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credentialism gone mad
The Government's Here to Save You From Elmo

New York City is considering a proposal to regulate the costumed characters who roam Times Square, posing for pictures with tourists in exchange for money. The bill, introduced by Councilman Andy King, would require anyone who wants to don Spiderman’s suit or Mickey Mouse’s head to obtain a license to operate in Times Square. Councilman King argues that his bill as a safety measure, saying “I am particularly concerned adults are dressing up in kids character costumes and pretty much harassing or even begging for money to take a picture.”

We have written about the problematic rise of credentialism before, and the foolishness of requiring people who work in such innocuous occupations as floristry to be licensed. But this must be a new low.


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  • ShadrachSmith

    Imagine how hard it is going to be to get a permit to be a Republican 🙂

    • FriendlyGoat

      Do Republicans hide in costumes and harass people? If so, we do need to mitigate their nuisance factor.

      • Corlyss

        I want to see a revival of the tradition of the rollicking punch up to settle disagreements. Way too much bureaucracy has gotten involved in dispute resolution. First they went to laws and lawyers, then they went to mediation and arbitration. What next?

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It is widely recognized that the Guilds of medieval times held back economic and technological progress. And while they may not call themselves Guilds today, any occupation that requires a license or union card, is a form of Guild. The reason why Guilds are bad is that they limit competition, just like monopolies although less organized in some cases. And monopolies all suffer from the same problem; the lack of the “Feedback of Competition”. It is the “Feedback of Competition” that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Sure, we need to kill unions in order to talk about Creepy Man in a SpiderMan suit. Libertarians would always think so.

      • Corlyss

        No, we need to destroy unions or at the very least render them obsolete because they are artifacts of a bygone era when they served some modicum of usefulness but are no longer needed and haven’t been since the DoL does all their heavy living, and because for the last 100 years they’ve been the gateway drug for organized crime and thuggery on a massive scale. Case in point, SEIU and NTEU. If we can ever prize them from the public employees’ cash flow, it will be a great day for civilization. They’ll die a well-deserved death of neglect.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Why don’t we start nearer the top with this complaint and work our way down?
    We really don’t need as much credentialing for lawyers, dentists and building contractors, for instance. Right? (“Florist” will be near the bottom and you can talk about it AFTER you answer whether higher-level jobs need a license.)

    NYC is simply trying to chase a nuisance out of Times Square and most people visiting that place would applaud the City for doing so.

    • Corlyss

      “We really don’t need as much credentialing for lawyers, dentists and building contractors, for instance. Right?”

      No, we don’t. Credentialing spares the consumer from doing his due diligence, esp. when it comes to building contractors. I’ve been completely baffled at how many people old enough to know better get snookered in this state by crooks posing as building contractors.

    • Dan

      just require them to have liability insurance and you can get rid of the licensing, if an insurance company won’t cover them, you probably don’t want to use their services

  • Andrew Allison

    I’m surprised that TF doesn’t understand the different between a license and a credential. The latter implies membership in a “guild”. Or are you proposing that we do away with driving licenses, marriage licenses, etc?

    • Corlyss

      What do you think licensing is?

  • Luke Phillips

    I don’t really think government requiring permits for costumed people is a TERRIBLE stretch, really. I mean, I live in Los Angeles, one of the Blue capitals of the world, and on Hollywood Boulevard they have enough costumed freaks to put the Vegas Strip to shame. These people, for whatever reason, are not allowed to solicit money from tourists (for, I suspect, the same reason Virginia Beach puts out ‘do not tip’ signs in front of entertainers on the street: most of these entertainers are subsidized by the city, so taxpayer and tourist dollars are already going to them.)

    I think this is PROBABLY a bit overstretched- it would be far better to keep a couple police officers out there to make sure drugs aren’t getting passed, etc, but it would be better for entertainers to work for tips. I disagree with how Hollywood and Virginia Beach do it. But that said, I don’t think it’s necessarily an unreasonable ‘overstretch of government power;’ I think it’s more a dinosaurian policy that cities do out of instinct.

    Via Meadia, I love you for all you do. Please do not descend into petty, meaningless drivel worth publishing on the Drudge Report. Please talk about things that matter instead.

  • Boritz

    Ignores the reality that you can never, ever have too much (or even enough) regulation. &nbsp More and more regulation paves the way for the regulation of everything. &nbspIn the future lack of regulation will be equated with chaos.

    • Corlyss


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