Last Saturday I got a hair cut, which was not the highlight of my weekend. However, while sitting in the chair, voluntarily allowing a strange woman to fondle my hair, I noticed her prominently displayed cosmetology license. I was tempted to laugh at the absurdity, but since she had several sharp objects at her disposal, I thought better of it.
Normally, when I am in a sedentary position I prefer to read, or sleep. But because of the previously mentioned sharp objects, sleeping was not really an option. So I read her cosmetology license. Three times.
I expected to see some information on the license that would assure me that I was receiving the best hair cut allowable by law, or something of the sort. I thought maybe I would see some name that I recognized that would convince me that this stylist had passed muster. Someone like Bush 41 (who spends the winter in Houston). But alas, no such information or names could be spotted.
And then I wondered, what is the worst thing that could happen here? Well, she did have sharp objects, and all kinds of nasty things could result from that. But since I did not see any Texas Rangers standing guard, that license wasn't much protection if she decided to emulate Jack the Ripper. Besides, she seemed to be the type who understood that that wouldn't be a good career move.
So then I thought, the typical justification for occupational licensing is to protect the public welfare and safety. How is the fact that the state has given this woman permission to cut my hair protecting my welfare or safety? I suppose that if I got a really, really, incredibly bad hair cut that I might be a little upset. But my health would not be threatened. I've had a few bad hair cuts in my life, and never once did I get ill.
I want to be perfectly clear. I am not endorsing bad hair cuts. In fact, I generally don't endorse bad anything. But a bad hair cut is not going to ruin my day, let alone my life. I've learned many things, and one of them is: My hair will grow out. Another one is: It is really, really hard to give a bad hair cut. Believe me, I have tried. On myself.
What really ticks me off about this occupational licensing is that the state is treating me like a little child. I can recognize when someone doesn't cut my hair well. After all, it is my hair. I see it every day of my life. I have yet to have anyone from the state come to my home or business to inspect my hair. They don't even do that when I renew my driver's license (and don't get me started on that). Yet, they have the audacity to believe that they can make better decisions about my hair than I can.
To this point I have been rather flip about this issue, but it is indeed serious. If someone wants to cut my hair, and I want to pay them to do it, what freaking business is it of the state? Just because Juanita passed some test 2 years ago doesn't mean she is going to do a good job today. If she doesn't, I will express my displeasure and wear a hat.
Juanita, her colleagues, and indeed all individuals, have a moral right to earn a living as they choose, so long as they respect the rights of other individuals. And I have a moral right to purchase their services if I choose. Neither of us needs the state interfering with that transaction and our freedom. I certainly don't need the state acting as my mommy to make sure that Juanita will do a good job. I expect her employer to do that, and if he doesn't, I will take my business, and my hair, elsewhere.