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YC Magazine, Libertarian Commentary, September 2011

Want to change careers? It may cost you.

Whenever politicians want money, all they have to do is raise taxes or add fees. It’s not so easy for the average citizen, especially in this economy. If you decide that you want to change your career because the jobs have dried up in your industry, or you haven’t been doing what you love, how long will it be before you run into regulation that dictates how you do your job, what someone has to pay you, and what hoops you must jump through?

One of the more ridiculous absurdities of living in our so-called “free” country today is that if you want to legally get paid to work, often you’ll have to go through mandatory training and pay fees. You’ll have to spend hours and hours in training and pay a handsome sum to do things that you do in your leisure.

We all know why the government is involved. Someone is paying you, and there’s a pocket they can pick, competition they can limit, and strings they can attach. Of course the official reasoning most governments give for these requirements is for “public safety.” Call me cynical, I just don’t buy it. If there were real safety issues, then we’d all be hearing about it on the news.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with “industry standards,” and going to school to show competency in your given field to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s great to get experience from a mentor and teacher in your chosen field. There’s also a reason why people buy liability business insurance and use disclaimers and waivers. However, legal requirements that add time and cost burdens to enter a profession don’t help people looking for work.

Sometimes industry leaders lobby for new restrictions so they can keep competition at bay. Licensing requirements are “one size fits all” and may not be useful for the person learning a trade. Apprenticeships and experience should be more than sufficient. The market will decide who is the best.

The following is the breakdown of the time and costs involved with a few professions in relation to the SC statewide standards that affect York County. These are things anyone could learn, and you may even do it for yourself or a loved one without a license.

A hair braiding certificate costs $25.00, plus gas money to and from Columbia, SC to attend a six-hour class with an exam. Hair braiding is one of those skills your momma taught you, isn’t it?

To become a licensed nail technician, schooling costs on average $4,550.00 for 300 hours of instruction time which takes approximately three to four months. I polish my nails on occasion at home, which seems simple enough.

Licensed estheticians (skin care therapists) can spend between $4,100.00 to $8,400.00 depending on which school is chosen for the required 450 hours, or 5 months of instruction time.

Massage therapists train for about 500 hours, or six months, and spend about $8,000.00 on school and certification.

Both barbers and cosmetologists are required to attend 1500 hours of instruction, or 10-20 months of classes which can cost between $5000.00 and $17,000. In lieu of schooling, barbers can study under a certified barber for twelve months, and a person can become a cosmetologist if they have been a registered master hair care specialist for 5 years.

In addition to this list, there are SC licensing requirements for auctioneers, cemetery board, funeral service, foresters, geologists, occupational therapy, and other random occupations that should be self-regulated, and reviewed by consumer groups and private companies and industry leaders issuing certifications. We don’t need “permission” from the government to work and enjoy the fruits of our labor. It’s our Constitutional right!

Brian Logsdon, a newly licensed massage therapist, on his required instruction: “I value the knowledge I gained, [but] since the exam was for massage and I never had to touch anyone, I thought it was pointless. If the point of licensing is to keep society safe, shouldn’t I be tested on my physical aptitude, not on whether I can regurgitate data learned specifically to pass the test?”

Logsdon went to massage school after The Penguin Drive-In in Charlotte closed briefly and its ownership changed. I asked him if he still liked massage therapy after spending money on school. “Yes! I love it!” He said. “I actually look forward to going to work. I just need more clients, but that will come.”

One advantage of the SC licensing process: “Due to the overwhelming bureaucracy in NC, I was able to get my SC license in one week as opposed to the seven weeks it took Raleigh.” Logsdon explained.

South Carolina and York County officials need to keep in mind that to stay competitive with the areas that surround us, we must strive to have lower or no taxes and regulation. That is why I personally like to spend my money in SC versus NC, and the reason my family and I moved to York County. There’s strong evidence that people and businesses move to areas that are business friendly, and where taxes are low or non-existent.

Is there a government regulation that affects your business in York County that you’d like us to write about? Visit our site at http://www.yclp.org and contact us! We may use your concerns in an upcoming article.

Jen is the Secretary/Treasurer of the York County Libertarian Party.

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