Government working for you: Targeting unlicensed barbers and yacht salesmen

“Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

That’s a line attributed to Barney Frank. It’s basically how my high school history teachers tried to make us think of government. I recall this image when I think of government actions like raids on barber shops because they don’t have licenses, and other regulations that serve primarily to benefit incumbent businesses — such as crackdowns on unlicensed yacht dealers.

Radley Balko has the barber story:

Thank goodness someone is getting these people off the streets:

“As many as 14 armed Orange County deputies, including narcotics agents, stormed Strictly Skillz barbershop during business hours on a Saturday in August, handcuffing barbers in front of customers during a busy back-to-school weekend.

It was just one of a series of unprecedented raid-style inspections the Orange County Sheriff’s Office recently conducted with a state regulating agency, targeting several predominantly black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Pine Hills area.

In “sweeps” on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 targeting at least nine shops, deputies arrested 37 people — the majority charged with “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor that state records show only three other people have been jailed in Florida in the past 10 years.”

Liberal Matt Yglesias, who regularly calls out stupid anti-competitive regulation, has the yacht story, which he says:

naturally raises the question of whether unlicensed yacht brokering is actually a “serious threat” to the “health, safety, and welfare Florida residents and visitors”? My working hypothesis is that it is not. The fear that rich yacht-buyers are getting ripped off by scofflaw boat salesmen seems pretty implausible. Indeed, reading through the yacht licensing FAQ the main point of the yacht licensing system seems to be to protect Florida yacht brokers from competition from out-of-state boat salesmen.

Josh Barro also weighs in on the subject at NRO (but you’ll get an annoying fundraising request that I can’t make disappear).

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