The government shutdown once again had the media buzzing over whether some tax eater’s federal job was essential. Only libertarians ask why our hard-earned tax dollars are paying for nonessential government jobs in the first place. The U.S. Department of Education furloughed about 90 percent of its workforce. And they wonder why we say it should be abolished.

The media covered the pain of being furloughed without dwelling on the near certainty of getting all back pay and then some restored in a short while. The Republican “anarchists” are trying to do that right now. Polls show the American people are tired of government workers who get better pay and retirement than Joe the Plumber for a lot less meaningful work.

I am not just being snide. Because there is no market feedback for government work, no immediate incentives to cut costs and improve service, the better part of it is useless toil and meaningless moil. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think the people of those two countries are better off, and the price we paid small enough, to justify the progressive crusades to make them egalitarian democracies?

In the end, despite trillions spent and so many lives lost, they will have accomplished nothing. War is just another government program. I could never understand how you can be anti-war and pro-big government. Or claim to be small government and pro wars of choice, either.

Do we want to play a game of which government jobs in Nevada are essential or are nonessential? What about the DMV? Couldn’t their basic functions be performed by insurance companies so you wouldn’t have to ever spend a morning at the DMV again? “Now serving, B29. Now serving, H77.” It’s like a zombie bingo game in there.

Business license fees are another example. Why should anyone engaged in the ordinary harmless occupations of life have to get a license from government to open a business? According to our common law traditions, only a business that is a threat to the community’s safety, health or morals should have to be licensed.

Nevada is one of only four states that require aspiring interior decorators to take mandatory courses and pay for a license. I guess Carson City wants to protect us from the feng shui apocalypse. License fees are just another tax. And they don’t provide an ounce of safety. The market can handle safety and health issues better than government.

Market incentives and penalties, social media and insurance liabilities would do a much better job of protecting us than bureaucrats enforcing stacks of petty rules and fines. Not to mention the corruption and incompetence often associated with regulatory bureaucracies. The libertarian law firm Institute for Justice describes Nevada as the third-worst state for occupational licensing requirements. There are 55 occupations in our state that require a license, fees and mandatory education just to hang out a shingle. From travel guides to contractors to sign language interpreters, you must take meaningless hours of courses and pay the state before you can legally earn a dime.

These barriers to entry discourage innovation and prevent many people from entering the fields. With unemployment as high as it is in Nevada, the Legislature should have removed some of these requirements. But, those that are already established lobby to retain them, because they keep new competition at bay and the licensing requirements makes their occupation appear more “professional”—and therefore justifies higher prices.

Think about it. If you could shut down just one Nevada government bureau, and replace it with nothing—let the market take it over if it has any real value—what would it be?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *