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The Guild-ed Age
Texas Supremes Strike Blow Against Licensing

Good news from Texas: in a victory against crony capitalism, the state’s Supreme Court recently struck down a licensing requirement. We’re a bit late to this news, but in case you missed it, here’s Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post explaining the case:

Here’s what happened in this case: The plaintiffs practice “eyebrow threading,” which is apparently a technique for shaping eyebrows and removing eyebrow hair using a cotton thread. Since 2011, Texas has required them to get a cosmetology license, just as it requires for other cosmetologists; and that requires 750 hours of training, of which at least 320 hours — by the state’s own concession — “are not related to activities threaders actually perform.”

In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled against the cosmetology license requirement for eyebrow threaders on the grounds that it “is not just unreasonable or harsh, but it is so oppressive that it violates” the Texas State Constitution.

Volokh explains that courts have generally given legislatures and administrative agencies very broad leeway to enact economic regulations like this one. However, the court found that the Texas Constitution protects a basic right to economic liberty and decided to apply a higher level of scrutiny.

Unlike our friends at The Volokh Conspiracy, we at Via Meadia are not legal experts, so we won’t comment on the constitutional merits of the Texas decision. From a policy perspective, however, we are heartened by developments that allow entrepreneurs, like the plaintiff in this case, to practice their trade without burdensome and unnecessary regulatory interference.

Too often, licensing rules are nothing more than a mechanism for the dominant players in an industry to shield themselves from competition—suppressing jobs (especially for the poor or undercapitalized), raising prices, and stifling creativity along the way. We are glad to see this Texas regulation come down, and hope that others will follow.

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  • fastrackn1

    I never knew eyebrow threading required a license. There is nothing to it , it simply uses a piece of thread and takes a few minutes.

    I am surprised Texas had a license requirement in the first place since we are a Right To Work state in many ways besides anti union. We have few licensing or permitting requirements here compared to other states.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Evidently even Texas had some bureaucrats riding herd over the definition of cosmetology at the request of somebody or other. We’d wonder what other hurdles in other industries might fall from this particular case.

      • rheddles

        More likely Texas had a cosmetology industry association that contributed to key members of the Texas legislature. The legislators then called the bureaucrats to ask them why they weren’t enforcing the laws that preserve the cosmetologists barriers to entry.

        Legislation is not needed to create free markets. They will arise spontaneously and will create winners and losers. The winners protect themselves by legislating barriers to entry so that they can become even bigger winners, on behalf of public safety, of course. Protect the children.. This time the losers litigated and restored a bit of freedom to the market.

        The bureaucrats are cogs at rest until a force is applied.

        • FriendlyGoat

          We can all agree, I think, that having larger businesses hamstringing smaller competition via government is wrong and ought to be reversed. There was famously a licensing requirement for flower arranging in Louisiana, I think. It would be really hard to even make a “safety” argument for that one.

      • fastrackn1

        It’s always big business and their associations who lobby for this type of nonsense, and it’s is in the name of consumer protection of course…but the real reason is as rheddles said “barrier to entry”.

        I am very glad to hear that another thorn has been pulled from the foot of small business. There is just too much regulation in this country in the name of ‘consumer protection’. So what if a few consumers get dinged along the way. Life is tough…big deal. It seems the cost/risk is never weighed against the potential harm when so many of the laws and regulations are put into place in the US. Millions and billions of dollars are wasted every year in some industries, just to prevent harm to a few.
        Texas has no permitting requirements, or zoning requirements for construction (unless you are building within the limits of some cities), and the buildings here don’t look any worse than those in California or where it takes 6 months and tens of thousands to get a building permit just for a house. There are also no licensing requirements for construction contracting here either. All those regulations and licensing requirements do is drive up the cost of construction which hurts a lot more people than the regulations protect.

        it would be interesting to know how much regulations and licensing requirements in each industry cost the economy of that industry, for every dollar of harm that is not done to consumers because of those regulations.
        I’ll bet it is a $1,000 to $1 or more….

        • FriendlyGoat

          I remember being in Houston years ago and being told they had no zoning. If they don’t have building permits either, how do building codes work? Just wondering.

          • fastrackn1

            Within the city limits of Houston, and other large cities, there is a fairly simple permitting process, along with building inspectors, but still, there is no zoning. Any area outside of those areas have nothing, except a couple hundred dollars and about 3 single page forms to fill out, and you are on your way…and no building inspections.

            Builders just follow the National Uniform Building Codes. It’s not that complicated. Contractors and sub contractors know how to do their jobs without big brother watching over their shoulder. Framers know how to frame, concrete guys know how to do a foundation, plumbers know how to plumb, etc. I have never heard of any problems here from other contractors I have talked to.
            How does it help the building industry to have building plans held up for many months going through a plan review process? For what?…absolutely nothing, believe me.
            And If you are going to build something large like a high-rise or a Walmart, you would have an architect and an engineer, so what do you need to get the government involved for?…seriously? It is just a bunch of nonsense probably started by the left trying to save us all from ourselves. I know you are on the left, and I am not blaming you personally, but there are many there who have no sense of the damage they do by trying to save everyone.

            Instead of over-regulating every industry in a vain attempt to create a perfect world, a better approach would be to severely penalize those in a industry who screw up.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Interesting. Thanks.

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