Court: No barber pole without license

By William R. Toler

A recent decision by the N.C. Court of Appeals shows no signs of letting up on the protectionism levied by occupational licensing and the ridiculous waste barberpoleof resources enforcement entails.

In Kindsgrab v. State of North Carolina Barber Examiners, the appellate court ruled that the board was right in issuing Hans Kindsgrab a $1,000 fine for displaying a barber pole outside two of this three establishments in the Triangle and charging extra fees incurred by the board.

You see, the Cary and Raleigh locations of The Barbershop – A Hair Salon for Men only held a Cosmetic Arts License issued by the N.C. State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, an entirely separate bureaucratic agency from the barber board.

Since there was no barber permit for the business or no licensed barber on-site, Kindsgrab could not permissibly display a barber pole or advertise barber services.

Following an investigation and hearing in 2012, the board fined Kindsgrab $1000, $500 for each location, and ordered him to pay the board an additional $1,650 for attorney and staff fees.

Kindsgrab filed a petition for judicial review in Wake County Superior Court, which upheld the board’s decisions that Kindsgrab could not display a pole or advertise barber services without the proper permits.

However, the court reversed the civil penalties and fees, ruling the the board had no “statutory authority” to impose fines, fees or costs “on persons or entities not licensed by the Board.”

Both parties appealed, and as previously mentioned, the State court sided with the State board.

But perhaps, despite the monetary damages, Kindsgrab was let off easy.

In 2010, several black and Hispanic-owned barber shops in Orange County, Florida were the subject of heavily-armed raids for “barbering without a license,” as pointed out in Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Nine shops were raided netting 37 arrests, all without warrants.

Balko writes that warrants were not “necessary” because they were licensure inspections, not criminal searches, with deputies working in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Occupational licensing is a thorn in the side of liberty-minded individuals because it makes the government a middle-man between the consumer and those who offer services that are wanted.

North Carolina boasts more than 700 licensed occupations.

In 2012, the Institute for Justice released License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing.

The purpose of the study was to “measure how how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.”

From the website for the report:

The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It finds that occupational licensing is not only widespread, but also overly burdensome and frequently irrational.

On average, these licenses force aspiring workers to spend nine months in education or training, pass one exam and pay more than $200 in fees.  One third of the licenses take more than a year to earn.  At least one exam is required for 79 of the occupations.

Barriers like these make it harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs, particularly minorities, those of lesser means and those with less education.

But this issue isn’t a recent topic.

In 1992, John Hood of the John Locke Foundation wrote an article on how occupational licensing limits competition, effects consumer pricing and the quality of services.

He concludes:

“The rationale for occupational licensing assumes that the interests of consumers can be generalized, when in fact different consumers value different things.

More importantly, this rationale assumes that government regulations function as they are intended. But research into the actual effects of licensing laws proves that by reducing the number of providers of a service and increasing the price of that service, they hurt most consumers more than they help them. Given this evidence, the best way to protect consumer health and safety would be to let them choose their own services in a free market.”

A hair cut is a hair cut, whether it be from a barber, cosmetology arts professional or your grandmother.

To have a bunch of bureaucratic boneheads dictate what kind of services you offer and what you call yourself is a slap in the face of freedom.

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