Friday, July 26, 2013

People restricting others from "The Right to Earn a Living"

In April, Susquehanna University hosted a talk by Timothy Sandefur on the right to earn a living.  He detailed many cases where restrictions were put into place to prevent people from working various occupations.

Just yesterday I found two stories within a five minute stretch where it is still happening:

1. This story describes a case that could be taken by the Supreme Court

  • On Wednesday, the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors asked the Supreme Court to reinstate its requirement that only licensed funeral directors be permitted to sell coffins within the state, thereby preventing the monks of St. Joseph Abbey from engaging in the unlicensed sale of hand-made wooden caskets.
Does anybody really think having a license will make you better at selling a coffin?  Of course not.  This is simply an act to restrict others from earning a living by people who want monopoly power.  

In Pennsylvania that pesky law degree isn’t needed for more than 500 judicial offices. Judges in several lower courts, including magisterial district judges and the soon-to-be-former Philadelphia Traffic Court, are not required to have law degrees.
This example is a bit more interesting.  Like many restrictions on the right to earn a living, you'll have plenty of people who think: "Oh, but our judges will be so much better if they have law degrees, we should require it".  You get the same arguments for taxi drivers and cosmetologists.  This is a dangerous thinking, however.  I think we should move in the opposite direction with law degree requirements.  We shouldn't require a law degree to represent somebody else in court.  If somebody is skilled at defending people without a law degree, why should we force them to go to law school?  Further, you could have rational defendants who chose to hire a lawyer without a law degree to represent him or her in court.

If the law degree is valuable, it will reveal itself in the marketplace, as people will hire those with law degrees for their representation.  If it isn't, fewer will be hired, their wages will drop, and you'd expect fewer people to go to law school.  That's the marketplace at work.

All over the country, there are restrictions on people's economic freedom to earn a living.  It's sad that in America, in 2013, we still have to have to fight hard for freedom every single day.

1 comment:

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