16 February 2005
Land of the Free?

Whilst I think the US and Europe share a common destiny, Jackie thinks that things are doing rather better in the US:

Until recently, I hadn’t been back in the US for about 2.5 years. But when I did return, I was awed and very appreciative of the attitude most Americans have to their rights. Whereas people here largely seem to have an “Oh well, what can do you?” resignation about these things, the Americans I know - of every political stripe - take a very strong “Screw you and the horse you rode in on, Big Brother” line.

Which almost had me going until a good friend told me today that in the US hairdressers have to be licenced.  A licence to crimp, so to speak.  Statism is pretty bad everywhere.

Jackie also asked me whether I would be tempted to emigrate.  I think if I were convinced that Britain was doomed and the US was not I would start to think about it.  For the time being we’re both doomed so the question doesn’t arise.

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  1. Yes, statism is bad everywhere, but most people don’t see state licencing of hairdressers as something that restricts their liberty. They see it as something that cuts the odds of them walking out of a hair salon looking like a knob. Do you really think that state licencing of barbers must mean that most Americans have a “Bend over and shaft me” attitude about their rights?

    Posted by Jackie on 16 February 2005 at 05:48pm

  2. The petty bureaucracy which surrounds small businesses in the US is incredible. I speak as one who used to own and run one. Two minor examples. Florists need licences. Really, you must pass a state sponsored exam in order to prepare bouquets (it does vary state by state). This is the most obvious protectionism by those already in the trade, very Adam Smith style whenever businessmen gather together stuff.
    In the great State of California, you pay $800 a year to the State for the privilege of opening a business there. The sum is not important of course, but they make it very clear that this is not a pre payment of corporation tax, not a licence fee for processing the docs or anything like that, it is a charge for the privilege of doing business in California. I think you’ll agree that this mindset is absurd.
    In other ways it’s terribly free but the licencing and treatment of small businesses is not.

    Posted by Tim Worstall on 22 February 2005 at 01:24pm

  3. Hey, you’ll get no argument from me on that. But things are much worse, generally, in the UK. (Hmm, perhaps we should have a debate about this in ‘real life’...Would make a fun Brian’s Friday.)

    Posted by Jackie on 23 February 2005 at 10:48pm

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