My show tonight tonight asks, why do so many occupations need a license? Requiring permission from the state to do everything from flower arranging to practicing law paralyzes competition and protects entrenched special interests.
Our most outrageous example of licensing madness is the plight of David Price, a man who learned the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished, especially when messing with lawyers. Price made the mistake of helping Eldon Ray, a fellow Kansan who was fined for practicing architecture without a license. Price didn’t represent Ray in court; he just helped Ray by writing a letter to respond to the fine. In states like Kansas, that practically makes Price Perry Mason. A judge (a lawyer with a robe) threw Price into jail on contempt charges, not to be released until he promised to never give legal advice again – ever.
After six months, Price relented and agreed to the court’s terms. Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst, believes Price should never have spent a day in jail.
“The state has no moral or lawful authority to restrain A and B from agreeing to exchange a service for a payment, providing that the agreement is voluntary.”
Price ran afoul of Kansas’ Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) regulations. All states have them, although Arizona is one of a few that allow non-lawyers to prepare legal documents like wills. Unfortunately the non-lawyers still must pass an exam. But Arizona citizens are happy to have a lower-price option to expensive lawyers.
Judge Napolitano points out that licensing is a device that special interests use to protect special interests from competition.
“The concept of state licensing, if permitted to continue, will know no end. If the state can license physicians and lawyers, can it license broadcasters and journalists and shoemakers? A license from the state to do anything that another is willing to pay for is an interference with free choice. I would rather know from a source other than the state that Dr. Y graduated from Harvard Medical School or Attorney Z aced his exams at the University of Chicago Law School; then I could choose that physician or lawyer without seeking the permission of the state. The state steals what it owns and has no moral authority, except when it protects my freedom… the licensing mechanism is frequently a cartel of those in the profession to whom the power of the state is granted to keep like-minded persons in the cartel, and different thinkers out.”
For more on the insane expansion of states’ licensing powers watch “Stossel” tonight, on the Fox Business Network at 8PM and 11PM Eastern time. I’ll interview David Price, Judge Napolitano, and a lawyer who says Price should have been jailed.