Monday, January 12, 2015

A Small, But Important, Victory for the Anti-Cronyism Movement

One of the ways professions keep their wages up is by controlling the number of people who are "allowed" into the profession.  Perhaps the most common method of control is via occupational licensing requirement whereby potential new members are required to jump through a series of, frequently, unnecessary and irrelevant hoops which almost always include substantial financial expenditures as well.  Such was the case in Texas recently where Isis Brantley wanted to open a hair-braiding service in Dallas.  However, existing Texas occupational requirements for her were extremely punitive, so she went to court.  And as this story from The Christian Science Monitor explains, she won! Here's an excerpt:
 A federal judge this week admonished Texas for setting up “irrational” licensing rules for teaching Senegalese hair art, meaning that African hair-braider Isis Brantley can now open a small community braiding school in Dallas without first becoming a barber.
In response to a 2013 lawsuit, US District Judge Sam Sparks said the state was wrong to force Ms. Brantley, founder of the Institute of Ancestral Braiding, to take hundreds of hours of irrelevant classes and buy expensive equipment she would never use in order to set up a hair-braiding school. The braid guru had planned on using a few chairs at a community center, since neither sinks nor traditional hair-salon stations are necessary for twisting and braiding hair.
In short, the judge, hearing the first-ever federal hair-braid school case, found that “it’s unconstitutional to require people to do useless things,” as Brantley’s attorney, Arif Panju, put it in a statement.
Good on you, Ms. Brantley!! Pushing back against cronyist structures such as irrational licensing requirements is the best way to reign in the power of government-backed business suppression.