's remember that Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states, the most solidly Democratic state the nation has ever seen. Both US senators, all ten US representatives, every single statewide office (including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, and secretary of state), and 85% of both houses of the legislature. It is far, far more Democratic than any state has ever been Republican.

Massachusetts represents the ultimate expression of Democratic policies and ideals, a living and breathing testament to the dangers of a one-party system.

And they're more than welcome to it.


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Comments (31)

What the blazes is an "Elec... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

What the blazes is an "Electrologist"? Is that how New Hamper tags electricians, or have they not got those yet?

Permanent hair removal from... (Below threshold)

Permanent hair removal from undesirable locations via electricity. Very popular among certain women.

Ah. Thanks, Giacomo.... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Ah. Thanks, Giacomo.

Sanitarians? Is that like ... (Below threshold)

Sanitarians? Is that like a janitor or something?

Unlicensed plumbers? Are yo... (Below threshold)
jack oneil:

Unlicensed plumbers? Are you serious?? That is pretty damn stupid.

"Division officials said... (Below threshold)

"Division officials said that individuals concerned about their information can place a fraud alert on their credit and monitor their financial accounts for unusual activity."
That's so sweet of the State of Massachusetts to help these folks out by letting them know it's ok to place a fraud alert on their credit and monitor the activity. That is a FULL TIME JOB especially when the crap starts hitting the fan.

I am alarmed.

I spent a good 20 years of ... (Below threshold)

I spent a good 20 years of my life as a TV repairman, which at one time was licensed in Oregon to ensure safety of their repairs allow consumers a source to complain if poor repairs burned down their home. But now this profession is no longer licensed as TV repair declines as an industry due to throwaway prices and electronics.

In Oregon, a new commission was established with one paid head receiving $60,000 a year to regulate a single professional Wrestling business and then put the single business out of business because of a nasty practice known as "juicing" where wrestlers cut themselves to add a gore factor to the wrestling.

In the early 70's, Oregon regulated massage workers to draw a distinction between the illegal prostitution fronts calling themseves "massage parlors". What can I say about all of this but many "happy endings".

Unlicensed plumber... (Below threshold)
Unlicensed plumbers? Are you serious?? That is pretty damn stupid.

Um, yes you're right, but then again stupidity is not illegal (yet).

JayTea:<... (Below threshold)


Certain professions do require a level of government oversight.

For the sake of argument, what differences would we see if such professions were certified by a reputable private organization instead of government bureaucrats ?

Mike,auto mechanics can,if ... (Below threshold)

Mike,auto mechanics can,if they choose, to be ASE certified.Be it through the car dealer or repair shop they work at.They pay for(but can be reimbursed)howevermany tests they wish to take,i.e. brakes,a/c repair etc.Its nice to have since it lets people that you half way know what your doing... :)

that last line was tongue i... (Below threshold)

that last line was tongue in cheek. most of the guys I know that haveit(as well as some who dont)are very good at what they do.

Tim (#4) ~ I too was intrig... (Below threshold)

Tim (#4) ~ I too was intrigued by the "sanitarian" designation. A quick search shows it to be a sort of health inspector, with broader scope than just food prep.

The job title is also used and regulated by other states, including Texas, North Carolina, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and others.

There is also a national certification program, and a job category known as "forensic sanitarian" - the CSIs of health inspectors, I suppose.

I am sure that each so-call... (Below threshold)

I am sure that each so-called "Profession" lobbied for the privilege to be regulated by the State. It raises the bar too high for one to claim "Professional" status without some higher education and also allows each "Profession" to control competition by State Law.

Ditto the last post by Sinc... (Below threshold)

Ditto the last post by Sinclarian.

The Landscape Architect license cracks me up the most:

"What are these, begonias? I specifically requested rhododendrons!"

"What are these, begonia... (Below threshold)

"What are these, begonias? I specifically requested rhododendrons!"


"I'm sorry, rhododendrons require a different license. Your license only permits begonias."

That's pretty darn funny LJ... (Below threshold)

That's pretty darn funny LJD, I hadn't even thought about that one. But I think it's funnier for a different reason.
In other words, in Mass you don't have to be a legal citizen to work for a landscaper, but you do have to be licensed by Mass.

Now that's funny.

Working for a landscaper, a... (Below threshold)

Working for a landscaper, and even BEING a landscaper is NOT the same as being a landscape architect. Landscape Architect is a profession requiring a minimum 4-5 year bachelor program and/or 3 year Masters program. It is a little more complicated than just rhododendrons, i.e. city planning, park planning, residential areas, public parks and playgrounds, college campuses, shopping centers, golf courses, parkways, and industrial parks

Listen D-Hoggs, leave my sn... (Below threshold)

Listen D-Hoggs, leave my snark alone. You really shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good snark.
I learned that from mantis.

Thanks for the mention of t... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the mention of the Free State Project. While some of your characterization is correct, other parts aren't.

The FSP didn't stage any acts of civil disobedience. Those were staged by individuals who happened to be FSP Participants - people who moved to New Hampshire as part of their participation of the project. The FSP itself merely seeks pro-freedom activists, it doesn't direct them.

With respect to the 2006 election, keep in mind only about 200 participants had moved to New Hampshire by that time (joining another ~250 who were already there). Expecting 'total success' results the first year from 200 people out of a project designed for 20,000 is a bit optimistic. Nevertheless, there was one FSP participant elected to the state house in that election and there have been countless other measurable effects from the participants who have moved to New Hampshire.


I wonder when software engi... (Below threshold)

I wonder when software engineers/programmers will be on this list??

Hmmm. I always thought bea... (Below threshold)

Hmmm. I always thought beauticians were on the list for the same reason food prep is - to prevent the spread of disease.

