Friday Follies: Mobile Barbershop Licensing

Friday Follies: Mobile Barbershop Licensing

Being able to earn a living is one of our most fundamental rights as human beings. The other rights that we possess matter little when our ability to simply earn a living is in question. Many of South Carolina’s licensing regimes, however, actually threaten South Carolinians’ ability to earn an honest living by subjecting them to burdensome licensing and review requirements by various boards and commissions.

For a particularly silly example of this, look no further than H.3417, currently sitting in the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee after passing out of the House.  This bill creates a new licensing regime for mobile barbershops in the state. Barbers are already forced to undergo licensing by the South Carolina Board of Barber Examiners.  Why do barbers need additional licensing by the state of South Carolina?

This bill is symptomatic of a broader issue in the state – too many professions are subject to licensing and often by people who have a vested interest in suppressing competition. Making it difficult, time consuming and expensive to become a licensed practitioner of whatever craft you want to do is unjustifiable, even under most standards of “public safety.”  Far too frequently, “public safety” policies have a shocking amount of overlap with protectionism (keeping competitors out of an industry).

Perhaps South Carolina should follow Arizona’s lead and have each licensing board explain in public what exactly they do, and why they should continue to exist.

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