July 23, 2012

How Bad State Laws Are Still Good for U.S. Economic Freedom

Antony Davies

Senior Affiliated Scholar

Americans understand the benefits of competition in the private sector. Competition is just as valuable in the public sector. When each state can set its own economic policies, we get competition among 50 separate governments.

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July is the month for new laws to take effect in many states. This year's crop is a mixed bag of reductions of and enhancements to economic freedom. Some examples:

  • With the ban on goose liver paté, Californians now find it harder to order a good appetizer than to buy marijuana.
  • Saggy pants are now banned in Tennessee schools, not because they can conceal weapons but because the Tennessee legislature felt disrespected.
  • Want to practice music therapy in Georgia? You now need a license. Requirements for obtaining one to be decided by existing music therapists—you know, the ones with whom you'll be competing for business. Good luck with that.
  • In Connecticut, if a bar code scanner rings up a price that is higher than advertised, the store must now give you the item for free. Expect no effect beyond retailers adding the words "or higher" to all advertised prices.
  • The Constitution State also now requires interior designers to be licensed. Interior design isn't rocket science. And if you don't need a license to practice rocket science, you probably don't need one to select upholstery.