Governments hate anything that empowers individuals. This is because it makes governing harder. And this holds true regardless of whether you view government as overall good, or generally evil.
Say the U.S. government has the best intentions for making the drinking age 21. Surely some 18-year-olds could handle drinking, and surely many 25-year-olds cannot. But the government would have to expend massive resources evaluating the capacity of each individual to handle their alcohol.
Of course, this would also be extremely oppressive to allow a government to decide on an individual basis who has certain rights and can handle responsibilities. But it is no less oppressive to deny 22 million 18-20 year olds (still picking a relatively arbitrary age of responsibility) the right to decide what will go into their bodies.
Age can be a tricky one. There are massive amounts of material to discuss about age, including the fact that adolescence is unnatural and used as a tool to wildly oppress 13-20 year olds. So let’s leave that discussion alone for now and pick an example that has nothing to do with age.
Licensing by the government as a pre-requisite to enter a particular occupation is absurdly oppressive.
I can hear the hyperbolic objections now, “So you don’t want your brain surgeon to go to medical school?”
Of course, as an individual, I would still choose qualified professionals to provide services for me. The methods of evaluating these people would change based on the individual circumstances. For something as important as brain surgery, I may only rely on people who have achieved a medical doctorate from a reputable university, and passed an accreditation process in their field.
But a massage therapist? I might risk $60 on a masseuse with no official qualifications. More likely I would rely on reviews from other customers. Worst case scenario, I lose $60 and my back is still sore.
And then there is plenty of room in between. I might hire an electrician without any certificates on the recommendation of a friend who knows about wiring. But if I was finding a random electrician to hire, I would make sure they were somehow accredited by a third party with knowledge of the industry and skill.
But the choice should be mine. And the choice of how much education, and certification a person in any particular field wants should be their choice. Taken together, individuals will decide the requirements based on their interaction in the market.
Yet most states require between 1000-2000 hours of training to become licensed as a barber or a cosmetologist. In Massachusetts, it takes 100 more hours of training to become a refrigeration technician than to become a police officer. In fact, most states require less than half the training hours for police as required for professions like an interior designer, manicurist, or barber.
This is ignoring the fact that individuals vary greatly. If you grew up working on cars, you might know more than someone the same age who attended a four-year mechanic’s training program. But all the government sees are certifications and official hours of training.
Now you might think, “Who cares, just don’t get a license, and only take clients who don’t care.”
And this would be a valid argument if there were no legal penalties. In fact, even without government requirements, “licenses” would still exist from trade organizations. People would likely seek them out in order to prove to potential clients that they are skilled. However, under these circumstances, you would not get threatened with fines or jail time for practicing without a license.
A woman in Florida was a health coach. Part of her coaching involved suggestions on what people should eat. But because she is not a licensed dietician, the state of Florida says it is illegal for her to get paid to give nutritional advice.
Her clients have no problem paying for her dietary expertise. They have decided, through one method or another, that she is qualified and skilled enough to get their business. Yet the state of Florida has slapped her with a $750 fine and threatened her with an additional $1000 fine for every additional piece of paid dietary advice she gives. She could even face a year in prison!
Turns out, a licensed dietician reported her to the authorities. Someone who jumped through the hoops, and paid the fees to get the state license is pissed off that someone is encroaching on their turf.
It is a case of protectionism. Licensing ends up being a barrier to entry into professions. It keeps the cost up and allows cartel control over industries.
The government uses licensing to control groups. Politicians get support from whole labor unions. They offer legitimacy in a profession, for a price.
If individuals did not rely on the government to enter professions, then the government would have no way of manipulating the masses for their own particular ends. Elections, favors, donations, legislation, and regulation all rely on grouping individuals together in order to better control them.
Licensing and legal ages are just two examples of this problem. At every turn, the government does not look at people as the individuals they are, but as a number, a part of a group, or a statistic. They do this with tax brackets, health insurance requirements, and law enforcement. They forget about individuals when it comes to regulations on technology like Uber, cryptocurrencies, and drones.
Allowing individuals to group themselves voluntarily would mean letting go of control. It would mean an end to a two-party political system that manufactures problems that can broadly group people into support camps. It would mean actually focusing on how things effect individuals, instead of using the good of the group as a smokescreen for actions which harm particular individuals.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The government doesn’t like individualism because it is harder to control people. But we don’t need the government to control people in order to be prosperous, safe, and healthy as individuals and as a society.
The economy is changing in a way that makes individuals more capable and powerful than ever before. You can now arrange your life however you want. And I suspect we will only see the market grow to offer more innovative ways to sidestep the government obstruction of our individual wants and needs.