Licensed to Fail

People who want to work should be allowed to work. That includes people who once went to jail.

With President Donald Trump’s support, Congress spends your money giving ex-cons “employment assistance.”

Why bother? State laws often make such employment impossible.

Courtney Haveman had an alcohol problem. When she was 19, she got a DUI. Then she took a swing at a security guard. “I made dumb decisions,” she admits in my new video. “Served three days in jail.”

Eight years later, and now sober, Courtney enrolled in beauty school. Such schools invite applicants to “turn your interest in beauty into a rewarding career.”

The schools do provide good careers — to owners of cosmetology schools. In Pennsylvania, where Courtney applied, they typically charge $6,000 tuition and require 1,000 hours of courses.

All that training is required by the state to work.

Courtney had worked in a salon and wanted to do more. Unfortunately, “doing more” requires not just serving customers well, but getting permission from bureaucrats.

Byzantine state laws demand you get a state-approved license before you may become a hairdresser, tour guide, travel agent, house painter and all sorts of other jobs where customer happiness should be the guide.

So after taking hundreds of hours of cosmetology courses, Courtney paid more to apply for a Pennsylvania cosmetology license.

Pennsylvania then told her she couldn’t do cosmetology there because she has a criminal record.

The bureaucrats said she could appeal. She could prove she has good moral character.

“I sent letters, and people in my 12-step program wrote letters on my behalf, character letters,” she says.

The result?

“They sent me a rejection letter that said, ‘Sorry. You lack the good moral character requirement’,” says Courtney. “One time in my life that I felt like a productive member of society, I was proud of myself… people were proud of me, and then it was just like, you’re not good enough still.”

This is wrong.

Courtney did her time — all three days of it. She should be allowed the “second chance” that politicians keep promising former prisoners. Her arrest was eight years ago. She then got sober. Now she sponsors other women in AA. She has a toddler to support.

But Pennsylvania says, to protect “public health and safety,” she may not practice cosmetology.

The rule doesn’t “protect” anyone. Barbers don’t have to prove they have “good moral character.”

Courtney is allowed to work as an “assistant.”

“I’m allowed to touch clients, just not allowed to do what I went to school to do!” says Courtney.

She shampoos customers’ hair and has intimate contact with them. She’s just not allowed to do facials, makeup, waxing — the work she trained for. “Our government makes it extremely difficult for people like me,” she says.

“People can’t just be kicked out of society,” says Institute for Justice lawyer Andrew Ward. He took Courtney’s case for free because he believes that the cosmetology law is unconstitutional. “Everyone has a right… to pursue their own happiness… a right to engage in any of the common occupations of life.”

Who benefits from restrictive licensing laws?

“It’s certainly convenient,” says Ward, “that established players have a law that gets to keep new people, that would compete with them, out.”

Right. Cosmetology boards are dominated by people who run beauty schools. They benefit by making it hard for newcomers to compete for customers by offering better service.

The established schools and salons lobby legislators, demanding stringent “safety” requirements. It’s “accidental” that they limit competition.

Courtney says, “Years of my life have been wasted.” She paid to train for a job she is not allowed to do.

State licensing rules like Pennsylvania’s cosmetology rule don’t protect public health. They don’t help customers.

They crush the little guy and limit competition.

Get rid of them.

7 thoughts on “Licensed to Fail

  1. That is a horrific story and a completely unjust situation. Schools love to take people’s money but leave out important information that may affect people’s decision to enroll. Unfortunately, that falls under the buyer beware clause. In a way, Courtney has some responsibility For not asking about these restrictions before she did all the training and paid all the money. You would think her parole officer would’ve recommended that. Maybe, she could move to another state without restriction is not in effect? Definitely a sad and tragic situation

    1. In her defense, I in my life would never have dreamed a DUI in 2013 would prevent you from being in cosmetology. It is so patently absurd I don’t think most people would ask. Perhaps for a felony conviction … she made a mistake, paid her dues, and she’s trying to earn a living and stay off public assistance. This is exactly the outcome we should, as a society, want.

  2. This is stupid. The high and the mighty sit in judgement. Here’s a young women who has worked so hard. To live a good life and be a respected women and family person to be shot down like that. Maybe it’s time the licensing board dismantkeled and had honest people making the rule. She did pass the hairdresser test where she handled people. When she applied for certificate why wasn’t this one of the questions.also when she signed up for hairdressers school that should have been on the application. All that money gone what a shame.

  3. So, she can’t work, even though she’s done her time, gotten clean, and PAID for a trade school. Now we get to pay her way via the gubby handout. This is so stupid. I’m sure lucky I never got caught being stupid.

  4. For sure licensing is not a perfect system, nothing is. But licensing does indicate that the license holder has some minimum level of competency and gives the consumer some recourse in case of fraud. Would you want an unlicensed surgeon to operate on you, or have an unlicensed contractor work on your house? I wouldn’t.
    I think there should be a licensing requirement for economists, so that “tax cuts create growth” economic charlatans like Art Laffer or Stephen Moore could be held accountable. From 1947 – 1980, when top tax rates were high, real GDP per capita growth was 2.01% per year. From 1981 to 2018, when top tax rates were much lower, it was 1.72% per year. Tax cuts did not create any growth, instead they redistributed trillions of dollars from the bottom 90% to the top 0.1%. Stephen Moore also credits Trump’s tax cuts for “spectacular success in terms of job creation.” During Obama’s last 36 months, 8.053 million jobs were created. During Trump’s first 36 months, 6.940 million jobs were created. I’m pretty sure 6.94 is less than 8.05, so where is this “spectacular success”? Where is the “invisible hand” that is supposed to eliminate bad actors like Art Laffer and Steven Moore? They have been conning people for decades.

  5. So that idiot Beto was allowed to run for Senate and for the Presidency with multiple felony convictions including DUI and Breaking and Entering but a woman can’t cut hair? That is total BS! All politicians need to be tossed out on their asses and horse wiped!

  6. I know someone that got a DUI in college, jumped through the hoops, and now they’re a successful air traffic controller, with a security clearance, working for our federal government.
    Pennsylvania either takes the cosmetology profession VERY serious, or they’re full of shit.

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