The Corner


So Joe the Plumber apparently isn’t a licensed plumber. Gleeful AP headline on the Wash Post website: “Is ‘Joe the Plumber’ a plumber? That’s debatable.”

The fact that Joe isn’t a licensed plumber means only one thing: The government hasn’t certified him. That fact says nothing about his actual plumbing abilities. Occupational licensing is one of the Leviathan State’s biggest scams. Heck, in Mississippi you need a license to be a hair braider. Louisiana licenses florists. And this one takes the cake: Maryland licenses fortune tellers. (See this Reason Foundation report by Adam B. Summers.)

Occupational licenses are often sold as instruments of consumer protection, but their real effect is to strangle entrepreneurship through regulation. When Joe is done making his case against higher taxes, maybe he should make a case against occupational licensing.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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