Today’s post for the A to Z Challenge is: license.
I don’t know how many of you around the world are forced to beg permission from your governments in order to get a job, but here in the USA (supposedly a free country), there are a LOT of us! More and more every year.
People here have to get a license to be a tour guide (to tell stories), to be an interior designer (to pick out color schemes for your living room), to be a hair braider, to work on a boat (like I do), and for hundreds of other occupations.
The Institute for Justice put out a report (License to Work) documenting the licensing requirements for over 100 low and moderate income occupations. We’re talking florists, manicurists, painters, makeup artists, bartenders, landscape workers,…
In fact, about 1 in 3 occupations now require a license! Back in the 50’s only about 5% of jobs required a license (mine was still one of those-deck officers started getting licensed in 1873).
I know things were simpler back then, but did all the jobs people used to be able to do without any governmental approval become SO much more complicated that they just can’t be done safely without the government’s approval?
I wouldn’t get quite so upset if it wasn’t the government involved in all this. After all, this is supposed to be a free country. Personally, I think any job ought to be between the person doing the job and the person doing the hiring. But even with that aside, why does it have to be the government issuing these licenses? Why can’t it be a private organization? Something like the consumers union? Or even the one I have to deal with all the time- the Nautical Institute?
That way, at least we would have some options, even if not many.
I’m pretty sure there were barbers, hairdressers and manicurists back in the 50s, or even before. According to Wikipedia, the 1st barbers school in the USA opened in 1893. It was the first in the world. I’m sure it must have taken at least a few years for the barbers to convince the governments to restrict their competition and require a license to become a barber. Do you wonder how we all managed to survive for thousands of years without them?
I know my own profession started agitating to be licensed right around the same time. I’ve been told it was actually the AB’s who started the whole thing. 😦
I can verify in my own profession that the licensing has become much more stringent and much, much harder to comply with since the 70s. When I decided to become a professional mariner in 1977, the rules were so much better for us (as mariners).
I could work my way up the hawsepipe (without spending a dime for school). If I could prove my sea time and pass the tests I was issued a license for “freight and towing’. I could work on ANY vessel, anywhere in the world. Yes, I still had to get my license renewed every 5 years (requiring a physical and a couple of simple things like RADAR recert).
I could get hired on, work on deck for a couple years and when I passed my AB test and got my AB ticket, that document was good for LIFE!
Now, things are completely different. We can’t just work our way up anymore, we have no way to avoid paying thousands of dollars for ‘training’ courses ashore. Personally, I have spent at least $50,000 (to upgrade from 2nd to chief mate). There is no way to just take a couple of simple courses to renew now either. They keep increasing the number of required classes to be re-taken and it’s adding up to some serious money. Even as an AB, I have to spend weeks ashore and thousands of dollars to renew my documents!
Even that’s not enough for them, they have also restricted our ability to work! Instead of the ‘freight and towing’ license, which allowed us to work on ANY vessel, now we have a license for ‘steam and motor’ which does NOT allow us to work on any ‘towing’ vessel (without additional time and money).
I have been a mariner since 1970, professionally since 1977. In all these years, I can say it has been harder and harder to find work, to keep working, to find a job anything like the way it was back then. When I actually loved my job so much!
In fact, I got laid off back in September and haven’t been able to find even a single job since October! There are some (towing) companies hiring (I don’t have that license so out of luck). There are some foreign companies hiring (they usually don’t hire Americans so out of luck there too). 😦
As many others have noted, the insiders restrict entry to their profession through licensing to increase their pay, benefits and influence. In the name of ‘public safety’ they convince the government to go along with the idea. In the end, it doesn’t really work.
It’s time to re-think the issue.