Re: Forbidden Knowledge (Banned Research, Part II) (fwd)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Wed Jul 04 2001 - 15:19:56 MDT

On Wednesday, July 04, 2001 9:50 AM Mike Lorrey wrote:
> > Tangential to this issue, but intersecting it, is the issue of
> > licensing in general. More and more employment requires that the
> > state issue a permission slip. As with the cloning arguments seen
> > here, the debate is usually couched in terms of "public safety."
> > (Though how the licensing of fortune tellers, here in Santa Cruz, is
> > a matter of public safety is quite mysterious.) The real issue, as
> > readers of my stuff will know, is the creation and support of guilds:
> > licensing is a rent-seeking mechanism.
> This licensing does fit into a libertarian scheme as well, where one
> would obtain the lowest insurance premiums on one's liability insurance
> if one's skill is certified by some credible third party.

Actually, no. Licensing is different from certification. Licenses, in this
context, means obtaining a permission to do something from some government
agency, such as a license to build weapons for sale, to drive vehicles, or
to sell plumbing services. Anything less is really not the kind of
licensing most people mean when they say someone is a licensed something or

The differences between government licensing and private nongovernment
certification, especially when the latter bears no legal priviliges or
restrictions, are very important. E.g., different private groups can have
different standards. More importantly, such standards might change with
regard to the market and the reputation of the standards groups depends on
the quality of their ability to rate. Thus, they have an interest in
meeting their customer's demands. Government licensing bodies, including
private ones that have government sanction, such as the AMA boards, do not
have this incentive and, in general, are more focused on not what the market
demands in terms of ratings, quality, and skill, but extraneous factors.
(That's why the AMA went hog wild over chiropractry and really does very
little about disciplining its own members. It's interest, given its
[legally sanctioned] monopoly is not to punish its members, but to maintain
and increase its power. I believe JLS covered the origins of the AMA in the
1980s. It's archive is online at for
those have the time to do a search.)

(On the economic effects of occupational licensing, see _The Rule of
Experts: Occupational Licensing in America_ by S. David Young.)

Surely, an insurer or other party might want for someone doing these
activities to be qualified by some third party, but in a libertarian
society, it would be possible for someone to try these activities without
licensing or certification. No one might be willing to fund that person --
e.g., no one might want to buy a weapon from a guy who just slaps them
together willy nilly or from the self taught plumber, but that's another
matter. That person could still try to get customers.

As for the constitutional arguments, these have nothing to do per se with
libertarian politics. The U.S. Constitution and various State constitutions
in the U.S. are not libertarian. While it might be helpful to know these
documents, they should not be treated as sacred and immutable.


Daniel Ust

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