But yeah, much of that is just to protect people in the industry. If it was so damn important to license plumbers, for instance, why did they grandfather in all existing plumbers when the licensing scheme was enacted?

California is full of general contractors that got grandfathered in decades ago. Most of them literally are grandfathers at this point, and they make a killing as the "guy with the license" in small contracting firms which use illegals to do all the work. Much of the time they don't even show up to the jobsite.

Politicians also need to be... (Below threshold)

Politicians also need to be state certified and licensed.

Republicans need not apply.

Reg: # 8:You can'... (Below threshold)

Reg: # 8:

You can't fix STUPID.

I don't want my STUPID neighbor using an unlicensed gas contractor to hook up his lines with an only 10 foot separation between our homes.

While some of this is just crazy, there are legitimate reasons for the ideas, just the usual implementation missing the mark being the real problem.

When a licensing authority becomes dependent/addicted to fines and extra fees to maintain their expensive life style (The Board of Medicine in the People's Republic of Portland as an example) the whole self-legitimization of process over product has a negative effect on the profession being licensed.

But can you have it both wa... (Below threshold)

But can you have it both ways? Licensing gives a recourse for consumer complaints and ensures standards of work and in, some cases, ensures public sanitation


you can have a strong tort legal system.

What I don't get is the idea that a society can function without either, but that's pretty much what has been happening. Free up regulation and watch business flourish, was the cry of the 90's.

Now it's tort reform. Most civilizations have some sliding scale of both, which seems reasonable.

(as a consumer who was victimized out in the county by an unlicensed plumber who really screwed up an expensive septic sanitation system two decades ago, I feel warmly in this matter. It only too two years and twice the cost of the installation to get the matter resolved. Having the state pull their license would have easier and cheaper.)

Unlicensed plumbers? Are... (Below threshold)

Unlicensed plumbers? Are you serious?? That is pretty damn stupid.

Buttle, or is it Tuttle?


Hah. I can top all of these... (Below threshold)
Mike G in Corvallis:

Hah. I can top all of these ...

Back when Jerry Brown was Governor of California, he endorsed a bill in the state legislature to license astrologers. To protect the public from the frauds and charlatans, of course.›

The professions NEED to be ... (Below threshold)
Dave_Violence Author Profile Page:

The professions NEED to be licensed. The state level is the right place to do it. Not doing so invites anarchy. A professional, private organization (say ASCE) cannot be responisible for issuing licenses, oversight, prosecuting, etc, etc. as the amount of money - culled from private, volunteer donations - will never be enough as, for one, there is no incentive to join such an organization. The history of modern professional engineering (Google it, dude) demands Government regulation.

The same goes for all recognized professions. It is not a waste of money. What, I'm supposed to appeal to some private Guild - whose duty first and foremost is the promotion of whatever profession - when I've got a legitimate gripe? It's easier for a guild to ignore the complaint! On the other hand, this is precisely what the apparatus of state government exists for.

Arguing against licensing is an example of Libertarian STUPIDITY.

What's even more stupid, though, is that companies paying for licensing information should've realized that it's freely available on the state websites!!!

It has been said (with a lo... (Below threshold)

It has been said (with a lot of justification) that the greatest extenders of life in the history of man have been cheap soap and modern sanitation (plumbing). License plumbers ? You bet. The requirements to pass the tests are pretty basic and there is no shortage of them. I'd like to see the standards be a little stricter, myself. And I am not and never have worked in that field.

Although good ones make as much or more than the average MD.

But generally, I agree with your premise. Thousands of bureaucrats handing out prizes.

So what's the logic to subj... (Below threshold)

So what's the logic to subject workers in any given field to force imposed on them by bureaucrats? Simply that their work is "important"? Who defines importance? Is this measured by the number of customers, which could explain cosmetologists? Is it defined by life-or-death consequences?

And what's the justification? That professionals would be killers and con-men if unregulated? Does anyone really believe that regulation can convert a would-be murderer into a life-saver?!?

From George Will - <p... (Below threshold)

From George Will -

Consider the minor -- but symptomatic -- matter of the government-abetted aggression by "interior designers" against mere "decorators," or against interior designers whom other interior designers wish to demote to the status of decorators. Some designers think decorators should be a lesser breed without the law on its side.

Those categories have blurry borders. Essentially, interior designers design an entire space, sometimes including structural aspects; decorators have less comprehensive and more mundane duties -- matching colors, selecting furniture, etc.

In New Mexico, anyone can work as an interior designer. But it is a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison, to list yourself on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages as, or to otherwise call yourself, an "interior designer" without being certified as such. Those who favor this censoring of truthful commercial speech are a private group that controls, using an exam administered by a private national organization, access to that title.


In Nevada, such regulation has arrived. So in Las Vegas, where almost nothing is illegal, it is illegal -- unless you are licensed, or employed by someone licensed -- to move, in the role of an interior designer, any piece of furniture, such as an armoire, that is more than 69 inches tall. A Nevada bureaucrat says that "placement of furniture" is an aspect of "space planning" and therefore is regulated -- restricted to a "registered interior designer."

Placing furniture without a license? Heaven forfend. Such regulations come with government rationing of the right to practice a profession. Who benefits? Creating artificial scarcity of services raises the prices of those entitled to perform the services. The pressure for government-created scarcity is intensifying because the general public -- rank amateurs -- are using the Internet to purchase things and advice, bypassing designers

I stopped reading when I go... (Below threshold)
Spencer Flagg:

I stopped reading when I got to the part about "necessary evils". The very fact that you accept that necessary evils can exist shows a flaw in your logic large enough to render your ultimate point on this matter moot. I neither have the character space nor, at this point, the inclination to fully explain my meaning in this venue, but feel free to use my email address if you want furthur explaination.






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