Combs Spouts Off

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License to describe

Posted by Richard on September 24, 2010

According to the Institute for Justice, in the 1950s, one in twenty members of the workforce had to have a government license to do their job; today, it's one in three. Defenders of all this government regulation and control argue that it's all about protecting consumers. That argument is specious enough when they're talking about laws to protect us from unskilled flower arrangers or hair braiders.

But the District of Columbia tops even those absurd licensing examples; it recently decided that tourists need to be protected from sightseeing guides who lack sufficient historical knowledge. So new regulations make it a crime, punishable by up to three months in jail, for tour guides to describe things without a license. Getting a license requires completing a bunch of paperwork, paying hundreds in required fees, and passing a multiple-choice test covering "an arbitrary hodgepodge of knowledge about the District."

Segs in the City provides sightseeing tours of Washington on Segways. Ironically, they don't need licenses for the Segways, or for teaching their customers how to ride them, but they do need licenses in order to describe the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The Institute for Justice and Segs in the City's Tonia Edwards and Bill Main have filed a federal lawsuit arguing that they have a "First Amendment right to communicate for a living."

Check out this short video. And then support the Institute for Justice's fine work by donating a few bucks


[YouTube link]

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2 Responses to “License to describe”

  1. Hathor said

    Why do men use women’s hair as an example?

  2. Olivia said

    Hathor, is that a way of saying “check your privilege”? Because if so, that’s the silliest example thereof I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.

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