I’m shocked by how frequently I see the rip-off rationale advanced as a reason for occupational licensing:
Sens. Joseph Addabbo and Tony Avella, both Queens Democrats, teamed up to sponsor the bill making it a felony to practice massage therapy without a license. The bill would also require a special permit for massage therapists to perform at street fairs and carnivals.
People can just set themselves up and say I do massages,” Avella said. “They would just rip people off.”
Here’s the thing: State governments can and should enact laws against defrauding consumers. It’s very clear how the establishment of a regulatory body charged with determining who can and can’t give a massage might create barriers to competition and hurt consumers and would-be masseuses. What’s less clear is how the establishment of a regulatory body charged with determining who can and can’t give a massage would prevent rip-offs. What would prevent rip-offs would be for states to take some of the personnel who are currently charged with staffing dubious occupational licensing agencies and have them investigate fraud complaints.