Last night I happened to catch a bit of Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. He was making fun of a congressman who claimed he didn’t want laws requiring employees of restaurants to wash their hands. Stewart criticized the free market, acting like people would be getting sick all the time if the government didn’t mandate that food workers must wash their hands.
This is already faulty reasoning: individual businesses are much more interested in displaying those “employees must wash hands signs,” not to remind their employees so much as to tell their customers they run a clean establishment. I bet essentially every restaurant would post those signs even if they were not required to.
But Jon missed an even bigger point: that law does nothing to insure food preparers wash their hands. Stewart acted like people would be getting cholera every time they went to Starbucks if it weren’t for that piece of paper that says employees must wash their hands. Does he realize that there is not a government regulator posted in every restaurant? There is a dangerous myth that once something is made law, it becomes reality.
He thinks a law requiring the washing of hands will mean all food workers hands are washed? Obviously, this is not true. Kind of like how there is heroin in every town in the USA, despite the harsh laws against it.
Permits and licensing are just what the above meme describes. “Oh you want to open a restaurant? I’m going to pretend that this permit will make your food safe for people to eat.” The point is to raise revenue; it is another tax. But it also creates a smoke screen between the public and the establishments they patronize. It is harder for us to know which restaurants are actually clean, and which aren’t, because they all have their little health permit… even though no one ever really checks up on them.
And I’m not saying anyone should forcibly check up on them. But the government is not looking over the chef’s shoulder to see if he washed the knife, or looking into the vendor’s cooler to see if his hotdogs are expired. I would even bet there are rules about who can enter a kitchen, meaning the public is not allowed to check up on the conditions of the kitchen, even if the establishment would let them.
Same goes with driver’s licenses for the most part. I just renewed my license online. I did not get an eye check, I did not get a new picture taken, I even filled out the information about how tall I am and my eye color myself! They just needed to steal more money from me. For all they know I could have lost both my arms in an unfortunate disco accident; but I am approved to drive on the roads according to the great state of Massachusetts.
How about a hair dressing license? What would we do without the government taking money from would-be hair dressers! Think of the rampant bad haircuts that would destabilize the nation. Because the government definitely cares more about your hair than you do…
This suggests that along with revenue generation through theft, licensing also serves as protection for already established trades-people against those who have not yet been approved by government. The idea is to create barriers for people who might not need or want the training.
I know lots of people who know how to do electrical work and plumbing. But without the “proper training” which costs crap loads of money, they cannot monetize these skills without risk of retaliation by government, working on behalf of this union or that union.
“We gotta protect our phony bologna jobs!” as Mel Brooks would say.