Getting Permission to Work

May 19, 2012

The Institute for Justice has this fairly thorough video demonstrating the preponderance of dubious occupational license requirements in many jurisdictions:

Back in 2006, I looked at the prevalence of occupational licensing in Hillsborough County, Florida – starting with the example of requiring auctioneers to be licensed. I thought it kind of funny that a person who wanted to be an auctioneer requires a government license, while a 16-year-old who wanted to operate a large roller coaster, like at the theme park where I used to work, did not. (Subsequently, that theme park quit hiring anyone under 18 years of age – not connected to my original column I’m sure.)

At the time, Hillsborough County issued two different auctioneer licenses: one for selling your own property and one for selling someone else’s. (I contemplated interviewing an actual auctioneer, but I realized that he or she might be difficult to understand.)

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Top Posts from 2010

December 30, 2010

In celebration of the New Year, here are the top 10 posts from this blog for 2010:

  1. Another TARP Spending Idea and Keynesian Economics (2/19)
  2. Census Fine (3/19)
  3. French Equality Veils Liberty (4/30)
  4. Virginia Nullifies Individual Mandate (3/6)
  5. GM Back in Business … the Campaign Funding Business (9/30)
  6. Liberal/Progressive Ignorance of Economics (6/12)
  7. Sinkholes and Optimism (1/16)
  8. Paying for Spending Now Insignificant? (2/28)
  9. Supreme Court Justice: Right to Burn Koran Not Settled (9/19)
  10. Drinking Down Paternalism (3/10)

Have a Happy New Year!


More Waiting

October 4, 2010

Today, I had the honor of partaking in the civic duty of jury duty once again. If you’ve never experienced it, imagine waiting in your doctor’s waiting room the whole day instead of just a few minutes — minus the part at the end where you get something to make you feel better.

I wrote a column for the Tampa Tribune several years ago on my first experience with this mind-numbing process lamenting the amount of hours jurors are required sit in a large room on uncomfortable chairs waiting on their name to be called. The lucky ones are those who get to wait the whole day without their name ever being called — sort of sadistic isn’t it?

After that first experience, imagine my surprise this morning when I was in the first group to be pulled out of the large waiting room to go through the actual juror selection process. Regardless of if I was going to be picked or not, I would be getting through this quickly this time!

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Post on Candidate’s Health-Care Views Fosters Lively Comment Thread

July 23, 2010

Over at the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) blog, my post from earlier in the week (posted here and on the YAL blog) on a Florida Attorney General candidate’s view that health care “should be” a right has fostered quite a long comment thread. Here are the comments.


Florida AG Candidate: Health Care ‘Should Be’ a Right

July 21, 2010

Nestled in an obscure Florida Attorney General candidates’ debate Friday was a fundamental disagreement over the nature of rights. The specific issue at hand was whether health care is a right.

Notably, one Democratic candidate, Dan Gelber, asserted the following on the matter:

Health care should be a right, not a privilege.

Note the verb “should be.” Gelber didn’t claim it “was” a right. Such phrasing seems to deny that rights are fundamental to all individuals (e.g.; “endowed by their Creator“) and not determined by the whims of popular opinion or government decree. He is suggesting, at least in his wording, that rights become rights after being acknowledged by government.

Florida AG candidate Dan Gelber

Government creation of rights is anathema to the framers’ understanding of rights. Rights, to them, were innate to being human. They were only to be protected by government, not dependent on government for their existence.

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Tampa’s Unspent Stimulus Money

July 19, 2010

Tampa has a problem. According to a recent St. Petersburg Times report, it still has to spend nearly half of $13.6 million in federal stimulus funds it received 18 months ago. The deadline is in two months. If the money isn’t spent, it will go back to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The plan was to use part of the money to buy up foreclosed homes and sell them to preferred buyers (low-income and first-time). Renovating rental units was also on the list.

The argument is, naturally, that such activity will ‘stimulate’ the economy. The Times report paraphrased the head of a non-profit who would benefit from the funds:

[Sara Romeo] says the project will create 237 construction jobs, two permanent full-time jobs, and take advantage of the latest green building techniques to save residents energy and transportation costs.

The obvious questions rarely asked in these type of well-intentioned government spending plans are where did the money come from and what would it have been spent on without government direction? Given that the federal government is in debt, that means the money adds to our debt. The only way to pay for it is to borrow or print more money.

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Teacher Merit Pay in Florida: Were There Any Merits?

April 16, 2010

A recently vetoed bill in Florida that would have tied teacher pay to student test performance may have at first glance appeared to introduce something into the public education system that many have criticized it for lacking: an emphasis on results. However, the wisdom of such a significant change may not be so clear.

The Florida Legislature recently passed a bill that would base a large part of teacher pay on their students’ performance on standardized tests. It would also end tenure for new teachers. After much speculation, Florida Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill Thursday.

In theory, such a move would have incentivized teachers to make sure their students are achieving academically. In reality, as with many government policies, there may also have been some unintended consequences.

Teachers and other opponents of the merit pay legislation protest in a walk from Lee Middle School to the CTA/OESPA office in Orlando on April 8, 2010. (JACOB LANGSTON, ORLANDO SENTINEL / April 8, 2010)

Since such merit pay would be based on improvement in standardized test scores, the degree to which these tests adequately reflect the knowledge that should be learned by students is of critical importance. Many in Florida have criticized the state’s chief standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), for not necessarily accurately assessing what students have learned. Critics, including teachers’ unions and students, have also argued that focus on such tests gives an incentive to teachers to teach solely to the test, de-emphasizing the students’ overall education. Under the merit-pay bill, the teachers’ pay would have been linked partly to their students’ improvement on the FCAT, further exacerbating the perceived problem with the emphasis placed on the much-maligned test.

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