Many people like the idea that when they go to a doctor or someone else for a paid service that this person have an issued license hanging on the wall. For some reason this gives people a sense of false security. Many people then believe that they are going to see someone very competent and capable of providing a service, not because of a review they have read from someone who received the same service, but because the government has deemed them to be so, and has issued a license. I see great harm in this practice. It is neither a free market solution or a way of guaranteeing the service for the customer.
When I was in elementary school, I remember being taught that under communism you could not choose your occupation for the most part, but that you were rather assessed by the government and told to go where they thought you were best able to serve the needs that the government deemed proper. I was also told this is why we are a free country because you can become whatever you want to become when you grow up. A free market inspires people to be innovative and follow their dreams even if it means failure.
I would like to focus a little bit on the medical care that exists in the United States today. Many suppose that the failures and shortfalls of medical care can be traced back to evil capitalism. I would like to make an argument against that and suggest that the majority of the medical problems exist because of government bureaucracy and laws to prohibit the practice of the free market. My brother-in-law would like to become a doctor and recently went to a University for an interview to be selected to go through medical school. While he interviewed he knew that there would be only about 20 open spots with about 40 people interviewing. After the interviews were all done he found that he would not be accepted to this particular University to go through Medical School. His grades were nearly perfect, he studied hard, and yet still failed to enter medical school. His only way to legally become a doctor in the United States would be to enter medical school so that he can obtain a medical license to then practice. How could this be? Are we not the country of the free? Can not anyone perform a service or provide a good to another citizen without the consent of the government? I thought that's what it meant to be a free country.
Setting aside freedom and the crazy idea that people can go to whomever they want for medical service, perhaps licensing provides a benefit to the country. Perhaps licensing can protect people from receiving bad health care. If this were so I would assume that malpractice would be very minimal or even non-existent as only people capable of being doctors would become doctors. As I have looked at the medical care in the United States malpractice is one of the driving costs of medical care. Licensing obviously cannot protect us from malpractice, but perhaps it might even be the cause of more malpractice. As only those with licenses can offer medical services it limits the number of doctors and the number of choices for patients to receive medical care. It also provides a sense of security that the patient need not worry about checking out if the doctor is even competent. Surely they must as they have a license. Milton Friedman has argued that licensing medical professionals is harmful to those who require medical care. You can see more of his thoughts from this link http://www.fff.org/
I've heard many times over the argument that not having licenses is just insane. Is it really? Medical licensing really hasn't been around that long in the United States and really only began around 1900. Milton Friedman's argument also talks about the problems that come with the American Medical Association controlling the supply of doctors to prop up the wages of doctors and doing it through the force of the government by limiting the supply of doctors. See the link above. Supply is artificially capped with licensing. You might be thinking, "how would we get medical care without licensed doctors?" I'm not against licenses, I'm just against government mandated licenses. The free market approach might include solutions such as private hospitals requiring doctors to go through some requirements before being able to work in their hospital and obtaining a license from the hospital.
Obtaining "certifications" to show training is done in other industries without the force of government. Safelite Certified Technician's are not legally required to receive their certification before changing out a windshield, but they go through that process through free market solution to gain customers. There are many certifications in the IT industry to show some level of training that is not required for employment, but gives some value to obtain them. Thankfully I work in an industry that is left mostly alone from the government. Information Technology is one of the few remaining industries that remains untouched by government licensing, however there are plans in place to change this. At one point in my career I was responsible for computer security, the government now has plans to require a license in the future for anyone who does this type of employment. First it will be required in the government and then mandated to the private sector. Every day we are loosing our freedoms and not even one bit gaining security, or better service or goods from it.
I would like someone to answer the question of what benefit does government licensing bring? I don't have all the answers, but I say let the market decide rather than the government. Regardless of what the government does the market forces are always stronger than the government in the end.