Licensing as Legalized Racketeering

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Writing in the American Spectator, Jon Cassidy likens government’s occupational licensing regimes to racketeering:

Racketeering is a multifarious concept, but when the word was coined in 1927 by the Employers Association of Chicago, it referred specifically to tradesmen who had banded together to artificially drive up the cost of their services. The employers group wanted the authorities to crack down on crooked laundry and building trades, among others, but in the long run, the trades won by subverting and perverting the power of the government. It’s easy enough to picture the old noir films with cops on the take, doing the mob’s bidding, but this corruption was of a less glamorous, more insidious sort.

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That lead-up reminds me of my response when people attempt to quantify government corruption in order to claim that Rhode Island isn’t that much of an outlier.  The problem is that we’ve essentially made corruption legal, and with deteriorated social norms around inside dealing, the word “corruption” is useless if it must involve something illegal.



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